Spring/Break: Slideshow and Commentary

by Corinna Kirsch and Whitney Kimball on March 6, 2013 Art Fair

The sales booth at Spring/Break

“I wouldn’t necessarily say more cutting-edge, but I think it’s awesome,” founder Andrew Gori said at the Spring/Break Art Show conference yesterday morning. That’s about right. Now in its second year, the “curator-driven fair,” in a defunct elementary school in Soho, virtually eliminates art dealers in a community-oriented exhibition of emerging artists and curators. “We thought this would be a break or reprieve from some of the typical fairs,” he said, “which we go to, but we thought we could offer something that could be complimentary.”

Moving on from last year’s theme of the apocalypse, this year Spring/Break focuses on “New Mysticism,” which has to do with bringing a sense of antiquated magic into new technologies– definitely a dominant trend at the moment. The fair doesn’t probe the theme in the way that a show should, nor is the work particularly interesting (looks like a mixed bag of Bushwick). But there’s some merit to just acknowledging that a lot of artists are doing this, and then showing it to people.

The absence of dealers is great for the work, which is represented here by curator-artist teams. They’re mostly friends of the young founders Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly (who, herself, has work in the show), and curators are working pro-bono unless they’ve worked out an agreement with the artist.

Founder Ambre Kelly reported that last year’s sales were “weak to moderate.” This year, all financial transactions have been banished to a Paddle8 laptop in a corner on the ground floor, where you can bid or buy directly. We wonder whether moving sales out of sight will cover the costs, but it does make for a better time, and it’s for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds go to Art for the Armed Forces (AFAF) and NYFA’s Sandy relief.

Tom Weinrich, one of the few curators who doubles as a dealer in Spring/Break brought artists Rachel de Joode and Jennifer Chan. The works seemed dwarfed in such a large room, but it was a strong group of Chan's Tumblr on turbo-speed videos and we haven't seen much of irl. Unfortunately, Cheon pyo Lee's "glacier" looks better in reproduction than it does in person. Up close, it looks rough around the edges, and it hovers above the ground thanks to the propping power of an inert Roomba.

I'm cherry-picking here, but of all the techno-mysticism in the show, I thought Patrick Meagher's large-scale photo "Folder Flux" was the most successfully mystical. Reminds me of Saul Chernick's celestial desktop drawings.

Why not put some art in the boys' room? Practically every room of the Old School proved fair game for the fair's artists and curators. These trees were supplied by artist David Allan Flinn.

Spring/Break curator Angela Conant brought her day job to the fair—she helped found Gowanus Studio Space and brought artists affiliated with the program. The conceit for this room was tighter than most; Conant asked artists to make any type of work, as long as they carried a pencil around in their mouth while doing it. Sounds like "Secretary". Overall, the results weren't much to look at , but I appreciated their playful approach. This chalk explosion comes from the mind of Gowanus Studio Space artist Krista Peters. Ornery student or fed-up teacher? It doesn't matter when your goal's to make a huge mess out of chalk.

Alix Lambert's interpretation of curator Angela Conant's pencil-in-mouth theme. Takeaway tip: If you're the type who'll take anything that's free, Conant's exhibition includes free pencils.

By cranking the handle of this 1950s lawnmower, viewers can navigate through the landscape. Pull too hard and spooky creatures will appear. By far, the worst in show. This piece comes from production team "Fall on Your Sword" and artist Sarah Bereza.

Juliana Cerquiera Leite, Grace Villamil, and Myla DalBesio's aluminum foil room "alonetogether" is supposed to be like the internet, which according to these artists is where you go to be alone to seek solace in others.

We can't find anything mystical about Z Behl's "Wooden Army" but we like it none the less. Curator Ted Barrow does a great job of arranging Behl's life-size cut-outs of her friends and an elementary school setting may be the only place I'll love these people.

Maureen Sullivan has curated Jeremy Blake's "Winchester Redux," The piece looks like a haunted house with Rorschach ink blots that turn from flowers to people with guns. Sullivan mentioned that Blake made the piece soon before he and Theresa Duncan committed suicide.

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