The beachside vista of the UNTITLED fair
Does NADA have any real competition? If it ever will, it’ll be UNTITLED. (As salespeople, we think it’s the best show in town.) As bloggers, we can still tell you it’s a strong runner-up.
Art’s not flying off the walls like at NADA or Art Basel (at least not as of Friday afternoon). But for the most part dealers were calm, and generally reported breaking even. Many reserved higher hopes for Saturday and Sunday with more traffic from the Art Basel and NADA crowds.
Overall, the fair defines itself less sharply than NADA, Scope, Pulse, and Aqua; UNTITLED has its trends and styles, but they’re mixed with a handful of experimental exhibitors like Auxiliary Projects, Site:Lab, and The Pool. Young galleries like Garis & Hahn and San Francisco’s Highlight Gallery show alongside a strong international presence and New York community-makers like Ed Winkleman, Participant Inc, and the Lower East Side Printshop.
For art, at least, the fair’s unpredictability is a good thing. Here you’ll find a lot of work connected to underground cinema, a lot of experimental drawing, and a few inroads to net art. While collectors may not come to UNTITLED for their favorite brand—thus purchasing is slower—you do see a lot of people carefully considering the art. In the overall context of the Miami fairs, that’s a rarity.
Few fairs have an exhibitor like Participant Inc, which speaks well for UNTITLED. The non-profit’s historical and critical diligence makes it closer to a museum, but one that’s immersed in the community it draws from. This time artist Conrad Ventur has organized a tribute to underground actor Mario Montez, who passed away in September and had been a frequent subject of filmmakers like Jack Smith and Warhol. It’s easy to see the appeal; Montez has a volcanic quality lurking beneath even the most frivolous beach shots and Hollywood glam.
Yes! At Zürcher, Brian Bellott stuffed dirty gym socks into a series of beautiful paintings. There’s a pragmatic attitude about art there that reminded me of his recent show “Draw Gym,” where the floors were covered in drawings from dozens of artists. By the end of the opening, they were filthy.
Like many, Bushwick’s Microscope gallery has brought a different take on prints, drawings, and paintings; these duct-tape collages are “Time Capsules” by no wave filmmaker Amos Poe. He’s covered the headlines, so that images are all that’s left. The works were made in 2006-2007 but this is their first time being exhibited.
This year’s hot item at UNTITLED was LA’s Steve Turner Contemporary. Digital paintings by Petra Cortright (~in the $11,000 range), plaster painting by Michael Staniak, and doodley paintings by Camilo Restrepo had all sold out.
I liked Leslie Thornton’s binocular videos, for the same reasons I enjoy Jack Goldstein’s lightning paintings. Thornton simply takes one clip of animals working (bees, a snake moving down a tree, a horse grazing) and juxtaposes that with a kaleidoscope version of the image–like a inescapable network of fractals, or atoms. If bees could have art, maybe it would look something like this.
And of course, Winkleman has added incentive to buy the videos. It comes in a beautiful vintage leather binocular case, with a USB encased in a silver cylinder.
Jen Dalton and Jennifer McCoy’s Auxiliary Projects once again offers multiples at an affordable price point. They’ve brought filing cabinets full of drawings by Adam Thompson, arranged by “keyword”; this one is “christmas tree calder.”
Another experimental take on drawing was at Bitforms, where Tristan Perich has programmed a computer to run a pen up and down the wall, pushed and pulled only by two strands of fishing line. The outcome is pretty run-of-the-mill. But as a performance, it made me think of the stress relief people get from doodling—looong, eeeeven strokes.
Another example of experimentation which you won’t find elsewhere: the booth for Site:Lab (of Grand Rapids, Michigan) has been inverted and turned into a site-specific structure by Alois Kronschlaeger. The booth uses all the same materials as the fair’s architecture and breaks through the tent’s floor to expose the sand. If nothing else, it just seems to advocate for a different kind of art than you typically find at the fairs (in other words, painting).
God, Jocelyn Hobbie’s paintings are unbelievably appealing (terrible photo). At Fredericks & Freiser, you’ll barely find a brushstroke on her smooth egg tempura-like oil portraits of women, often striking a creepily threatening or victimized pose. I particularly love the painting on the right, “Rattle,” which shows female beauty in three stages of life– made to look clownishly sweet. In this version, life is long, slow process of disillusionment.