NADA on Top

by Paddy Johnson on December 3, 2016 Art Fair

The Deauville

The Deauville

A cab driver told me there are fewer people in Miami beach this year due to Zika fears. An artist told me there were fewer artists in Miami due to Donald Trump’s election. Everyone tells me they have fair fatigue. But dealers, willing to refute any and all evidence to the contrary, say their fairs have been busy.

Whether or not anyone is suffering as a result, one thing is certain: attendance is way off from last year.  There are fewer people in the streets and at the fairs across the board. Certainly this was the case at NADA yesterday, which was uncharacteristically quiet. Not that this seemed to bother the dealers. Most were relaxed and seemed content, having made their sales the day before. This stood in stark contrast to Pulse, where even the slightest expression of interest, inspired long sales pitches and desperate looks. I felt bad for them.

A slower pace and fewer jovial parties from most of the fairs came as a welcome relief, even if they were a result of election malaise. There are a few more grey hairs amongst all of us—including this reporter—and the giant, all day, courtyard parties at NADA have been replaced by a swag table and cafe that now serves fancy donuts. (Although, P Diddy made an appearance today at the pool, so the parties haven’t actually gone away—they just aren’t the permanent fixture they’ve been in the past.)

The spirit, though, remains the same. More than any other fair, NADA’s dealers are defined by an investment in art that’s so intense it seems to demand generosity. For example, when visiting the Invisible Exports booth, Benjamin Tischer made a point introducing me to Jerry the Marble Faun at Situations. “That’s a rabbit hole you have to go down!” he beamed as he told me about the ceramics made by the gardener for Mrs. Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale. The two were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy and famous for shunning the world after high society wouldn’t accept their eccentricities.

Tischer enthusiasm wasn’t an isolated incident. MacGregor Harp at 247365 recommended I see Raul de Nieves at The Company, because his beaded figurative sculptures look infused with joy and dance. And Phil Grauer, a NADA board member and partner at CANADA, offered some context. The fair wants to be more inclusive. Last year’s venue experiment with Fountainbleau didn’t work out that well for that reason. The hotel wouldn’t make more space available to the fair at a reasonable cost, so they were forced to reduce the size. It created an atmosphere they didn’t like, so they returned to The Deauville this year with the objective of offering more space to more dealers.

The efforts paid off. The fair looks and feels better. Perhaps most importantly, though,  the quality art to crap ratio is better than anywhere else, making NADA the model, and fair to beat.

Highlights below.

The company

Raul de Nieves at The Company. de Nieves is something of a rising star—his work was featured in MoMA PS1’s Greater New York show last year and consistently shows

Jerry the Marble Faun

Jerry the Marble Faun at Situations. The back story of this gardener turned artist mentioned in the introduction makes the ceramics all the more interesting but they stand on their own too. The pieces look as if constructed from the detritus of a garden.

Sasha Bruening

Sascha Braunig’s been getting a lot of attention recently. Her exhibition at PS1 offers a great overview of her still young career and it seems like pretty much every museum group show I’ve seen recently includes at least one psychedelic alien rendering by the artist. I haven’t seen many watercolors by Braunig, though, so this work at Foxy Production is a rare treat. And I’m told that Foxy will be showing many more watercolors in the spring, so that’s something to look forward to.

Rachel Uffner

I almost expect this figure to move more like a machine than a person due to its smooth rendering. Leonhard Hurzlmeier at Rachel Uffner—a stand out for sure.


Assemblage faces are all the rage. I know this statement doesn’t appear to have much to do with the Jessie Stead pictured above, but it does refer to “The Walkman” the lead image and sculpture for her show at 247365 right now.  Sunglasses, an upside down bubble gum machine and headphones form a face with eyes lips and a goatee. It’s pretty clever. I like the piece above, though, for something for far dumber reasons. The glowing lights are pretty.

American Medium

This is the weirdest and possibly most wonderful Ann Hirsch we’ve seen. On view at American Medium, we’re told the piece is an amalgam of herself and her husband Gene Mchugh. Is there a Genesis Breyer P-orridge project on the horizon?


Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala Installation view. Pretty much everything in this booth is great. A styrofoam potted plant glazed in ceramic, a gianormous t-shirt covered in parrots (the oversized t-shirt trend continues?) a basket of fruit wrapped in tiny fruit labels—it’s literally a garden of art.

Ginny Casey

Well this sure is exciting: Ginny Casey is showing at Half Gallery! We’ve been covering Casey since she maintained a studio at 1717 Troutman in Bushwick. Her paintings evoke Susan Rothenberg and Phillip Guston, both in the paint handling and the surreal elements of the work. There’s a dreamlike quality to these works that give them a kind of uncanny quality. They are well worth a look.

Jack Geary

Alexander Herzog at Jack Geary. These abstractions are built through thickly applied gesso that’s then fingered through and painted over. The textures of paint upon paint suggest an utter delight and fascination with paint. It’s worth acknowledging that the booth’s a bit over hung, but to be fair, dealers need to sell a certain amount of work to break even so may be why there’s too much art here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: