Scope Miami 2006: Also, Not So Bad After All

by Art Fag City on December 7, 2006 Events

Installation shot, Scope Art Fair Miami, Photo: AFC

Good afternoon people! We’re live here at Scope, which I mention, primarily because I am thrilled with the concept of wireless connections, not because it will change your reading experience greatly (but for a few more spelling mistakes.) It should be noted however, that this is a great change of scenery from my usual blogging local, as I am currently typing in the Scope tent with a giant power generator humming loudly behind me. I’d like to thank the good people at Scope for making posting easier for me, though I will still ask that you forgive me if this post is briefer than it should be.

I’m not sure what I expected Scope to be like this year, but I know I really wanted it to be better than their New York fair in March. Not that it takes much to improve upon what I saw then, but you have to hand it to Scope personel for putting together a much stronger event. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the stalk Scope performance artist, who this year is wrapped from head to toe in a ball of yarn either walking around the fair blindly, or writhing on the floor being mistaken for a homeless person*, but by and large the fair is laid out better, and there are fewer galleries that stick out for being truly horrible.

Now, if you’re looking to Scope to find that Andy Warhol Marilyn Screenprint set of ten you’ve always wanted, you might as well turn around and head back to Basel, because you aren’t going to find that stuff here. Scope is an emerging artist fair, and as such, not all of the work is awesome. Of course, there are plenty of secondary market dealers selling second rate art by first rate artists, so, you know, I guess it all boils down to the kind of art you are most content to by and large dislike.

At Basel, the indicators that the art will be bad are things like the gallery labels aren’t mounted neatly to the wall, or their booths are messy; At Scope this isn’t an indication of anything. Curators Office (Booth 23) for example, hand writes their labels, and consistently shows good work, this fair included. What is more often an indication of a shitty booth at Scope, is five gallery staff members all sitting behind the same desk. These are the people who appear visibly annoyed when you ask them a question, even though it’s their job to talk to you. Of course, maybe they know that I’m only going to use that information against them later anyway, which is why they don’t want to tell me the name of that shitty artist who’s work is hung poorly on the wall.

Ian Wright, Mixed Media (buttons) on paper

There are plenty of standing gallerists to choose from at Scope however, and those booths are usually worth mentioning. Proving that fairs are indeed a place to discover new galleries and art, Christopher Henry Gallery (Booth 21a), has a lot of great work I never would have found up on 29th street in Chelsea if left to my own devices. In particular, his Ian Wright mixed media work on paper is excellent, using hand made buttons to depict a Chuck Close painting. I was initially interested in the work because of the five hundred handmade buttons I seem to be seeing lately, I thought this one seemed more clever than most, (though perhaps a bit too art-world-self-referential.) As it turns out, his work is even better than I had first thought, so much so, that a full write up will arrive next week when I can better do it justice and fully examine the possible influence of Ian Wright’s work on artist Vic Muniz.

Other galleries of note are Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (Booth 32), which is showing an array of back lit computery pieces. The gallery is worth visiting because the range of work exhibited is formally beautiful, and tends not to be solely about the fetishization of technology (i-pod worshippers can go to MarcdePuechredon (booth 88) for that. Greener Pastures (Booth 11), is a Toronto gallery displaying the work of Andre Ethier, an painter whose work I have been a little suspicious about in the past. I have to say, he’s gotten a lot better over the last year. His figures have become more detailed (and thus more interesting), and his paint handling relies a little less on that “bad-good” aesthetic that so often is just bad.

A few final notes on the fair: SixtySeven Gallery is a notable exception to this, but Scope does seem a little thin on good painting this year. Also, my understanding is that there will be some good performance by Jacques Louis Vidal, an artist who was most recently featured in Barry Hoggard and James Wagner’s curatorial project Dangling Between The Real Thing and the Window. I’ll let you know how that goes when I see it.

*The scope performance is extremely problematic because no matter how much of an “outsider” the artist is, this is really not a comparable position to being without any means of supporting yourself financially.
**Editors note: We’re working on getting a better camera, so our poor photographs do not become the bane of this blog.

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