Pulse Continues to Make Strides

by Paddy Johnson on December 6, 2014 Art Fair

A view from the Pulse VIP lounge.

A view from the Pulse VIP lounge.

Possibly the best thing Pulse has going for it is their VIP lounge. Set at the back of their tent on the beach, this balcony gives collectors an incredible view of the ocean. When I visited met two friends who had been there for most of the day and were deliriously happy. That’s what you want.

The new tent is a much-needed departure from the Ice Palace, which thanks to a few rocky years of leadership, many now associate with leaks, poor exhibitors and poor sales. Pulse’s new Executive Director Helen Toomer has pulled in new talent, and removed a lot of the dead weight—as she did with the New York iteration of the fair— but her work is not yet done. She’ll need to find more talent if the fair wants to compete with some of the larger fairs and she’ll certainly need to work on the art viewing experience.

Exhibitors who got slated near the sides of the tent have very low ceilings and not nearly enough light. Those at the center of the fair benefit from better lighting, but everyone suffers from having their booth labels placed so high it’s hard for visitors to read them. Touring a fair with a little over 70 exhibitors shouldn’t be nearly as hard as it is.

Still exhibitors didn’t look unhappy. It was a quiet day yesterday at the fair, but the look of terror a visitor sees on exhibitors who haven’t sold was not there. Thursday was a busy day for Pulse and speculation over whether Saturday would be a big day had begun. (Normally it’s not for the larger fairs, but many of the satellite fairs see increased sales on the weekend.) For those who are thinking of checking out the fair, here’s a look at what you’ll be seeing.

Pulse entrance

A view from the Pulse entrance. Off to the corner is the kite like installation of Andrea Canepa at Rosa Santos Gallery, the Pulse Prize winner.  Every fair, Pulse awards a prize to the best solo booth in the fair, as determined by a panel of judges. A full image of that piece here.

Kathy Butterly, Slick Hold, 2014

I took about a hundred pictures of Kathy Butterly’s ceramics at Shoshana Wayne Gallery.  These weird and beautiful shapes left me drooling. Slick Hold, 2014

Flat world

These Butterly glasses on cup got dubbed “Flat world”. No idea that’s a reference to.

A yellow Edward Burtinsky

A yellow landscape by Edward Burtynsky at Bryce Wolkowitz stands out mostly because its yellow.

Mixed Greens Gallery

Naomi Reis’s Borrowed Landscape IV at Mixed Greens Gallery had already sold when I arrived. This particular piece was drawn from a photo she took at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and then digital manipulated. The framed collages “finiish” the pieces.

Donna Dennis, wood and glass box with vinyl and gouache on balsa and polystryene, metal Taconite Tower and the Night Sky, 2012 20 1⁄4 x 24 1⁄4 x 12 in.

A close up of the Donna Dennis also seen in the above Mixed Greens install shot. Dennis is a 72 year old artist who has been constructing maquettes and building size installations for years. This one gets a nod from us for its intimate scale and careful constuction; wood and glass box with vinyl and gouache on balsa and polystryene, metal Taconite Tower and the Night Sky, 2012 20 1⁄4 x 24 1⁄4 x 12 in.

My favorite install

My favorite installation seen here at GUSFORD. I was told the gallerists moved their seats from the center of the booth because they felt they were interfering with the viewing experience. These abstract works by Genevieve Chua are inspired by the cicada, a large flying insect native to Latin America and other warm climates.

I guess it's not possible to get rid of all the bad work.

This show of photographs by David Magnusson is supposed to encourage us to think about the way culture informs our beliefs. He’s from Sweden, a secular country, and this is a series of pictures of women who remain virgins until they are married.  Simplistic morality lessons aside, my big take away from this project is that Magnusson’s view of Christians is seen through a remarkably limited palette. Did he shoot them all in the same city on the same day? Why is every shot look so similar? You can see this work at Pictura Gallery

You Can Build a Mountain of Happiness but the Ghosts are Always There, 2014

Three hours into the fair and Rocklemann & had sold half of Jeffrey Teuton’s paintings. This one is an unhappy ghost in front of a pile of candy and we love it. Teuton was our benefit chair last year which makes us unabashedly biased.

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