Armory Week, More Like Spring Break / by John McGurk

 Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Came down with a nasty cold, which put a pretty good damper on my Armory week viewing and festivities, but I was able to make it to a couple of the fairs.  Woke up on Friday feeling like a human being again and looked out my window to a sea of white.

For the most part, you can always expect the huge Armory Show to have some great work, even it is from the masters of the 20th century. Most importantly, there was a shining light in the paintings of Andrew Brischler, showing with Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach, FL. His work is exciting and fresh, I can't wait to see what he does next. 

spring break.jpg

The best part of Armory week are the smaller fairs and independent projects. Spring Break, a relatively new fair, is a really interesting model. The organizers, The They Co. have access to a large building and used all floors for this "curator's driven" art fair.

Apparently all purchases were to be made through Paddle 8, an online auction site that has an interesting platform and has been around for a couple years now. I wonder how it worked out, having checked the site a couple of times, it did not seem like a lot of the work was being bid on, but who knows.

Although the white cube has its merits, I am always more excited to see art in unexpected and unique places. That said, this fair was definitely heavy on installation and video work, but very little of it was overbearing or aggressive in an underground art happening kind of way.

The video still below, by Jack + Leigh Ruby, is apparently some kind of elaborate video about an even more convoluted insurance scam, created by the scammers themselves. I think. If nothing else, it is a very thorough project, with a long cast of characters and players, so I have to give credit where it is due, but unfortunately I didn't have the patience to dig deeper. It is probably worth revisiting someday.

 Jack + Leigh Ruby, curated by Eve Sussman + Simon Lee

Jack + Leigh Ruby, curated by Eve Sussman + Simon Lee

Curated by Eve Sussman, the work of Peter Dudek had an undeniable appeal to it, who doesn't love extreme modernist architecture paired with white picket fence suburbia. The image below is a lenticular print, as one walks by the image, it takes on a holographic quality, wavering between each thing pictured. This effect can be used poorly, but Dudek's collages have a nice cohesion to them. 

 Domino Draming House by Peter Dudek

Domino Draming House by Peter Dudek

On the second floor there were a couple good video rooms and installations. In particular, Jeremy Blake's video piece was worth some patience, like watching a Dan Deacon show performed by ghosts. Blake's own personal life was a tragic love story, one can't help but think about this when viewing the work. 

 Jeremy Blake video still, curated by Maureen Sullivan

Jeremy Blake video still, curated by Maureen Sullivan

The installation below by Myla Dalbesio, Juliana Cerqueira Leite and Grace Villamil was great, very disorienting with a sound track that made you feel like you were under water. Probably the most interesting thing was that they seemed to have imprinted the foil material with a brick like pattern, enhancing the chaotic and fractal quality of the experience. A lot of time could be spent in this little cave.

 Installation by Myla Dalbesio, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Grace Villamil, curated by Amanda Schmitt

Installation by Myla Dalbesio, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Grace Villamil, curated by Amanda Schmitt

Taking the alternative space white cube idea to the max, Ballast Projects had an impressive showing of abstract paintings with a grouping of small sculptures lining the walls. They had a concept and went for it, the paintings on display demanded it. 

 Ballast Projects

Ballast Projects

The paintings below by Matt Mignanelli are great examples of his work. His new series of black paintings are not done with tape, all by hand. There is something to be found in their starkness, these paintings are so simple but do very complex things to the eyes.

 Matt Mignanelli

Matt Mignanelli

For a new fair, Spring Break was an ambitious project. The best thing about these kinds of fairs is the community support, from all accounts the opening night was a complete mess. Its projects like these that attract many to art in the first place, it is an important fact to keep in mind during Armory Week.