Monday, March 12, 2012

Fountain 2012 - ArtBlogNY"C" Highlights Pics and Review

Fountain 2012 NYC faced a complex set of issues this year. On one hand, the fair inhabited spacious new digs at the historic 69th Regiment Armory @ 25th Street with almost triple the booths (from approx: 20+ to 60+.) On the other hand, with growth comes pain. The expanded roster left much to be desired as it appeared Fountain organizers were in a mad dash to fill the cavernous Armory space in order to meet overhead expenditures.

A slippery slope indeed because the fair already has a reputation of being somewhat of an outsider "fun in the sun" venue which lacks curatorial vision.

Add in rising competitiveness to attract collectors, more fairs and fewer collectors to go around, and at the end of the day, the result resembles an overreaching art booth affair funded mainly by artists and start up galleries alike, many of whom go home in the red.

The positive: Either by accident and/or good fortune, Fountain finds itself with an opportunity to make a big splash (no pun intended) next year because the famed 1913 Armory Show, which also took place at the 69th Regiment Armory, celebrates it's 100th Anniversary. In addition, Duchamp’s famed urinal piece, “Fountain”, an icon of the avant/garde influenced 1913 Armory Show also happens to be the inspiration for the title of the Fountain Art Fair itself; therefore, Fountain 2013 has tremendous potential for a marketing windfall if the organizers are up to the task.

This challenge comes with many hurdles. For one, Fountain 2013 will be comparing itself to one of the most significant art events of the 20th century. If Fountain can’t put together a more solid group of exhibitors with a clearer overall vision, Fountain 2013 may go down as a mere anecdotal side show to it’s historically significant other. I strongly suggest that the Fountain organizers mobilize a team of curators to create diverse themes which will highlight the relevance of the 1913 Armory Show. I for one, would be honored to be involved with that challenge.

Also, Fountain has developed a progressive DIY charm and a loyal group of participants through the years such as Front Room, Murder Lounge, and G. Spot. These entities have given their blood, sweat, and tears to Fountain and their efforts should be honored/highlighted as well.

Fountain 2012 NYC All-Stars: (see slide show below)

Big Deal Arts Advisory
- Led by Director/Owner Ginger Shulick, Big Deal Arts Advisory exhibited a challenging and cohesive collection of contemporary art, mixing sculpture, painting, and drawing. Ginger will be opening a new space @ Chrystie and Stanton Streets this spring. Ginger also specializes in video art having recent successes at Art Basel Miami Beach and she regularly gives talks at universities as to the packaging of video art as art object.

Bushwick Gallery
- Led by Director Katarina Hybenova, Bushwick gallery showed a nice group of paintings, mostly in a colorful symbolic abstract style. Painter Julie Torres created a series of small symbol based abstract paintings that particularly caught my eye. Julie will be highlighted next on as the "Artist of the Day."

Front Room - One of the original Fountain organizers and participants, Front Room is led by husband and wife team, Daniel Aycock and Kathleen Vance. Daniel and Kathleen are not only leading examples for showing high quality art at Fountain, but they have a long and illustrious track record working successfully with artists/organizations both locally here in New York City and abroad. Daniel and Kathleen also head up WagMag Art Guide, a Brooklyn based gallery directory and online magazine.

Grace Exhibition Space - Probably the most welcome expanded presence at Fountain this year. The performance art added a much broader dimension to the fair. Kudos to Brooklyn’s Grace Exhibition Space curator Jill McDermid-Hokanson for organizing an engaging and talented group of artists led by coordinator/artist Ryan Hawk which included performances by Marni Kotak, Meghann Snow, Katya Grokhovsky among others. The inclusion and expansion of performance art efforts not only at Fountain but the other art fairs this past week were generally met with enthusiasm and created a more dynamic environment overall. Fountain would be wise to expand on this theme as it will create a relevant platform for the dada themed, avant/garde aesthetic Fountain has a duty to honor and celebrate next year.

CORRECTION: I had mistakenly mentioned the art venue cheapandplastique as being a counter culture/fashion themed magazine. This is not the case. cheapandplastique presented a well-curated booth at Fountain this year, exhibiting a roster of internationally acclaimed artists. ArtBlogNy"C" apologizes for the error.


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