Heavenly: On Cloud Nine at the ArtHamptons Fair
ArtHamptons may have come and gone, lasting as it did from July 2-5, but I’m still on cloud nine. Recounting the experience is a chance to share the powerful display of postwar & contemporary art on view. And sifting through the myriad of offerings on hand, there were a total of 9 booths, artists and activities that made July 4th’s Artrageous celebration an unforgettable day at the Fair.
Top 3 Art Booths
The diversity of artistic styles and curatorial conceits were at times a bit overwhelming-one booth oozed vivacity while the attached booth seemed subdued. Keeping in line with this wide range of styles, the top 3 booths at the Fair managed to harmoniously combine complementary works that let visitors peruse at leisure.
1-VK Gallery/Per Se Art Gallery
VK Gallery/Per Se art gallery harnessed a riot of colors while creating a serene space, marked by artist Joel Urruty’s rigid sculptures in the middle of the booth while artist Victoria Kovalenchikova’s textured “map” artwork lay beyond. Artist Ida Ivanka Kubler (profiled below) exhibited works including natural materials marked by contrasting colors and neutral canvases. The overall effect of the booth was otherworldly and holistic simultaneously.
2-Dongwha Ode Gallery
Dongwha Ode gallery shows contemporary works by a wide array of emerging and established artists. The gallery’s booth exterior was a welcoming and unique blend of organic sculpture and Chinese-style ink painting: a minimal presence containing a shock of blue coloring. The booth’s interior did not disappoint, continuing the tension between monochrome and color, abstract and figurative. The delicate balance was maintained throughout by the expertise of curator Soojung Hyun.
3-June Kelly Gallery
June Kelly gallery has been around since the early days when SoHo became SoHo in lower Manhattan (1986). Her adept selection of fine artists working across abstract and figurative styles encapsulates the diversity of artists working in New York City. The gallery’s booth at ArtHamptons did not disappoint-from sculpture to painting, the meticulously spaced booth allowed requisite negative space to contemplate each work individually (a rare feat at many of today’ art fairs).
Top 3 Artists
1-Alex Guofeng Cao
Cao’s meticulous arrangement of minuscule photos into larger compositions is masterful and playful. He shows a clever knack for choosing the perfect miniature images as a foil to the larger subject matter. Overall, the work is unapologetically pop. Brigitte Bardot is created by aggregating miniatures of Jayne Mansfield. Political figures and pop artists are woven together into a singular narrative. The artist also deftly incorporates anomalies: tiny sketchings break up the repetition of imagery, all visible with a handy nearby magnifying glass.
2-Ida Ivanka Kubler
Kubler’s works vibrate at a frequency conceived in eloquent harmony. The artist is modest when discussing her work, mentioning offhandedly that it has been used as a therapeutic tool to treat patients. Her work on display at ArtHamptons apparently pales in comparison to some larger scale pieces she has created, where contrasting colors painted on reused cocoon shells spiral out to engulf the viewer. Keep an eye out for these fantastic natural and abstract works.
Suchta’s pieces, the popular series of inspirational optometrists’ charts, display another turn of whimsical genius. The literal layers of text incorporate a metaphorical layer of meaning, absent from the usual charts. Interspersed among the letters lie colorful elements, a play on painting’s place within this reconstructed visual tool. Pop and conceptual co-exist in this formidable series.
Top 3 Activities
1-Stan Brodksy Interview
A fan of travel and opening up the mind to new experiences, Brodsky is one artist whose ponderings on the convergence of life and art are both insightful and not too serious. Brodsky may have flirted with both representative and abstract styles, but it is his colorful abstraction that may have made the strongest impression. He walked through his influences, the transitions he’s made throughout his immense body of work, and his role as a teacher and mentor at Long Island University in this interesting interview, with curator and fellow Long Island resident Claudia DeMonte.
It was a mix of pleasure and surprise that greeted this public art enthusiast when the amount of art situated outdoors became apparent. At ArtHamptons, every outdoor section was filled, whether with an oversize portrait bust, whimsical abstract creations or Sam Tufnell’s irreverent LED light gnomes. Sandy’s red cut-out style sculptures, placed at the entrance to the backyard, were especially fitting.
3-Craft Food & Spirits
There are those who live and die by art, and those who endure it. Both camps can enjoy fine crafted food and mixed beverages. The offerings on hand were small, local businesses who came out to the fair to share what they had cookin’–including 4th of July BBQ (smokehouse style outside) by Cheff Collette, Venezuelan rum and vodka alongside Gubba Rum. The refreshments stand was a big hit with all attendees, well done ArtHamptons!
Exploring ArtHamptons gave me the rare opportunity to undergo a transformation. Entering the front doors flanked by outdoor sculpture led to taking a turn through the waves of pop art, figurative paintings, photography and abstraction. Around every corner lay new wonders waiting to be uncovered. Were there objects I detested? Absolutely. Many more artworks elicited a thoughtful engagement with the artists producing them. And artists and gallerists were just a stone’s throw away across the fair. One moment I was learning about silkworms, the next moment was a chance to uncover microportraits within larger pop art prints. Each inch of the fair was packed with possibilities for visitors to test their knowledge of what contemporary art means, how different strains have evolved since the postwar period and what galleries around the world are interested in showing.