This is why I pulled out of the first New York Show I juried into:The NYC Parallax Art Fair: Subverting the NormWritten By Taylor Tash
This past weekend, running concurrently with the overly hyped Frieze Art Fair, where galleries were required to pay up to $84,000 per booth, was a humbler art fair advertising itself as being far more inclusive. According to the Parallax Art Fair’s website, its mission is to “make a statement about the very real problems concerning knowledge acquisition and objects designated as contemporary art” and recognizes “no ‘superiority’ or extra-relevance of any form of object making of any kind and questions the ability to determine content in this way.” Parallax presents itself as a noble institution that welcomes all forms of art and invites a wide variety of voices to showcase at its fair. So what exactly does this look like?
I went into the Parallax thinking it would be a typical New York art fair, with high-concept pieces evoking no feelings other than alienation and deserving no interpretations besides mental masturbation, but some of the first pieces I encountered were paintings of Native Americans in cowboy hats and photographs of desert landscapes. This jarred me a little, since I never expected to see art that seemed better suited for a gift shop at the Grand Canyon at a Manhattan art fair. Moving further into the fair revealed more art of this caliber, with a lot of the featured pieces resembling what one would find in a doctor’s office waiting room or a hotel, with simple subjects such as seascapes or whisps of pastel colors against similarly saccharine backgrounds. The fair was showcased in a lavish baroque-style ballroom, offering a disjointed display of pretentious Manhattan decadence playing host to art that for the most part would probably get a better reception from the Midwestern mom set. The ballroom was sparsely populated with a few foreign tourists and the artists themselves with expressions of resignation on their faces as they sat in folding chairs and quietly chatted with each other. The artists were excited to discuss their art with patrons, but at times they seemed so desperate to pitch their work that it reminded me of trips I’ve gone on to Mexico and Jamaica and the way souvenir vendors so vehemently presented pairs of maracas or ‘Smile, Mon!’ t-shirts.
But the fact that these artists seemed so disappointed in the fair’s turnout and reception was somewhat beneficial to visitors such as myself, since I was given the opportunity to hear about the intentions and methods of some of the artists whose work I genuinely enjoyed. Houston-based artist Dianne K. Webb, whose kaleidoscopic marine-themed pieces utilize an ethereal, eye-catching palette of light blues and greens, explained her process of making ink look like watercolor and the themes of transformation and renewal her work focuses on. One artist, Matt Cauley, showcased a painting that was the piece I saw at the Parallax that stuck with me the most. It’s a portrait of a young woman standing on a New York City subway platform while intently looking at something in the distance, and her expression is an enigmatic blend of bewilderment and tension. When I asked Cauley about his work, he offered an interesting explanation of how he prompted his subjects to candidly pose for his paintings, but because he never gave me an answer as to why the girl on the subway platform had such an ambiguous expression could be why I couldn’t shake it off.
Because I found so much of the art totally pedestrian it made it easier for me to hone in on the pieces I considered true gems and that shows where the Parallax succeeded. If its mission was to subvert the New York art scene by showcasing work that people of all demographics would actually want to buy instead of merely trying to find what’s most likely to be gushed over in the next issue of Art Forum
then hypothetically they’re achieving what they set out to. I say it’s hypothetical, however, since the fair was practically empty. One artist actually approached me to find out how I heard about the show and said she was frustrated that she traveled all the way to New York to show her work to a very meager audience. Perhaps the Parallax’s unpopularity exemplifies that the New York art world doesn’t want to be questioned and a populist approach will be shunned by a scene which so heavily caters to an elite minority. When I asked the disappointed artist for her business card, the one she provided me with featured a painting of androgynous figures in dancerly poses. I couldn’t help but feel it was apropos that this painting was entitled ‘Ignored.’
SPREAD THE LOVE.« Previous
LEAVE A REPLY
Something seems to have taken over my psyche, making me feel as though a painting that doesn't carry significant meaning is lacking in some fundamental way. I used to paint to create a thing of beauty--my own version of nature's work; now, some of my least "beautiful" pieces have become my favorites.
Every day we read online, or hear on the news, or see on television, reports of increasing earth temperatures, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and shrinking habitats. How can we ignore what is so in our faces? Imagine being a young child living on an island that is getting steadily smaller...there has got to be an underlying fear of the future within the heart of everyone who lives there. The only home they have ever known will be no more.
It is my dream to one day soon have a big show of eco-artists' work to illustrate the plight of this child and so many others, as well as the diminution of the habitats of so many of the world's animals. Watch.
Sometimes a seed of an idea that was overlooked in your initial effort, whatever that might be, can germinate in a do-over.
I used to be afraid to start over on a portion of a painting. I feared that I might make matters worse, or that the good parts of what I had done would be lost forever.
It has taken me all this time to overcome that trepidation; now I know several important things:
1. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.
2. Starting fresh brings new elements, ideas, and techniques into play.
3. Additional research and/or references may be utilized.
4. The trust extended to oneself in the process builds each time a start over is attempted.
5. Sometimes, wonderful new life will appear in the most unexpected places.
My students are often reluctant to redo parts of their paintings, and I so understand how they feel. It will take time, and a bit of a nudge from me, before they feel comfortable with taking the extra time and effort to start fresh. Only then will they understand the power of
Having fun with this "lobstah" boat that's heading into the fog. Guess I know what I'll be doing all week!
FineArtViews Daily Newsletter | Thursday, March 28, 2013 | Issue 1486 by Jim Benest
Dear Subscriber,This post is by guest author, Jim Benest. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 23,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
A couple of months ago, I heard an interesting comment from one of our customers that I would like to share with you. I had just invited her to an upcoming artist reception and she replied that she was concerned that she would feel uncomfortable, because she didn’t think that she knew enough about art to attend an artist reception.
This got me to wondering how many others pass through our gallery feeling the same way? Or worse, how many don’t come in at all because they fear that they will feel out of place? Her remark reminded me of the individual that puts off joining the local health club until after they get in better shape. I asked her if she had seen the movie What about Bob
. When she said she had, I reminded her about Bill Murray’s character and the need to just take baby steps at first.
To enjoy art, is it really that necessary to have taken art history courses, to have visited some of the great European museums or to be or have been involved in creating something yourself? While these experiences may give you a head start, they certainly are not required to enjoy what someone else has created, today.
And don’t stress over not knowing how it was created. Do you know how your house was built, how your car was assembled or how your clothes were made? And you certainly don’t want to know what’s in that double dip Gelato
, now do you? All that really matters is that you were drawn to it, you liked it and it made you feel good.
So, that’s all I’m saying: take a few art baby steps, ask a few questions and when it makes you feel good, take some home. Art has no cholesterol and is 100% fat and calorie free, so you can put off joining that health club a little longer and feel good about buying some art, for yourself, today! (Oh and by the way, the customer that I mentioned earlier, she decided that she would like to attend the artist reception after all.)
Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day,
Beginning on April 17th through July 16th this summer, I will have art displayed at the Blue Glass Cafe on Clarendon Street in Boston, joining several other artists in their upstairs gallery.
This is a first for me; I've never shown in Boston and to have my work be on display for 3 months is wonderful. Of course I can spare only a few because during the summer I'll be showing at several other venues all over New England. This should prove to be an interesting season, folks!
I'm thrilled to say that I am now a featured artist for Manhattan Arts International online gallery, New York. Renee Phillips, founder of MAI, has discovered my Man and Sea series and to quote her, "They are amazing!"
Such gratifying words from an influential member of the art community! From your lips to God's ears, Renee!
I'm hoping that from this new base I will be able to continue my efforts to spread the word about global warming and rising seas that threaten to swallow so many islands around the world.
To visit Renee's site, go to ManhattanArts.com where I join a group of exceptional artists whose work I greatly admire.
Today was a milestone of sorts...a thirteen year old boy from Saskatchewan Canada requested biographical data from me for a report his class is doing on environmental artists.
This modest request blew me away because little more than a year ago, I was a total unknown in the world of art. Don't get me wrong--I'm not much more than that now--but to think that a boy from another country would be able to pick me out of a crowd of environmental artists as the one he would do his report about? I am so honored.
This natural world we inhabit means so much to me that I have chosen to put my deepest feelings regarding its imperiled condition into some of my art. Simply knowing that, on some small level, I am spreading that concern beyond my immediate circle of influence is more than gratifying. Thank you, Cody. You've made my day!
There was a time not so long ago when hearing about someone else's triumph would make me, well...envious at best. My inner child would say things like, "I've worked just as hard as she has--why not me?"
I might have found myself in a temporary funk over the realization that this just wasn't my turn to shine. Am I proud of this admission? Oh, no.
Thank goodness a few more years, wins, and losses have given me at least some measure of maturity!
I'll tell you a little story:
I recently joined an artists' group (online) which was formed to be a resource for those who are working very hard to further their careers. You don't get to actually meet these people, you just get to read their journeys. This is all very new for me, so I've been paying close attention to all the posts. The other day, I read one from a girl who has been involved in the group quite a bit longer than I have. I'll paraphrase her post headline: "I almost don't want to post this news for fear that you will find me a brazen braggart." Got my attention right away!
So she went on to report not one, not two, but three major coups in her art career, which is based in Chicago. Her delight was palpable as she wrote about the acceptance, the award, and the prize. I don't even know, as yet, what she makes for art; I don't have to. I know it has to be good, and that she has earned every accolade.
My gut reaction kind of shocked me at first: I felt my heart swell as though she were someone I cared for deeply and her triumph was somehow connected to my life. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet the feeling didn't go away. I had to write to her and tell her how totally excited I was that she had done so well.
After giving it more thought, I've come to the conclusion that it was possible for me to relate to her success the way I did because I know how hard she's had to work. I can totally relate to her excitement, and I can almost see the glow on her face when she talks about it. We are, I guess you could say, kindred strangers in the world of making art.