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Why do I go to Basel?

December 7, 2015

Every year someone asks me “Why do you go to Art Basel? Are artists supposed to go? Doesn’t it bother you to see art in an art fair setting?” These questions puzzle me. Not because of the questions themselves but because they show a lack of knowledge about the art world.

The art world is one of the only industries in the world that can be whatever it wants to be. There are no set rules to guide you through. People often consider themselves experts overnight by reading a few books and advise others on the few subjects they know. Others spend years educating themselves on the nuances of every movement. The prices for work are unregulated and the value of a piece is not necessarily determined by the technique, materials used, or time spent creating it but rather the greater need for it. The artists themselves range in personality from extreme attention seekers to “don’t talk to me unless I talk to you”. Of course the spectrum of these traits vary and there are some artists who believe that they are like everyone else outside of the art world- which still borders the crazy line. With all of this in mind, what is so special about Art Basel Miami Beach?

Art Basel itself is an extreme opportunity for art collecting. In the U.S. there are very few occasions that galleries bring what they think is their best work to display for our viewing pleasure. The participants in Art Basel are usually the top tier galleries exhibiting some of the most famous artists in the world. The art shown is for collectors who are used to the high price tags with which the work comes. Over the years it has become more commercial than all the other fairs and has become the best example of art as a business. The Art Basel fair is not extraordinary but if you are at all interested in the art market, it is a good way to see what people in business think collectors are seeking. As an artist, I think that artists should try to understand how dealers’ think– What they think will sell or whom they are appealing to. (Not that whatever they do would change an artists point of view). It is just good business to understand how the market conducts itself.

One significant way that fairs have changed the art world is that idea of understanding what you are looking at is lost. Viewers breeze past most of the art without really looking at the details of each piece. Like running through flashcards before a test except no one actually knows what is on the cards themselves. On one hand when you see so many people interested in the idea of art it is encouraging. But when you see so many people not taking the time or opportunity to really consider what it is they are looking at or looking for, it is disheartening. Therefore the problem with art fairs for artists lies within the business model itself. Artists should understand that there is no way that buyers would ever visit all the galleries that set up shop in Miami in such a short time. But artists (and collectors) should also encourage their dealers to display more provocative work that educates and challenges the viewers’ eye instead of just appealing to what might look good next to “their beige sofa in the assigned display space”.
The following posts are most of the wonderful ideas/pieces of work/random but impactful statements that I discovered over my time during Art week in Miami. Hopefully it will help you get a sense of what is out there.

Delve deeper into Frieze 2015

May 21, 2015

Writing these posts about the art that I see sometimes takes longer than the actual presentation of the art itself. But for me sharing the art that I see is like going on a really great trip. Here are more of my selects from Frieze 2015.

Simon Periton, Guerilla Gardener, 2015
Steel, spray paint, lacquer, 82.625 x 51.75x.5in
-Not sure what this sculpture was about but loved how it changed as walk around it.
Matti Braun, Untitled, 2015
Silk, dye, powder-coated aluminium, 260 x 200 x 4cm
-Basic color study similar to the almighty Rothko but, regardless of who it is inspired by, was beautifully done.
AA Bronson, White Flag #3, 2015
Rabbit skin glue, champagne chalk and raw honey on cotton and metal grommet on linen, 94.5 x 156cm
-A provocative piece to show at a U.S. fair. Also after reading the material list, I have no idea how it was made.
Andreas Lolis, 21st Century Relics

-While most of the time I have no idea what is going on in Lolis’ work, there is something always impressive about an allegory with gold leaf detail.
Philippe Decrauzat, Flags, 2015
Acrylic on canvas, 46.125 x 46.125in
-The subject of contemporary corporate art is becoming more and more popular in non-corporate arenas. While this is a great example of art that incorporates movement and perspective as well as plays tricks with your eyes, I wonder if it sells for people’s homes.
XU Zhen, Play – Spire of the Sky, 2013
Genuine and artificial leather, BDSM accessories, foam, metal, wood, 310 x 60 x 60cm
-I’m all for progressive art- art that pushes boundaries and people’s limits. But when I saw this bondage and sex toy tower, it made me curious where this would go and who would buy it.
Darren Almond, Fullmoon@Waimea Canyon, 2013
C print, 70.86 x 70.86in
-Wish I was capable of capturing this photograph without the reflection because it is so beautiful.
Olafur Eliasson, Your confidence, 2014
Colored glass, stainless steel, paint (anthracite), 77.5 x 26.5 x 26.5in
Jenny Holzer, Selection of plaques from Living Series, 1980-1982
Enamel on metal, hand-painted sign, 21 x 23in
-Every fair is guilty of having a lot of pieces of art with words and neon being the subject. Luckily this Holzer selection is actually interesting.
Linder, Principle of Totality (Version I),
Gerben Mulder, Roosters Song, 2015
Gouacher, pencil and pigment dispersion on watercolor paper, 142.5 x 160cm
-Roosters Song is one of those pieces that the more you stare at it, the more you see. The abstract forms and rough drawing help to create great movement.
Giuseppe Penone @Marian Goodman Gallery
-I love when a gallery designs the booth. The dynamic use of the booth, tent height, and organization of the art makes a subject seem more attractive and an artist’s vision more clear.

Frieze Favorites

May 19, 2015

Frieze is one of my favorite art fairs that comes to consume the New York art world. Sometimes seeing art at a fair can seem endless; it’s hard to focus and it’s hard to tell what is good, what is bad, and what is just ugly. But the organization at Frieze and the ideas that are presented make it easy to have a wonderful time. Every year I am able to tour the show and root out what I think are the best things to see. While you may not agree with me, this is what I saw and loved.

Choe U-Ram, Gorgonian Chandelier, 2013,
Metallic material, machinery, electronic device (CPU board, motor, LED), resin, 82.6 x 42.1 x 37.8in
-When I see Choe U-Ram’s work, I’m instantly captivated. I find the movement of the electronics mesmerizing and completely unique.
Damian Loeb, Cygnus, 2015
Oil on linen, 36 x 36in
-At first glance I could not believe that this piece was a painting. It was unreal!
(See the detail below for a closer look).
Wayne Thiebaud, Drumstick Dinner, 2012
Oil on canvas board, 14.875 x 19.875in
-Love Thiebaud so much! He is one of those artists that are so familiar and reassuring to me, that it feels like I’m home when I see his work.
Damien Hirst, Ptolomea, 2012,
Entomological specimens and hammerite paint on canvas, 108 x 72in
-I know Damien Hirst probably did not make this piece himself. But whether it was made by him or someone else, the talent and work that it took to make it should be valued.
Beatriz Milhazes, Sem titulo, 1992,
Acrylic on canvas, 25.5 x 31.4375in
-I have been following Beatriz Milhazes’s career for thirteen years and I have never seen a work this early. By observing the artistic elements in this painting you can understand how the details in her bigger work evolved.
Robert Longo, Study for Astronaut/Armstrong, 2014,
Ink and charcoal on vellum, 14.25 x 20.87in
-A great example of a beautifully detailed study. I always find highly detailed studies fascinating because they help tell the story of the larger work.
Paola Pivi, It’s not fair, 2013
Urethane foam, plastic, feathers, 48x 96.5 x 25.25in
-Who knows if this art could give a viewer any emotion other than amusement? Regardless, who says that it should?
Daniel Arsham
Rose Quartz Eroded Chicago Bulls Jacket,
Rose quartz fragments, marble fragments, hydrostone, 29 x 38 x 12in
-A continuation of his Future Relic series. (Read more about it here). I’m always fascinated by the process of how his work is made.
Catching up to the Future, 2015
Cast objects in geological materials, sand, wood, glass, Glass diameter 46 in, Underground diameter 84in, Depth25.5in
Bernard Frize, Miscela, 2014
Acrylic and resin on canvas, 67 x 59.25in
-Was not familiar with Frize’s work before the fair but I found this piece mesmerizing. The colors are bright and the design is completely hypnotizing.
Gert & UWE Tobias, Untitled,
Framed woodcut on canvas, 80.75 x 80.75 x 2in
-A constant favorite of mine. (Read more about them here). I find the weirdness so appealing. Every time I see one of their pieces it makes me feel like the subject is of something familiar and yet, at the same time something so foreign that it scares me.
Satoshi Ohno, Prism.darknight., 2015
Oil, acrylic on canvas mounted on panel, 243 x 122.5cm
-Ohno’s pieces are not for everyone but the highly detailed and sugary sweet, prismatic color combination really strikes a cord with me. It is like looking into the craziest gem facet.
Daniel Rich,
Guangzhou Circle, China,
Acrylic on Dibond, 72 x 59in
-The architectural design and precision of these pieces are wonderful and remind me of old 1950/60s travel posters. Plus I love seeing how A-type some artists can be!
Ice Rink, Pyongyang, 2015
Acrylic on Dibond, 72 x 59in
Jean-Baptiste Bernadet
-Did not get the name of this painting but could not stop staring at it. What the photo below does not tell you was that this piece was HUGE. It was probably around 10ft. It makes me think of oil slicks on a wet pavement mixed with some fantastic aftermath of a fabulous party.
…to be continued.

Frieze this moment- My highlights

May 16, 2015

Across the river and slightly far away lies a fantastical white tent perched on the riverbank of Randall’s Island. In this lofty tent lie the hopes and dreams of many by way of the work produced by artists from around the world. Like the most wonderful pop-up museum ever created this house of wonders contains a great range of art for a multitude of admirers. While the booths that create the rows in the tent are too numerous to count, the work below will help you stay on track with interest.

T.J. Wilcox @Gladstone Gallery Booth B6
When I first saw this booth I thought that it was a bunch of bull. The booth was plastered with sunset posters and as had framed images of darker sunsets. BUT I then realized the presentation in this booth of Wilcox’s work is a perfect example of what a gallery is supposed to do at an art fair. Meaning an art fair is not a typical setting to see art so a gallery should do anything to make the viewing exciting for the viewer.
Spencer Finch @James Cohan Gallery Booth B11

A spiritual attraction is awakened within when viewing Spencer Finch’s Color Test 210. Not religious in any nature are a nod to experiments in color theory. The nine custom lightboxes illustrate warm to cool hue color combinations create a calming ethereal effect when viewed together or even individually.
Marilyn Minter @Salon94 Booth B52
Within the walls of the Salon 94 booth is four wonderful new works by Marilyn Minter. Each piece depicts body parts through condensation on a glass window. Delicately alluring and simply sexy, these pieces make you feel like you are looking into something should not.
Teresita Fernandez and Kader Attia @Lehmann Maupin Booth C14
In the Lehmann Maupin booth Ghost Vines (Yellow Gold) by Teresita Fernandez and Halam Tawaaf (2,978 beer cans) by Kader Attia stand so close to each other that you often can not one without the other. These radically different pieces that you would probably only see together at an art fair, are striking but balance each other well in this setting.
James Capper @Paul Kasmin Booth C17
While larger pieces from well-known artists dominate the walls of the Paul Kasmin booth, a simply constructed giant steel “Tooth” rests on the side. Looking like it was pulled from the mouth of a metal Godzilla, this modernist sculptural form speaks volumes about using a functional object in a non-functioning capacity. The drawings on the other hand remind me a fantasy that combines Tim Burton’s imagination with CAT construction materials.
Hank Willis Thomas @Jack Shainman Booth C23
A great strength is held within a simple arm that extends to the sky. Commenting on identity, history and popular culture, in this appealing sculpture a viewer can easily see why Hank Willis Thomas is becoming a rising star in the art world.
Gary Panter @Fredericks & Freiser Booth D17
Taking over the Fredericks & Freiser gallery booth is the work of Gary Panter. An artist known for his work on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, he not only has multiple colorful paintings hung but has transformed the black walls of the booth with hundreds of little white chalk characters and objects.

What is it to be an artist?

May 12, 2015

What is it to be an artist? I’m not just saying someone who can draw is an artist. Of course anyone can be artistically talented in some way. What I’m talking about however, is someone who devotes a large piece of themselves to their art. As an artist, I believe, a person has to constantly evolve and learn new things about themselves. They have to push their level of understanding of their hypothesis to the farthest limits. They have to be unafraid of taking chances or exploring something new. Being an artist (or a true collector), means art becomes like an addiction. Though there are some cases where art can cause bad things to happen. In those who can learn to control the need to create, this demand can create beauty and wonder. (Where would anatomy be without Da Vinci’s drawings?)
Artists are in it for life. They feel an overwhelming obligation to create and are willing to sacrifice – even if there is no glory. They dedicate all of themselves to find the uniqueness or the beauty in situations that are often less desirable.
A little over a year ago I met a well-known artist who told me that you must consume yourself with art. “Go to the studio everyday even though you may not know what is happening. Become obsessed.” He said. I thought this was a little odd but in October when I moved to my new studio, my work dominated my thoughts (as it still does) and I became obsessed. Working in mostly smaller scale, I pushed myself to a new level of understanding regarding my work.
The series is still an exploration about the way we see light and color. I believe the ways in which we view them, are influenced by things that surround us. Not necessarily the physical reality that we see, but pieces of our lives that inhabit our minds and affect our souls. Combining abstract representations of the visual experience as well as representations of a physical reality, I portray how things are and how they should be.
Below is the work that I completed between October and March.

Abstract 7, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 2, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 4, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 3, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 5, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 1, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″Prism_Abstracts1_1_web

Abstract 6, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Abstract 8, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialty papers, polyurethane, 12″x12″

Prism Study 11, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8″

Prism Study 10, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8″Prism_Study10_1_web

Prism Study 8, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8″Prism_Study8_1_web

Prism Study 7, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8″

Prism Study 9, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8 Prism_Study9_1_web

Prism Study 12, Acrylic on canvas, 8″x8″

Prism 12, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialtypapers, polyurethane, 30″ x 40″Prism_12_1_web

Prism 13, Acrylic on canvas, magazine & specialtypapers, polyurethane, 30″ x 40″
To see more of the Prism Series, Click here

Prism Abstracts and Studies at Select Art Fair

May 12, 2015

Starting this Wednesday night, May 13 I will be premiering my newest work at the Select Art Fair (548 West 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue in Chelsea) through the Starry Night Exposure Program in Booth 204. The fair will continue through to Sunday, May 17 at 6pm. The hours vary so if you would like to come, please check the website.

From the Sky- New York to Costa Rica and Back

May 1, 2015

I love watching the sky when I am flying. Since I was a child, I loved seeing how the sky would change as I passed over. While I do think whoever is sitting next to me must think I’m nuts as I snap away, to me there is nothing more peaceful than seeing the sky.