A Brooklyn Debut
By John S. Berman, WTP Art Correspondent
Since its launch in 2011, Saatchi has promoted The Other Art Fair as an international exposition to showcase the work of emerging but often “under-the radar” artists. From November 9–12, Brooklyn joined the ranks of London and Bristol in the United Kingdom and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia as the latest “creative capital” for 130 painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed media specialists to share and market their work under one roof.
By focusing on the individual artists rather than the galleries or dealers who promote them, The Other Art Fair, which took place at the Brooklyn Exposition Center on a frigid weekend in Greenpoint, provided a unique up-close and personal opportunity for art enthusiasts to interact directly with each exhibitor in a relaxed and informal setting without the sales hype that often accompanies these large shows. The artists, chosen from an open call and selected by a committee, represented an extraordinarily diverse amalgam of styles and sensibilities, ages, and nationalities. Although painting, and especially abstract expressionism, dominated the exposition (sometimes to an extreme), the judges are to be commended for their selection of consistently strong work and, in particular, the scope and quality of photography represented at the show. And, in a field that is often far too male dominated, women artists, many not widely known or exhibited outside their localities, composed the majority of the exhibition.
Standout work included: Andrea Packard’s portraiture, the sweeping imagery of street photographers Cassandra Zampini and Xan Padron; Miwa Nishimura’s intricately rendered cityscapes; the vivid colors of Uruguayan-born, Long Island City-based Vicky Barranguet’s abstract paintings; and the unique metallic foil creations of M Clark.
Although sculpture, as a whole, was under-represented, Shaul Baz’s bronze bird and Margaret Ann Withers’s quirky and whimsical ceramic work accompany each artists’ paintings and were major highlights of the show. Mixed media artist Chloe Hedden and painter Cynthia Grow provided fresh perspectives to a landscape genre that can sometimes feel clichéd.
There was also an impressive array of talented and upcoming artists from around the globe. In addition to Nishimura (Japan) and Baz (Israel), Mala Raj Srivastava from New Delhi, Vienna’s Val Wecerka, London-based Hasti Sardashti, and Ukrainian Tanya Vasilenko all contributed to the quality and diversity of the show.
Saatchi’s selection committee clearly tried to walk a fine line between promoting the expo as international festival while also taking pains to ensure that Brooklyn-based artists were well-represented. This included the evocative portraits of Paul Richard and intimate documentary photography of Ilisa Katz Rissman, who has several high-profile commissions to her credit. And, in another nod to the immediate community, Greenpoint residents were offered free admission to the expo.
Nowhere is the line between art and commerce more blurred than in a large art show such as this one. Obviously, Saatchi is in the art business for profit and most working artists must rely on sales to support themselves in some capacity, even if many find it impossible to make a living without some other source of income. Nevertheless, promoters took pains to emphasize that work could be bought for as little as $75, and Saatchi encouraged artists to keep their work below $1,000. Some heeded this recommendation; others did not, but it is worth commending the organizers of The Other Art Fair for trying to make the event accessible to many who might never attend a more traditional gallery or dealer-driven art show.
The Other Art Fair’s next creative capital destination is Los Angeles in early 2018.
Copyright 2017 Woven Tale Press LLC. All Rights Reserved.