Photo Essays

Miami’s Seven Art Fair Goes Indie

by Hrag Vartanian on December 1, 2010

A nightime view of the Seven art fair entrance. (click to enlarge)

The buzz before Miami was that Seven Art Fair was going to be one event to watch, and that is certainly the case.

This indie fair made up of seven galleries (Pierogi Gallery, Hales Gallery, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, BravinLee programs, Postmasters Gallery, P·P·O·W, and Winkleman Gallery) with solid programs — and some art stars among them — have created a wonderful little side fair that has a well-organized area for video works (which is both inviting and well spaced), an area for the #Rank event (which we’ve mentioned before), rooms for work by various artists to talk to one another (some are better than others), but most importantly an attempt to let gallery stables collide and see what they could come up with together (most notably on one wall covered salon style with pieces from a whole constellation of “Seven” artists).

Did all the artists fit perfectly together? No, but this is an art fair and not a curated exhibition. It was good to see some galleries try something that felt interesting and less commercial than the run-of-the-mill exposition.

Highlights? Steve Mumford’s “Empire” (2010) is a fantastic painting that encapsulates the last decade of American liberal anxiety with it’s placement of Gitmo-like detainees in orange jumpsuits amidst an aircraft carrier of American soldiers … hubris never looked so monumental. Another work that deserves a second (if not third) look is The Chadwicks’ “The Genretron” (2008), which creates a fantastic world that is easy to enter and not want to leave.

Low points? Not much during my first walk through, except that giant Alien/butterfly/rocking chair thing, which leaves me speechless for all the wrong reasons. Though the smaller works were drowned out by the large-scale pieces (but that is to be expected, I guess).

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An orgy of work — salon-style — is on view for the visitor to peruse and guess who is who (there were no labels).

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An “Alien” exoskeleton with a butterfly on his/her hand on a rocking chair … ok, I’m just going to give up, I don’t know what to say about this, it’s just bizarre.

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The space #Rank will be taking place for the duration of the fair. Included is a pink chalkboard, serious looking tables and chairs, and an all-purpose bar/art work by Andrew Ohanesian called “Mandie’s” which should be familiar to Brooklynites who may have checked it out during its first outing behind Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick last month.

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Another view of “Mandie’s” showing its distinctive neon sign that didn’t have the same impact during its life in north Brooklyn.

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I have been noticing a lot more history painting in the last few years, which I partly credit to Obama and his campaign, which played up the “history-making” moment at every turn. This canvas by Steve Mumford is titled “Empire” (2010) and portrays a moment in contemporary history that most Americans would rather forget.

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A view of the entrance to The Chadwicks’s “The Genretron” (2008) installation, which feel unassuming but …

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… walking into The Chadwicks’s “The Genretron” (2008) is like walking into a diorama by Van Goyen. Everywhere you turn are moody Benelux landscapes constructed out of wire, plaster, and paint. It is almost too overwhelming to take in at once.

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There’s never enough work by Dawn Clements in the world and this large-scale drawing, “Untitled” (2010), was well placed beside tables of books, which gave the work a more homey quality.

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These works by Ben Gocker, who is represented by PPOW Gallery, could have been a booth all by themselves but the beauty of Seven was that galleries were able to mix and match their stables with a wider selection that made them feel more interesting and less “art fair”-y.

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A corner of one of the rooms, which features some of Yevginey Fiks’s “Communist Art Tour” works in the back left.

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Joseph Marzoka’s “Universal Famine Appeal” (2010) is at the center of this image and one of the half-dozen works that are part of a video corridor created by the Seven galleries to showcase video work.

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Sam Van Aken’s “Oh My God” (2006) on left, and Rico Gatson’s “Child #3″ (2009) hangs on the right. Both are represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

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Seven Art Fair is located at 2214 North Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida, and it will continue until Sunday, December 5, 2010. Check the website for times.

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