Summer Wheat's "Gentlemen's Muse" (2014) in front of her "Warm Tapestry" (2014) at the Samson gallery booth. (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

Summer Wheat’s “Gentlemen’s Muse” (2014) in front of her “Warm Tapestry” (2014) at the Samson gallery booth. (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

After a rather dull Frieze New York art fair, it was refreshing to see that NADA New York continues to improve while refraining from charging its visitors with a hefty entrance fee. This year’s New York fair is probably the best NADA production yet, as the nonprofit art fair is showcasing an even more diverse array of emerging galleries. The fair still retains its peculiar monoculture with its love of MFA-minted talent that seems deeply entrenched in the story of Western art. Yet, even in this fair selection committee-enforced tide of cultural uniformity there are signs that things are changing for the better.

Looking over the booths at NADA New York 2014, with the American Apparel booth on the bottom left.

The diversity of work at NADA this year exceeded that of previous years, where one booth after another seemed to be selling works riffing on the same aesthetic or theme. There is a lack of performance, digital, and other mainstays of contemporary art, but this is a selling affair, and this year’s fair had enough high points (too many to list) to make it one of the strongest fairs of Frieze Week.

If you can overlook the cheesy American Apparel NADA merch booth hawking tshirts and tote bags prominently featuring the fair’s logo, you’ll easily enjoy this congenial and well-designed fair.

Summer Wheat at Samsøn Projects

A triptych by Summer Wheat with some of her sculptures in the foreground at Samson gallery.

I regret not having the chance to write about Summer Wheat’s excellent recent show at the since closed Pocket Utopia gallery on the Lower East Side. It featured an imaginative take on Johannes Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” (1657–58) at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Here at NADA, Wheat has chosen another painting, René Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” (1928–29) (aka “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”) as the inspiration for her Pierre Bonnard-influenced world of objects and textiles all constructed of paint.

Wheat is obviously energized by these iconic art works and the hidden world’s they could contain. Her objects seem to live in a multicolored and volatile world of brushstrokes and texture, that at times appear precarious and whimsical. Some object appear like they could be poured into place.

She brings a strong feminist perspective to the work, which include voluptuous female forms, and her textiles works (something she has explored for years) are particularly fascinating as they walk the line between the conventional easel painting and the world of craft. The boundaries between forms and objects in Wheat’s universe are blurred and shifting, they demonstrate a vision that is all encompassing but ever-changing.

Joy Curtis at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery

Two sculptures by Joy Curtis at the Klaus von Nichtssagend gallery booth

Joy Curtis is a superbly refined sculptor who derives her inspiration from a diverse cross section of influence (packaging, bodegas, architecture, minimalism … ). The works on view at Klaus von Nichtssagend are ghost-like in their mystery, while being simultaneously familiar and alien in form. Her work looks carefully deconstructed and then reconfigured in a visual puzzle that invites contemplation like a sculptural koan.

Jaime Davidovich at Churner and Churner gallery

Churner and Churner’s wood paneled booth with 1980s tape works by Jaime Davidovich.

Jaime Davidovich’s work from the 1980s is a complete surprise to me. The tape series is a tongue-in-cheek send up of the language of minimalism and abstraction, riffing off the era’s fascination with consumerism, manufacturing, and distaste for hand-crafted quality.

Churner and Churner did the work a favor by plastering their booth with the cheesy wood paneling of the era (the warped panels even give the damped basement feel one often encountered in the era) and making the work stand out amidst a sea of white walled booth.

Guðmundur Thoroddsen at Asya Geisberg gallery

Works by Guðmundur Thoroddsen at the Asya Geisberg gallery booth

Guðmundur Thoroddsen is a master of fusing line and color with a strong sense of silhouette. His recent series is a departure from his previous work as it explores thrill of sport and competition though still focusing on shades of masculinity, which has long been a staple of his work.

His paper works combine collage, drawing, and paint to create some of his most memorable works yet. This Icelandic artist is fascinated by archetypes and here he caricatures a male-centric world of shooting, drinking, fighting, sports, drinking, and smoking — all framed by curious chalice-like trophies that sit alongside the drawings on shelves. He creates characters that are not self-conscious and seemingly in tune with their instincts, no matter how brash.

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As NADA matures, it will hopefully embrace more global galleries and nonprofit spaces to ensure it doesn’t continue to feel like a feeder fair to the blue-chip art fairs. It was the first year I saw collectors in New York chomping at the bit at booths as they wrote checks and selected work, while gallerists flashed their huge smiles.

Sculptures and photographs by Tamar Ettun at the Artis booth.

A tape work from the 1980s by Jaime Davidovich at the Churner and Churner gallery booth.

Another 1980s tape work by Jaime Davidovich at the Churner and Churner gallery booth.

Works by Ugnius Gelguda and Neringa Černiauskaité at Galerija Vartai

Works by Guðmundur Thoroddsen at the Asya Geisberg gallery booth

A work by Zach Leener at Tif Sigfrids Gallery of Los Angeles

Elise Ferguson, “Benny’s” (2014) at Romero Young Gallery of San Francisco

Three sculptures by Lena Henke from her Parkchester City Series (all 2014) at Galerie Parisa Kind of Frankfurt, Germany

Austin Eddy’s “Just in Time to be too Late” (2014) at Roberto Paradise gallery of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Regina Rex booth featured a large glazed earthenware work by Elisabeth Kley, “Large Yellow Pavilion Birdcage” (2014), and smaller works by John Dilg, Dave Hardy, Kristen Jensen, Anna Mayer, Sarah Peters, Nicholas Pilato, and Hayal Pozanti.

Jesse Greenberg’s “Face Stamp in Suspension” (2014) and “Face Stamp in Stance” (2014) resin, pigment, bbs, metal, and paint works at Loyal gallery of Malmö, Sweden.

Paintings by Sharon Butler at Seattle’s Season Gallery booth

A painting by Halsey Hathaway hangs in Rawson Projects’s booth with gallerist Chris Rawson in the foreground.

Paul Gabrielli, “Untitled” (2014) at Invisible-Exports gallery

NADA New York opened on May 9 and continued until May 11 at Pier 36 at Basketball City (299 South Street on the East River, Lower East Side, Manhattan).

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

4 replies on “NADA New York Does It Better Than Ever”

      1. sure, here’s the expansion.
        Frieze is an overpriced Wal-mART and a big pretentious yawn.
        Most of the art izzzzzz lame and predictable and most of the dealers are myopic, greedy pig$.
        Hence, fuck businezzzzzzz as usual or anti-friezzzzzzzzze!

        1. kudos to NADA for being a better alternative
          to the usual shit fairs ad nauseum
          and for its total accessibility–as in
          no rip-off entry fees!

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