Photo Essays

At Metro Curates Fair, Ceramic Poodles, Secret Society Chairs, and Everything in Between

Sylvain & Ghyslaine Staelens, "Fétiche" (2012), mixed media, Cavin-Morris Gallery
Sylvain & Ghyslaine Staelens, “Fétiche” (2012), mixed media, Cavin-Morris Gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

For its fourth year, the annual, moderately sized Metro Show, now rechristened Metro Curates, opened Wednesday with an eclectic mix of folk and vernacular art, contemporary fare, indigenous artifacts, textiles, and a wealth of Americana.

Housed in the Metropolitan Pavilion, this year’s edition feels a little heavier on the curios than last year, with carousel horses, toy banks shaped like dogs, giant hand-painted signs for palm readers, and even an assembly of 1930s broom whisks. Compared to other New York art fairs, its open-armed acceptance of the full breadth of visual expression is refreshing.

Faith Ringgold, "The Flag is Bleeding #2 (The American Collection #6)" (1997), acrylic on canvas with painted & pieced border, 79x76 inches, Forum Gallery
Faith Ringgold, “The Flag is Bleeding #2 (The American Collection #6)” (1997), acrylic on canvas with painted & pieced border, 79×76 inches; Forum Gallery, New York (click to enlarge)

In one booth Manhattan’s Gail Martin Gallery hosts a beautiful woven Peruvian tunic from 1100–1400 CE, while nearby glistening teeth are hideously stabbing out of the cheek of a contemporary resin sculpture by Colin Christian being shown by Brooklyn’s Stephen Romano Gallery. In between are highlights like Stephanie Wilde’s The Golden Bee project with Tanner Hill Gallery from Chattanooga, Tennessee, celebrating the disappearing Western Honeybee in gold leaf-accented drawings she’s been creating since 2008. There’s also an impressive wunderkammer set up by New York’s American Primitive Gallery, where an Independent Order of Odd Fellows secret society chair sits on one side of a wall, and on the other hangs a massive plaster relief of the 1938 Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling boxing match salvaged from a Denver gymnasium. Chicago’s Douglas Dawson Gallery brought delicate Dodon art from Mali, Mindy Solomon Gallery of Miami has some hefty, doe-eyed poodles sculpted by the late Kirk Mangus, and the booth of New York’s Forum Gallery is dominated by a colossal 1997 Faith Ringgold quilt in which the American flag is painted with dripping blood.

Below are more standouts from the crop of curious artifacts at this year’s Metro Curates fair.

Holly Lane, "The Mooring Hour: When Sky is Nearer than Skin" (2009), mixed media, 23 1/2 x 25 x 7 3/4, Forum Gallery
Holly Lane, “The Mooring Hour: When Sky is Nearer than Skin” (2009), mixed media, 23 1/2 x 25 x 7 3/4; Forum Gallery, New York
American Garage sellers
Vintage signs, including one at center for a palm reader; American Garage, Los Angeles
Stephanie Wilde, "Queen" (detail) (2014), acrylic, ink, gold leaf, Angela Usrey (Tanner Hill Gallery)
Stephanie Wilde, “Queen” (detail) (2014), acrylic, ink, gold leaf; Angela Usrey (Tanner Hill Gallery), Chattanooga, Tennessee
Half of a tunic, Peru (1100-1400 AD), Gail Martin Gallery
Half of a tunic, Peru (1100–1400 CE); Gail Martin Gallery, New York
An Order of Odd Fellows chair with other curios, American Primitive Gallery
An Independent Order of Odd Fellows chair with other curios; American Primitive Gallery, New York
Poodle sculptures by Kirk Mangus, Mindy Solomon Gallery
Poodle sculptures by Kirk Mangus; Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami
Relief panel of Joe Louis & Max Schmeling boxing for the 1930 World Championship, plaster panel for a Denver, Colorado, gymnasium, American Primitive Gallery
Relief panel of Joe Louis and Max Schmeling boxing for the 1938 World Heavyweight Championship, plaster panel for a Denver, Colorado, gymnasium; American Primitive Gallery, New York
El Gato Chimney, "The Ancestor" (2014), acrylic on canvas with painted wooden cabinet, Stephen Romano Gallery
El Gato Chimney, “The Ancestor” (2014), acrylic on canvas with painted wooden cabinet; Stephen Romano Gallery, New York
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York
“Crudely Drawn Mimic” (2013) by Marcelyn McNeil at left with paintings by Stephanie London at right; Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York
Sculptures by Colin Christian, Stephen Romano Gallery
Sculptures by Colin Christian, Stephen Romano Gallery, New York
Adelson Galleries
Installation by Federico Uribe; Adelson Galleries, Boston
George Smart of Frant, "Goosewoman" (1835), paper and fabric collage, Just Folk Gallery
George Smart of Frant, “Goosewoman” (1835), paper and fabric collage; Just Folk Gallery, Summerland, California
"Heads of Four Men" (1875), once on an Albany building, Just Folk Gallery
“Heads of Four Men” (1875), once on an Albany building; Just Folk Gallery, Summerland, California
"Very rare and desirable carving of a Fox & Rabbit / Hare walking hand-in-hand tobacco boxes" (1878), Leatherwood Antiques
“Very rare and desirable carving of a Fox & Rabbit / Hare walking hand-in-hand tobacco boxes” (1878); Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Massachusetts
Flags at Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
Flags at Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques; Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
Carousel horse, Gemini Antiques Ltd.
Carousel horse, Gemini Antiques Ltd., Bridgehampton, New York

Metro Curates continues at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street, Chelsea) through January 25.

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