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Front entrance to (Un)Scene Art Show (all photos by author for Hyperallergic), On fence: installation view of Carlton Scott Sturgill’s “Branded Rose (Violet)” (2015), Ralph Lauren Shirts, Wire, Tape, By entrance: various sculptures by Don Porcaro

In the midst of Armory Arts Week, the (Un)Scene Art Show and Clio Art Fair both bill themselves as “outsider” art fairs that emphasize passion and personality rather than fashion. (Un)Scene, in particular, rejects the slickness of contemporary art galleries, with hand-painted signs requesting viewers to check their egos in addition to their coats. Inside the dark gallery space, densely populated with artwork on nearly every surface, overwrought and ostentatiously crafty — bordering on tacky — creations abound. Some pieces might as well have been sourced or cobbled together from thrift-store finds. A giant inflatable turtle with a floatie clings to one wall and a sheep, its wool coat composed of golf balls, lounges in a corner. Ropes of hot glue are visible on a canvas encrusted with hundreds of children’s plastic toys. The works in (Un)Scene, even the Chris Ofili painting in the show, are refreshing in their lack of pretense.

Clio Art Fair, which occupies two gallery spaces in Chelsea, looks more like a contemporary art gallery with its white-washed walls, bright lighting, and shiny frames. The works are composed of a wide variety of materials, but united by a distinctly cheeky, playful bent. A black and yellow striped sculpture, constructed from plastic bags, recalls the shape and pattern of a bumblebee and a Pez head, sprouting wild hair, wags its tongue at gallery visitors. Unlike the other art fairs of the week, both Clio and (Un)Scene are decidedly anti-institutional spaces filled with eclectic and diverse works.

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Gallery view at (Un)Scene Art Show

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(Un)Scene Art Show, Foreground: Installation view of Megan Suttles/Eric Tollefson’s “Refraction” (2015), Mixed Media with Silver Leaf and Monofilament, Right: Niloufar Banisadr, “Freud” (2004), Lambda print

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(Un)Scene Art Show, On far wall left: Ruth Channing, “Marquis de Sade” (2001), Etching with Aquatint, Middle of far wall: Kara Daving, “Sir Cpt. Drake forewarned peril by strikin’ his snare; Watchful rhythms rise again, rap-tap-tappin’ an ocean pray” (2013), Acrylic, Faux Fur and Mixed Media, Right wall: Jackie Mock, “The Entire Life of This Pen” (2013), Ink on Paper, Pen, Handmade Frame, Partially pictured on right: William Kurtz, “Henry” (2014), Wood, Wire, Newspaper, Tape, Glue Matte Medium

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(Un)Scene Art Show, close-up detail of Thomas Deininger’s “Self Portrait” (2012), Found objects

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(Un)Scene Art Show Left: Francois Marot, “Bacchus and Ariadne on the Island of Naxos” (17th century), Oil on canvas Middle: Resa Blatman, “Trouble in Paradise 3” (2015), Oil and latex paint on Mylar and PVC with silk and plastic flora Right: Stone (Chun Shi), “One” (2014), Oil on canvas

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Clio Art Fair, Sunil Garg, piece name unknown

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Clio Art Fair, Carol Scavotto, from left: “Windy Day,” “WOOF,” “My Christian Louboutins,” ‘FEMININITY Does this outfit make me look “FAT,”‘ and “Pedicure” (all 2014), Mulberry paper, decorative papers, Sumi ink, inks, acrylics, pastels, vellum

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Clio Art Fair, Julie Free Heart, Left: “Power” and Middle: “Brilliance”

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Clio Art Fair Upper left: Heui Tae Yoon, “///,” Acrylic on linen, Blue paintings on right: Marco Angelini, “Indentia 1&2,” Mixed media on wallpaper Upper right: Marco Angelini, “Cuore #10,” Mixed media technique on canvas Bottom right (on wall): Marco Angelini, “Cuore #11,” Mixed media technique on canvas On ground: Installation view of Borinquen Gallo’s “Untitled” (2014), Yellow trash bags

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Clio Art Fair, Installation view with Mary Mattingly’s “Swimmer” (2014) and “Head over heels” (2014), both Ferrari painted aluminum, in foreground

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Clio Art Fair, Bottom: Mary Mattingly, “Pez Candies” (2013), hydrocal, On pedestal: Mary Mattingly “Mick” (2013), 3D printed in white granular substance, polished aluminum feet, On wall: Mary Mattingly, “Text Bubbles” (2011), Fiberglass, car paint, poly resin finish

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Clio Art Fair, Hagit Farber, Left: “Blessings” (1994), Oil pastels on paper, Upper Right: “Unborn child” (2003), Oil pastels and acrylic on paper, Bottom right: “My Kitchen in San Francisco” (1989), Charcoal, acrylic, and oil pastels on paper

The Clio Art Fair continues through March 8 at 508–526 West 26th Street (Chelsea, Manhattan). The (Un)Scene Art Show continues through March 8 at 549 West 52nd Street (Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan).

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Kemy Lin

Kemy is an intern at Hyperallergic and studies visual art and global health at Princeton University. She likes to talk about her hometown (rainy Portland, Oregon) and tweets...

2 replies on “New York’s Armory Week Anti-Fairs: Clio and (Un)Scene”

  1. Thanks for this intelligence on Un(Scene) and Clio… i didn’t even know this art fairs existed… I just texted my friend to go to Un(Scene) tonight… thanks for the cool picks Kemy for sharing about this…. it’s such a team effort to get the most out of Armory weekend… I naturally want to go where the action is.. XOXO

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