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.
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).