MIAMI BEACH — The Deauville Beach Resort has been the home of the NADA art fair since 2009, but times change. This year NADA has moved further downtown, and the hotel is hosting two sister satellite fairs on its sprawling first floor: Art on Paper, which is celebrating its inaugural edition on sandy beaches, and Miami Project, now in its fourth year and known for exhibiting more under-the-radar galleries. Although the former is much smaller, offering only 17 booths compared to the latter’s nearly 50 exhibitors, the two essentially run symbiotically (they’re both organized by Art Market Productions), with some paper-centric works spilling into the grand rooms housing Miami Project booths.
Transitioning between the two feels seamless, in part because although Art on Paper suggests, well, art produced on paper, the name isn’t a strict rule of the game (as we saw at the fair’s Armory Week launch earlier this year). There are certainly a number of paper-only works that highlight the material’s fragility and versatility: Toronto-based Annyen Lam‘s transparent micro-houses, carefully hand-cut from Japanese paper and on view at Galerie Youn, as well as Jill Lear‘s large tree paintings at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, each integrating a medley of paper types and titled according to specific coordinates. Lear’s various materials come together to disrupt space, creating an experience that recalls viewing a fragmented world through Oculus Rift. I also found myself pausing at Eric Standley‘s intricately cut Islamic art– and Gothic architectural–inspired patterns (shown by Victori + Mo gallery), lost in attempts to count the layers of the Virginia-based artist’s dense works.
But paperless works, too, infiltrate the booths of Art of Paper. Kathryn Markel presents a trio of silk works by Debra Smith consisting of geometric scraps pieced together as seamlessly as sheets of paper. SOME.TIME.SALON brought one of the most compelling displays, Jake Ziemann‘s four unassuming ceramic sculptures spread on a table to echo his colorful, framed collages. Just as boldly painted as their two-dimensional counterparts, the forms arc through space, and slump over or fold into each other, encouraging contemplation of paper’s malleability and its possible acrobatics.
At the much more overwhelming Miami Project, the most alluring works, too, are ones that don’t immediately jump out. At Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, quail and turkey eggs are wrapped snugly in threads crocheted by California-based Esther Traugot and balanced on pegs; nearby, a bell jar houses similarly swaddled arboretum seeds. The devotion to such common items feels like a nurturing, tender gesture that carries unusual emotional weight. Another display that drew me away from the surrounding traffic was Rose Blake‘s endearing series of illustrations of people in art museums, at Rebecca Hossack gallery: seen in the context of Miami Project, her renderings of families and couples standing together to look at paintings and sculptures reminded me of the communal aspect of viewing art, without the social expectations and affectations of a fair.
Just as intriguing as Ziemann’s sculptures are those by Jay Kelly at Richard Levy Gallery: they feel like familiar objects although they’re wholly imagined. A handful of threaded works by Lauren Dicioccio at Jack Fischer seem to be in a curious state of flux, either unraveling or still being created. These themes of decay and discovery emerge again in Randy Colosky‘s ceramic blocks (shown by Chandra Cerrito Contemporary), which reveal alluring crystals inside their chiseled-out cavities as you observe them fully in the round. And a grizzly but somewhat comical cannibalistic barbecue almost escaped my sight, hidden in an otherwise normal poolside scene sculpted in miniature world by Abigail Goldman (on view at Madelyn Jordon Fine Art).
On preview night at least, the most traffic was headed to Adelson Galleries, where a new series by Federico Uribe was on view. His sculptures of animals created from bullets are certainly precious and extremely photogenic, but for the most part, the real treasures of Miami Project are unaided by physical shine. Sound was another crowd magnet, and I was attracted by the soft chirping that emerged from Robischon Gallery‘s booth, where a number of futuristic bell jars contain screens playing videos of finches. The contrast between the natural and the digital is certainly jarring, but the faux flock quickly depressed me; many other visitors remained to capture them for posterity.