One of my favorite art fairs is Spring/Break, since it gives curators and art lovers of all types the opportunity to present displays that celebrate the DIY and quirky energy of the city’s art scene. While other fairs appear to prune and primp their art for maximum market efficiency, Spring/Break takes a step back and allows curators and artists to let their freak flags fly.
This year the fair took over the former offices of Condé Nast in Times Square. The site is a strange setting because of the corporate trappings that displays have to negotiate, hide, or highlight. The theme is “Black Mirror,” and as you’d expect, many artists and curators are preoccupied with the current state of affairs in the US. Katharine Mulherin’s incisive show American/Woman was particularly nice to see, since it riffs on so many symbols of American nationalism, fixating most notably on the US flag. Joe Nanashe’s contribution to the booth is especially satisfying, as the artist pulled out the white “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” slogan from one of Trump’s signature red caps. There’s a conceptual satisfaction in imagining the artist confronting this symbol of hate on artistic terms and choosing to erase it.
Another distinctly American flag — that of the traitorous Confederacy — is the subject of Valery Jung Estabrook’s elaborate installation “Hometown Hero (Chink).” Grappling with her childhood growing up Asian American in southwestern Virginia, Estabrook’s display is affectionate but alienating, capturing the strange nostalgia she must feel towards something that has become a ubiquitous symbol of hate throughout large parts of this country.
Ben Sisto’s strange and thoroughly amazing “Museum of Who Let Who Let the Dogs Out Out?” is the other side of the coin, representing the fact that art marches on, removed from the current state of affairs and somewhat inward looking. Curated by Jac Lahav, the display features the results of the artist’s in-depth research into a well-known pop song — Baha Men’s 2000 hit “Who Let the Dogs Out?” — and its real origins. Has he figured it out? Kinda, but the quixotic nature of his journey is equally fascinating.
Also of particular note are Rachel Frank’s wondrous display that successfully walks the line between colonial nostalgia and commercial exoticism, and the eye-catching The Pursuit of “It” show curated by Nicole Grammatico and Christina Papanicolaou, which features work by artists Robin F. Williams, Signe Pierce, Hein Koh, and Hiba Schahbaz.
Here are some highlights from the fair, which feels like it goes on forever.
Spring/Break Art Show continues until through 6pm today, March 6, at 4 Times Square (entrance on W 43rd Street, Manhattan).
Robert Legorreta, also known as “Cyclona,” discusses the origins of his performance art and ongoing political activism.
A caustic New York Times review from 1975 almost destroyed his career, but he remained one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
How do we consider land-inspired art in an age when huge swaths of our shared world are being clear cut, mined, drilled, and desertified?
A documentary trilogy follows the life of Thich Nhat Hanh, who expounded the principles of engaged Buddhism.
Ten artists will receive studio space and access to faculty, staff, students, workshops, and programming at an arts institution in the heart of Philadelphia.
Sea View, conceived by Jorge Pardo as both an artwork and a residence, embraced the dissolution of borders between disciplines.
The Legion of Honor in San Francisco says it’s the first exhibition dedicated to the Renaissance artist’s drawings.
“Untitled” (1961) by George Morrison is the first work by a Native American artist to join the museum’s Abstract Expressionist collection.
“You can’t have idols; it’s in the second commandment,” he screamed before being arrested.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Manhattan now has its own, downscaled version of the artist’s famous Chicago sculpture, oddly squished under a luxury condo tower.
Increased oil tanker truck traffic would “seriously degrade” the experience of viewing the canyon’s Indigenous rock art, said one advocate of the site.