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For those looking for a less overwhelming alternative to Frieze Week’s larger art fairs, The Other Art Fair offers a calmer, more laid-back setting to peruse the works of emerging artists. Taking place at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, this year’s fair has a lot to offer, with recycling and climate change being a common theme throughout. The fair even has a whole row of booths encouraging visitors to recycle and do their part in helping the earth.
The works on display spanned a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and mixed-media pieces. Though some works relied on bright, gaudy colors to stand out without saying anything interesting or unique, other pieces, like the works of Tommy Mitchell, evoked a sense of power and beauty in the space they inhabited. Mitchell’s portraits of Black women, most looking directly at the viewer, are striking in their own regard, with soft colors — blue-green and yellow — serving as the backdrop.
As I continued to make my way through the fair, I was then struck by Simple-T’s photography, which consisted of a series of images taken on their travels through Iceland, the US, and Jordan. The images evoke a sense of eerie quietude, with its subjects wearing masks, costumes, heavy smeared makeup, or, in the case of “Sisters” (2010), posing with a creepy, armless doll in leg casts. (The fact that the image is titled “Sisters” creates an even deeper sense of terror than the photo alone.) Something about the abject horror of Simple-T’s work drew me toward it, and I found myself staring in awe at each of the photographs.
Moving from booth to booth, I stopped in front of a booth fully wallpapered in cat imagery, a departure from the clean, white backdrops of most of the other works on display at the fair. Tim Andrew’s work is largely animal-themed; one poster, a pattern of purple cats with pink eyes, hung atop the cat-papered wallpaper created a busy backdrop and forefront of felines.
Tattoo art was also on display, with stick-and-poke tattoo artist Bluestone Babe, aka Rosa Bluestone Perr, tattooing visitors on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Brooklyn-based artist, who proves quite difficult to get an appointment with due to her celebrity clientele, began as a painter until transitioning to tattoo art, focusing primarily on the art of handpoked tattoos. On display at her booth was her “flash art,” available to tattoo on anyone that signs up throughout the day, though for this specific fair, she’s focused on tattooing arms only. Her work is definitely visually appealing in its beautiful simplicity.
Overall, the Other Art Fair provides a nice alternative to the busier fairs of the weekend, and for anyone looking for a handpoked tattoo, a break from Frieze and TEFAF, or just more affordable work, the Other Art Fair is the place to be.
The Other Art Fair continues through May 5 at the Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn)