By MARK BLOCH, November 2021
The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn, billed as “an art fair for a new generation of art buyers,” was an opportunity to visit with an effusive and enthusiastic selection of some 130 independent, veteran, and up and coming artists. First-time art buyers mingled with regular folks, seasoned collectors, curators, art investors and other masked, upbeat and snappily-dressed art types in a healthy showing for a New York art circuit still reeling from the pandemic and quarantine fatigue. This was not a place for particularly political art or a showcase for time-based work but was instead a solid venue for two dimensional imagery in a variety of media. Everyone was encouraged to buy art by the sponsor Saatchi Art, who, in partnership with Bombay Sapphire, provided sponsorship and manned a crowded bar being approached from all sides by long but civilized lines, making it possible for visitors enjoy complimentary drinks while they browsed thousands of pieces of colorful art at reasonable prices. This fair originated in the UK in 2011 then migrated to Canada, Australia and here. This year, a project called “Drawn on the Way” invited visitors to wear round stickers identifying themselves as works of art. Participants were inviting illustrator Sara Nisbett, romaing the crowd, to create spot illustrations of them as visitors as “spontaneous works of art, creating a living art gallery.” I also roamed the vast space, talking process with several of the exhibitors to get a feel for the show and their guests.
The digital art of NYC artist Marya Triandafellos begins in her computer as hard edged black and white imagery and ends up mounted on smooth, sensuous, glossy sheets of high tech material stretched over cylindrical metal support bars. “My process typically starts with a photograph which I’ve taken because something has caught my eye,” she said. “I then use the photo as a starting point to create art digitally by manipulating the image or drawing over it to create a vector file. I can scale them as large as the size of the building if that is what people want. I usually output the work to aluminum, acrylic, or keep it digitally native by displaying it on a screen.”
“I am definitely in a 'zone' when I am creating my art. My mental state is close to a hypnotic state, it’s magical and I find it addictive,” Triandafellos continued, “Physically, I must control of my body to draw very precise lines. I hold my breath to steady my hand. What this means is the drawing has been created while I am not breathing. In a sense I am giving my life to the artwork.” Her long-term goal is to have more of her art in public places, economically accessible to anyone who wants it. She also is very excited about NFTs.
I spent the day talking process with many of the talented artists showing their wares at the Brooklyn Expo Center.
Ricardo Roig has created his own form of art, a novel technique for creating hand-cut prints that he demonstrated life on site. He overlaps multiple layers of color through hand cut stencils by slicing shapes out of paper with an exact-o knife and then using a squeegee to push the mixed acrylic inks through these openings while it is attached to a screen. He sings the praises of the heroes of Japanese woodblock printing while he attempts to push the boundaries of the printed image in 2021. He also works in various other media from painting, drawing and collage to murals.
Portrait Artist Michael Obele is originally from Lagos, Nigeria. He relocated to the Bronx, NY where he works in charcoal and graphite pencil and in photography. He describes his work as hyper-realistic. He is a proud ambassador of the Afrobeatz music genre and many of his images are of musical subjects.
Jean Rim takes pride in the spiritual angle of her mixed media works on wood that do not waste a single flake of paint, which she recycles from one work to another. Rim's richly layered paintings are inspired by mandalas, chakras and altars. She makes “fish-scale-like carved marks” on natural surfaces, “symbolizing the Little Mermaid’s loss for her transition to land--an analogy to the immigrant experience.”
Xan Padrón's Time Lapse series of photographs began in 2011. The photographer and musician had a fascination with time and movement, and so unnoticed by his subjects, he created still points of time and space sitting on a single spot, for 2 hours, photographing a sequence of people passing by against one unique background, starting with a single color in his West Village neighborhood, then expanding it to red, white and blue to reflect his immigrant experience.
I enjoyed the Other Art Fair, the first fair I have been to since the Spring Break event that took place the month that the pandemic kicked in, in early March of 2020. This time, with COVID on the run but still very much here, I decided to go ahead and visit the Other Art Fair on Sunday afternoon, not realizing it was the day of the New York Marathon. That made it much more practical to navigate the streets of Greenpoint on foot or via the G train, sometimes next to the runners, rather than attempting to twist the arm of a taxi or Uber driver to brave the city streets, bridges and tunnels. I headed home later that afternoon as the sun went down over the Manhattan skyline across the river, visible ftom a large open air plaza that opened up outside, behind the fair. It was a fun day and other than the ubiquitous mask effect, one could hardly tell anything was amiss. WM
Mark Bloch is a writer, performer, videographer and multi-media artist living in Manhattan. In 1978, this native Ohioan founded the Post(al) Art Network a.k.a. PAN. NYU's Downtown Collection now houses an archive of many of Bloch's papers including a vast collection of mail art and related ephemera. For three decades Bloch has done performance art in the USA and internationally. In addition to his work as a writer and fine artist, he has also worked as a graphic designer for ABCNews.com, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and PO Box 1500 NYC 10009.
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