Recap: The Fountain Art Fair Steps Up Their Game This Year

By - Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The Fountain Art Fair really upped the ante in 2012 by obtaining the impressive 69th Regiment Armory venue, and attracting about sixty galleries, as well as individual artists to do installations and performances. During the opening night party on Friday March 9th, Fab 5 Freddy was featured on the turntables, and lines to get in were around the block. The venue this year was the historic 69th Regiment Armory, a building the size of a full city block, sitting between 25th and 26th streets, and Lexington and Park avenues. The main hall housing the gallery booths, which is still used for drill practice by the National Guard’s “Fighting Sixth-Ninth” is nearly 130 feet in height or about ten stories. The vaulted ceiling soared above attendees with beautiful iron ribbing and crisscrossed supports. A second-story balcony circles the entire hall and has auditorium seating at one end. At the other end, a Thanksgiving Day parade style pink bunny balloon by Ryan Cronin was perched overseeing the crowds. The balcony also served as a launching platform for a performance by Seanna Sharpe and her team of aerialists. Ms. Sharpe was arrested recently for her exploits high up on the Brooklyn Bridge. Daniel Aycock, a founding Fountain participant and director of the Front Room Gallery, said “We were proud to participate in Fountain’s grandest show to date — at the Historic 69th Regiment Armory Building. It’s an honor to exhibit in the place that first introduced most Americans to European artists such as Picasso and Cezanne for the first time. The lines around the block for opening night were a testament to the enthusiasm for this latest incarnation of Fountain.” Mr. Aycock was referring to the legendary 1913 exhibition officially titled the “International Exhibition of Modern Art,” but became popularly known as the “Armory Show.” It was the first exhibition organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, and featured over 1,300 Impressionist, Fauvist and Cubist works that were panned harshly in the press but ended up having a lasting influence on American artists. {pagebreak} The fair attracted many established, alternative and up-and-coming galleries. In Mr. Aycock’s Front Room Gallery there were displayed a series of large format photographs entitled “Next Stop Atlantic” by Stephen Mallon. The series documents the “More than 2,500 obsolete subway cars — including 1,269 of the classic ocher-hued Redbird cars – that were…dropped into the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere off the coasts of the Eastern Seaboard” to create environmentally needed artificial reefs. The Mighty Tanaka Gallery was in full effect with upwards of forty pieces on display in their large space, as well as three additional installation walls featuring UFO 907, Skewville and Dizmology. The gallery is run by Alex Emmart who chooses to represent artists as diverse in style as Flying Fortress, Cake, Lamour Supreme, infinity, Andrew H. Shirley, El Celso, and See One. He has a good eye for hanging such disparate styles on the same wall and a theory called Hybridism to tie it all together. Along with the west coast artist and 12oz regular, Art Poesia, who has theorized about a new millenium cultural summation called Graffuturism, the two have created terms that have risen out of their attempts to categorize and summarize the current subcultural merge of the aesthetic traditions of graffiti and street art. These hypotheses also could include the combination of the studious nature of the library with the visceral instinct of the streets and the convergence of styles that have developed within the gallery system versus on the streets. Mighty Tanaka has a new show opening this Saturday March 16th featuring See One and JMR. The Kesting Ray Gallery had a space showcasing a few artists, most notably a few very large pieces by Swoon and some very small pieces by Roberto Molla. Swoon’s wood block prints were about six feet high on thick brownish paper, ripped and ragged, mounted to hidden frames so that the edges of the paper curled up continuing her exploration of a hippie punk aesthetic. Roberto Molla was showing a few precious pencil and ink geometric abstractions that really stood out for their precise compositions and poetic titles. Station 16 was another stand out booth for street artists, because they were exhibiting two prints by Labrona the freight painter. Also of note to street artists was the Marianne Nems Gallery booth which had a wide selection of new works by LA2, whose work is more detailed and looking stronger than ever. LA2 was one of the first collaborators with Keith Haring and definitely the youngest at just sixteen years old. You can make out LA2 dancing just behind Fab 5 Freddy, over his right shoulder, in the photo of Fab as he was DJing at the opening night party. Text + Photo: Daniel Feral, unless otherwise noted.

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