Art Fairs

We Tagged Along With Florie Hutchinson, San Francisco Arts Expert, to View FOG and Much More


If you want an expertly guided crash course in the San Francisco art scene, look no further than Florie Hutchinson, a mother of four and arts publicist extraordinaire with her finger firmly on the pulse of Bay Area arts and culture.

A passionate advocate for artists and feminist causes—she conceived of and successfully campaigned for the adoption of an official emoji of a women’s ballet flat—Hutchinson has a keen eye for data and numbers, which she believes makes a strong case for San Francisco as a major art market capital.

”A lot of people don’t realize that San Francisco has under a million people. The population is 815,000. But our GDP—I was looking this up today—is $577 billion,” Hutchinson told Midnight Publishing Group News. “That’s a lot of punching power on a per capita basis. So there’s no question that the disposable income is here, there’s no question that the intellectual capital is here, and where there’s intellectual capital, there’s curiosity, and curiosity and contemporary art are natural bedfellows!”

When I touched down at the San Francisco airport the afternoon of the first day of FOG Design and Art, the city’s pre-eminent art fair, Hutchinson was there to pick me up in her Tesla Model X, with a full day’s itinerary of art activities to squeeze into the few hours before we were due at the opening gala.

Florie Hutchinson and Micki Meng at "Omari Douglin: The People of New York City." Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Florie Hutchinson and Micki Meng at “Omari Douglin: The People of New York City.” Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Hutchinson has lived in Palo Alto down on the San Francisco peninsula since 2014, when her husband, Ben Hutchinson, founded a financial tech startup. At the time, their daughters were two and five months years old. Two more girls have since joined the brood, and the family has purchased and renovated a historic, beautifully appointed Joseph Eichler home that has been featured in the London Times, Elle Decor, and Wallpaper.

Prior to settling on the West Coast, the couple had previously lived in London (he is British), where Hutchinson (Swiss-American) had spent three years running an agency with Carrie Rees (who now runs the London arts communications firm Rees and Co).

But while Hutchinson had a built-in group of close college friends who lived on the peninsula, she had to build out her professional network in her new home from scratch.

Omari Douglin, <em>Birkin Sermon Manifestation</em> (2022). Photo courtesy of Micki Meng Gallery, San Francisco.

Omari Douglin, Birkin Sermon Manifestation (2022). Photo courtesy of Micki Meng Gallery, San Francisco.

Our first stop of the day, coincidentally, was with the first contact she made, curator Micki Meng. They met when Hutchinson went to visit the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts in the hopes of buying a limited edition work, and, when she couldn’t find anyone at the front desk, poked her head into the back room.

“I introduced myself to Micki, and that conversation turned into three hours, and immediate friendship!” Hutchinson recalled.

Meng was waiting for us with sandwiches and dill-flavored potato chips in the Bayview location of her gallery, which she opened in Chinatown in 2019. The second space, housed in an old woodworking studio, is currently showing a selection of new diptychs by Los Angeles artist Omari Douglin, inspired by his native city of New York.

Koak with two of her paintings at her solo show at Altman Siegel in San Francisco. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Koak with two of her paintings at her solo show at Altman Siegel in San Francisco. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Then it was off to Altman Siegel, one of 15 galleries at the Minnesota Street Project. (Owner Claudia Altman-Siegel was another early Bay Area connection—the two bonded over both having young children when the dealer spotted some spit-up on Hutchinson’s shoulder at a gallery opening at Jessica Silverman.)

The gallery had just opened a pair of exhibitions, including one of cartoon-like paintings and vaguely Seussian sculptures by local artist Koak. She was there to give us a tour of the show, which she described as being about “stress, anxiety, and human disaster.”

The other show was the gallery’s first time working with the estate of Beth Van Hoesen, who was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1926, but spent much of her life living in a former firehouse in San Francisco’s Castro District.

Beth Van Hoesen, <em>Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour</em> (1997). Photo courtesy of Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

Beth Van Hoesen, Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour (1997). Photo courtesy of Altman Siegel, San Francisco.

The gallery is donating a portion of the sales of her delicate drawings of her friends and neighbors, which form a poignant portrait of the Castor’s queer community in the 1980s, to the Rainbow Honor Walk, a nonprofit that celebrates LGTBQ history with bronze sidewalk plaques throughout the neighborhood.

Next door to Altman-Siegel was the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, a space dedicated to the private collection of Nion McEvoy and his family.

“He’s a beloved figure in the Bay Area. That generation cares deeply about keeping the arts ecosystem here alive and thriving,” Hutchinson said as we took in the current group show “Color Code.” Curated in celebration of the foundation’s fifth anniversary, it featured new commissions by Bay Area artists Sadie Barnette, Angela Hennessy, Clare Rojas, and Zio Ziegler, as well as other selections from the collection.

Sadie Barnette, <em>Family Tree II</eM> 2022. Photo by Henrik Kam, courtesy of the artist; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco; and McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco.

Sadie Barnette, Family Tree II 2022. Photo by Henrik Kam, courtesy of the artist; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco; and McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco.

As the day continued, it became clear that Hutchinson is a never-ending fount of knowledge about who’s who in the Bay Area, and what connects them. We didn’t have time to pop in the Minnesota Street Project’s main gallery campus, but as we drove by, I mentioned that I had loved one of the shows I had seen on my last visit to the Bay—Gay Block’s “Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust” at Jack Fischer Gallery.

The show was spearheaded and funded, Hutchinson informed me, by Pamela Hornik, a Palo Alto art collector and arts philanthropist. Hornik had seen some of the photos, taken in the late ’80s, and was captivated by the story they told, of ordinary men and women across Europe who risked everything to hide Jews from the Nazis.

Later at the gala, Hutchinson would introduce me to Hornik, who is such a booster of the local art scene that she literally volunteers to greet visitors at the front desk of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, where she is a board member.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Hornik told me.

Artist Sarah Meyohas was walking by and I enlisted her to join this photo with Florie Hutchinson and Lisa Ellsworth outside "Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse." Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Artist Sarah Meyohas was walking by and I enlisted her to join this photo with Florie Hutchinson and Lisa Ellsworth outside “Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse.” Photo by Sarah Cascone.

But before we got to the fair, we stopped first at the entrance of the venue, the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, to check out the Guardhouse. The tiny, 100-square-foot building dates to 1926, not long after the site, now administered by the National Park Service, opened as an army base.

This week marked the opening of the first in a new series of artist takeovers of the diminutive space, responding to the site’s natural and cultural history, organized by the FOR-SITE Foundation, an art nonprofit founded by San Francisco art dealer Cheryl Haines in 2003.

Local artist Kija Lucas had covered the walls with a gorgeous botanical wallpaper featuring plants like fennel and English ivy—familiar to any Bay Area resident, but actually invasive.

“These plants suggest home for a lot of us, but they have complicated histories,” curator Lisa Ellsworth told us during a tour of the show, which can only be seen through the Guardhouse windows.

Installation of "Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse." Photo courtesy of FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco.

Installation of “Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse.” Photo courtesy of FOR-SITE Foundation, San Francisco.

It also features Lucas’s framed photos of native species like the endangered Franciscan manzanita, and of the tools used by staff at the Presidio Nursery at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to propagate and tend to these indigenous plants.

Reflecting on the whirlwind day, the exhibition almost seems like a metaphor for San Francisco during FOG. By which I mean local artists and art organizations—carefully tended by the area’s dedicated art enthusiasts, such as Hutchinson—still in bloom amid transplants from all over the world.

Omari Douglin: The People of New York City” is on view at Micki Meng, Bayview, 1720 Armstrong Ave #1A, San Francisco, California, December 16, 2022–January 27, 2023.

“Koak: Letter to Myself (when the world is on fire)” and “Beth Van Hoesen: Punks and Sisters” are on view at Altman-Siegel, Minnesota Street Project, 1150 25th Street, San Francisco, California, January 17–February 25, 2023.

“Color Code” is on view at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Minnesota Street Project, 1150 25th Street, Building B, San Francisco.

Kija Lucas at the Guardhouse” is on view at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Boulevard, January 14–March 12, 2023.

FOG Design and Art is on view at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Boulevard, Landmark Building C, Suite 260, San Francisco, California, January 18–22, 2023.

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Hope Runs High at the New Art SG Fair. But Slow Early Sales Cast Doubt on Whether Singapore Can Lead the Region’s Market


The long-awaited opening of Singapore’s ART SG fair, which finally took place this week at the Marina Bay Sands, is significant for many reasons. The first is that as one of the early fairs in an already busy art calendar, its results can set the tone for the year. Second, as those in the art world are keen to explore new markets, the fair’s debut is a test to see if this city-state in Southeast Asia can bounce back from the dramatic cancellation of Art Stage in 2019 and become a key market hub in the region alongside Hong Kong and Seoul.

The first two days of the fair, which opened to VIPs on Wednesday, showed some promising signs. Excitement was palpable in the (hot and humid) air this week, especially since the event’s debut had been postponed four times before. A notable crowd traveled to Singapore for the event, helped by the recent relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in the region as even China had dropped its zero-Covid policy (albeit very abruptly), with Hong Kong following suit and opening its borders.

Art lovers journeyed not just from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, but also from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, and Japan, as well as from Europe and beyond. While in town, many indulged in local delicacies like pepper crab and chicken rice and partied until almost dawn at the local nightclub Marquee. Collectors seen on the ground include: Swiss mega collector Uli Sigg; Patrick Sun and Alan Lo from Hong Kong; Alain Servais from Belgium; Noh JaeMyung from South Korea; Singapore-based Linda Neo and Albert Lim and Nathaniel Gunawan; and the controversial collector and museum founder Michael Xufu Huang from China.

Art lovers taking snap shots at Sullivan+Strumpf's booth at ART SG. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Art lovers taking snapshots at Sullivan+Strumpf’s booth at ART SG. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

“Southeast Asian collectors are excited about the fair, one that is finally happening in our neighboring country Singapore, which is a hub for the region,” said Manila-based Timothy Tan, one of the collectors who flew in to attend the fair. “Some of the international galleries exhibiting are new to collectors from the region and they are interesting.”

Tan pointed out that buyers from the region tend to focus more on art originating locally, but this is beginning to change. “More are open to collecting works from other places. [ART SG] is a nice gateway to meet the galleries,” he noted.

But perhaps more importantly for an art fair, some galleries were reporting sales, albeit they were less robust than those typically seen at major contemporary art fairs in the West, Hong Kong, or even Seoul. The art market outlook for 2023 may not be as grim as some industry insiders in the West had predicted—or at least not in Asia. It seems Southeast Asia—a region largely overlooked by the West but where deep-pocketed collectors have quietly bought art for a long time—may be a conducive market after all, especially now that Singapore is experiencing an influx of Chinese money.

Rich elites reportedly have been fleeing mainland China and Hong Kong amid the increasingly unpredictable socio-political and geopolitical environment. The number of family offices in the city-state has gone from 400 in 2020 to 700 today. “ART SG has arrived at a perfect time,” said Leo Xu, a senior director at David Zwirner in Hong Kong.

Tomio Koyama Gallery. Courtesy of ART SG.

Tomio Koyama Gallery. Courtesy of ART SG.

Of the 160 galleries from 30 countries and regions featured in the inaugural edition of ART SG, nearly half have shops outside the Asia-Pacific region. The rest have locations across the region, from Japan and South Korea to mainland China and Hong Kong. Around 20 operate in Singapore, and less than 10 in Jakarta, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. Prices of works on show were diverse, ranging from a few thousand to over a million dollars—a very high price point for the region.

Exhibitors spanning two floors of the exhibition center were assigned to categories similar to most major art fairs. There was a main galleries sector; a “Focus” section for presentations of solo or duo artists or thematic exhibitions; “Futures” area to showcase galleries under six years old; and “Reframe,” which focuses on digital and crypto art.

Some collectors commented that the basement floor, which was where most of the big galleries were located, reminded them of Art Basel Hong Kong. The Art Assembly, the team behind ART SG, is the very same crew that launched ART HK in 2008, which was then sold to Art Basel’s parent company MCH, becoming Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013.

International blue-chip galleries all reported sales during the first two days. White Cube, for example, said it sold 17 works on the opening day alone, totaling around $3 million. Notable sales from the gallery include: Anselm Kiefer’s 1981 canvas  Dein Goldenes Haar Margarete, which sold to a collector in Indonesia for €1.2 million ($1.3 million); Antony Gormley’s cast iron sculpture Nerve (2020), priced at £450,000 ($549,144); a David Altmejd sculpture ($60,000, sold to an Australian); two editions of Tracey Emin’s bronze Belligerence (2014), which went to European and Asia collectors for £95,000 each ($115,930); Christine Ay Tjoe’s paintings Soluble Integrants ($165,000, sold to a buyer in China) and Docile Black 3 ($260,000, sold to a Hong Kong collector); and a work by Marguerite Humeau (£65,000/$79,320, sold to a buyer in Taiwan).

Jaume Plensa sculptures on show at ART SG 2023. Courtesy of ART SG.

Jaume Plensa sculptures on show at ART SG 2023. Courtesy of ART SG.

The Museum MACAN in Jakarta bought two works by the late artist Ashley Bickerton for an undisclosed sum from Gagosian. Pace sold several pieces, including those by James Turrell ($950,000), Keith Haring ($250,000), Lee Ufan ($150,000), and Louise Nevelson ($105,000). More than half the works on David Zwirner’s booth found buyers, including pieces by Neo Rauch, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Wolfgang Tillmans, totaling more than $2.5 million.

Lehmann Maupin, which just appointed former deputy director of the Asia Society Museum in New York Ken Tan as its Singapore-based director, placed works in local collections. Tammy Nguyen’s Our Ministry (2022) sold for $90,000 to a private collection in Singapore, while four new works by Mandy El-Sayegh, priced at a combined total of $335,000, went to different collections across Singapore and the region.

The U.K. gallery Unit London, which amassed a strong following in Asia during the pandemic through its social media channels, made its fair debut in Asia, selling out its two-artist booth of works by Hong Kong’s Stephen Wong Chun Hei and Seth Armstrong from Los Angeles, priced between $10,000 and $30,500. One of Wong’s paintings went to a Malaysian private collector, who is a trustee of several institutions across the world.

“It is our first time here in Singapore… Many local collectors were already aware of our program as they’ve engaged with the gallery online for the last few years. But we have been delighted to meet lots of new collectors that really span all age groups—from very active budding collectors in their late 20s through to the more senior collectors who are interested in diversifying their collections of Southeast Asian artists,” Unit London’s co-founder, Joe Kennedy, told Midnight Publishing Group News.

Works by Hong Kong artist Mak2 on show at de Sarthe's booth at ART SG. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Works by Hong Kong artist Mak2 on show at De Sarthe’s booth at ART SG. Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Regional galleries also reported sales. Whitestone, which recently opened a new space in Singapore, sold out all its pieces by the hot young Japanese painter Etsu Egami, priced at $10,000 to $30,000. WOAW Gallery, which also just inaugurated an outpost in the area, sold works by James Goss, Jon Burgerman, and Charlie Roberts for prices ranging from $9,000 to $22,800. Hong Kong’s De Sarthe gallery, which opened a space in Arizona last year, sold works by Mak2 and a painting by Zhong Wei, for prices ranging between $10,000 and $30,000. Artworks by young Singaporean artists Faris Heizer, Aisha Rosli, and Khairulddin Wahab, priced between $5,800 to $9,500, found buyers at Singapore’s Cuturi Gallery.

“The Southeast Asian market has been too rooted in their own local culture, but change is happening. Collectors have the desire to embrace what’s happening on the global stage and in international art,” noted dealer Pascal de Sarthe.

However, some regional dealers reported that sales have been slower than expected, Midnight Publishing Group News has learned. They still made sales, but to existing clients in the region rather than to new ones. While the VIP day and vernissage were packed with visitors, the aisles felt much more spacious on the second and third days. Some collectors took more time to make their purchases, especially those contemplating works by Southeast Asian artists new to them.

neugerriemschneider's booth at ART SG 2023. Courtesy of ART SG.

Neugerriemschneider’s booth at ART SG 2023. Courtesy of ART SG.

This led some to question, despite the amount of wealth in the city-state and the region’s potential growth, if the collector pool in the region was big enough to sustain a fair of this size and a growing art market.

Many dealers, however, chose not to speculate as they wanted to see the fair and its co-founder Magnus Renfrew—a highly respected figure in Asia’s art scene—succeed.

“For a first-year fair, I think it’s got off to a very good start. The sales have been okay. My feeling is that there’s going to be activity right up until 5 pm on Sunday,” Renfrew told Midnight Publishing Group News. “We are really expecting things to be happening throughout the upcoming days. The energy has been positive. People feel welcomed by the city, and that there’s a sense of the potential for the future. This is really just the first step.”

While sales have traditionally been an important benchmark for an art fair’s success, a new barometer is needed for fairs in Asia, especially for young fairs in young markets, Zwirner’s Xu pointed out.

“For example, established, active collectors may know about us, but not the younger ones. That’s why we want to do the fair—we want to reach out to those who buy cars, shoes, Street art, and NFTs, and introduce them to other kinds of art and other galleries. This is a conversion process,” Xu noted.

ART SG runs through Sunday, January 15, 2023.

 

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The 5 Most Arresting Works at Art Basel, From an Epic $750,000 Painting by Meleko Mokgosi to a Low-Fi Video That Went Viral on TikTok


While many people say art fairs are a bad place to see art, the good ones—like Art Basel in Switzerland, which runs through Sunday—do have at least one major thing going for them. They are by far the most efficient way to take in the work of established artists, blue-chip estates, and emerging talents from around the world in one fell swoop, delivering the collective pulse of the moment. Here are five arresting works that stopped me in my tracks as I whizzed around Art Basel this week. Each one captures something profound about our current and rather vexed zeitgeist.

 

Lily van der Stokker’s Childcare (1991–2019)
Air de Paris, Paris
Price: €65,000

Photo: Kate Brown

Photo: Kate Brown

The 65-year-old Dutch artist Lily van der Stokker tricks you into considering tough topics with a veneer of cuteness. She creates critical statements about banal or taboo social issues like illness, aging, housework, and child-rearing, but packages them as joyfully colored paintings and sculptures. It’s not until the second look that you realize they are a bit more sinister. 

At Air de Paris’s booth, a largely empty canvas emblazoned with the word “Childcare” leans against the wall. (It was included in the artist’s  retrospective, titled “help help a little old lady here,” at Zurich’s Migros Museum last year.) The empty space leaves one to wonder: yeah, what about childcare? It’s quite unsettling, especially after a year and a half when children were largely left at home, often to fend for themselves. Van der Stokker meticulously painted the word from a blown-up image on a projector, which was then remade onto canvas, giving the painterly strokes a unique sort of restraint. 

While not too many people are ready to collect her large-scale paintings, the artist has caught the eye of curators and institutions—a solo exhibition is in the works at the Camden Art Centre in 2022.

 

Matt Copson’s Of Coming Age (2021)
High Art, Paris and Arles
Price: €30,000, edition of 5

Courtesy High Art.

Courtesy High Art.

The French gallery High Art’s booth is empty, save for a rope that cordons off a large flickering projection of a swinging baby. The installation by the London-based artist Matt Copson is one piece of what he calls a three-part “laser opera.” A small cherub sings like a jaded, omniscient Greek chorus. He taunts from a swing in melancholic, sorrowful song: “I’ll play with you / through the fire / All day with you / distracting me / strange situation / earthly castration / strange situation / entertainment damnation.”

Another portion of the same work was included in a recent exhibition at High Art in Paris; it is also on view at CLEARING in Brussels (through October 23). But the installation hit the big time when it somehow went viral on TikTok, leading groups of non-art-world TikTokers to line up to see it in person, astounding the gallery.

Its digital fame is somewhat ironic given that it is devoutly analog, made with club lasers that are mirrored and projected on the wall. The rapid amalgamation of still images flicker in a way that creates a sense of continuity, without actually being a fluidly moving image. The effect successfully captures our attention in a time of constant tech-addled distraction.

 

Philipp Timischl’s The Embedded Mentality of Self-Sufficiency (2021)
Layr, Vienna
Price: €120,000

Philipp Timischl’s The Embedded Mentality of Self-Sufficiency (2021). Courtesy the artist, Layr Vienna

Too often, class dynamics are left out of the conversation in the affluent annals of the art world, because it is, of course, a bit awkward, isn’t it? (It also causes some cognitive dissonance, like wearing a dress that says “tax the rich” to the Met Gala). But Austrian artist Philipp Timischl has drawn up important questions about class-based exclusion, social mobility, and power dynamics in his practice and especially via his 2021 work The Embedded Mentality of Self-Sufficiency, which was brilliantly curated at Art Basel Unlimited, the fair’s sector for oversize art,  set right in front of the entrance as its curtain-raiser.

For a near two minutes, the screen is just a blazing fire and a foreboding countdown. It starts: on the screens, we see flickers of self-made and YouTube-sourced video, from the artist in drag to Kim Kardashian as she posed on the Met Gala runway in Demna Gvasalia’s now-iconic black-out suit (speaking of zeitgeist, this video was recut to include these newest clips just days before the opening of the fair). An anxious loop of captions about artistic intent scrolls underneath, including one rather searing line: “I can’t even afford my own work.”

The embedded mentality of self-sufficiency’s form is as good as its content: Large LED screen panels were inlayed with two canvas paintings—depending on what was on the screen, the canvases own static textures changed and came in and out of focus. 

 

Meleko Mokgosi’s Bread, Butter, and Power (2018)
Gagosian, Worldwide, and Jack Shainman, New York
Price: $750,000

Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Jack Shainman Gallery.

Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Jack Shainman Gallery.

There were more than a few paintings at Art Basel Unlimited that were so large they required their own rooms, but none felt as epically proportioned—both in size and content—as Meleko Mokgosi’s Bread, Butter, and Power. Sprawled across 21 panels, it becomes nearly immersive, taking up nearly all four walls of its dedicated booth. Images span more than a century of history and consider gendered labor as a post-colonial issue.

The cathedral-size work is one of an eight-chapter series called “Democratic Intuition.” The works reference important historical figures, from Angela Davis to Harriet Tubman, and show scenes of both work and leisure that speak to gender divides and the labor undertaken by people of color.  

The work by the Botswanian, U.S.-based artist was, unsurprisingly, snapped up for its asking price on the first VIP night of Unlimited by an American collector.  

 

Bani Abidi’s The Reassuring Hand Gestures of Big Men, Small Men, All Men (2021)
Experimenter, Kolkata
Price: $50,000—90,000, edition of 5 plus 2 AP

Bani Abidi <i>The Reassuring Hand Gestures of Big Men, Small Men, All Men</i> (2021). Image Credit: The Artist & Experimenter, Kolkata

Bani Abidi, The Reassuring Hand Gestures of Big Men, Small Men, All Men (2021). Image Credit: The Artist & Experimenter, Kolkata

This incisive work by Berlin-based Pakistani artist Bani Abidi shows that, despite spanning decades and nation-states, the physical posturing of politicians is universal. Fists, waves, and finger-pointing look similar despite very different messengers (most of whom are men), including Mao, Stalin, and Donald Trump. Accompanied by a sarcastic title, Abidi’s close-up images take away the power of their speakers by amputating them symbolically and physically. What remains is a poignant critique of political choreography which, when divorced from the rhetoric that typically accompanies it, becomes almost comical. 

If you want to see more of Abidi’s trenchant work but won’t make it to Basel, it is the subject of a major survey at the MCA Chicago developed in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation (through June 5, 2022).

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Switzerland Has Given an Eleventh-Hour Reprieve From Costly Additional Testing for Art Basel Visitors Who Received the AstraZeneca Vaccine


Art Basel has updated its health and safety advice for fairgoers after Switzerland changed its policy to allow people vaccinated with AstraZeneca outside of the E.U. to get the country’s Covid certificate.

From today, September 20, foreign visitors who were vaccinated abroad with any jab approved by the European Medicines Agency (including AstraZeneca) will be able to obtain the certificate allowing them to enter restaurants and large-scale events, including Art Basel. It is welcome news for fairgoers from the U.K., India, and Israel who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, as previously only vaccines approved for use in Switzerland (AstraZeneca is not yet approved there) were allowed to get the document (with the exception of E.U. citizens, as the country agreed to accept the E.U.’s Covid certificate).

The development comes after visitors who received the jab in the U.K. and elsewhere were frustrated to discover earlier this month that they would have to repeat a rapid lateral flow test—costing CHF37 ($40)—every 48 hours to gain access to the fair, or else pay for a more expensive PCR test every 72 hours.

The fair scrambled to find a solution for exhibitors who were affected by offering to pay for PCR tests that would exempt them from further testing. While most dealers were satisfied with the fair’s solution, the requirement for extra testing was an additional deterrent for foreign visitors who were already hesitant, with London-based art advisor Wendy Goldsmith telling Midnight Publishing Group News that authorities not recognizing the AstraZeneca vaccine was “the last straw” for her in deciding not to attend the fair. 

“We are pleased to inform our visitors to Art Basel in Basel 2021 that in line with new regulations announced by the Swiss Federal Council, as of Monday, September 20, all guests vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be granted access to our halls without the need to test,” a statement from the fair said.

The EMA has approved the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and the AstraZeneca vaccines. 

“Upon presentation of their vaccination certificate at our designated Covid-19 Certification Center, visitors will receive an Art Basel wristband that grants them entry into the fair,” the fair said.

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See 10 of the Exhilarating Installations at the Spring/Break Art Show, From a Shrine to Giantesses to One Absurdly Big Ham


Spring/Break Art Show, the upstart cool kid’s fair, kicked off its 10th New York edition—yes, you read that right—in uncharacteristically subdued fashion on Wednesday, keeping crowds to a minimum during its collectors and press preview as a health precaution.

“It’s strange,” Ambre Kelly, who co-founded the fair with husband Andrew Gori, admitted to Midnight Publishing Group News. “But the curators say they’ve been having these great conversations with collectors!”

And while the fair was quieter than usual, it still delivered its usual infectious mix of immersive installations, with most curators opting to eschew the traditional white cube and embrace the quirkiness of the office building setting, even to show drawings and paintings. (The fair is taking place in Ralph Lauren’s former headquarters for the second year running.)

This year’s theme was “Hearsay:Heresy.” As always, interpretations varied widely, with artists exploring Medieval artisanship, Catholic imagery, and concepts of the plague, public shaming, and heretical beliefs. Installations ranged from meditative chapels and ornate altarpieces to a giant, self-slicing honey-baked ham. Here’s a look at ten of the highlights.

 

Meg Lionel Murphy: The Keep
curated by the Untitled Space, New York

“Meg Lionel Murphy: The Keep” curated by the Untitled Space, New York at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Meg Lionel Murphy: The Keep” curated by the Untitled Space, New York at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Work from "Meg Lionel Murphy: The Keep" at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of the Untitled Space.

Work from “Meg Lionel Murphy: The Keep” at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of the Untitled Space.

In her installation of brightly colored paintings, Meg Lionel Murphy has reimagined the castle keep as a bathroom—the safest spot in the home, both from the natural threats of hurricanes and tornados and from a domestic abuser, as it is often the only room that locks from the inside.

The artist, who was raised Catholic, actually repurposed vintage religious icons with ornate gold frames to build her own shrine, painting over them with images of female giants who roam the earth, recurring characters from her work.

“I started weaving my own mythology that I’ve been building for years into Catholic imagery,” Murphy told Midnight Publishing Group News.

 

“Book of Ours: Phil Buehler
curated by Sarah Celentano

“Book of Ours: Phil Buehler” curated by Sarah Celentano at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of Sarah Celentano.

“Book of Ours: Phil Buehler” curated by Sarah Celentano at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of Sarah Celentano.

“Medievalists have been comparing the smart phone to the Medieval book of hours for years,” curator Sarah Celentano, a medievalist and former staffer at New York’s City Reliquary told Midnight Publishing Group News. “They are about the same size, people use them in public, and they are luxury items.”

Phil Buehler has run with that comparison, surreptitiously snapping photographs of New Yorkers engrossed in their phones and turning the images into stained glass-style images displayed on a smart TV mounted in a wooden frame shaped like an arched church window.

The meditative display, beneath a vaulted “ceiling” of blue lights, is paired with dispatches from QAnon printed in Gothic script that Celentano selected for their biblical cadence. “Smart phones give us access to limitless information, not just prayers,” she said, “but we are still prone to radicalization.”

 

Buket Savci: Wrong Side of the River (Pink Room)
curated by Maria de Los Angeles

“Buket Savci: Wrong Side of the River (Pink Room)” curated by Maria de Los Angeles at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Buket Savci: Wrong Side of the River (Pink Room)” curated by Maria de Los Angeles at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Buket Savci: Wrong Side of the River (Pink Room)” curated by Maria de Los Angeles at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

“Buket Savci: Wrong Side of the River (Pink Room)” curated by Maria de Los Angeles at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

The warm pink tones of Buket Savci’s paintings of entangled bodies sprawling on unicorn pool floats evoke two readings: friends luxuriating in each other’s company, but also migrants struggling to cross a large body of water (one painting especially recalls The Raft of the Medusa).

That’s why the paintings are installed with a “stream” running on the floor beneath them, with three of the cheerful inflatables featured in the works. Savci, an immigrant herself who left Turkey to escape corruption and injustice, hopes the works call to mind the struggles of the refugee crisis, while also representing hope and interpersonal connection.

“I want you to cross this river to this realm where you’re loved,” Savci told Midnight Publishing Group News.

 

“Moises Salazar Tlatenchi: Let’s Get Physical
curated by Filo Sofi Arts, New York

“Moises Salazar Tlatenchi: Let's Get Physical” curated by Filo Sofi Arts, New York at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Moises Salazar Tlatenchi: Let’s Get Physical” curated by Filo Sofi Arts, New York at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Glitter, delicate crochet, and pink fur adorn the paintings of 24-year-old, queer, non-binary artist Moises Salazar Tlatenchi, an immigrant from Mexico. Their faceless self portraits of boxers and wrestlers are displayed alongside a bench press and treadmill, both of which have been similarly adorned by the artist.

“We were thinking of the gym as a torture chamber, and recontextualizing it as a safe space for queer and trans kids,” gallery owner Gabrielle Aruta told Midnight Publishing Group News, adding that “I know a lot of artists working in glitter, but I haven’t seen anyone else who is able to capture the graduation of hue Moises achieves.”

 

“Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw: Slicing Ham (2020/1792)
curated by Magda Sawon

“Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw: Slicing Ham (2020/1792)” curated by Magda Sawon at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

“Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw: Slicing Ham (2020/1792)” curated by Magda Sawon at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

The political events of 2020 are memorialized in miniature by husband and wife artist duo Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw, who have sculpted a tiny ballot drop box, a toppled Trump monument, and the aftermath of the January 6 storming of the capitol, replete with Nancy Pelosi’s stolen lectern and Jake “QAnon Shaman” Angeli’s headdress, among other vignettes.

But these tiny scenes are dwarfed by an absurdist ham plastered with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, sliced over and over again by a giant mechanical knife. The dramatic shift in size reflects the incomprehensibility of the 24 hour news cycle and all its conspiracies and tragedies.

“This notion of macro and micro and the idea of extreme scale is something they want to explore,” curator Magda Sawon, of New York’s Postmasters Gallery, told Midnight Publishing Group News.

 

“The Castle of the Spider’s Web
curated by Deep Space Gallery, Jersey City

“The Castle of the Spider’s Web” with work by Demming King Harriman and T.F. Dutchman curated by Deep Space Gallery, Jersey City. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

“The Castle of the Spider’s Web” with work by Demming King Harriman and T.F. Dutchman curated by Deep Space Gallery, Jersey City. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

The back room of Deep Space Gallery’s two-part booth channels some serious Medieval energy, welcoming visitors with an elaborate golden altarpiece that doubles as the perfect frame for your art fair photo op.

Deming King Harriman made the installation for the occasion to accompany her pandemic-inspired “Isolation Art: Masks” series of Old Master-style portraits with subjects clad in ornate ruffled collars, metal armor, and various face coverings that evoke both the Black Death and our 21st century plague.

The digital collage prints ($350 each) are paired with stained glass windows by T.F. Dutchman (given name Keith VanPelt), who runs the gallery with romantic partner Jenna Geiger and has been working in the unusual medium for some 20 years.

“He does hip hop and skateboarding iconography in stained glass,” Geiger told Midnight Publishing Group News. The showstopper, Jam Master Jay (2009), is inspired by a series of windows the legendary designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (2009) made in Pittsburgh and is priced at $30,000.

 

“Out of the Blue, Things Happen to You: The Estate of Matthew Freedman
curated by Jude Tallichet

“Out of the Blue, Things Happen to You: The Estate of Matthew Freedman” curated by Jude Tallichet at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Out of the Blue, Things Happen to You: The Estate of Matthew Freedman” curated by Jude Tallichet at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw: Slicing Ham (2020/1792)” curated by Magda Sawon at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

Work by Matthew Freedman. Photo courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

When her husband Matthew Freedman died in October at age 63 after a long battle with cancer, sculptor Jude Tallichet wasn’t sure what to do with the hundreds upon hundreds of sculptures he had made over the decades in their home, a former synagogue in Ridgewood, Queens.

“I didn’t want the work to just go into a landfill,” Tallichet told Midnight Publishing Group News. “It would be so great if it could live with people.”

With that goal in mind, she estimates she has brought about 60 percent of his sculptures to the fair. The result is an overwhelming display full of charm and character, with armies of tiny figures that seem poised to come to life in a claymation film spread across a large cubicle, covering the desks, the shelves, the window sill, and the floor.

Freedman returned to many of the same funny little characters over and over. It would be a shame to break up his impressive body of work, which almost certainly benefits from being seen en masse. (A museum show examining the artist would be fascinating.) Prices range from $150 for the small sculptures to $5,500 for a large piece of a seven-headed hydra.

 

“Working Title: The Birth of a New Eden
curated by Andrea Zlotowicz

“Working Title: The Birth of a New Eden” with work by Anne Muntges and Kate Bae, curated by Andrea Zlotowicz at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Working Title: The Birth of a New Eden” with work by Anne Muntges and Kate Bae, curated by Andrea Zlotowicz at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

The black and white works of Anne Muntges shine at not one but two booths at Spring/Break, including a full wall installation of a graffitied Brooklyn street in “Devotion,” a three-artist presentation she shares with Bethany Krull and Ani Hoover, curated by Buffalo gallery the Raft of Sanity.

The effect of Muntges’s obsessive mark-making is especially delightful, however, paired with Kate Bae’s colorful wall sculptures, which feature playable xylophones and delicate fake flowers whose petals are made from peeled layers of acrylic paint.

“The works were definitely separate, but Kate and Anne worked together to create the space and create a garden of Eden,” curator Andrea Zlotowicz told Midnight Publishing Group News.

 

Joe Bochynski: Spolia
curated by John Witty

“Joe Bochynski: Spolia” curated by John Witty at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“Joe Bochynski: Spolia”
curated by John Witty at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Joe Bochynski has built a full on Gothic chapel at the fair, with a mosaic triptych honoring his Polish immigrant grandparents and their Catholic faith. Adding to the installation is a display of mosaic roundels arranged to mimic a rose window.

“He collects all these found objects, like kitschy figurines, and adds them to his work,” curator John Witty told Midnight Publishing Group News. “I see it as modern-day spolia“—the ancient practice of reusing old buildings in new monuments.

 

“Lujan Perez: Where are you from, from?”
curated by Anne-Laure Lemaitre

"Lujan Perez: Where are you from, from?" curated by Anne-Laure Lemaitre at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

“Lujan Perez: Where are you from, from?” curated by Anne-Laure Lemaitre at Spring/Break Art Show. Photo by Sammy Sachs, courtesy of Spring/Break Art Show.

Lujan Perez was inspired to make her drawings of imagined toxic plants by internet research she conducted in March 2020, when she fell ill during the first wave of the pandemic. When she learned the yellow oleander, a common garden plant, can cause similar shortness of breath to the virus, she became fascinated by the looming dangers of the natural world.

“There are things that are very familiar that if ingested make you very sick,” Perez told Midnight Publishing Group News.

The works on paper are accompanied by a large-scale hand-carved wooden installation that you can climb inside, transporting yourself to a dark, vaguely ominous forest.

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