NEW YORK, NY.- VOLTA NY
ushered in record-shattering attendance in its sixth edition and triumphant SoHo debut. Growing attendance may be a given as an art fair matures in its image, but the daily numbers surpassed even the fair's sanguine expectations.
"We knew that SoHo would be a game-changer but we never expected that the increase would be so dramatic," said Amanda Coulson, VOLTA NY's Artistic Director. "We counted over 22,000 visitors -- more than a third of The Armory Show's attendance last year. I guess the little sister grew up!"
BRUNDYN + GONSALVES (Cape Town) sold a full set of young Johannesburg-based artist Mohau Modisakeng's Untitled performative suite (30 monumental self-portrait C-prints on watercolor paper at approximately $55,000 total). Upstairs, FOLEY (New York) counted its biggest sale with a suite of Alice Attie's Physics ink drawings to a private collector (approximately $18,000). "The fair is the envy of Armory Week," said director Michael Foley. "It seems to be the favorite among veteran collectors." As of 30 minutes before closing time, only one of Geraldine Swayne's intimately scaled enamel on metal paintings remained at Fred [London] Ltd (London), the other 29 selling in waves throughout the fair's duration.
Some exhibitors counted future successes from their solo presentations. Petra Martinetz of TEAPOT (Cologne) was thrilled to meet totally new collectors for Susanne Rottenbacher's LED and acrylic sculptures, detailing three commissioned works in U.S. and Europe, plus the preliminaries toward a museum show and a gallery exhibition in Europe. Patrick Mikhail, owner of his namesake Ottawa gallery, raved that "everything surpassed expectation, and the way Amy [Schissel]'s work has been perceived is extraordinary." Mikhail sold several of Amy Schissel's large-scale Cyberfields mixed-media works on paper, adding that through fair interest she was booked for two drawing shows in Massachusetts and Boston.
Galleries reiterated the solo project format's strength and the attuned breed of visitors. Deb Klowden Mann of gallery km (Santa Monica) was proud of the numerous international gallerists coming through and discovering Christine Frerich's visceral abstract paintings. She placed several pieces in different locations across the globe. At Davidson Contemporary (New York), associate director Charles Davidson emphasized that collectors "got the full voice of Sarah [Hardesty]'s work" at VOLTA NY, particularly "since she works in such disparate media", like reclaimed-wood installation and mixed-media works on paper. Richard Heller, director of Richard Heller Gallery (Los Angeles), reported increasing interest in his artists' Amy Bennett and Devin Troy Strother's works, plus sales throughout the fair. "You guys rocked it!" he enthused. Heino Schmid, who made his art-fair debut at Popopstudios' (Nassau) booth, remarked on the "really inspiring conversations" he'd had by staging his assemblages of found objects, usually composed completely from Bahamian materials, in an entirely new environment. "The critical feedback is like food somehow. It feeds the studio practice tremendously."
Galerie Heike Strelow (Frankfurt am Main) remarked that Mathias Kessler's environmentally attuned C-prints and installation works went to solely New York-based collectors this year. "We typically come with works not easy to sell, not simply nice to look at," Strelow explained. "We have a curated booth and the collectors see it." She added that "though art fairs are fast, we've had deep conversations. The collectors stop and go into discussions, and that's the most important thing." Sales included a modular site-specific installation ($10,000 approximately) and a grand C-print of the Ilulissat iceberg ($11,500), among other prints. Strelow's booth neighbor Galleri Christoffer Egelund (Copenhagen) sold multiple subtly twisted photorealistic paintings by Maria Torp ($5,300 - $11,500) to several collectors, plus sold all editions of her two small-scale figurative bronzes ($8,500 each). At HALSEY MCKAY GALLERY (East Hampton), practically all of Timothy Bergstrom's mixed-media Glound works ($2,000 - $8,000) were accounted for, and co-director Hilary Schaffner added there was considerable interest in David Kennedy Cutler's pair of striking composite sculptures, a site-specific project for VOLTA NY.
Valerie Dillon, director of Dillon Gallery (New York), was pleased with the number of collectors taken by Chiho Akama's washi paper and mixed-media shoe sculptures (sold for $6,000 - $10,000), particularly Latin America-based collectors who "got" Japanese contemporary art in general. GALLERI FLACH (Stockholm) sold three large-scale watercolors from Kristina Bength's series The Light that is Shared and Divided ($10,000 average), and dealer Eva-Lotta Holm Flach commented their booth installation "communicated Kristina's works very well, as expected." Galerie Römerapotheke (Zurich) staged a new hanging Saturday night for Patrick Lo Giudice's encaustic Cosa Nostra paintings, delivering three Sunday to a New York-based collector, a large canvas to Amsterdam, another to Florida, and several more on hold. "We are very happy," gallery director Philippe Rey said with a broad smile, then, signaling an end to the business talk, passed over his signature basket of Swiss chocolates.
The stunning number of visitors to VOLTA NY this year was reflected in the array of high-quality guests. Among those seen at the SoHo venue included Knight Landesman (Artforum International publisher), Joel and Sherry Mallin (New York), Alain Servais (Brussels), Steve Shane (New York, a three-time return visitor), Amy Chanos (New York), Todd Levin (New York-based art advisor), Deborah Cullen (Director and Chief Curator at Columbia University and Curator of the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana), Bill Arning (Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston), Anthony Elms (Associate Curator at the ICA in Philadelphia and co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial), Ariel Saldivar (Development, The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas), Vesela Sretenović, Ph.D (Senior Curator at The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.), and representatives from Tate Britain (London), Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn), New Museum (New York), SculptureCenter (Queens), and Magasin 3 (Stockholm) were seen wandering the aisles and making transactions.
Prodigious attendance carried to VOLTA NY's 2013 talks program, providing packed houses to panels like "On Abstraction", featuring exhibiting young artists Regina Scully (C24 Gallery, New York), Kadar Brock (VIGO Gallery, London and The Hole NYC, New York), Christine Frerichs (gallery km, Santa Monica), and William Bradley (EB&Flow, London); and ARC Magazine's (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) roundtable on contemporary Caribbean art and its diaspora, moderated by ARC Editor-in-Chief Holly Bynoe and artist/writer Charles Campbell and featuring scholar Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ph.D., Lisa Howie (Director of Bermuda National Gallery), artist/writer Christopher Cozier and VOLTA NY artist Heino Schmid (Popopstudios, Nassau).
Coulson commented on VOLTA NY's SoHo space: "A new venue always comes with a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation -- is the floorpan going to flow, will the visitors find us -- but it seems all our concerns were unwarranted. Certainly we are thinking already about how to tweak it, improve on it and make it even better but overall we couldn't be more pleased with the results."