NEW YORK, NY.-
Like the art fair equivalent to a warming hot toddy against New York's lingering polar vortex, VOLTA NY
opened its second year in SoHo with a resounding wave of red-hot sales. Thousands attended the preview and evening vernissage, double the number of last year's bustling SoHo debut.
Quality was the word of the day, both in the selection of compelling projects in the fair's seventh iteration and in the collectors coursing through both floors. Julie Meneret Contemporary Art (New York) was thrilled. "This is my first fair, and I didn't expect such an overwhelming reaction," Meneret enthused, noting that she sold a range of Jin Joo Chae's melted chocolate and North Korean newspaper compositions (mostly $10,000 each). "I'm so happy!" she beamed. Tokyo gallery YUKI-SIS echoed the appreciation, as dealer Yuki Terashima commented that "visitors were totally different than who I've experienced at other fairs. Here they really want to buy. And the level of the fair is high and fresh." She sold two of Katsutoshi Yuasa's oil-based woodcuts on paper and met many new clients. Furthering strong sales in works on paper was first-time exhibitor STUDIO10 (Bushwick), who moved eight of Meg Hitchcock's small to medium-sized collaged-word works ($950-$2,300) to several collectors, with additional interest in her larger works. Dealer Larry Greenberg was pleased and "surprised by how engaged people were." Downstairs, Elana Brundyn of Cape Town mainstay BRUNDYN+ was heartened in "meeting new people nonstop, who had more than just the normal questions" in Mohau Modisakeng's powerful post-apartheid practice. The gallery sold an edition from the young South African artist's Inzilo performance video ($2,800) plus one monumental-scale photograph from Untitled Frames Series.
Some galleries counted exceptionally brisk business. Jonathan LeVine Gallery (New York) had nearly sold out their entire booth of Chicago graf-alchemist Pose's pop-tastic acrylic and spraypaint compositions an hour into the preview. No doubt Pose's public mural on 188 Lafayette, created through the support of The L.I.S.A. Project NYC and completed just before the preview, drew additional attention to his booth works. Meanwhile Heike Strelow, of her namesake Frankfurt am Main gallery, was ecstatic after selling approximately $48,000 total in Florian Heinke's large and small-scale silkscreened canvases, mostly to major Los Angeles collections. "It was a bit mayhem," Anthony Spinello of Spinello Projects (Miami) said with a sly grin, on the fair's first hour. He held court with collectors Susan and Michael Hort (New York), who bought half of Farley Aguilar's booth presentation, including large-scale oil on canvas paintings from the Nicaraguan artist's new series The Veil plus several earlier ink on mylar works. "The Horts wanted to see everything, of course, and their selections were dead-on," he added. Within another hour, he had sold the remainder of the booth to other clients.
RYAN LEE counted great interest in Josh Dorman's fantastical antiqued ink and acrylic compositions, which channeled Bruegel and Bosch through a rosier spectrum, selling several medium-sized works and the four-panel Mined Land ($15,000 - $45,000 approx.) to a New York collector. Irina Protopopescu of SLAG Gallery (Brooklyn) was all smiles upon moving Tim Kent's fractured interiors to New York and European collectors, including the show-stopping massive painting Of Numberless Pleasures ($17,000 approximately) and four canvases within the first two hours of the fair. Longtime exhibitor Pierre-François Ouellette (of his namesake Montreal gallery) was encouraged by response to John Player's bird's-eye-view paintings as well, selling seven works to a Costa Rican collector and a New York gallerist. "It is a compliment to me when a dealer buys from another dealer," Ouellette professed. "They have the selection of the whole world." Upstairs, FOLEY (New York) had an "excellent!" first day, selling 11 of Casey Ruble's petite cut-paper collaged scenes to three different private collectors, while Peter Hionas (of Hionas Gallery, New York) noted strong sales for Siri Berg's sublime tonal compositions. From the veteran color theorist's Red Series, seven of nine of the panels had sold ($8,000 each), plus her classic 1974 canvas Phase 1 (Shadow) garnered major interest.
"These are not easy pieces but the reaction has been amazing," enthused Jean-Michel Bourgeois of Galerie Trois Points (Montreal) about Natalie Reis' viscous and intensely physical suite of works on canvas and paper. The gallery sold one rondo painting and clocked strong interest in Reis' massive diptych Happy Ending. Next door, MA2 Gallery (Tokyo) sold a range of Akihiro Higuchi's meticulous sculptures, both from his delicately painted entomological specimens to Higuchi's potent Buddha/Statue of Liberty antique hybrid Restore - Syncrestic Fusion of Shintoism and Buddhism ($12,000 approx.). Further down the corridor, LYNCH THAM noted great interest in their curated booth idea around Venice-based Argentinian artist Carolina Raquel Antich's storybook narrative, replete with a moss-edged floor. The gallery sold the porcelain sculpture Tent to "an amazing institutional collection" while fielding interest in Antich's acrylic on linen paintings, particularly the petite Drowsiness and the monumental Alla Deriva. Across the floor at MARC STRAUS (New York), all three of Jeffrey Gibson's mixed-media punching bags and both of his teddy-bear-sized figures sold ($62,000 - $72,000 each), while dealer Tim Hawkinson and team fielded strong interest from several public installation art advisers.
First-time VOLTA NY participant Marianne Ibrahim-Lenhardt of M.I.A Gallery (Seattle) was both enchanted and sobered by collectors' reactions to her potent assembly of Senegalese master-artist Soly Cissé´s large-scale, deliriously colorful paintings. "People are very happy about this large painting, and its unusual size for an art fair. I'm like in Wonderland, so small in front of this big painting. But the important thing isn't about the size," of Cissé's works, "it is about creating more awareness on the creativity in Africa - in the end, size doesn't matter." Considering Cissé's career post-participating in the acclaimed international traveling group exhibition Africa Remix, the greater world is taking notice. In another artist´s New York City debut, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans) clocked over $70,000 in sales in Adam Mysock's amazing miniature paintings, with over half their booth sold in day one to the 21c Museum (Louisville, KY) and private collections locally and in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Guido Maus of beta pictoris gallery (Birmingham, AL) reemphasized the caliber of visitors to VOLTA NY's seventh edition preview: "There are so many angles to the discussions," said Maus of his booth-sized mini-retrospective on seminal assemblage artist Willie Cole. "With these 25 years of Willie's work's on view, people want to interact with them and see both art-historic and the historic themes." He enthused about the "great, great interactions with many international curators, and with both young and very established collectors."
Special projects at this year's fair added a deeper degree of excitement for SoHo guests. In addition to CONNERSMITH.'s (Washington D.C.) significant presentation of Zoë Charlton's new works in collage and gouache, the gallery featured the first of two durational performances by young D.C.-based artist Wilson Wilson IV. His incredibly physical and intensely emotional performance From My Paper Bag Colored Heart attracted a crowd through its 90-plus-minute period, including Dorothy Moss (National Portrait Gallery), representatives from 21c Museum (Louisville, KY), Birmingham collectors, other exhibiting artists and many other guests. Wilson will restage this performance on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Upstairs, critically-acclaimed artist-run podcast Bad At Sports (Chicago/New York) experienced a thrilling first day, as co-founder Amanda Browder produced a color explosion of fabric and cushions that wrapped her own bed into the installation, a comfy staging ground for their ongoing Bedside Chats. Beyond the brief off-time routine, which Browder described as "people stopping by, jumping in bed, taking naps", the team spent the day interviewing VOLTA NY artists and gaining deeper impressions of their works at the fair. Browder was enamored by the scope of artists, "from Siri Berg (Hionas Gallery, New York) to Florian Heinke (Galerie Heike Strelow), we've been adding these ageless conversations to our archives."
A superlative contingent of collectors and critics attend VOLTA NY's 2014 preview, including: Dorothy Moss (Associate Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.); Jonathan Shaughnessy (Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa); Jeffreen M. Hayes, PhD. (Director of Theaster Gates' Rebuild Foundation, Chicago/St. Louis/Omaha); Janet Dees (Assistant Curator at SITE Santa Fe); Dawn Cain (Curator at the Bank of Montreal); Susan and Michael Hort (New York collectors); Russell Simmons (Co-founder of Def Jam and founder of Phat Farm, New York) Carole Server and Oliver Frankel (New York collectors); John Friedman (New York collector); Alain Servais (Belgian collector); Keri Christ and Justin Ockenden (New York collectors); Susan Goodman and Rod Lubeznik (New York collectors); Jarl and Pamela Mohn(Los Angeles collectors); Gail and Stanley Hollander (Los Angeles collectors); Sue Stoffel (New York art advisor and collector); Ann Fensterstock (New York art advisor and collector); JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey (New York collector); Steve Shane (New York collector); representatives from the 21c Museum (Louisville, KY); the entire creative team of David Yurman (New York luxury jeweler); plus members of the press, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Hyperallergic, and CosmoArteTV, and other distinguished guests. A representative from Twitter toured during the afternoon, commenting that the ubiquitous social newsfeed entity was interested in emerging art and felt VOLTA NY was the best place to find it.
The convivial vibe continued through the evening vernissage, as guests filtered between both floors, AVERNA cocktails in hand served expertly by local mixologist mainstay Tad Carducci of The Tippling Bros. A buying spirit accompanied the poured ones, as Peter Makebish (of his eponymous New York space) courted a marathon of late-hour action, selling one of Houstonian Geoff Hippenstiel's enormous oil and wax compositions while balancing four holds on another brilliant bluish canvas and multiple interest in Hippenstiel's two others. The ton of Instagram selfies in front of a particularly transfixing opalescent painting encapsulated the enlivened vernissage vibe. And while Bad At Sports co-founder Richard Holland's specially-made art fair defense kits (marshmallow guns) were at the ready in their installation just up the corridor, their deployment during the fair was all in good spirits.