Once again (for the 39th time) the ArtExpo has descended on New York City (at Pier 94 at the western foot of Manhattan’s 54th Street.) This is the biggest such gathering of juried artists in the U.S. – artists congregating from around the globe to promote their work to trade buyers—gallery owners and managers, art dealers, interior designers, architects, corporations and art & framing retailers. Again, the pleasure for me was to be able to talk to the artists. The art becomes more meaningful to me, and often more sensible.
Tzachi Nevo traveled from Israel for this, his first New York ArtExpo. He came out of an industrial design background and prepares his work in that mindset; his art is his business. He is widely represented on the Web (LinkedIn, FB, Etsy, Pinterest, etc.) Until two years ago, Nevo worked in marketing – having previously spent only the briefest time practicing his design craft. He is a genial fellow with none of the obvious eccentricities or pretensions of the cliché artist. The works Nevo displayed at the Expo are bold in color and design, reminiscent of Greek theater masks or African tribal art; primitive in their simplicity and readily accessible. They show a definite sense of whimsy. He has produced distinctly different series – masks of animals, large emojis, many of which were not displayed at the Expo but may be found on-line at Urban Masquerade.
Christian Torcal and Carol Routenaer
I spoke briefly, and haltingly (due to our mutual lack of bilingualism), with a charming young Spanish couple from Valencia – Carol Routenaer and Christian Torcal. Routenaer is a self-taught photographer with a romantic sensibility and an eye for the idealized beauty of young girls set off with bits of nature in ravishing colors. She occasionally dipped into surrealism – perhaps accidentally, but the works could be enjoyed simply for their lush and deep tonalities. This was also her first Expo. See Carol’s website.
I chatted at some length with Ed Pascoe of the Pascoe Galleries; Pascoe maintains a gallery in North Miami, but his Expo display was an expansive collection of captivating ceramic works by a collective of South African Zulu artists (Ardmore Studio) – with wonderful color, detail, energy and humor – simultaneously sophisticated and accessible, masterful and occasionally silly. You could not resist smiling at the work.
In 2009 Pasco first visited Ardmore in Kwazulu-Natal and met the founder and organizer of the collective, Fée Halsted. Pascoe now regularly visits the collective in South Africa, and Halstead reciprocates; they can be seen at the center of the (uncredited) photo of the collective. See the website for Pascoe Gallery.
I also had an engaging conversation with Kevin Grass and wife, both artists, but only Kevin’s work was displayed. He teaches academic art, she art history; they met while studying northern renaissance art at the University of Georgia. Grass hales from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, a modest French colonial town an hour south of St Louis – founded in 1735, and the oldest town in the state. (It gets a mention in the journals of Lewis & Clark.) The Grasses live and work in the Tampa Bay area. His relatively rustic background belies the stylistic classicism, and the philosophical and satiric sensibility of his paintings. (One iconic image is of a young couple, casually attired, in intimate embrace – each perusing his/her phone behind the back – and outside the peripheral vision – of the other. Another is a riff on Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding portrait – but this time around commemorating the legalization of gay marriage.) Grass paints on birch plywood and finishes his works with a varnish that enhances the depth and luster of the paint and suggests a more aged lineage. See the website for Kevin Grass.
I spoke with Kate Taylor, a vivacious Torontonian, who also works on birch ply – but in a less representational manner. She starts with a bold color wash and then attacks her “canvas” with a palette knife of many colors to build pointillist abstracts, and finishes the work with an epoxy resin, lightly torched to educe air bubbles, rendering the final product glossy and bright, and seemingly lacquered. The strike of the palette knife leaves bits of color with a hard lead and a softer, almost frayed trailing edge – as if having been ripped from the edge of a paper. See Kate Taylor Studio.
Peter Layton Glass Works
Glowing glass creations of the English master glass artist Peter Layton were also particularly striking. See more on his website.
The Expo brings together art and artists from around the globe, working in many media – some exceptional, some less so – but all receptive to conversation. If you are an artist, or enjoy the study, philosophy, technique or business of art, or if you are in the market for art, you should find wandering the aisles here a fascinating few hours. It is open today (4/22) and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. Each day includes various special events, talks and presentations – all of which can be found on the Art Expo New York website.
All photos by Fred R. Cohen. See more on his website.