The first week in March brought another annual New York Armory Show, and this year's exhibition marked the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1913 show, officially the International Exhibition of Modern Art, I did not make it to this year's Armory Show. It came, it went, I missed it. Several friends did attend and then told me afterwards. about it. Instead, C and I headed over to the Art Expo 2013, on Manhattan's westside Midtown Pier 92. The Art Expo describes itself as presenting "Contemporary Art You Can Afford to Love," and it's probably fair to say that in the larger scheme of the contemporary global and US art world's pricing points, this art was certainly much more affordable than anything you would find in most New York galleries, auctions, museums, fairs, or even artists' studios--the ones getting any sort of attention, that is. Or the Armory Show. Our primary reason for attending was to see the work of a friend, Miriam Pace, one of the lovely people we met when we were invited to Sicily almost four years ago for the International Festival of Poetry in Caltagirone. Miriam, a talented artist who has exhibited in Italy and other European cities, and was making her New York début. We also hoped to see her sister Josephine Pace, a talented, innovative poet, and her fiancé Gaetano Cardiel, also wonderful people, but they were unable to attend this trip. Miriam came with her fiancé Dino and Alessandro Liudici, with whom she was presenting new work.
The story takes an interesting turn, however. Miriam had planned to ship the work to New York via us, in Jersey City; it would arrive at our home, we'd bring it to Manhattan before the show opened, and that would that. Tutti bene. Except that customs officials in Rome held up the package after it had passed through Catania, and it stayed there, delayed until just before the New York show was to open. So on Thursday, dealers' day, which was closed to the public, Miriam telephoned me (she had to stop texting because of the outrageous US carriers' roaming fees) to say that the package would be arriving in Elizabeth, just south of Jersey City, near Newark International Airport. I called the shipping company, found out when it was going to arrive, and then headed over to pick it up. Despite the box's elephantine size it wasn't heavy and did fit--was packed--into our truck, so I was able then to drive it straight to the city, deliver it to Miriam and Dino, and she had work to show. She nevertheless told me as I was heading to get the shipment that in its absence, she had decided to buy some materials in New York and paint on the spot, so as not to have nothing to show. I thought the idea of fresh paintings and performance would be a hit as well as a pleasant temporary stop-gap, especially on dealers' day, but that the most important thing was her having the art shipped from Italy in place.
Lo and behold, when C and I went to the show on Saturday, we realized how resourceful Miriam had been. Not only had she painted new works on the spot (and sold seven as of our visit), but she had decorated her shallow booth as well, creating a bit of a sensation in the process. As we stood there talking with her and Dino, several waves of people thronged around her, and it was clear that the experience of seeing work created on the spot, especially beautiful, semi-figurative and abstract art, thrilled attendees and sparked sales. Miriam's work--which completely sold out--was the high point of the afternoon, but we had so much fun walking around and taking in the other booths, artists and artworks, browsers and connoisseurs, the characters who inevitably appear at such events. While a great deal of the work, from all over the globe, struck me as derivative of some of the many trends in modern and post-modern art since the Armory Show era (there were paintings that vaguely resembled Picasso or De Kooning or Basquiat or Orozco or cartoons, etc.), some of it was decent, a small portion really good, and, as I said, though much of it was outside my price range, there were smaller paintings and prints for as low as $150, with larger works running into the $20,000, which is still below the prices you'd be quoted at most Chelsea galleries. (One recent show I went to had fairly small paintings by an up-and-coming black artist I like, and those were in the $3,000 range.) I'm glad we were able to make this show, and I will be sure not to miss the New-York Historical Society's exhibit, which runs from this upcoming October until February 2014, on the anniversary and legacy of that 1913 Armory Show. I'll be looking for this one, though, next year, and for Miriam's career to keep taking flight.
|Pier 92, from the outside|
|A mobile sculpture outside the exhibition, in the delivery area|
|The box of artworks, finally arrived|
|Miriam discussing her work with fans|
|Dino packing up a painting|
|The crowd at Miriam's booth|
|C and Miriam|
|The entrance to the exhibition|
|Gebhardt Gallery & Studio|
|Viewers taking in work|
|Artist Ercila Cepeda's son, sitting at her exhibit|
|Anna Art Publishing (that is Anna, in the white cape)|
|Warren, talking to C|
|At George Sen One Morillo's booth|
|Nigerian artists, displaying their wares|
|The World of Ed Heck|
|A crucifix (appropriate a painting for a somewhat S/M Easter)|
|The acrobat(s) [Clear as it is, I can't make|
out the artist's name in back: Jottra? Jotka? Jotbra?]