Friday, January 21, 2011

Art review: Art Palm Beach offers trip down rabbit hole into art Wonderland

Art Palm Beach gets under way with a preview Thursday
at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.‭
(‬Photo by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

By Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt

‭“‬I chose the hammerhead because they‭’‬re on the red list and in danger of extinction,‭”‬ said‭ ‬the artist‭ ‬Marc Hubert D‭’‬Ge‭—‬ who looked like‭ ‬remarkably like‭ ‬a young‭ ‬Gregg Allman‭ ‬— in‭ ‬a charming‭ ‬Aix-en-Provence‭ ‬accent of his installation piece,‭ ‬Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves.‭

He stood beneath a‭ ‬10-foot,‭ ‬taxidermied shark mounted on an exhibition wall with a video‭ ‬running over it and against the wall.‭ ‬The shark was trailed by a trio of foot-long babies.‭ ‬At one time,‭ ‬there had been five,‭ ‬apparently.‭

‬“We lost some of them somewhere along the way,‭”‬ he‭ ‬explained‭ ‬with a puzzled expression.

A little further into the exhibition hall,‭ ‬a tall young woman,‭ ‬in full Marie Antoinette‭ ‬garb,‭ ‬floated regally amidst a‭ ‬crowd of inquisitive admirers.‭ ‬Upon closer inspection,‭ ‬it became apparent that her costume was made‭ ‬entirely of plastic bags and bric-a-brac.

‭“‬Everything was pulled out of the garbage and is recyclable,‭”‬ said Miami-based artist Lucinda Linderman of her performance work,‭ ‬Excess Extravagance.‭

Lucinda Linderman shows off her plastic-bag
Marie Antoinette costume.‭
(‬Photo by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

Of her choice of the doomed,‭ ‬let-them-eat-cake,‭ ‬monarch for subject matter,‭ ‬she explained,‭ “‬each of us are consuming like she did.‭”

And so‭ ‬these eco-friendly artists,‭ ‬along with an odd assortment of characters and a healthy dose of uber-‭ ‬beautiful people,‭ ‬ heralded‭ ‬a‭ ‬wonderland-like‭ ‬journey into‭ ‬the‭ ‬environs of Art Palm Beach,‭ ‬a global contemporary art fair,‭ ‬which will reside at the Palm Beach Convention Center until Sunday.‭ ‬For these next few days,‭ ‬the convention hall has been transformed into a museum-like‭ ‬liminal zone‭ ‬– a hyperreal world‭ ‬– offering artists and galleries from around the world,‭ ‬alongside seasoned collectors,‭ ‬art aficionados and the merely curious.‭

The entire scene is a people-watching bonanza and an art lover‭’‬s aphrodisiac.

Edward and Sandra Neustadter stand next to
Brisk Day, by Alex Katz.‭
(‬Photo‭ ‬by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

In true art-world fashion,‭ ‬there was quite a bit of hugging and kissing‭ ‬happening as‭ ‬dealers,‭ ‬standing within art-lined exhibition booths,‭ ‬enthusiastically greeted collectors and friends.‭ ‬One who was really‭ ‬shown‭ ‬the‭ ‬love‭ ‬was‭ ‬petite‭ ‬Sandra Neustadter.‭ ‬Based in Delray‭ ‬Beach,‭ ‬she and her husband Edward deal in master and emerging artists,‭ ‬and their booth was bustling with activity and interest.

In fact,‭ ‬many of the stellar exhibitors were from South Florida‭’‬s own backyard‭; ‬Palm Beach and Miami galleries‭ ‬comprise a fair portion of the global art trade.

Geoffrey Orley and Barham Shabahang.‭
(‬Photo by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

“We feel so appreciated here,‭”‬ remarked Geoffrey Orley of Palm Beach‭’‬s Orley and Shabahang as he explained that Palm Beach is the perfect market for the custom,‭ ‬contemporary carpets that he and his partner,‭ ‬Barham Shabahang,‭ ‬design for their discerning clients.

‭“‬People who‭ ‬gravitate towards the finer things in life,‭”‬ he continued.

Jewelry designer Sherry Fehr,‭ ‬of Boca Raton‭’‬s Sherry‭’‬s Gifts of Gilt,‭ ‬felt the same.‭ ‬She participates in Art Palm Beach in order to reach new clients.

‭“‬We enjoy meeting people from all over the world who appreciate our custom designs,‭”‬ Fehr said.

The international flavor of the fair adds to its appeal.‭ ‬Walking alongside visitors one overhears languages and accents from all‭ ‬the continents and many of the exhibiting galleries hail from diverse locations,‭ ‬such as Dublin,‭ ‬Tel Aviv and Caracas.‭

Cynthia Garder and Stacey Elliott of Palm Beach's Liman Gallery.‭
(‬Photo by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

The fair also provides local art institutions with opportunities for visibility to‭ ‬these‭ ‬global visitors.‭ ‬Complimentary booths were provided for local museums,‭ ‬such as the Norton Museum of Art,‭ ‬where they were able to distribute membership information.

Cynthia Palmieri,‭ ‬executive director of the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in Palm Beach,‭ ‬another local cultural landmark,‭ ‬was grateful.‭

‬“It‭’‬s very nice that they invite us and provide an opportunity for cultural organizations to have a presence amongst collectors,‭ ‬galleries,‭ ‬and people interested in art,‭”‬ Palmieri said.

Yet,‭ ‬even in Wonderland,‭ ‬there are disappointments.‭ ‬Such was the case for Vancouver-based artist Gordon Halloran,‭ ‬who had planned to exhibit an enormous outdoor ice-and-painting installation.‭

‬Halloran,‭ ‬who is committed to public art,‭ ‬explained,‭ “‬We couldn‭’‬t find a sponsor.‭ ‬It looked like the sponsorship manager was going to get someone,‭ ‬but then it just didn‭’‬t work out.‭”

Gordon Halloran.‭
(‬Photo by‭ ‬Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

Thus,‭ ‬Halloran was reduced to exhibiting fragments of another of his works,‭ ‬Lotus in Motion,‭ ‬that,‭ ‬when shown properly,‭ ‬is truly a lyrically‭ ‬beautiful outdoor installation with polyurethane lotus leaves floating gracefully atop water.‭ ‬Seeing the singular lotus leaves,‭ ‬mounted on the walls of the exhibition booth,‭ ‬was sort of‭ ‬sad and illustrative of the fickleness that‭ ‬coincides with‭ ‬the extravagance of the art world.

It‭’‬s all part of the journey,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬And the foray into Art Palm Beach‭ ‬is a microcosm of the larger rabbit hole that is the global art machine,‭ ‬which can be perceived as its own living,‭ ‬breathing entity and which,‭ ‬for many,‭ ‬generates an adrenaline-like rush.‭

Art Palm Beach provides creative energy and excitement.‭ ‬Amid the‭ ‬thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors,‭ ‬there is art for every taste and of every medium.‭ ‬There is conservative.‭ ‬There is outlandish.‭ ‬There is art that appeals to sight and sound and art that you wear,‭ ‬as well as art that you walk on.‭ ‬There is so much eye candy that‭ ‬it can be somewhat‭ ‬daunting.‭ ‬Expect ADHD moments.

This is proof that art goes beyond what tradition dictates‭ ‬— and that‭’‬s the best part of this wonderland‭ ‬— the fact that it showcases emerging artist alongside traditional ones.‭ ‬It brings contemporary art to Palm Beach,‭ ‬which is traditionally known to have more conservative tastes.‭ ‬Visitors are not just enticed by the aesthetically pleasing,‭ ‬but also challenged to think,‭ ‬to ponder‭ ‬– as evidenced by the works by Linderman and D‭’‬Ge.

Camille Claudel Series III‭ (‬2011‭)‬,‭ ‬by Piet van den Boog.‭
(‬Courtesy Mike Weiss Gallery, New York City)

For,‭ ‬whatever the amount of time you choose to spend at Art Palm Beach,‭ ‬one thing is certain:‭ ‬for that period of time,‭ ‬you will be transported into a magical,‭ ‬whimsical,‭ ‬and sometimes poignant and thought-provoking realm.‭

‬Escape from reality,‭ ‬after all,‭ ‬is part of the appeal of‭ ‬the journey into art Wonderland.‭

Jenifer Mangione Vogt is a marketing communications professional and resident of Boca Raton.‭ ‬She‭’‬s been enamored with painting for most of her life.‭ ‬She studied art history and received her B.A.‭ ‬from Purchase College.

Art Palm Beach‭takes place‭ ‬from Jan.‭ ‬21-23‭ ‬at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.‭ ‬Hours are Friday through Saturday,‭ ‬noon to‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭; ‬Sunday,‭ ‬noon till‭ ‬6‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Admission is‭ ‬$10‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$15‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a one-day pass‭; ‬$15‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$20‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a multi-day pass.‭ ‬Children under‭ ‬12‭ ‬accompanied by an adult are free.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬visit‭

Visitors to the Art Palm Beach preview Thursday
take in the galleries of contemporary art.‭
(‬Photo by Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt‭)

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