[imagebrowser id=85] The 69th Regiment Armory on 25th & Lexington Avenue is an imposing structure built in the early 1900’s and for 2012 it hosted the Fountain Art Fair in partnership with Art for Progress. Last March 9, 2012 – Arte Fuse entered the cavernous domed hall to take in the copious amount of art. As I checked in for the press pass, I noticed the gold plated version of Marcel Duchamp’s “The Fountain” on a table corner and the iconic work was used as a logo on the banner. I knew then that a direct homage to Duchamp foreshadowed that this was not going to be your ordinary run of the mill art fair.
Fountain Art Fair founded in 2006 was to leverage support for smaller independent galleries to be in the forefront of the collectors and critics alike. Taking a quick perimeter walk showed that it was no time to be proper here at this venue. The high expanse gave way to each gallery staging it to the best that their available walls could accommodate but never skimping on what they’re intent on featuring for the whole weekend. It seemed fitting since the venue became legendary for the Armory Show in 1913, which garnered national attention for the newest in modern European & American art – the participating galleries just decided to have fun with it.
First up Booth B-103 – Murder Lounge had their bunch of artists haling from Boston, MA and New York, NY; absolutely killed me with sharp and quick to the slice art statements. Rob Servo, Greg McKenna, Dave Tree, Sergio Coyote, and others form the collective renegade that had art ranging from paint embellished obsolete computer diskettes mixed with camera film, painted textiles on dress forms, sachets of baking powder to some that may look like cocaine hued to mimic the American Flag (please no more Jasper Johns reference), edgy raw paintings, and custom art of galactic themes on toilet seats to old school skate decks.
A few steps away I engaged into conversation with a cool street artist combining the finesse of fine art in small scale at Booth C-103 Tinca Art. Carly Ivan Garcia had a massive painting in the group collective but what set him apart was the red wall with his miniature punchy squares of artwork. It was not long before he made a sale with a portrait of the late Steve Jobs.
On my first pass, immediately by the door I noticed another red wall and the finger licking good Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken on a red panel. This is booth C-106 with the coolest girl street artist extraordinaire from Brooklyn – gilf! Her space for a solo artist was curated really well and every statement was a playful punch on social mores and our perceptions about pervading culture. The Colonel was featured on The Miami New Times during Art Basel Miami in December 2011. Cool chick doing cool art should be a no brainer for art lovers.
Going further down in another alley, I came to the back and found Booth D-203 for the Munch Gallery. This Lower East Side specializes in what is next in contemporary art and the reputable shows proved to be a stellar presence at Fountain. Lillan Munch, the gallery proprietor, was on hand to personally greet everyone perusing the awesome array of paintings and artwork on display. That approachable vibe and professional ease is a sure winner and the gallery continues to show what it wants with no reservations. Pure, bold and nuanced – there is a hint of irreverent fun still at the underbelly.
Making a turn on the next lane over, I came upon a sure crowd pleaser – naked women getting body painted. Booth E-208 was The Bodypaint Gallery based in Philadelphia, PA. There is a burgeoning renaissance in newer neighborhoods in the city of Brotherly Love. The gallery’s niche is a coterie of body painters but it is a meticulous craft as they demonstrated by base painting first, let it set, then layer on some more. Noah Musher was definitely enthused about the new possibilities of being an integral part of the Philly art scene. There’s an extended invite to visit their new digs if Arte Fuse should decide to take a trip and skip their famous Cheesesteak sandwiches to gorge on more art instead.
From the land of Rocky we head further up north to the city, province and country that bore Celine Dion – Montreal Quebec, Canada with Booth E-103 for Station 16. Carlo De Luca runs a print atelier and direct shipping online enterprise of artist collectible prints that are easy to access and sent in a tube. What caught my eye besides the great graphic prints was the wall of shopping bags with a familiar image printed on them, which appeared to be the iconic red-white cans in a clear homage to Warhol. True to the spirit of Canada, it’s Maple Sizzrup! by WhatisAdam. Studio 16 is also doing prints for a group of street artists who were on hand at Fountain to work on a wall mural. En Masse brings street art to a more refined aspect yet still with that kick in your face artistry.
Talk about eccentric and still palatable art that gets your motor running, D – 207 The Marketplace Gallery helmed by Samson Contompasis had their selection of irreverent masterpieces sure to liven up any space. Everyone dropped in to check out prints or examine the eclectic mix provided by this gallery based in Albany, NY.
Finally, a huge in your face painting by hot street artist Swoon at Booth D-102 for Kesting/Ray gallery made quite an impression. The piece Thalassa (double) was finely rendered in a cleaved out canvas that is one of many cool collectible art in their space. Co-director, Christina Ray, was having fun showcasing the gems on display and even more so making a sale that is a guaranteed bliss for the buyer. You have great art bought by the right person – now it doesn’t get any better than that.
Besides the raw and fun mix of art on display, Fountain had musical acts in the center stage, aerial acrobatics from the rafters later at night, free wine tasting tickets at the bar, great atmosphere with music pumping by celebrity DJ Fab 5 Freddy (with a booth C-101), and other rump shaking events. It is so easy to be playful and have fun at Fountain Art Fair. There’s no party poopers allowed here because Art should get the ball rolling and unleash the fun! Seriously, this much brevity cannot be held anywhere but only at the massive and historic 69th Regiment Armory. I’d say Marcel Duchamp, Picasso and the other legends of the Armory Show back in 1913 would have approved.
Fountain Art Fair
69th Regiment Armory. 68 Lexington Avenue & 25th Street. New York, NY
article by: Oscar A. Laluyan