The 2014 Palm Springs Fine Art Fair
For a few days I escaped from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. I visited several art galleries, saw a very fine Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and attended the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.
Palm Springs is only a couple of hours away from Los Angeles. It’s a well-known winter vacation getaway in the middle of the desert. Famous for its devotion to the aesthetics of the mid-20th Century, it’s also one of the most gay-friendly cities in the US. It’s a relaxed, happy place, and I always love visiting.
The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair is an international art fair similar to, but smaller than, those I’ve blogged about here in Los Angeles. I was surprised to learn that this was only its third year; it looked really well-established. The exhibitors were universally upbeat and enthusiastic (in contrast with some of the grumps I’ve run into in L.A.). A few had traveled quite a long distance, from Europe or Asia, but all were smiling. I guess it is hard to be unhappy in Palm Springs. (The super warm weather didn’t hurt either.)
Friday at midday it was nice and quiet, just the way I like it. Not deserted, just not too busy. (The previous evening’s opening party was mobbed. You could hardly move, never mind see the art.)
The emphasis of this art show is “modern and contemporary” which means 20th and 21st century.
The work seemed mostly well chosen and highly finished. Even the conceptual stuff, which I’m not usually enamored with, was mostly well done. No half-assed art-school projects here! But mostly I prefer aesthetics over politics.
Here are some of my favorites:
Sarah Frost, “Y Pause (QUERTY #13),” 2014, made of discarded computer keys (and a few typewriter and other keys), 48 x 96 inches, $20,000 from William Shearburn Gallery, Saint Louis, Missouri. I really like this, it’s so clever. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” pieces.
Here’s a detail:
Encountering this next artist at the (overly crowded) opening party led to a fun conversation about technical details that I could relate to as a fellow acrylic painter:
Kristina Quinones, “Incubate,” acrylic on panel, 36 x 36 inches, $6,000 from The McLoughlin Gallery, San Francisco, California. The artist uses highly fluid acrylic paint flowed across the surface in sheer veils. The super-glossy finish is pure acrylic. We both agreed this is superior to the “shiny today but yellow tomorrow” resin finish that’s such a fetish with artists right now. How fun to encounter a kindred soul in that sea of humanity. High fives were exchanged.
Artist Mayme Kratz with her work in the Lisa Sette Gallery booth from Scottsdale, Arizona. Left: “Fragments,” 2013, resin, shells, crabs, starfish, bone, buds on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Right top: “Circle Dream 40,” 2013, resin and Mexican bird of paradise seeds on panel, 24 x 24 inches, $4500. Right bottom: “Circle Dream 50,” 2013, resin and acorn cupules on panel, 24 x 24 inches, $4500.
I felt really fortunate that Kratz was present on Friday. She was very free with details about her fascinating technique. (I do so appreciate artists who aren’t insecure about sharing their “secrets.”) She embeds carefully-placed natural materials within deep, colored resin pours, and then sands down the surface to reveal cross-sections of the seed pods, grasses, and shells. Some of the fair’s promotional material featured her work (and it caught my attention), but it’s even better in person. The tiny crab at the bottom of “Fragments” is just too cute.
Check out the superb photos of Kratz’s work here (gallery’s website).
And, finally, some more conceptual work. Yeah, conceptual isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this piece is pretty powerful:
Angela Ellsworth, “Seer Bonnet XIX (Flora Ann),” 2011, made from 24,182 corsage pins, fabric, steel, and wood, 64 x 25 x 40 inches, $13,900 from Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona. A lovely pearl-studded bonnet made entirely of sharp pins… pretty on the outside and painful on the inside. Ouch!
I saw nearly this exact piece at the Palm Springs Art Museum just before going to the fair, so it was a double-whammy for me. It’s a striking piece; you can’t help but stop and look (twice, even). A pointed comment on femininity, you might say.
So, did you notice anything unusual about this lineup of artists I picked out? They’re all women. Yup, the gals are doing some amazing work out there. I didn’t realize all my favs were by women until I started going through my photos, but then it struck me. Maybe someday that won’t be noteworthy.
If you’re in Palm Springs next Presidents Day Weekend, I recommend the Palm Springs Art Fair. It’s well worth seeing.