Although I missed the Armory show and spent the weekend downtown (mea culpa),
I think I can safely say that a painting of Bernard Madoff at the David Zwirner booth by the Chinese artist, Yan Pei-Ming, symbolizes quite a bit: exhorbitant prices and the usual suspects. Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, et al. were well represented. It was notable, according to the New York Times , that several galleries were not there.

I spent Friday Afternoon at Pulse on the pier at West Houston St.
On Friday it was fairly empty but I did see a few pieces of note. Photography by Beth Dow, represented by Jen Bekman, all platinum-palladium prints in which the tonal range is astonishing and gives the imagery comprised of a spindly barren and winter landscape a texture and delicacy that is rare.

Edward Winkleman Gallery provided a spark in the atmosphere. They showed two Russian artists with a marked Soviet identity, Yevgenty Fiks dealing with Communism in America by painting simple portaits that were simple and charming of American Communists replete with an actual library of literature. That said, on the far wall was work by Joy Garnett , her lush and gregarious paintings deal with documenting the huge China Yangtse Three Gorges Dam.

Feeling somewhat alone, I came across the Henry Dargeresque pictures by Amy Wilson at Bravin Lee Programs . The figures are engaged in group activities with bubbles over their heads in which some very clever text appears. One of her characters speaks about Joseph Beuys’ fondness for fat and felt, (which famously helped him survive after being shot down). The artist’s writings are very knowing about Art but much of the text is also about feeling alienated, and at an Art Fair, well, it struck a chord. Julie Heffernan’s lush and masterful paintings were well represented by the Catherine Clark Gallery.

Jochen Plogsties’ (below) paintings are masterful expressionist textured layered pieces with childlike imagery showing through, at ASPN galerie booth. The gallery is in Leipzig.

At Scope I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I was in a junk heap.However the work by Chinese artist Luo Qing, at the Eli Klein Fine Ar t booth, stark expessionist paintings of figures trapped among branches in black and white, was compelling. Okay Mountain gallery from Austin Texas showed an artist, Jesse Greenberg, whose playfullness abounds in a cornucopia of wacky Polyethelyne totems.

I came way from Bridge feeling like I had seen alot more junk,
although there were two artists of note. Charlotta Janssen was representing herself. Her work is remiscent of WPA murals. She uses copper and other like materials to make a color through a chemical reaction. Another artist, Clintel Steed ( represented by Mark Borghi) seems taken with Cezanne and has reinvented the still life by painting laptop computers with subtle color representing the glow of screens while the keyboards become a vast landscape; monumental and slightly cubistic. The paintings are direct and raw, he builds the image through marks and splotches of color. His work shows an interesting confluence of imagery and influence.

Fountain is young, hip and edgy. Some of these artists, notably the ones represented by Leo Kesting may be interesting to watch. On a funky barge barely visible from the West Side highway, (the cab driver said there is nothing there!) Fountain also had the flavor of old maritime NYC. The whole thing was wonderfully offbeat.

All the fairs were full of cottons balls glued to the wall with strings attached representing God knows what. I certainly hope that people begin to grasp the notion that less is more, lest we drown in this . There is alot of new Art from Japan and China at all the fairs that stands out both for its intellectual engagement and use of materials. It something to think about.