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article by: Oscar A. Laluyan

Dive into the Deep End of Pool Art Fair

On March 12, 2012 · Leave a Comment · In New York


Artist, Victoria Kovalenchikova

 What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you check into a hotel – Where’s the ice machine or do they have cable? You pray that there are no bedbugs on the mattress? Maybe you just have to explore if they have a swimming pool where you can do a cannonball dive and just jump in. The Flatiron Hotel has an awesome aquarium tank of tropical fish from the lobby to the mezzanine but you can’t dive inside so instead they have the Pool Art Fair. Now this one, you can dive as deep as your senses will allow.

Arte Fuse went on a Friday night, March 9, 2012 for the preview at the Flatiron Hotel, which hosted artists from all over the world and the unique part about this is that you visit the staged hotel rooms that become their mini galleries. In the wise M.O. of trekking it like you would in Guggenheim, it was best to start at the very top floor then work your way down via stairwell. Elevator activity is hectic and you can be waiting forever.

Starting on the 6th floor, I entered Suite #608 and found the video art of Korean artist, Sang Ho-Shin. Chief Curator Sangmi Oh was on hand to explain the life cycle theme. There were also some paintings related to the video and the futuristic bent had me transfixed to watch a computer generated human form slowly disintegrate on one side while the other one gained more layers meaning it added life. Mortality is always a fascinating subject for artists but the slick presentation made it easy to digest an otherwise morbid theme. The delicate life never looked so chic.

Taking the stairwell and going down to Suite #508 for the stylish work of Anne-Marie Cosgrove. I even thought I crashed into somebody’s actual hotel room but as it turned out her work was so suited for the bedroom. Anne-Marie said that she got lucky with minimal changes and just placing the art. The careful monochromatic approach of swirling forms turned out to be words in script but looped larger with brush strokes. There are subtle compositions and indicated objects but it seamlessly reads an overall abstract piece. I suggested that she can do all the art for the hotel rooms but she’d rather be commissioned to do a single big piece for the lobby. One time labor, maximum return!

Walking down the corridor to Suite #506 for Yoshiya Homma I stopped in for his wry take on mounted art of dolls, an electric shaver and a can opener based on a late 1800’s model. He even had kits in plastic bags to take home and construct your own art. This is a clever statement on the commercialization of art. The white backing board and the text with its dictionary toned slogan gives this an edge and entertaining in concept but with the cool aesthetic to boot.

Backtracking to Suite 501 for two sets of artists: J. B. Wilson shared the room with Liz-n-Val. Now this is where the fun part begins. The previous rooms were kept like hotel bedrooms embellished with art placement but now all bets are off. The mattress had been removed and there was an actual tree on it by J. B. Wilson. A tree grows inside a hotel bedroom – only in New York! How very innovative that he executed his vision with a tree growing out of the reclining bodies of the mannequins. “Tree” is his statement of resting and how life encroaches upon you if you passively opt out. Liz-n-Val had bright stripes of tape embellished all over like Prismatic rays and it provided a DIY Mod 60′s style backdrop for the art they showcased as well. The odd pairing juxtaposed boldly in that one space and it worked as one of the memorable spaces.

Over a few doors down there was a cockfight going on. It’s illegal and how very subversive to have it inside a hotel room but relax folks – don’t get PETA on the artist Borinquen Gallo at Suite 507. Her handcrafted sculptures of two roosters set amidst the black cascading waves of trash bags was like a dream canopy for a Goth princess but it set the tone effectively. Coupled with her video of a simulated cockfight using her sculptures that she looped on her laptop, it’s all about the brutality of such a practice that was born out of the Roman culture of fighting to the death. Think Gladiator with ruffled feathers! Loser gets fried!

On the fourth floor, we had girl power. Suite 406 was Victoria Kovalenchikova with her textured masterpieces that is massive in size. The large scale is a perfect foil for the intimate setting of the room. I’ve seen Victoria’s work at the Museum of Russian Art (MORA) in Jersey City last year. She is based in Amsterdam and this was a pleasant surprise to see her very impressive work once more. Over on Suite 401 was the “Canary in a Coal Mine “ show by Heather “Van Uxem” Lewis. She featured dark painted panel paintings and photography of herself. For the night she dressed up with a miner’s head light per the theme. Caged canaries were taken down into mines as warning devices when air supply got low – if the bird dies then the miner’s run for daylight. Van Uxem conveyed the wrenching throes and ecstasy of death in the seductive coal blackness.

Finally in Suite 301 and the fitting bookend for this art fair was Gustavo Blanco-Uribe. His Brooklyn Bridge with colored in details was chosen as the cover art for the Pool Art Fair 2012 on their fold out information brochure. His work is very precise with the added elements of color on black-white photography then cutting clean portions in a pattern that further enhances the unique style of his multimedia images. This artist is based in Madrid and should be in the forefront of the art world real soon. I can fully support why his work was chosen to be a prominent feature for Pool Art Fair.

The mysteries of the deep are immense and its hidden beauty worth exploring. Pool Art Fair at the Flatiron Hotel delivered a substantiated experience in having artists be challenged and coming up to the surface crystal clear on what their art represents. I can’t wait to dive in next year and get soaking wet!

Pool Art Fair. Flatiron Hotel. Corner of 26th Street and Broadway. New York, NY

article by: Oscar A. Laluyan

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