The Week in Art: Swizz Beatz’s No Commission Fair Hits the Bronx
Another busy week in art.
Though it may seem that Armory Week and Frieze Week get all the action, the reality is that there is never a dull moment in the New York art world. From the East Side to the West Side (and, in the summer, out on Long Island’s East End), there’s always something happening at the city’s museums, galleries, and various event spaces. And, as was the case this week, with the Aspen Art Museum wrapping up its annual Aspen ArtCrush festivities, the wider American art scene also provides plenty of action.
Here’s a rundown of this week’s highlights.
The Dean Collection and Bacardi present No Commission: Art Performs in the Bronx
There was thunder and lightning as a hot and muggy evening fell over the Bronx on August 11, but the rain mostly failed to materialize, allowing the festivities to go on as scheduled at the first Bronx edition the art fair, run by hip hop star and art collector Kasseem Dean, aka Swizz Beatz.
The event, which doesn’t charge a commission for any sales made (hence the name), featured an impressive array of works from both established and emerging artists, ranging from big names such as Swoon and Kehinde Wiley to relative unknowns such as Delphine Diallo and So Youn Lee, both of whom Dean discovered through Instagram.
In addition to the art, and a variety of free cocktails from Bacardi, the night also featured live performances, including Swizz’s DJ set, which recalled the raucous party he threw at the Brooklyn Artists Ball. Notable guests included Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak, models Chanel Iman and Coco Rocha, and Doreen Remen, Yvonne Force Villareal, and Casey Fremont of the Art Production Fund.
On stage introducing the headlining act, rapper and record producer ASAP Rocky, Swizz was not afraid to address the controversy around the free event, which had attracted criticism from the local community for not including more artists from the Bronx. With controversy comes change, he said, pointing out that he could have held the fair in Brooklyn or Manhattan, “but we here in the Bronx tonight!”
Grey Gardens Costume Parade at the Parrish Art Museum
The Parrish tipped its hat to the iconic 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, about two reclusive women living in nearby East Hampton, with a costume contest on August 11. Over 175 guests attended, many dressed as “Big Edie” and “Little Edie.”
The judges included Jerry Torre, the handyman dubbed “the Marble Faun” by Little Edie in the film, and Muffie Meyer, one of the directors of the documentary. Contestants parading before the audience and the judges on the Parrish terrace, before enjoying a conversation about and excerpts from the film.
Mercedes Matter Award Ceremony at the New York Studio School
On August 8, the New York Studio School awarded artists Katelyn Mills, Amanda Church, Lee Marshall, and Dan Flanagan with the Mercedes Matter prize.
Retired US ambassador J. William Middendorf, a former art student and longtime supporter of the arts, presented the award, which comes with a cash prize of $6,000, along with NYSS alumni co-chair Michael Tcheyan. The winners were chosen by panel of judges comprising Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic, Paul Laster of Time Out New York, Paddy Johnson of ArtFCity, and Phong Bui of the Brooklyn Rail.
Taylor Mac at SPACE on Ryder Farm, Brewster, New York
In a performance held August 6, Taylor Mac waltzed down the aisle of a pockmarked barn wearing a costume made up of a black mantilla of stitched-together cassette tapes, and day-glo, skintight one-legged leotard that would have made “She-Wolf”-era Shakira proud.
Mac, a genderqueer performance artist who uses the pronoun “Judy,” was accompanied by staid musical director/arranger Matt Ray, and feather-banged guitarist Viva DeConcini. The latter was later (willingly) carried out of the barn by a group of men after Mac read Zoe Leonard‘s 1992 political manifesto, “I Want a Dyke for President.”
A vocal duck named Tennyson quacked at random moments during the ambitious three-hour performance, which spanned the decades 1986–2016. The final version will be included as the last cycle in Mac’s upcoming “24-Decade of Popular Music” performance project, which makes its debut at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo next month.
Aspen Art Museum ArtCrush Gala
Things wrapped up with a gala on August 5 out in Aspen, Colorado, for the week of parties and art events that make up the annual ArtCrush. The champagne-soaked affair, presented by Sotheby’s and Dom Perignon, had a circus theme, with a Big Top tent, Ferris wheel, and provocative burlesque performance by Lewd Panic Productions.
Guests, who had the opportunity to bid on works by the likes of Rodney McMillian, Karen Kilimnik, and the Haas Brothers, included AAM director Heidi Zuckerman, artist Nir Hod, local art collectors Amy and John Phelan, and curator Justine Ludwig. In between the night’s main events (the auction, a wine tasting, and a seated dinner), Gabriel Orozco was presented with the 2016 Aspen Award for Art.
“We, as humans, connect in productive, sustainable, and meaningful ways with the universe and each other…. Here in Aspen, the houses are not locked, they are open… and the museum is a big family…. So Aspen is my casa, my house,” said Orozco, who currently has a solo exhibition at the museum.
Hulu Summer Road Trip Presents Seinfeld at Hunter’s Point South Park
As a follow-up to last year’s wildly-successful pop-up Seinfeld museum, Hulu held a screening of three episodes of the beloved show in Long Island City’s Hunter’s Point South Park on August 6.
The evening’s festivities included Seinfeld-themed food (think muffin tops and black and white cookies), a free limited-edition Seinfeld art print, a costume contest, and an Elaine dance off. Returning from the museum was the red couch photo-op, where guests could pose for a sexy photo shoot like George Constanza did in “The Package.”
As the sunset and the moon rose over a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, the screening got underway with the theatrical premiere of the short documentary They’re Real & They’re Spectacular: Seinfeld Super Fans and the Summer of George.
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