Big Collectors Amid the Crowd at Paramount Ranch’s Freewheeling Final Edition
Don and Mera Rubell were spotted roaming the shacks and cabins.
Paramount Ranch 3—the sprawling and free-spirited art fair that has put a fresh spin on the format—kicked off its brief two-day stint Saturday morning in the Santa Monica mountains.
The fair, now in its third and final year, takes place at the famed movie studio’s in-situ Wild West village, with galleries setting up shop in a range of small log cabins, larger shared sheds and ramshackle wooden shacks sporting old signage that say “General Store,” and other things, on their facades. The casual—sometimes haphazard—display of cutting edge art by younger galleries—makes for a fun, relaxed, anything-goes vibe.
The first sight greeting visitors, from both near and afar, is Paul McCarthy’s giant green inflatable Tree, secured with straps and a noisily buzzing generator in an open field near the entrance to the ranch but visibly protruding above the tree line from afar. The work, which bears an unmistakable resemblance to a butt plug-type sex toy sparked controversy in 2014 when it was exhibited in Paris—the artist himself was physically assaulted during the uproar.
Fair co-founder Robbie Fitzpatrick, a partner of Freedman Fitzpatrick gallery, told artnet News that it was “a little bit of a challenge” negotiating the McCarthy sculpture with the Park Service. What had swayed the Park Service in the end? Fitzpatrick said perhaps it was the fact that they directly oversaw its installation. Freedman Fitzpatrick’s cabin featured multimedia works by Mathis Altmann, which involved an interior jail cell in its display.
According to Fitzpatrick, the “caliber of the current fair is the strongest yet,” notwithstanding that it will be the final edition. He said the fair was never conceived as a long-term project.
Without question, in its short run, the Paramount Ranch fair has far exceeded expectations in its goal of giving less-established galleries and art spaces the opportunity to present work in an unconventional environment while creating serious buzz and drawing crowds to an admittedly out-of-the-way space.
Saturday morning, we spotted top Miami collectors Don and Mera Rubell roaming the shacks and cabins as well as some members of New York’s Hort family (also major collectors) strolling the ranch grounds and viewing works.
Sao Paulo gallery Mendes Wood set up a solo exhibition of sparse paintings and sculptural works by Brazilian artist Paulo Monteiro, who was part of the influential Casa7 group in the mid-1980s and whose work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. As a first time exhibitor at Paramount Ranch, international director Martin Aguilera told artnet News it represents a “very good opportunity to reach collectors in California,” which he said is a challenge for a young, Brazil-based gallery.
By early Saturday, more than a dozen of the works had been sold according to Aguilera. “They’re very simple, very effortless,” said Aguilera, “and easy to mix and match.”
“It’s a beautiful setting and a nicer structure for an art fair,” said Andreas Waris, an artist and owner of Los Angeles gallery Bad Reputation, who told us he was invited by Fitzpatrick to participate. The gallery showed paintings, a photo and sculpture by artists including Cameron Crone, Jeremy O. Harris, Ian Markell, and Bryan Morello. Waris said he appreciates the emphasis on up-and-coming artists and galleries.
Nonprofit initiative Farenheit presented a dance performance choreographed by Ligia Lewis entitled Sensation I, described as “an ecstatic state in malleable form, a sounding body rendered mute,” in which performers posed in dramatic frozen gestures, accompanied by a high-pitched monotone drone that indeed made it difficult to discern whether the dancers were in states of agony or terror.
The large, outdoor space of Los Angeles gallerist—and muse to artist Frances Stark—Bobby Jesus was a must-see exhibit. It included whimsical small-scale works by Stark, who also is said to have helped Bobby become a gallerist. We asked him if he had anything to say about the fair. He gave a humble shoutout to the fair’s founders: “Thank you Liz, Alex, Robbie, and Pentti!”
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