James Shaeffer at Reference Art from Richmond, Virginia. All photos on site for Art Observed by Elene Damenia.
The second iteration of the Dependent Art Fair took place on the Saturday afternoon of Armory week, alongside several satellite fairs—including the Independent Art Fair. Dependent organizer Rose Marcus gathered 20 galleries in the Lower East Side Comfort Inn hotel, offering the two night stay for a fair fee of $400. The DIY, tongue-in-cheek fair is geared toward community and dialogue amongst its participating galleries and artists, seeking a sort of humorous—yet rigorous—elegance, leaving the intense marketing focus of other fairs to the back seat. Up and down the six occupied floors (floors 3–8, with a smoking deck on 6), visitors squeezed through the hallways and into the individual hotel rooms to see a variety of contemporary painting, sculpture, video, and installations, including a bed-ridden mini Kawasaki motorcycle at Reference Art, or made-to-order rum-fruit smoothies at Roberto Paradise.
Patrick Meagher at Silvershed
Hailing from Philadelphia and Toronto, or as far as Mexico and Puerto Rico, many of the galleries were friends and invitees of Marcus, while others reached out to her, eager to show at the new smaller-scale boutique fair. The single day event, from noon to 8 PM—plus an after party nearby in the basement of Home Sweet Home—took place in a similar albeit cheaper venue to the Armory’s original location in the Gramercy Hotel a few blocks north. According to Marcus, the playful name was taken with just the right amount of regard, letting the artwork and the attitude speak for itself.
With the lower entrance fee, the price range of works throughout were much more approachable to the average fair goer, with many works under $1,000 and the rare piece above $10,000. On the first floor, W/ Projects had several postcard-sized prints, selling for $50 unsigned, $75 signed by the artist. One frame happened to fall from its place on the wall, the gallerist, Mac, simply picking it up and putting it back, saying with a smile, “It comes with the territory!”
The average room being 10 x 11 feet, some gallerists and artists created entire new environments, while others simply installed as is, the bathroom often holding an extra touch. The invitation reads, “We welcome all creative interpretations, but due to the nature of the venue, we ask for your discretion and sensitivity when installing. No damage can be incurred on the hotel property.”
Recess displayed something like a post-apocalyptic history of the Lower East Side, while across the hall Canada hosted a John and Yoko-esque ‘bed-in.’ Roberto Paradise, along with the papaya pineapple mango rum shakes, also showed off punk-spiked cantaloupes and a large paper representation of a prostitute, aptly sitting on the bed of the hotel. Up on the sixth floor, Silvershed filled the room with several large paper scrolls, the current Google Document drafts of their online participatory, process-based projects. Visitors were encouraged to help flesh out the artistic ideas with red pens at hand—one such topic being Know Wave—which will eventually be published in the second printed book by the group.
Artist Peter Coffin at Haydon Boss
Taking a break from the action, Art Observed spoke with James Shaeffer and Ross Iannatti of Reference Art outside on the 6th floor deck. Perhaps offering a snapshot of the types of galleries participating, Reference Art is run by Shaeffer, Iannatti, and two other friends out of Richmond, Virginia, while they attend school—all of them under the age of 25. Started organically with a popular Tumlbr blog and money from Kickstarter, the gallery began as a space for friends to show their work, also functioning as a party space and occasional music venue. After graduation, plans for the gallery remain up in the air, perhaps moving to New York, perhaps to Berlin.
Gallerist MacGregor Harp at W/ Projects
Callicoon Fine Art / Dirty Looks
Exhibition Site [The Dependent Art Fair]