Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fountain 2009 NYC (Art is fun again - slacktastic!)

Messy, aromatic, bustling, and fun, Fountain Art Fair 2009 is the only show I went to see this year during what I've come to think of as March Madness on the New York art scene.

[See Flickr set of all 34 pics.]

Now in its third year, Fountain is one of several satellite shows (inc. Bridge, Pulse, Scope) that take place the same weekend as the massive Armory Show every year. It was the only show I was really interested in seeing, partly because it's mostly emerging artists and I wanted to see how craft might appear in the work. [Read description of Fountain.]

Jutting into the Hudson River along Pier 66, the nine galleries, artists, and projects presented at Fountain were arranged among the cluster of antique boats and barges harbored there. Part of this cluster is an historic Lightship -- an actual boat -- that normally houses a joint called the Frying Pan.

Unexpectedly fun, the whole indoor/outdoor maritime space was incredibly atmospheric and felt spontaneous -- like Sponge Bob Squarepants goes to Williamsburg, as directed by Wes Anderson. I'm not sure how much of this was intentionally part of the organizer's vision (Johnny Leo and Dave Kesting of the Leo Kesting Gallery and Christina Ray of Glowlab), and how much was indeed spontaneous. In any case, the result is interesting and cool.

This gallery set up a white-wall booth space on the pier. The roof is a billowing tarpaulin. (Vagabond Gallery)

Here I'm trying to capture this little girl's amazing daisy-festooned hat in front of a wall drawing by Victor Cox.

Fountain at times felt like Bread and Puppet, but updated and urban with cupcakes and Robert Gober references. (McCaig-Welles, Brooklyn)

The art was at times upstaged by the setting. Or perhaps defined by it. For example, down the weird stairs and through a rusty vault door, we enter the slack-tastic Murder Lounge, a mildew-scented finished boat basement with a thick, dirty white carpet and lots of punk-folk art. (Thought: Is punk urban folk?)

The atmosphere so strong, the setting itself and the art presented become one, each improving the other. The most dramatic example of this -- and the most awesome video installation I've ever seen -- Soundwalk screened their captivating piece "Kill the Ego" two flights down into the belly of the Lightship moored at the pier.

The video is great in itself, but totally enhanced by the setting...

...shown here with the flash. Up the stair are old quarters complete with rusty narrow bunk beds and grimy wool blankets. My batteries had run out in my camera before I could shoot everything. Egad, it was like being inside an Edward Keinholz piece.

I didn't really look at prices, and didn't ask anyone if they were making sales, but this renegade-ish fair seemed more about itself as a spontaneous work of art and the aesthetic it was defining (or refining) than money. Full of young, independent spirit and new things to look at, by the end of my self-guided tour I was cheered and satisfied.

Fountain was a full-flavored experience and one of the most interesting art things I've seen in a while. Here's hoping it springs up for a fourth year.

[Flickr set of all 34 pics here.]

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

1 comment:

selina said...

oh and at night the show was brilliant!! i didn't even take pictures i was so into talking to the artists and seeing everything and of course eating and drinking.