The Other Art Fair: From Giant Cats to Neon
October 25- 28, 2018
The Barker Hangar, Santa Monica
By Genie Davis
Filling cavernous Barker Hanger this past weekend, The Other Art Fair gave attendees a look at a wide range of eclectic work. Southern California’s own as well as national and international artists alike exhibited in booths side by side, working in mediums from oil and acrylic to mixed media sculptures, neon, photography, and laser-cut wood.
The biggest take-away from the fair was color: the intense aquamarines of the sea, the vibrating rainbow of neon, dimensional wall art in hot sunset shades. While more subdued palettes were represented, it was the quilt of vividly colored, bright, often textural images that made the most lasting impression.
LA-based Trine Churchill’s delicate watercolors as well as oil on paper and canvas offered intimate looks at flora and fauna and people that live among nature. Her large-scale “Version 2” featured a lush forest background, with men and women floating across a lake in a drifting, almost-abstract boat. Other works shared images as diverse as wavering seaweed or an upright piano. Created in miniature on a paper plate, a child traversed a grassy area with a forest dark and lush in the background.
Alexandra Dillon focused on unique portraiture painted on shovels, knives, axes, brushes, dustpans, and garments. Her smart, sharp faces make the inanimate objects come to life, as if inhabited by spirits. Shelly Heffler showed vibrant dimensional works that resembled ribbons and rainbows caught and curved. The artist collaborators of Stump and Hill presented bouquets of flowers, yucca plants, and individual exotic blossoms in glossy, lovely arrays.
Working in clean, crisp lines, Alex Selkowitz painted more muted still-life works composed of chairs, stairs, potted plants or suburban landscapes infused with the light of California sunshine. Originally from Santa Barbara, he said “LA is home now, but the light is everywhere.” MGOGLKTKO showed mixed media wall sculptures in neon pink, gold, and fuchsia; some works illuminated, some not. Either way the works served as fiery colored puzzle pieces that evoked childhood memories of It’s a Small World diffused through psychedelia.
Speaking of neon, Linda Sue Price exhibited a full wall of small, curved neon bent into soft, floating and mysterious works. These abstract forms featured intense color variants of purple argon, mercury, argon blue, neon red, and other more subtle colors from pink to gold and green. Backgrounds varied from photographic images in a collage to patterns and plant life. Some works had clear text messages such as “Curves Ahead” or “Question Listen Think.”
R. Nelson Parrish shaped thick, sometimes transparent abstract sculptural forms, contrasting natural and man-made materials such as resin, wood and fiberglass; his work often combined painting and sculptures catching and refracting light.
Erin Hanson’s lush, thick oil landscapes were impressionistic mosaics; while Australian-artist Lara Scolari revealed abstract seascapes that seethed with motion and light in a palette focused on blue, turquoise, green, and white. “I see the waves and the drops of water with each color,” she said.
U.K. artist Kristina Williams created layered, stained-glass-like paper art, fairy-tale images of animals, flowers, architecture, and people in wonderfully magical juxtapositions reminiscent of Victorian-era cards. Equally frilly, lacy, and layered but shaped of an entirely different medium, Gabriel Schama Studios exhibited dimensional laser-cut wood wall art with a slightly steam-punk aesthetic.
A variety of special exhibits added even more visual depth to the fair: Australian XR artist Michelle Brown’s psychedelic VR experience; the installation “Mini,” placed in the back of a Mini-Cooper Countryman. The latter gave attendees a candy-colored view of large scale fish and coral positioned next to tiny humans in a richly-lit ersatz aquarium. As one of the first things attendees saw upon entering, it set the stage for color, color, color.
Running along Barker Hangar’s back wall, 31 Women, curated by Kate Bryan of Soho House, honored the 75th anniversary of the Peggy Guggenheim show for which it was named, showing work by female artists. And, the Purr Room was an interactive treat: Gary Bateman’s giant tee-pee of a black cat allowed visitors to enter the shape and listen to a stereophonic purr.
Taken as a whole or as individual exhibitions, The Other Art Fair offered a rewarding visual rainbow.