Spring/Break 2022 Break Down
skylight culver city, los angeles
February 16-20, 2022
Written by Lorraine Heitzman
Unlike 2020’s ambitious show, this year’s Spring/Break was decidedly scaled back, both in terms of the size of the space and the number of participants. The smaller space filtered out the most bombastic installations of the previous fair, so consequently the size of the show fostered a cohesiveness in this chastened, post-pandemic art show. The modest scope is not a bad thing (it is a relief in many ways), but the venue itself was not the inspired alternative space of years past, and perhaps a larger warehouse would have shown the work to greater advantage. The good news is that despite the limitations of the space, the generous spirit of Spring Break prevailed, particularly in the context of Frieze week. Giving independent curators, who are often artists themselves, the platform to showcase artists makes this fair a valuable asset for artists, curators and the public, alike.
Under the banner of this year’s theme, Hearsay: Heresy, there were fifty-four curated exhibits and many more artists than booths. As to be expected, there was a wide range of styles, but if there was a trend, perhaps it was in the number of brilliantly colored and tactile works. Like the Frieze Fair, textiles and ceramics are on the ascendancy and that is a welcome addition. That isn’t to say the art was all lighthearted, because in many cases the content often contradicted their appearance to tackle serious subjects in ironic juxtapositions. Quiet, introspective work and high levels of craftmanship also co-existed alongside brasher gestures and crude applications.
Three outstanding exhibits were booths dedicated to artists who made freestanding sculptures that were complemented by two-dimensional or bas-relief wall pieces. Camilla Taylor at Track 16, Allison Baker and Katrina Sánchez at Abigal Ogilvy, and Elspeth Schulze at Shane Darwent stood out. Taylor’s installation, The Forest, greeted you as you enter Spring/Break and made an impact with a formidable disembodied head seated on a pedestal, a sort of an omnipotent gatekeeper. Smaller figurines of hybrid root-women, sprigs of foliage and birds in flight were mounted and evenly spaced apart on one wall like so many specimens of butterflies. The black, matte finish and similar scale unified them, and called to mind Oaxacan pottery and Mexican Milagros charms, small amulets used for good luck. The work is beautifully crafted, balancing mythology with the eye of a naturalist.
Elspeth Schulze’s In A Porous Place at Shane Darwent featured abstract wall plaques that deftly combined ceramic elements and textiles. Schulze manipulates her materials in a counterintuitive way, arranging flat clay shapes onto framed, shaped panels, neither fully integrating them onto the picture plane nor creating a traditional bas relief. Her limited palette and minimal imagery conjure the somber reverence of Georgia O’Keefe, and the simple, formal iconography within the arched frames suggest a religious purpose. Her work seems to have a function beyond decoration but we are given the latitude to decipher the meaning ourselves. Her single, free-standing sculpture, Meander Vase, reinforces her exploration into the intersection of the natural and synthetic.
At Abigal Ogilvy, Katrina Sánchez showed several wall mounted textile sculptures that are reminiscent of the early wave of soft sculptures from the nineteen sixties. Welcome Passage, also the name of the exhibit, is an arched entryway in the form of a chain link fence. It ushered you into the booth, but the architectural element isn’t as compelling as the work inside, the weight and drape of the textile forms being somewhat diluted in the environment of the warehouse. The wall art is constructed from different colorful fabric cylindrical “tubes” that are loosely woven together, like the potholders we made in our childhood, albeit on an enormous scale. Their soft, spineless shapes are sensuous and at the same time comical. Allison Baker’s wall of paper collages, studies for her own work, share a similar color scheme and iconography, but have the added element of landscapes and interiors. They perfectly compliment Sánchez’ textiles, a case of two artists working individually who have created a seamless environment.
Laurie Rosenwald’s highly textured encaustic paintings were a delightful surprise in her booth curated by A+A, the founders of Spring/Break. Refreshingly simple, her paintings remind us of the joys of creativity, as the line from concept to completion is direct and unfettered. Portraits, still lifes, typography and symbols are boldly represented, and though uniquely her own, also harken back to mid-century advertising art with a nod to constructivism. Rosenwald’s sharp eye, sense of humor, and playful use of materials, reminds us of some of the most fundamental pleasures of art.
The adjacent exhibit by Stuart Lantry, curated by Shona McAndrew, Autonomy, Automata and I is an animated wall display that marries Rube Goldberg’s contraptions with automaton musical instruments and didactic museum exhibits. Cast hands poke and prod, while violin bows are mechanized to play against guitar strings. It all happens at the same time, creating a cacophony of sounds and a silly purposefulness. Post It notes on either side are random aphorisms that both contribute to and highlight the overall sense of overstimulation.
At the Chris Bors/ Fred Fleisher exhibit, Dark Shadows, Georganne Deen had three of her exquisite paintings on display. Doing what she does best, Deen skewers the status quo with impeccable skills. Her scathing commentaries spare no one, least of all the immoral, monied power players. In her painting, Secretary of Education eavesdropping on her brother in the Cayman Islands, Betsy DeVos is mercilessly depicted sheathed in an elegant gown, drink in hand, while spying on Erik Prince, her brother and fellow mercenary. Likewise, she takes NRA lobbyists and financial institutions to task, transposing the ugly face of their deeds onto both the exploited and perpetrators.
Another contemporary critique that is more overtly political is the series of paintings, Black and Blue (A Story On Repeat) by Hubert Neal Jr. presented by IV Gallery. This work is a stark accounting of police brutality made palatable in a very colorful and graphic style. Each painting depicts a black male figure in confrontation with the police, documenting their brutal and unwarranted death. Rendered solely in blue and brown against a bright yellow background, they almost read as traffic signs, and indeed they are warning signs of the worst hazards.
A few more highlights include (in no particular order): the hyper-stimulating exhibit, we will all be well, curated by Zahra Sherzad with work by MCXT, a collaboration between Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra, Alone in a Crowded Place, organized by Hilde Lynn Helphenstein and Matthew Capasso with kudos to the sinuous paintings by Fabien Adèle, The Illuminated Body, curated by Katie Hector and Adam Sabolick with Joey Cocciardi’s dreamlike paintings and colored pencil drawings on paper by Casey Jex Smith, in the booth he curated entitled Kings Quest IX: Sleepless Knights.
Many more contributors were noteworthy this year. http://springbreakartfair.com/ lists all the participants with images and pricing.
Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Ambre Kelly + Andrew Gori, Ankita Mukherji + Elisabeth Smolarz, Anna Evtiugina, Brigitte Engler + Dale Wittig, Carlton Dewoody, Casey Jex Smith, Chris Bors + Fred Fleisher, Christopher Lynn + Janessa Lewis + Malachi Wilson, Coco Dolle, DC Smith, Erika Hirugami, Evan Snyderman + Gabrielle Shelton, Galerie Wolfsen, Gentle Giants Projects, Heinz Patatzki, Hilde Lynn Helphenstein + Matthew Capasso, The Untitled Space, iv gallery, Jay Gaskill, Jessica Goehring + Max Rippon, Katie Hector + Adam Sabolick, LaiSun Keane, Leila Wahba + Seline Camli Anjel, Maria Petrovskaya + Zak Vreeland, Maripol, Marrow Gallery, Michael Slenske, Mike Chattem, Natalie Kovacs + Arnoud Verhaeghe, New Art Projects, Nora Lucia Boyd, Patrick Geske + Cody Miner, Pietro Alexander, Queenie Wong, Rebecca Bird, Rick Herron, Shane Darwent, Shelter Serra, Shona McAndrews, Tara de la Garza, The ƒ/Ø Project, The New Arts Foundation, Track 16, Transformer, Valery Estabrook + Corey Escoto, Yulia Topchiy, Zahra Sherzad
Spring/Break Art Show
February 16-20 2022
Skylight Culver City
5880 Adams Blvd
Culver City, CA