Art Fair Fever

2012 ArtPalmBeach

Anthony Japour (AJ) is an independent curator, private art dealer and owner of AJ Japour Gallery. The gallery deals in contemporary art with a focus on the Chinese Contemporary Art Movement and its relationship to the pillars of Western Contemporary Art. Since 2003, AJ has produced numerous art exhibitions and installations in Miami and South Florida. In addition, the Gallery’s secondary mission is to support organizations dedicated to the health, education, and welfare of children. AJ has served on the Fine Arts Board and the Cultural Arts Council of the City of Miami Beach.

The art world is populated by some people who become part of history. When one looks back at what’s left of ancient civilizations, the people are gone but the art and artifacts remain. South Florida Art Fair pioneers and history makers, Lee Ann and David Lester were bitten by the “art bug” as young professionals. Born and influenced by the art and architecture of San Francisco, Lee Ann is a world history buff and loves reading autobiographies. David comes from a prominent family in the arts. A look back at their history as recounted by Lee Ann in an exclusive interview with is seen through the lens of the world events happening around her.

Celebrating the 15th Anniversary year ArtPalmBeach, the Lesters brought South Florida its first Art Fair-ART MIAMI in 1991. The Lesters’ history leading up to the 1990’s is as fascinating as they are. Shortly after the couple met in the 1970’s living in Los Angeles and working as a clinical psychologist (Lee Ann) and lawyer (David), they became instant collectors, and opened a commercial gallery after helping their local synagogue put together an art fundraiser.

“In those days, L.A. was a backwater for contemporary art compared to New York City,” said Lee Ann.

Having found success with their first gallery, the couple opened a second in LA in the booming print business and exhibited in art fairs as a Print Publisher through the 1980’s. From there they were given the opportunity to take part in the organizational side of the art fair business with the Chicago Art Expo Fair and later became its owners.

Meanwhile local Miami gallerists Ann Jaffe and Gloria Luria were dreaming about an Art Fair in Miami and the Lesters explored the possibility in the 1990’s following a fascinating domino effect starting with the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 from a South African prison.

Kozo Takeuchi Modern Remains G, 2006 Glazed porcelain, 14in. x 24in. x 16in. Image courtesy of Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.

Shortly after his release Mandela praised Fidel Castro setting off a tremendous outcry among exiled Cubans. When Mandela came to Miami in 1990, he was shunned by a sizeable portion of the Miami community which in turn led to a boycott of Miami and the Miami Beach Convention Center by large convention groups leaving many open dates for what became the first Art Miami Fair in 1991.

From there the Lesters launched Art Asia Hong Kong in 1992 just before the China handover from Britain, then opened the Palm Beach Art Fair in 1996. And the rest is history!

Kozo Takeuchi
Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.
100 Central Park South, Suite 11C
New York, NY 10019

Born in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan where he resides and works, Takeuchi Kouzo graduated from Osaka University of Arts in 2001 with a major in ceramics. He then graduated from Tajimi Municipal Ceramic Design Institute in Gift Prefecture in 2003. Takeuchi’s white porcelain sculptures are composed of numerous hollow rectangular prisms, some parts deconstructed. While the artist uses porcelain as his exclusive medium, he is in fact a sculptor. Takeuchi used the Mayan ruins for inspiration and wanted to mirror that same quality of beauty that is affected by time. His sculptural oeuvre occurred by accident. Having completed a large piece composed of square tubes, he unloaded his kiln, and one piece had broken during the firing. The broken piece remained in a corner of his studio for a period of time and continued to engage his interest. Knowing that a rectangle is not a shape found in nature, Takeuchi used the form to further convey his idea of a manmade piece being damaged throughout time. After constructing the original piece formed by the hollow rectangles, Takeuchi takes a hammer to his piece and allows for sections of his work to break off and reveal what is underneath. Like the mysterious Mayan ruins, Takeuchi uses the idea of accidents wearing down the original to expose another kind of beauty once unseen.

Andréa Stanislav Reflect, 2009 Interactive public intervention AiOP and DUMBO Arts Center, NYC, NY Image courtesy of Cynthia Corbett Gallery

Andréa Stanislav
Cynthia Corbett Gallery
15 Claremont Lodge, 15 The Downs
Wimbledon, London, SW20 8UA

Andréa Stanislav is a contemporary artist who received an MFA from Alfred University and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her works include sculpture, video installation, collage constructions and public art. Reflection is a key word in Stanislav’s lexicon, as it serves to indicate both the means and the ends of her artistic endeavor. To learn more about the artist, I explored her website and found how the idea of reflection is reflected in her work. One such work is Reflect, 2009, a site-specific interactive performance walk/sculpture in two phases. Two performers walk a neighborhood until their wearable sculptures are “diminished”. Each garment is entirely covered with thousands of mirrored buttons.
 The performers give away individual mirrored buttons to the public as a conscious act of dispersing/migrating the sculpture — in trade for a photograph portrait taken by performer of the subject with a point and shoot camera. The buttons become “mementos” of the interactive sculpture performance. 
The second phases is realized the next day when the photograph portraits of the public are made into black and white portrait buttons — the buttons depleted from the garments are replaced with the black and white portrait buttons and a second performance walk is undertaken.

Andréa Stanislav Siren Song, 2000 Mirrored glass & steel, 14' x 40' x 12' Bridgeport Seaside Sculpture Park, Bridgeport, CT Image courtesy of Cynthia Corbett Gallery

Obelisks and horse heads figure prominently both separately and in combination in Stanislav’s sculptural works; often encrusted in rhinstones and displayed on motorized Lazy Susans.

Lluis Barba
Dean Project
511 W. 25th
New York City, NY 10001

Barcelona-based Lluis Barba has been exhibited in Miami as far back as 1994 when he was included in one of the early Art Miami Art Fairs by Costa Rica-based gallerist, Jacob Karpio. His works have been exhibited in the South Florida art scene ever since—most recently at the Center for Visual Communication in Wynwood during the 2011 Art Basel-Miami Beach Art Fair.

Barba starts with a black & white photograph of an important art historical painting; for example, Velázquez’s 1656 painting Las Meninas which itself is a complex and enigmatic family portrait of King Philip IV of Spain in the Madrid Palace. The painting has always been open to many interpretations, among them a kind of “elusiveness” that some have suggested suggest that “art, and life, are an illusion” (Dawson Carr). The central character of the painting is the Infanta Margarita who is surrounded by her parents among a cast of characters.

Lluis Barba Las Meninas, 2007 C-print, 40 in. x 50 in. Image courtesy of Dean Project

Against this backdrop, Barba creates a new Las Meninas, 2007. With a surgeon’s precision, using a digital process he cuts out color photographs and layers in the current Royal Family of Spain (King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia) in the place of King Philip IV and Queen Mariana (from the Velázquez painting) as well as the rest of the Royal Family. Princess Cristina, the younger daughter of the Royal Family plays the roe of the Infanta and is the focus in this Las Meninas with her older sister, Princess Elena and younger brother Prince Felipe gazing toward her.

In addition, and upon closer inspection Barba taps into the conflicts in our global consumer society with a kind of over-familiarity with current celebrity characters through the tabloids and represents mass consumption, loss of identity and “branding” of our cultural icons through a barcode tattoo he places on each person. Under each barcode is the name of the celebrity, Madonna, for example. He separates the celebrity from the rest of society by labeling non-celebrities as “tourists” suggesting that today everyone has become reduced to a brand identified at the check out counter by a barcode, whether you’re Madonna, McDonalds, Coca Cola or the Generic “tourist”.

Whitespace Collection
2805 N. Australian Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Wetterling Gallery
111 47 Stockholm

An elegant installation of Nathalia Edenmont’s large-scale photographs were on view at the Elayne and Marvin Mordes Whitespace Collection and at the Wetterling Gallery at the ArtPalmBeach Fair. One of the yearly highlights of the ArtPalmBeach Fair is the opening of the Whitespace Collection to the Fair attendees with the Mordes’ themselves giving personal tours of the Collection. This year was no exception.

Diego Velázquez Las Meninas, 1656 Mirrored glass & steel, 14' x 40' x 12' Oil on Canvas, 125 in. x 108 in.

Edenmont is a citizen of Sweden but was born (1970) and lived her young adult life in Yalta, Ukraine (during the former Union of Soviet Social Republics). The artist herself was present at Whitespace to give a walking artist talk about her work. Edenmont was educated at the Yalta Art School for Children at age 10 and had to fend for herself after both her parents passed away. Having lived in both the East and the West, Edenmont’s works are sometimes beautiful and sometimes tough revealing her inner struggle of who she is as both a person and as an artist. Her photographs are sharply rendered highly staged portraits (beautiful) using old-fashioned technology which requires the subject to remain in position for hours (tough). Her works convey a sense of what you see is not what you get; as in Forget-Me-Not in which one sees what looks to be a girl engulfed in a floral bouquet but is, in fact, a boy. Most self-revelatory are her photographs of teenagers, who as the artist states, “are just at the age when they decide who they want to be”.

What’s coming up Art Fair Fever?

16th American International Art Fair, Feb 3-12, Palm Beach Convention Center, West Palm Beach
Inaugural Art Wynwood Art Fair, Feb 17-20, The Art Miami Pavillion, Midtown Miami
Arteamericas, March 2-5, Miami Beach Convention Center
Miami Art, Sculpture & Design Fair, Mar 8-11 aboard SeaFair at Miami International Hotel on Biscayne Blvd.

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