Though most of New York’s satellite art fairs remain tied to the March dates of the Armory Show, Pulse organizers took a gamble and moved their show to May to coincide with the newly launched Frieze New York. A healthy 58 galleries took the plunge along with them—45 galleries in the main section and 13 as part of Impulse, a section for emerging galleries, which is devoted to one-person shows.
The show, which runs through May 6 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, at 125 West 18th Street, opened yesterday morning, and we stopped by in the early afternoon. “People are exercising more caution and reflection,” said Nick Lawrence of Freight+Volume, which displayed, among other works, richly textured abstract paintings by Los Angeles artist Greg Miller, whose works look like brick walls hit with a few splashes of acrylic.
But if things were a bit slow in those first hours, gallerists were nonetheless optimistic. “I was surprised by the number of people that were here early,” said Hilary Schaffner of Halsey McKay, an energetic and relatively young East Hampton gallery which has shows on tap this summer from superb emerging artists like Lauren Luloff and Andrew Kuo. Halsey McKay was showing in the Impulse section and had devoted its booth to Chris Duncan.
Chelsea’s Fred Torres had a couple Courtney Loves and a large David LaChapelle on display, but work from 93-year-old Swiss native Madeleine Gekiere stood out. Her two pieces—an untitled oil painting and an untitled watercolor—were dark, alluring, meticulously detailed and priced at $10,000 and $7,500 respectively. This is Gekiere’s first art fair.
Philadelphia’s Gallery Joe featured work from Sharka Hyland. Her Flaubert, Madame Bovary drawing included a short passage carefully penciled out on paper—a hybrid of literature and art. One sold earlier today for $1,200.
On display at Chelsea’s Meulensteen (which recently tapped Marlborough’s Eric Gleason to join its ranks as a director) was the work of Burmese couple Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu. Their small-scale acrylic paintings begin as a page of a comic book from the artists’ past, which then receives a layer of white paint, creating what the gallery passionately described as a tension between artifact and memory.
Most of what was at Pulse could be found hanging on the walls, though there were a few striking sculptures. Daniel Wienberg’s booth featured a work from Canadian Minimalist David Rabinowitch, whose untitled, rolled steel sculpture was priced at $50,000.
The Spaniard Gonzalo Puch, who’s represented by Julie Saul, plays with spatial perception in his work. He photographs installations of drawings displayed alongside assembled objects, which he then Photoshops to create curious collages that mix various types of representation. All of his work at Pulse comes from a series called “A Temporary Garden,” which he began during a 2012 residency at Location One in Soho.
Finally, there’s the art of MIT educated engineer Alan Rath, whose work on display at the booth of New York’s Hosfelt gallery, is like a creepier, smaller, more technologically advanced version of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests—all his anthropomorphized animals have a human element, and one robot featured a twitching human eye displayed on a green LCD. When asked whether private collectors exhibited any hesitation toward purchasing and displaying Mr. Rath’s work, Todd Hosfelt offered this: “It’s like a puppy, but it doesn’t shit, bark or shed on your clothes.” With the rising costs of purebreds, Rath’s $45,000 Creature II may even be a bargain by some measures.
As of Thursday afternoon, Mr. Rath’s work did not yet have a buyer. But it was still early in the game. We won’t know if Frieze New York coattails for a few more days.