All's Fair: Bridge

For this last installment of "All’s Fair," we go back across the causeway to Miami Beach and the Bridge Fair. With its 65 galleries, Bridge took place in the Catalina Hotel, occupying the larger of the hotel’s two buildings (Flow resided in the smaller one). I didn’t hear much buzz either way about this new event, but running in the middle of the pack is not a bad position for a fair’s first year.

© Joanne Mattera

Of course the top spot in the Miami hierarchy goes to Art Basel Miami Beach. The number-two position seemed to be split between newcomer Flow and second-year Aqua. Surely it’s not coincidental that the two smallest fairs got some of the biggest attention. After the mega-dose of art at the Convention Center, there was a visual and visceral need to scale down and experience art on a smaller scale.

Bridge boasted excellent galleries from around the country: Andrea Schwartz, Brian Gross and Elins Eagles-Smith from San Francisco; Pentimenti from Philadelphia; Kidder Smith and Howard Yezerski from Boston, and Rice/Polack from Provincetown, a tiny lick of land (with several very good galleries) at the end of the long curling arm of Massachusetts. The New York galleries included Chelsea’s Sundaram Tagore, which occupied the lobby, as well as SoHo’s Nancy Hoffman and Brooklyn’s Metaphor Contemporary.

If you're going to show art in small hotel rooms, the white walls and floors here were perfect. But the lighting was not well thought out (some dealers brought their own illumination, but others scrambled to install aluminum bowl reflectors, and still others used, with unsatisfactory results, the pole lamps that came with the room). Between the lighting and the small spaces, I found it difficult to photograph in the little rooms. In a few instances I went to a gallery’s website for images.
Following the map on the venue's two floors, these were the highlights for me: In the lobby, color dominated. This was the exhibition space of Sundaram Tagore, New York, which showed Natvar Bhavsar’s saturated color fields and Judith Murray’s large-scale, brushstroke-y abstractions.

Natvar Bhavsar: Bhandraa, pure pigment on canvas, 67 x 68", 2005 (above); Judith Murray: Fusion, oil on linen, 41 x 45", 2004; images from the Sundaram Tagore website

At Metaphor Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, I liked Mary Judge’s monochromatic monoprint mandalas, Manfred Mayerle’s tiny gouache grids, and gallery partner Julian Jackson’s light-infused abstractions.

Mary Judge: monoprint from the Rose Window Series, 48 x 48" (above); Julian Jackson: After Vermeer, oil on canvas, 76 x 63", 2006, both from the Metaphor website

Manfred Mayerle: from the series For All We Know, ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper mounted on aluminum, 6.75 x 6.75", from the Metaphor website

Looking at work in the Metaphor Contemporary room

At Kidder Smith, Boston, I liked Cheryl Goldsleger’s smallish black and white geometric paintings in encaustic with elements of relief sculpture, David Moore’s linear color fields and Jimi Gleason's atmospheric light-refractive paintings.

A view of the room for Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston

At Hogar Collection, Brooklyn, the fluid geometries of gallery partner Cecilia Biagini dominated.

Installation view of the Hogar Collection room, above; and gallery website image of Meandering, by Cecilia Biagini

Upstairs, working my way in the same counterclockwise direction, I stopped in at the room of Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco. Its organized installation and formal work--paintings by Teo Gonzalez and Marco Casentini; works on paper by Jill Baroff, Stephen Sollins and Andrea Way--resonated on my frequency.

Andrea Way: detail of For Renee, ink on paper, 30 x 22", 2005

Two views of the installation of Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco; that's Brian Gross seated at the desk, above

Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, has a strong program with restrained pattern and geometry in equal measure. At the fair I liked, among other work, Kevin Finklea’s reductive geometry, shown below.

Christine Pfister, Pentimenti's owner and director, in her room at Bridge

At Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, I particularly liked Malham’s Cove, a small deeply spatial and atmospheric diptych, by the reductive abstractionist Paul Shakespear

Paul Shakespear: Malham Cove, 2006, acrylic on wood, 20.75 x 16.75 at Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston

At Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, there were paintings in encaustic by two artists whose work I like, Tremain Smith and Kathleen Waterloo, and sensuous circles in oil and gouache by Julie Gross.

Two views at the Melanee Cooper Gallery: circles in oil (top) and gouache (framed) by Julie Gross, above; a painting being packed for delivery

Tremain Smith's work was installed in the hallway outside the Melanee Cooper room, impossible to shoot, so I pulled this painting from the artist’s own website: My Great Prakriti, encaustic on panel, about 48 x 60

My shots of Andrea Schwartz’s room were too blurry to publish, so I pulled this image of John Berlingheri’s coolly ebullient painting, Diphthong Cobalt, to show you. Do you remember it? It was the far left wall, as you walked in.

John Berlingheri, Diphthong Cobalt, oil on canvas, 60x36, at Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco

At Provincetown’s Rice/Polak Gallery I liked the black and white paintings of Berndt Haussmann. Suggestive of chalkboards, his surfaces are in fact a thin layer of rubber mounted to panel on which he has worked his signature lyrical gestures in a retstrained palette.

Berndt Haussmann: from The Blackboard Series, 21 x 21", oil on rubber-mounted panel, from the Rice/Polak Gallery website

Here's Marla Rice, director of the Rice/Polak Gallery, in her exhibition room

I have no pictures of the Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery exhibition room. It was a corner space, with big paintings (by Johnnie Winona Ross and Ricardo Mazal) always full of people. So I just pulled an image of a work by Mazal from the gallery's website to show you.

Ricardo Mazal: Untitled Diptych, mixed digital process, 41 x 61.5 inches, collaboration with photographer Gary Mankus, from the Elins Eagles-Smith website

By Saturday evening the exodus began. I stuck around until Sunday, visiting The Big Fair one more time with my friends Gloria De Sole and Meredith Butler. We made time for lunch at the Botanic Gardens across from the Convention Center, and I departed for the airport in late afternoon. I’ll leave you with one final image from Miami, shot by Joseph Poras on Tuesday, December 12, in Collins Park, with the Containers barely visible in the background:

December 12, 2006: The party's over. Photograph courtesy of Joseph Poras

See you next year.