All's Fair: Pulse

After two days of heavy looking at the fairs around the Convention Center, on Saturday morning I headed over to the Wynwood Design District of Miami proper to take in Pulse, Scope and NADA—all large venues with lots of exhibiting galleries. Unlike many fairgoers, I skipped the late-night parties and heavy drinking in favor of low-key al fresco dinners with friends after the fairs closed for the night, so I was alert and eager at Pulse when the doors opened at 10:00 am.

© Joanne Mattera

Not everyone was out partying, by the way. One Boston dealer admitted he was in bed by 8:30 most nights, wiped out from the business of showing, selling and schmoozing. "It’s exhausting work," he said. It’s pretty tiring on my side of the aisle, too.

The white tent that houses Pulse, this year with an unpulsing floor

I’d heard from several disgruntled fairgoers that the shuttle buses were running irregularly—some had waited for as long as 90 minutes the previous day, before giving up and taking a taxi—so I saved myself the wait and shelled out $25 for the trip across the causeway.

Pulse was worth the trip. The art was uniformly interesting, the booths and walkways were spacious, and this year, the floor was nice and firm—unlike last year’s springy plywood that had you feeling as if you were adrift on the high seas.

Here’s what I liked:

Jack Shainman’s booth was dominated by a large painting by Odili Donald Odita featuring zigzaggy shapes in a warm palette shot with a bolt of cool green. I’d seen this artist’s show at the Shainman Gallery in New York a couple of months ago and was happy for another opportunity to revisit the work. A hanging sculpture by Subodh Gupta, of brass pots—hung a la How to Wrap Five Eggs—was a quiet beauty. I’d just seen Gupta's work at Basel Miami in an installation of those same brass pots piled into a carriage, but I liked this one better. More formal and refined.

Odili Donald Odita and Subodh Gupta at Jack Shainman Gallery

Finesilver, a gallery from Houston, featured two large wall pieces by Leonardo Drew. When I passed by, they were serving as the backdrop for some frenzied packing (or unpacking), something you saw a lot of throughout the weekend. Drew’s work is always compelling. And in the tumult of the fairs, I gravitated (perhaps more so than usual) to work with an organizing principle. With that in mind, I stopped into New York's Robert Mann booth, where last year at one of the New York fairs I saw a great grid of barn photographs by Jeff Brouws. This time it was drive-in movie screens. Nice.

Art coming and going at Finesilver Gallery, Houston, where Leonardo Drew's wall pieces dominate, above; the pleasure of organization amid the tumult: an installation Jeff Brouws's images of drive-in movie screens at Robert Mann Gallery, New York

Continuing with grid installations, Rubicon, a Dublin gallery, showed a smart group of framed geometric drawings by Ronnie Hughes. No bells and whistles here, just an opportunity for up-close viewing.

Ronnie Hughes: Small geometries at Rubicon Gallery, Dublin

That brings me to the fabulous installation of smallish work—each piece worth scrutiny—at the Pavel Zoubok booth. This New York gallery specializes in collage and assemblage, or at least work that involves amassed and accrued elements. My likes here: Donna Sharratt’s mandalas of wax, pins and thread; May Wilson’s wrapped toys, and Al Hansen's chocolate fantasies.

At Pavel Zoubok, New York: An overview of the booth, above--that's Pavel on the left; mixed-media mandalas by Donna Sharratt, May Wilson's wrapped toys, Al Hansen's witty Hershey collages--a twist to the Hershey's kiss

Charles Cowles Gallery had a spacious booth with great work—lots of work, but cleanly installed. I liked the paintings by Charles Arnoldi and Roberto Juarez. I’d seen in each of their recent solo shows at the New York gallery, but, as with Odita at Shainman, I enjoyed visiting individual works by these artists.

Geometries at Charles Cowles Gallery, New York: Charles Arnoldi's luscious geometric abstraction dominates; Roberto Juarez's small abstractions are to the left

As always, I liked what Thatcher Projects had to offer. My photographs of the booth did not turn out well, but I did get a nice corner shot that includes three small textured paintings by Robert Sagerman, a luminous wax-on-plexiglass painting by Heather Hutchison, and Richard Thatcher’s perfectly milled flat sculptures.

A corner of the Thatcher Projects booth: Sagerman, Hutchison, Richard Thatcher

Just as I was wishing for a tranquil corner to repair to, I came across an empty booth bathed in light and shadow, a lovely spash of illumination under the tent. A few quiet breaths later, it dawned on me that the light and shadow were in fact the installation, painted by Mary Temple for New York's Mixed Greens booth. Perfect.

A quiet corner of the fair: At Mixed Greens a site-specific light painting by Mary Temple

Next up: All's Fair: Scope