Miami, Part III: Heather Leigh McPherson attends a Bomb discussion, Untitled

Guest Contributor Heather Leigh McPherson / After a Saturday filled with manic art-spectating energy, I went to Untitled and attended a late afternoon panel at Select Art Fair, which presented a moment of reflection and listening. Moderated by artist, curator, and BOMB contributing editor Legacy Russell, The Artist, The Writer: A Conversation Between Creative Identities included my art-fair companion Amy Beecher as well as Bibi Deitz, Carla Gannis, and Marisa Olson. It was occasioned by the recent publication of the anthology BOMB: The Author Interviews.

[Image at top(from left): Beecher, Olson, Gannis, Deitz, and Russell.]

The panelists read excerpts from the book, considered the relationship between visual art and writing practices, and discussed artistic identity generally; specifically, Russell was interested in the deflated trope of the tortured artist and whether artists today can plausibly work from a position of happiness while skirting emptiness.

Panelists recounted their own experiences of our shared, inherited artistic postures, with Beecher incisively noting that if we tell ourselves we can only create substantive work from a single emotional condition, we are kind of screwing ourselves. Rather, Beecher said, she finds she works best when she’s comfortable being alone with her own psychic contents, whatever they may be. I find this is true for sure: outright depression can make one’s brain a hostile place to spend time, and the elation produced by new relationships or happy Life Events can make it hard to concentrate on the dogged work of one’s own familiar project.

I liked that this panel consisted entirely of women, was organized by a woman, but was not “about” women and made no claims to report on gendered art-world dynamics. I am a proponent of women or trans people or otherwise non-majority-identifying artists publicly addressing bias in the art world; but it is refreshing to see a women-only panel simply addressing art. Women represent a full range of artistic voices, not a class that is mostly useful for bias-checking. Cheers to the multi-talented Russell.

And then I went to Untitled.

I ran through Untitled late in the day, so I used a fast-acting, intuitive metric when selecting what to photograph (with, I should say, a camera lens that was fogging a bit from Miami steaminess and generalized excitement). I was drawn to a lot of rhythmic abstraction with tight facture, plus a couple of representational projects with a documentary vibe: Deb Sokolow’s fervent drawings at Western Exhibitions and selections from Peter Dreher’s “Tag um Guter Tag” series at Koenig & Clinton.

 Mary Reid Kelley @ Fredericks & Freiser. Also on view in this space were paintings from David Humphrey’s amazing recent show at the gallery, “Work and Play.”
Stephane Calais @ Zieher Smith & Horton
Shaan Syed @ Ana Cristea Gallery

Dennis Congdon @ Zieher Smith & Horton (Congdon is a beloved former professor of mine)

 Nina Chanel Abney @ Kravets/Wehby
 Larissa Lockshin @ Johannes Vogt
 Guillermo Mora @ Formatocomodo
 Brian Belott @ Zurcher
 Alika Cooper @ Mulherin
 Matthew Carter’s glittery non-rectangles @ Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
 Matthew Carter
 Angelina Gualdoni @ Asya Geisberg. These accompanied an awesome display of ceramic jug- goons by my fellow Two Coats correspondent Rebecca Morgan.
 Nicole Cherubini @ Samson Projects

 The obsessive and ineffable  Deb Sokolow @ Western Exhibitions was one of my favorite booths at the fair. See below more shots and details of the installation.

 Michael Dumontier @ MKG127
Denise Kupferschmidt @ Halsey McKay Gallery
Wendy White @ Andrew Rafacz
 Selections from Peter Dreher’s “Tag um Tag Guter Tag” series @ Koenig & Clinton
 Dreher has painted the same type of glass on the same table since 1974, adding exactly one piece per year to the series. The numbers at the top of the piece indicate the serial number of that particular specimen of glass.
Dreher’s insistent focus reminds me how hard it is to look at a lot of art at once. Everybody reaches a saturation point, when the sponge of the brain is sopping and the visual apparatus can take no more. This is why a lot of us Instagram artwork as we move through fairs and biennials — in a kind of physical scanning motion — capturing things photographically with the intention of looking later. While I’m as guilty as anyone of this, I’ve been trying to slow down and to give work a good-faith gander. I missed more than I didn’t miss in Miami, but what I saw, I tried to look at for real and in person. My effort was totally rewarded.

Related posts:
Two Coats of Paint’s Miami Correspondents: Rebecca Morgan and Heather McPherson (2014)Miami, Miami, Part I: Rebecca Morgan’s picks from Untitled and Art Basel (2014)
Miami, Part II: Heather Leigh McPherson Reports on NADA(2014)

From previous years:
Mary Addison Hackett’s Report From Miami, Day 1: Basel (2013)
Mary Addison Hackett’s final Miami round-up (2013)
Painter Tatiana Berg’s picks from Art Basel Miami Beach, 2012, Part I (2012)
Tatiana Berg reports from the satellite fairs, Part II (2012)


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