The opening day at the Nada Art Fair, hosted by the Deauville Hotel, was buzzing with a festive hum, and it wasn’t just because there was free beer in the lobby. Divided into two segments, one for galleries displaying groups of artists and another for solo showcases, the fair opened for VIPs at ten a.m., invited in the general public (free of charge) around noon, and by eight p.m. the ushers were at pains to get everyone out.
Scott Murray of Twenty-Twenty Projets, a local gallery that was showing work by Nicholas Lobo and Tom Scicluna told me, “I’m really happy! Everybody that I hoped would show up came on the first day.” First time participant Fabian Lang, dealer of Mitterzand + Sanz, a Swiss Gallery based out of Zurich, was showing work by Richardo Rendon (amongst others). Lang said that not only was his gallery doing great, but in his opinion, all the galleries participating in NADA were showing high caliber work. “It really sets a standard,” he said.
The New York based White Columns gallery had more red dots on their walls then I’d seen since the boom. They were selling “Legendary Xerox Editions” by established young artists for as low as $150, and blatantly marketing for holiday shoppers. The approach was clearly paying off; I couldn’t get a word with the dealers as there was never a moment when they weren’t chatting up collectors.
Another first time Miami Basel participant, Arataniurano from Tokyo, may have struggled to make small talk but they were having no trouble selling their work. Artist, Asai Yusuke, installed an eye grabbing installation on their booth walls entirely out of marker on masking tape. It was the first time the artist has ever shown work in the United States and dealers Urano and Aratani were thrilled with the reception.
Erwin Wurm’s Untitled sculptures of pickles didn’t last long said dealer Jack Hanley of the San Francisco-based Jack Hanley Gallery. “It was a great first day,” he said, “better than most people expected.” Over at the Y Gallery, hailing from the Big Apple, dealer Ryan Brown’s partner Cecelia had to excuse herself from talking to me to make a sale. “It’s been so busy,” Brown said, “far better than expected.”
At the end of the night as I shared a cab back to my hotel with a dealer from Johansson Projects, based out of Oakland, CA, I wasn’t surprised to hear that they only had three paintings still available. “In the past,” she said, “everybody had to give discounts, and everyone always asked for them. But today, we didn’t give too many, and still the whole booth is nearly sold out.”
(Images: Tom Sicluna. Antenna (2009), found Antenna. Courtesy Twenty twenty Gallery; Asai Yusake, A musician, forest head, animal with four legs, guards of beast, specimen, living with two wolves (2009), Masking tape and marker. Courtesy Arataniurano Gallery; Tamara Kostianovsky, Hind Legs, Crocuta Crocuta (2009) articles of clothing of the artist. Courtesy Y Gallery; Erwin Wurm. Untitled (pickles) (2009), Cast acrylic. Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery.)