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New York

by Charlie Schultz

2214 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127


What began in 2006 with a trio of galleries opting out of the ubiquitous ice cube tray format of art fairs has this year matured into a full-fledged exhibition no longer playing second fiddle in the orchestrated hullabaloo of Miami’s Art Basel. Seven, spear-headed by Joe Amrhein of Pierogi Gallery, occupied a sprawling warehouse in the Wynwood art district. With 24,000 square feet of space and only seven participating galleries—by far the shortest list of any commercial endeavor during fair week—not only are the artists represented in greater depth, but their work actually has adequate elbow room. And of course, there are no booths.

The roster expanded this year to include Postmasters, PPOW, BravinLee programs, and the Winkleman gallery. In addition to Pierogi, Hales Gallery and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts welcomed the growth. Ed Winkleman, a participant in the Pulse art fair last year, had no reservations about his decision to join Seven. “We’re not holed up here,” he mused, “and the atmosphere is much less sterile.” This is due entirely to the alternative exhibition model of Seven.

Rather than cordon off each gallery the installation took the kind of integrative approach that thoughtfully curated group shows demand. There was a huge “salon wall” featuring works on paper and modestly sized paintings from each gallery. An entire room was dedicated to video art and each video had its own viewing station, more spacious than some booths in other fairs. Adam Cvijanovic, represented by Postmasters, exhibited “Stardust,” a billboard sized mural of a white wall smashed open revealing an explosive astral phenomenon. Just behind the wall was an installation by Sam Van Aken, a Ronald Feldman artist, titled “Oh my God.” It consisted of a wall of speakers from which emerged in rising crescendo a multitude of voices repeating the title phrase.

There is no question that as a presentation of artwork Seven lent itself far more to the feeling of a Kunsthalle than of a fair. But with such a spread of artwork the dealers couldn’t simply stay put; they had to roam. Did that make it more difficult for potential buyers to fire up transactions? Surprisingly not. “We’re selling well,” said Amrhein. Yet despite the success of Seven, Amrhein has no plans for another expansion. I wouldn’t be shocked though—in fact I’d be rather excited—if other galleries banded together in emulation next year.

Images: Sam Van Aken, oh my god, 2006, mixed media, Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York; Adam Cvijanovic, Stardust, 2010, flash acrylic paint on tyvek, Courtesy Postmasters.

Posted by Charlie Schultz on 12/8/10 | tags: mixed-media

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