Miami’s Gallery Diet, directed by Nina Johnson, was one of forty-eight project-participants in this year’s NADA venture in idyllic Hudson, New York. Distinguishing itself from a regular art fair, NADA opted for a singular, curated exhibition with one work from each participating gallery, along with accompanying video and outdoor projects that dotted the grounds.
Diet presented Christy Gast’s Salton in the Hudson space, which was influenced by and completed inside the location, making it a somewhat site-specific piece without the initial intention of being so. The piece, combined with a screening of Gast’s video Potato Salad Hill, in the video program curated by Grela Orihuela, contributed to the cohesive NADA program.
Being in the land of fresh air and swimming holes - without the Hamptons fluff - in the heat of the New York summer changed the art fair context, and Johnson likens NADA’s presentation to more of a retreat experience, in contrast to the rows of boxcutter booths. With many clients already summering in the area, and those who remained in the city eager to escape for a day, Johnson’s experience with the fair was refreshing, bordering on the feeling of a museum exhibition rather than a commercial environment for hawking art.
With the happiness of the galleries, and the fair goers, could this type of “curated experience” be the next step in evolution of art fairs?
Lori Zimmer: For NADA Hudson, you chose Christy Gast's work to represent Diet Gallery. NADA's main hall included one piece from each of the forty-eight participating projects. Which piece did you choose and why?
Nina Johnson: Christy recently completed a very successful solo show at Diet, Out of Place, in April. The piece we chose to exhibit at NADA was Salton; it was part of the same series of works that were shown in Out of Place but too large to include with the other works at the gallery. We felt this was the perfect space and context to show it. In fact, Christy completed the work with the Basilica in mind and I think it showed. The work appeared to have grown out of the space and had a very strong presence.
LZ: Do you feel the works together in the hall had a cohesive feel, as curated by NADA?
NJ: I do, I think the organizers did a fantastic job in putting something together that felt more like a group exhibition than a fair.
LZ: What outdoor project or video did you present?
NJ: I didn't present any outdoor works however, Grela Orihuela did include Christy's video, Potato Salad Hill, in the video program.
LZ: Being accessible to New York City, but still a trek out of town, did you feel the fair was well attended? Did you get the impression that collectors were connecting with the space and the work, outside of the confines of a New York City high rise?
NJ: Hudson is in an amazing location; so many collectors and artists spend their summers in the area and those that don't are typically thrilled to get out of the city for a day. I felt the attendance was great and I also didn't see anyone walking around with "fair fatigue." Being in the country in a space so unlike the typical gallery setting seemed to be keeping everyone in a good, positive, and open minded mood.
LZ: What expectations did you have doing a fair somewhat off the beaten path?
NJ: I got everything I expected out of the fair. Being in Miami, it's fantastic to be able to connect with friends, colleagues, and collectors that are up North... in fact, we even made it to a "swimming hole"; I definitely can't say I expect to do that at any other art fair. On a more serious note, a lot of my clients had seen and been interested in Christy's work via images from her solo show, so it was great to be able to give them a clearer picture of this series in person.
LZ: How did the fair differ as compared to the fairs in Miami and New York?
NJ: I wouldn't call this a fair; it's really a gathering and an easy going space for people who are interested in contemporary art to connect in an unexpected setting.
LZ: Overall, how would you describe your Hudson experience?
NJ: Fabulous, I hope to be back again!
(Image on top: Christy Gast, 2012, Salton, installation view at NADA Hudson , Burlap, cotton, 14'h x 36" x 36"; Courtesy of the artist and NADA Hudson)