Fairest of the Fair


Catherine D. Anspon surveys five independents %26mdash; fresh and game-changing galleries showing at the Dallas Art Fair 2014 %26mdash; who need to be on your collecting radar come April. Calendar these Fair dates and prepare to acquire: Preview Gala Thursday, April 10; Fair days Friday through Sunday, April 11%26ndash;13; at Fashion Industry Gallery; dallasartfair.com.

Benjamin Trigano

Founder, owner and director, M+B, Los Angeles

Established. 2008.

Raison d%26rsquo;%26ecirc;tre. M+B began with a focus on social documentary photography then, using that understanding of the medium, shifted to contemporary artists using the printed medium.

Trajectory. I originally moved to L.A. working on a hotel project for a company; however, once it started, I realized I didn%26rsquo;t want to work for someone else. I loved L.A. and wanted to stay here and realized that through the people I knew, I could create a destination for photo-based work.

Balancing act: hotelier/hospitality innovator/brand guru versus gallerist/curator. That%26rsquo;s a lot of things at once; I think I am simply an entrepreneur. I have learned over the years that the only way for an idea/project/concept to work is to be passionate and to partner with people you enjoy working with. Most of the projects I am involved with are related to the arts and/or the social experience within that venture. Whether it be M+B, Mama Shelter or this new poster company that I am launching called WAX Posters (first one with Ai Weiwei), I also want to make sure we are having fun.

You%26rsquo;re one of the few galleries that%26rsquo;s a member of both NADA [New Art Dealers Alliance] and AIPAD [Association of International Photography Art Dealers]. Your take on photography%26rsquo;s place in the contemporary realm. I find photography %26mdash;%26nbsp;or perhaps better put, the printed medium %26mdash; probably the most exciting media in the arts at the moment. Photography is one of the youngest mediums. Artists working in it have new tools never before available allowing them to experience and create in ways that they never have before. Artists have an understanding of the medium and its history, as well as an investment in its analog nature, and at the same time they are attempting to break it open in new ways.

Your stable, and M+B%26rsquo;s place in the L.A. art eco system.%26nbsp;We have divided the gallery into two entities which will be move obvious when our new websites launch in the month to come. One will focus on where M+B began, traditional photography lending towards documenting critically defining social moments. The other will continue to do what we have been featuring: contemporary artists pushing the medium%26rsquo;s boundaries and involved with the whole of contemporary art. I would like to think that both have, and continue to, influence the L.A. art eco system. The program focusing on traditional photography and social documentation was the first to give Leroy Grannis and Hugh Holland shows as well as represent the estate of Hunter S. Thompson and represent Malick Sidib%26eacute;. Grannis and Holland%26rsquo;s influence on the birth of street culture is critical and %26mdash; while feeling universal %26mdash;%26nbsp;is quintessentially L.A.

On why you%26rsquo;re coming to Dallas.%26nbsp;Because I love the Dallas Cowboys and I thought it would be cool to hang out in their town! Seriously, I think that Dallas has a vibrant art community with an art fair demanding international attention. And I actually do love the Cowboys!

In your booth come April. New works by Jessica Eaton, Matthew Porter and Mariah Robertson.

Texas connections. First time!

What%26rsquo;s next. We have two amazing shows coming up: our first solo show with Hannah Whitaker and two-person show with Pierre Molinier and Aurel Schmit, plus five art fairs that we are participating in it, so we look forward to a busy spring!

Julia Dippelhofer and Michael Nevin

Co-founders and co-owners of The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn

Which came first, the gallery or the magazine? Michael Nevin: I started the journal in 1999, during my first year of school at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. Julia was an au pair in the next town over, and we both signed up for a black-and-white photography course at the school. I had just published the first issue of the journal at Kinko%26rsquo;s and gave her a copy. The photography teacher basically set us up by suggesting Julia and I work on an assignment together. After graduating, we moved to NY and shortly after took over a large garage space on East 6th Street in the East Village, which became the journal office. The gallery grew out of having so much space and involved the people we were working with the magazine %26hellip; One day a collector came in and bought 25 drawings, which was really the start of the gallery.

Biggest break. MN: Opening our new space %26hellip; Julia%26rsquo;s brother, Dominik Dippelhofer, who is an architect based in Luxembourg, designed the space, and Julia oversaw the building and details, and put together and managed an incredible crew. For me, it%26rsquo;s the most beautiful gallery I%26rsquo;ve seen. I wouldn%26rsquo;t change one thing.

On the wonders of Williamsburg. Julia Dippelhofer and Michael Nevin: When it comes to Brooklyn, we found the perfect home. Artists can%26rsquo;t really afford to be in Manhattan anymore, so the majority of them are here, it%26rsquo;s like having the kitchen and the dining room under one roof; we are in studios almost every day. Williamsburg is also the fastest growing neighborhood in New York right now, and collectors enjoy that about coming out here.

On running gallery and magazine. JD and MN: In a sense, one can support the other, meaning that content in the magazine could sometimes lead to work being shown in the gallery and vice-versa. In many ways, the magazine has inspired the growth of the gallery because it is a unique aspect of what we do. Our approach was always very organic and sincere, and a lot of it was just evolution into what it has become now. At times, the borders between gallery and magazine were a lot less defined. We take both very seriously, and while we enjoy working on both, not everything that is fit for the magazine would be something that we would consider as something that would make sense with the programming of the gallery.

Aesthetic. JD and MN: It%26rsquo;s difficult to explain what we show, but we stay clear of the decorative and the overly esoteric. We look for work that speaks to us, that causes a reaction that makes us ask questions.

Go-to for new talent. JD and MN: Almost always through friends and by being curious. Once I was walking down the street, and a stranger, who recognized me, asked me to visit his studio, which happened to be right there %26hellip; [And it%26rsquo;s] an emotional response. We never decide based on what others are saying. Often you can make a good call not only by looking at the work but also by getting a sense how serious and committed the artist is. There are a lot of artists that can produce good-looking work, but you often have to break through the physical aspect of the work to see how it will hold up over time.

Olivier Babin

Founder, owner and director, C L E A R I N G, Brooklyn and Brussels

Established. The gallery opened 2011 in Brooklyn and then a year later the Brussels space opened. It is growing steadily and it is exciting. We exhibit solely emerging international artists and more than once artists have had their first solo shows with us.

Bushwick bound. I came to New York as an artist in 2008 and after working for a couple of years I decided to open the gallery. The way a gallery interacts with artists in the primary market was very attractive and motivating for me. CLEARING was started in a loft space in Bushwick, Brooklyn surrounded by factories and industrial spaces, artists and studios. We are still in the same space and it%26rsquo;s great. The neighborhood is turning into a very dynamic environment for art and artists. Today I am purely a gallerist. I was an artist when I was younger, but now I am drawn more strongly towards interacting with and supporting young artists and their work.

Biggest break.%26nbsp;I would not consider myself a dealer but a gallerist, the difference being I support the artists with studios and materials and assistants, whatever they need, instead of just selling their work. The gallery is still very young and my biggest break is still to come. The gallery%26rsquo;s aim has always been to discover and nurture new, young artists and because they are so young they are still to see their full success and ability. The gallery has shown many of these artists%26rsquo; first shows, so we have been growing with them. As they begin to mature and gain recognition, as with Korakrit Arunanondchai at PS1 and Harold Ancart at Art Unlimited for example, the gallery will advance simultaneously. The success of these excellent artists is what the gallery was created for.

On coming to Dallas. We haven%26rsquo;t been down to the South very much and it%26nbsp;sounds like good things are happening. It will be nice to get more involved with the Southern states and more of America in general.

Who you%26rsquo;re packing. Aaron Aujla and Ryan Foerster.

Texas connections. It is my first time to Texas. I know the West Coast a little bit but I haven%26rsquo;t been that south. Very excited to do so.

On the horizon.%26nbsp;Dallas and Fort Worth museums, amazing private collections and the sweet Texan sun and barbecue.

On balancing Brooklyn and Brussels. It was very serendipitous that the second gallery in Brussels opened. CLEARING is not aiming towards empire status, but having two galleries is actually good logistically, because it creates usable space for fairs and storage. It is a nice to be in Brussels, there are other great galleries there like Barbara Gladstone. Also, it%26rsquo;s not so much Brooklyn and Brussels, but instead, it is being present in the U.S. and the EU that is valuable. Having spaces in both is great for connecting with people; a lot of artists are often only represented in only one of the two continents also. The two locations allow us to help artists we work with broaden their audience. We let them decide in which space they would like to show, for the two spaces are very different and they can choose which environment would be most effective.

As for differences between the continents, of course they are dissimilar in numerous ways but they more relate to cultural history rather than art history. These artists are great so we don't have to worry too much. For them to be able to exhibit abroad, whether they are European or American, is healthy for the work.

Your stable. I like to work with balanced artists, that consider their aesthetic as much as what such visual elements mean today. Also a very important thing is experimentation, and this searching and conceptualizing, from them as well as us, can never end. Having been an artist is definitely valuable experience when putting on shows because it would be hard to understand the perspective and vision an artist has when going into a show otherwise. It is a partnership between the artist and the gallery of course and we discuss in length to find how to make the work as poignant as possible. New talent comes from anywhere and can often be where one least expects it. MFA shows however are usually quite reliable. Sebastian Black and Korakrit Arunanondchai were in the same class at Columbia.

Sonia Dutton

Founder, owner and director, DUTTON, New York (and Austin)

Established. I launched my gallery soon after moving from New York to Austin, in 2010. It was open for two years and since I%26rsquo;ve been participating in art fairs as DUTTON, such as Untitled. Miami; and%26nbsp;NADA NYC;%26nbsp;as well as putting on a number of temporary exhibitions in Austin and New York. I have my sights set on opening in the Lower East Side in New York.

Trajectory. [Originally titled] Champion Contemporary made a foray into a kind of painting-centric program which wasn%26rsquo;t seen much in Austin %26mdash; but also exhibited sculpture, site-specific installation and obsessive drawing. Solo shows, group shows and guest curators presented projects by local and New York artists, side-by-side. The debut show included locals%26nbsp;Adam Schreiber and Barry Stone; New Yorkers Richard Mosse and Xaviera Simmons; the Netherlands%26rsquo; Jan Wattjes; Kazakhstan artist%26nbsp;Alexander Ugay%26rsquo;s We Are From Texas; and a video installation by Londoner Ben Rivers. A backspace was also devoted to monthly curated video projects as well as a tighter selection of works by younger artists.

Personal path. I think you arrive at a point where it is an undeniable, permanent condition. It%26rsquo;s partly a kind of singular aesthetic conviction that you continually want to build, hone and get better at doing, but also to make harder for yourself. As difficult as the current climate has been for smaller dealers, you forge on, as there%26rsquo;s no way of doing anything else, ever. Previously, I did an MA in Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and%26nbsp;worked for dealers in late %26lsquo;90s, and held positions at art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Biggest break. Placing work in spectacular collections, getting critical reviews for work I believe in so much, being entrusted to do a project for a particular site-specific space or forward-thinking concept.

Perks of the job. Rigorous, winding, exhilarating conversations about work with artists, collectors, and fellow dealers that exemplify why we are all in this.

Challenge. Finding the capital to bring the next project in mind.

Aesthetic. I guess I've been told countless times I'm a dealer's dealer. And an artist's dealer. Work that resonates with me tends to do so on a multitude of layers. Aesthetically it has a kind of an unleashed sensibility, a tough materiality, perhaps revealing the hand %26mdash; whether it is intricate wood carving or the invigorating possibilities of paint %26mdash; as highly idiosyncratic, thoughtful, strange work that pushes some kind of intellectual lever or expresses an inner mythology.

On why you%26rsquo;re exhibiting. I've always been drawn to Dallas, visit often and love the exceptional private collections, dealers, world-class museums and stimulating artist-led movements going on. It makes sense that there's a precedent for serious collecting in Dallas. I've enjoyed previous renditions of the fair and the programming created around it. Chris Bryne has a top-rate sensibility -%26mdash; a very deep knowledge of art as well as the zeitgeist. It'll be wonderful to be part of it.

What you%26rsquo;ll pack for Dallas. The booth will feature a solo show of new works by Dallas painter Marjorie Schwarz. Marjorie's depictions of objects that are banal and ignored unravel themselves slowly, confuse and become somewhat ethereal. We were talking about her work recently when she said "Maybe when you slow down to the speed of a painting everything has meaning." I'll also show new works by Chicago painter Josh Dihle, New York painter Dan Rushton and Juan Fontanive, who sets his drawings to mechanical sculptures he makes from scratch %26mdash;mesmerizing %26ldquo;films without light.%26rdquo; [and] I'll likely take a couple drawings by [visionary artist] Richard Gordon Kendall.

Talent scouting. I constantly mine for work online, do studio visits, and go out and look at shows. An exhibition might happen in a slow, organic way where there's a lot of dialogue and visits over time and new work hits a stride %26mdash; even through crackly Skype visits. Or a curatorial idea you've been thinking over comes together really fast like kismet %26mdash; you've been finding the works all along that have inherent tension between them by artists that live far afield.

Best discovery. A story that is both astonishing and wonderful is that years ago I met an outsider art collector and now dealer Jay Wehnert. In the early 1990s, he had come across Richard Gordon Kendall, a homeless solitary man who was born in 1930 and lived and made drawings entirely on the streets of downtown Houston. Over a period of several years he befriended and talked to him about his work. For Richard, he depicted buildings from memory (usually later on in the day), as a way to "sharpen his mind." He saw his drawing as something to occupy himself during his retirement, and never ascribed any value to his work whatsoever. Jay was the only person Richard ever showed his drawings to, and after a couple of years he allowed Jay to have some drawings. Needless to say, when I came across the work I could not get it out of my head, and recently exhibited his works. Kendall's drawings are amongst the most visionary and transformative works I've ever encountered.

NYC to Austin commute. I divide each month between NY and Austin, and find they are wonderful and continually stimulating counterpoints for one another with such divergent markets.

On the horizon. Getting situated in NY with a modest, minimal physical space; studio visits, art fairs, traveling and seeing a great deal! I spend a lot of time finding work for collectors as well as people who want to begin building collections. I'm in Sydney right now doing copious studio visits, seeing shows and visiting with curators and dealers, and soon I'll go to Melbourne and L.A. to do the same. Back in NY, I'm looking forward to seeing the Whitney Biennial, ADAA, the Armory, what's on view at Mnuchin [Gallery], and later on in the spring Frieze, NADA, and especially the Outsider Art Fair. [And] I'm about to read Nassim Taleb's Antifragile.

Mat Gleason

Founder, owner and director, Coagula Curatorial, Los Angeles

Established. After 15 years of independent curating, I opened the gallery in 2012.

On the name Coagula for your magazine, then gallery. In 1992, it seemed that every art publication had ART as part of its name %26mdash; Artnews, Artforum, Flash Art, Art Week, New Art Examiner. I wanted something that was different because the publication was really going to be different. We intended to spill blood in the art world so that was the sentiment that inspired the name. The name followed me to the gallery. To call the gallery anything else would have confused the issue. If I ever produce a movie it will inevitably start with %26ldquo;Coagula Films presents %26hellip;%26rdquo;

Trajectory. There is no shame in admitting I am a failed artist. If you watch the film Amadeus, I believe that every curator and art dealer has a little Salieri in them.

On the balancing act between editor/critic and gallerist/curator. I don%26rsquo;t cover artists in which I am invested. In this day and age everyone wears a few hats if they are involved in the business side of art so it seems more controversial to people outside of the art world than to anyone inside it. The notion of purity isn%26rsquo;t as connected to the reality of integrity as it once was.

The pull of Chung King Road. Biggest break? Finding a new space when our original space on Chung King Road sold. Zack De La Rocha from Rage Against the Machine bought it; he is building a recording studio there now, but I didn%26rsquo;t want to move from Chinatown, the energy there is so great and it is well-known, so there was a market across the street and I approached the owner about moving the gallery there. He gave me the lease under one condition %26mdash; that I manage his wine store. So we have a wine shop in the back room of the gallery. Collectors love it; talk about the most natural pairing. And taking an artist to the next level %26mdash; we were able to put an artist, Tim Youd together with the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego for a solo show this summer. As happy as Tim and I were, the other artists in the gallery were thrilled, it%26rsquo;s like they all know now that they are playing on a winning team.

On exhibiting in the 2014 Dallas Art Fair. I was making plans to come to the fair and do a little glad-handing when I got the invitation. It was like being two years ahead of schedule. I had to jump at the opportunity. If you win the golden ticket, you don%26rsquo;t give Willy Wonka a
rain check.

Booth surprises. Carol Sears and Leigh Salgado are coming. I%26rsquo;ve already locked up the work in a storage space, not showing it to anybody. We have Ian Pines and Alyson Souza, two great painters. I haven%26rsquo;t selected the specific works yet; if the booth at the fair smells like wet oil paint you will know my studio visits went into overtime.

Your stable. Fearlessness with a healthy absence of calculation.

On the L.A. art scene. The biggest difference in the perception of L.A. is that it is mandatory to cover what is going on there because stuff happens there, it is electric, and we all miss most of it. The best thing about L.A., and the thing that observers from other places fail to get, is that it has no center and a fluid hierarchy. In New York, they read Roberta Smith in the Times but in L.A., this is a stereotype but it is true, a lot of them just don%26rsquo;t read ... So the perception of L.A. is filtered through and explained by an East Coast establishment and a European establishment that have deep hierarchies and pecking orders. But L.A., well basically nobody cares that you went to Harvard or Yale so the perception that it is LA-LA land is always palpable, but they cannot ignore us.

Chinatown%26rsquo;s Chung King Road had a storied past in the late 1990s with some groundbreaking galleries. Some of them closed, some of the gallerists died from drug overdoses, a few people got rich and the galleries that survived outgrew the road and moved to the West side %26mdash; chasing the money of course and they cannot be blamed. This recent renaissance for the road has more to do with the money that has moved to Downtown Los Angeles, this has gone from skid row to an annual household income in the low six figures so the galleries are more secure now than they were back in the day. So the vibe there now is incredibly optimistic %26mdash; and there is still a lot of dilapidation to keep it authentic and scare away the people who want to show up when the party is hot without paying their dues. The hottest topic of the day is the flippers, people who will only buy art by young artists in the hopes of their market heating up a year form now so they can flip what they bought for a few grand for five and six figures. People are fed up with cabals of collectors and curators anointing tomorrow%26rsquo;s market today. One good bubble popping might bankrupt them all; it would be nice to see a few of the more obvious ones brought to their knees.

Talent scouting. I%26rsquo;ve been in the art world so long that I know what a lot of people are up to and have a great network of people to whom I listen. The recommendation of another artist is still the gold standard. Leveraging relationships without confounding friendships comes easy to me; it doesn%26rsquo;t get as tangled. I went to undergraduate with Kim Dingle in 1988; she followed the gallery%26rsquo;s development and when she saw it reach a certain point of success we just hooked up. It was very natural. I%26rsquo;ve known Karen Finley for a long time. We put together a show in 2012 in one phone call after not having seen each other since 1998.

Worth the drive. A friend recommended Carol Sears and I didn%26rsquo;t want to drive all the way out to the West side for an unknown artist and he said to meet him half way and he would drive me there and that said it all. There was nothing in it for him so I knew he knew I would love the work because parking and driving in traffic are all touchy subjects in L.A. Maybe it is a local thing but when people ask how I found her and I tell them that, if they live in L.A. they know that nobody would drive someone over to a studio visit if it wasn%26rsquo;t great art. I%26rsquo;m not locked into a rigid %26ldquo;West Coast only%26rdquo; mindset but the folks that I trust are all out here; the people I listen to are all out here. It%26rsquo;s home base.

The magic of Marlowe, Metson and more. Never a dull moment. The solo show of sculptor MatJames Metson at our gallery is coinciding with him appearing at the Fowler Museum. Leigh Salgado was in a great show at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design and she will be having an installation at the International Terminal at LAX airport; they have a great art program. Tim Youd%26rsquo;s show at the MCA San Diego involves retyping the work of Raymond Chandler to create artworks so leading up to the May museum show he will be in different parts of L.A.. retyping the Phillip Marlowe novels %26mdash; I just had to find him a mansion in Pasadena that would host him for nine days of typing after he finished Farewell My Lovely on the Santa Monica Pier. One thing I am noticing, having published the most defiant art zine for over twenty years, is the interest by younger people in zines, in print media, in books; maybe that is where the future is or maybe it is just a fad but in the past year I have had more kids in their 20s track me down to talk about Coagula and my starting the magazine than in all the previous 21 years combined. Perhaps the fact that anyone can have a Facebook page has elevated getting one%26rsquo;s name in print.

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