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The Eye Must Eat Too: Wall to Wall Art in NYC

January 18, 2014

michael noland night harvest

Michael Noland’s Night Harvest, the theme is Compelled by the Forces of Nature, on vivid display in the booth of Michael Klein Arts.

Just before Xmas I sat down to interview Karen Gadbois about her smart/naive pillows and found I was also interviewing the founder of the investigative journal The Lens. It happened again this week when I interviewed Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, Director of The Metro Show
January 23-26 in NYC) and learned over coffee that she was also the founder of the Outsider Art Fair.Caroline Kerrigan portrait_

For 10 years I’d yearned to go to NYC to see this show of artists who were untrained and untamed, unfamiliar with current art trends, but who just HAD to make art, art that was bursting with color and liveliness. These are artists who are not looking for a gallery, fame, or fortune. Often they’ve worked at tough physical jobs their whole lives and start making art when they retire. They use whatever materials are at hand; a ballpoint pen, a pad of old ledger paper, a child’s watercolor set, a charred piece of wood for charcoal, old chair legs for sculpting totems. So I felt like I was having coffee with a major force in the art world. The star power that resides (and sometimes hides) in this town is amazing.

Caroline grew up here but just returned in 2011 when she was hired by the Art Fair Company to launch and develop the Metro Show. After getting her Masters from Ole Miss she spent years producing art fairs, including the Outsider Fair developed with a colleague, for a company in NYC. She also lived in Berlin for 5 years with her German husband and two kids. She definitely doesn’t look old enough to have done so much!

This week in New York City is known as Americana Week and it’s filled with a lot more than the Stars and Stripes. There’s The Metro Show, The Armory Antiques Show, The New York Ceramics Fair, The Winter Antiques Show, galleries and museums around town focused on American and Decorative Arts, and insanely great auctions at Christies and Sotheby’s. The only Americana I can afford is a Snickers Bar but that doesn’t matter; I’m a glutton for eye candy.

First The Metro Show. What’s new this year is the mix, very eclectic. There will be Outsider Art, but there will also be Contemporary Art, Ancient to Contemporary Textiles, and yes, some Stars and Stripes.

What I think will make each booth so interesting this year is “Metro Curates”. Instead of each exhibitor making a fine arrangement of their pieces, Metro Curates has asked them to create their booths by choosing a theme; the theme could be all one artist or several artists who hang together thematically. They’ll get to discuss the thinking behind their selection via BOOTH TALKS that will take place throughout the days of the show. Styles range from Contemporary Art to American Indian Textiles and illustrations. Just Folk, a California gallery, debuts 28 works by Bill Traylor (1854-1947) that have been out of public view for over 15 years.

Traynor catNew York-based Ricco/Maresca will feature works by contemporary self-taught artist George Widener and iconic outsider and self-taught artist Martín Ramírez seen below.

ramirezAnd then The Metro Show offers even more. On Friday and Saturday the lecture series entitled “COLLECTICISM” begins with extraordinary speakers from the Smithsonian, the Venice Biennale, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s all about collecting art in a new more open way. It used to be that if you were a collector you’d stay within your narrow interest..there’s a new freedom in the air that crosses borders. Collect what you love and mix all categories if they work together.

“What’s American About American Decorating”? is one of several DESIGNER EVENTS, this one a conversation between celebrated interior designer Clodagh and marketing guru Ilene Shaw.

I don’t know how I’m ever going to leave the Metropolitan Pavillion (125 West 18th Street) to see all the other events in town but this is where I begin. I found a cheap flight and very reasonable hotel (for NYC) on

Solange KnopfSolange Knopf from Calvin Morris Gallery

Navajo weavingNavajo Serape, circa 1870 from David Cook Galleries

YoshinagaYutaka Yoshinaga from Perimeter Gallery

One Comment
  1. gene goldring permalink

    wow, you capture what blooms in the minds of these unseen, unheard people who must make art ! can’t wait to meet for coffee when you return………..andy will be back in china then so i’ll have time too. so thrilled you will be there to be awed by the creative process, when it is neither taught nor censored ,

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