Saturday J. and I went to the 57th Street Art Fair, arriving around 50 minutes before closing. I have a one-sided love-dislike relationship with art fairs:
On the love side:
- They’re outdoor community events, an ancient human tradition I adore. I love the idea of a crowd coming together under the open sky for an event that’s important to individual participants and to the community. In this case, the community is not only geographic, but artistic: creators, patrons, buyers, browsers (like me).
- At a good art fair, there are amazing varieties of materials, styles, techniques, themes, uses, and so forth. Someone selling conventional wall paintings may be parked next to an artist who crafts jaw-droppingly lovely inlaid wood bowls, and both may be near another artist whose etchings are whimsical and witty. We saw everything from knitted and crocheted pins to erotic statues of fat women (a personal favorite for some reason).
- Sometimes I find something I love that I can both afford and use, for example, niobium earrings from Sozra at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. It was there I also found a three-dimensional clock for J., which I think featured a cat in a tiled kitchen and an evocative seascape seen in the background through a window.
In the dislike column:
- Much of the art doesn’t appeal to me. A couple of nicks in a keystone of polished wood. Colorful, childlike scrawls. Abstract anything. Garish colors. Urbanscapes. In some cases, it doesn’t appeal to my eye or my taste; in others, it seems bland or unoriginal or uninspired; in others, it seems like a cynical cheat. Corollary: I have no cohesive taste or style, so I would not be able to choose art, decorative or fine, to create a beautifully designed interior space. I would end up with a hodgepodge of styles and colors, leaning toward the cool end of the spectrum.
- I have no room. Being a pack rat junk collector, leaves little room for displaying art properly. Having a cat who likes to chew, bat, and knock things over is another factor.
- I have no money. Let‘s say that I had control over my collection of miscellaneous 1970s kitsch, souvenirs, and other junk. Still, I can‘t afford much that I like, for example, whimsical etchings (three figures) and erotic sculptures (five figures) — and wouldn‘t they complement one another?
The weather forecast called for rain, but at least on Saturday the clouds held off. There weren‘t the crowds I remember from a hot, sunny day a few years ago. It may have been the threat of rain and the relative coolness of the air, the proximity to closing time, or the state of the economy, but there was a lack of people and energy, I felt.
J. and I have very different browsing styles, which can be challenging. And I didn‘t see anything that stopped me in my proverbial tracks. I should have gone with less of a hope of finding something because I was disappointed in my mission.
One thing made me smile, though, despite it being fundamentally a little sad. One artist was accompanied by a beautiful little dog with little or no use of its hind legs. When the man went for a walk, he strapped the dog‘s back legs onto a little car with wheels. While those legs dangled uselessly from their straps in the air, his good front legs pulled him and his wheels along. The dog, who otherwise spent his time lying on a blanket behind the display, seemed content enough with this arrangement, strange as it may at first look.
We went to 57th Street Books with its 20 percent sale for members, and such were my mood, purse, and space issues that I didn‘t buy anything. This has to be a first.
Not surprisingly, Medici on 57th was crowded, with a 15-minute wait, but the spinach and goat cheese pan pizza was worth it. It gave us the strength to start going through some of J.‘s papers. Even though they aren‘t mine, filling a bag with the nonessential ones and dropping it down the chute was satisfying and cathartic.