Miami: The New Art Dealers Alliance fair is nothing if not innovative, and in that spirit the three judges of NADA`s best booth prize — LAND founder and curator Shamim Momin, W magazine feature editor Armand Limnander, and ARTINFO executive editor Andrew M. Goldstein — opted to split the honor between two stands, one for curated presentation and one for art-content "punch."
The former citation went to New York`s Kate Werble Gallery, the latter to François Ghebaly Gallery of Los Angeles for its single-artist booth devoted to Joel Kyack. Two bottles of champagne were procured to celebrate the awarding of the $7,000 prize (this year divided into two $3,500 chunks) sponsored by 7 for All Mankind jeans.
Werble`s display stood out for the caliber of its assortment of artwork playing on the tradition of Mimimalist art. Featuring a black wooden sculpture by Ryan Reggiani on its floor that resembles Frank Stella`s early paintings — it`s called "Untitled (Art for the Floor)" — the stand also holds a hanging chain piece by Sarah Wood that recalls Fred Sandbeck`s string works, a playful array of colorful resin-and-styrofoam stools by Christopher Chiapa positioned on shelves (titled "Stool Sample"), bright lenticular pieces by Gareth Long that riff on the design of J.D. Salinger`s iconic paperback covers, and a photograph by John Lehr.
In the solo-presentation section of the fair, François Ghebaly occupies a prime slot that, while nestled in the back, affords beautiful views of the blue waves crashing on the beach outside. The selection of Kyack`s work exudes electricity and inventive dazzle. In the center of the booth are three tongue-in-cheek fountains: a plastic eight-foot-long salami-and -cheese hoagie flowing with water dyed white to resemble mayonnaise, a rough-hewn figure spouting yellow water from a tube emerging from its crotch, and a filing cabinet with two breast-like pink balloons and a stream of red water streaming from a sports cooler. The liquids, Ghebaly explained, cover the spectrum of colors that ooze from the human body.
Other works in the selection include a photograph of the artist posing, moth agape, in front of a poster of a great white shark ("Self Portrait With Great White"), a photographic collage, paintings of empty frames, and pictures of a puppet show Kyack performed out of the back of his truck on L.A.`s highways that had characters discuss spiritual ennui and feelings of confinement.
It`s somewhat fitting that the best booth prize went to both Werble and Ghebaly — coincidentally the two galleries have done programming together after meeting at last year`s NADA fair, where their stands were positioned across from one another.