(e)merge: ArtSee's Picks

Unfortunately, the (e)merge Art Fair is over. But that doesn't mean the conversation (and mild obsession...) has to stop just yet! Below are a few of our favorite artists, now colloquially known as ArtSee Picks. 

Elizabeth Grazioli, ArtSee Founder and Creative Operations Director

David Brown, Goya Contemporary, 2nd Floor:  

The large red forms and fish-like shapes of Baltimore-based David Brown’s artworks were of instant intrigue.  Brown had two bodies of work being shown. The first, a smaller series of black-and-silver ink on paper numbers are made using a directional shift in what Brown calls his "eye motif." His interest in the numbers involves their form and how his "eyes" can make this form appear by simply changing the way he draws them. In contrast, the "Red Eye" series (pictured) consists of skeletal forms that do not entirely fill the page. I was captivated by the empty space Brown leaves around the shapes, opening room to imagine what could be there, while at the same time appreciating the strange form that exists. Brown uses x-rays of vertebrae to find his image but enjoys the imperfection in creating that image out of his tiny "eyes." The red is a deliberate nod to the human body and the blood that connects it, similar to the way the spine functions as a connector. What really struck me about Brown's work was what was not shown at (e)merge. Brown has a series of these "eye motifs" on panel that take different forms. One such piece hangs on the corner of two walls in the home of Amy Eva Raehse, Goya Contemporary curator and executive director. I hope to see more of Brown’s work soon and maybe one day, find a place in my home for one too! 

Si Jae Byun, Washington Project for the Arts, 2nd Floor:

It didn't take long being in the WPA room to realize the talent in Si Jae Byun.  Immediately making the connection to her powerful work from her past show at Arlington Arts Center (AAC), I has instantly connected. What proved to be even more impressive was her process for her silk works WPA presented this year. As explained by Samantha May of WPA, each piece is layered with 4-5 layers of silk with paint and ink applied over it to reveal forms of how architecture and nature intersect.  What stood out most to me are the way Byun's colors pop. They create a wonderful composition of her imagination. 
Si Jae Byun also won the Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize.  

Shira Karsen, ArtSee Creative Assistant

Jeremy Dean, Aureus Contemporary, 2nd Floor:

Native New Yorker Jeremy Dean explores the American dream in sculptural and definitive ways; a presidential face pasted on American printed dollars, the dichotomy between rich and poor, superwoman versus the business man. But the pieces that struck me the most at (e)merge are some of his most current works. "Owe and Own" and "Buy and Sell" are two Chinese-centered pieces a museum in Shanghai commissioned Dean to create. These pieces are deconstructed tourist flags, broken down thread for thread and divided between the horizontal and vertical strands. Dean then reconstructs the flags from that one singular flag, making one out the horizontal and one from the vertical, implanting them onto a board with a needle for each thread. Behind the Chinese flags are the English words, "owe" and "own", a commentary about how the Chinese are owned by the Americans and want to own American goods. Likewise, behind the American flags are the Chinese characters "buy" and "sell". These pieces are so deeply detailed, aesthetically striking and of course, highly political, it would be difficult for me not to admire them.

 Lennox Campello, Alida Anderson Art Projects, 2nd Floor:

A member of the DC-based Alida Anderson Art Projects, Lenny Campello is a seriously energetic and frenetic artist. The works that caught my eye were hanging on the wall, plugged into an outlet. These pieces are original charcoal and graphite drawings that display Campello’s impeccable figure drawing skill with an added 2.0 techy twist: each one has a cut out with a digitally produced image peeking through. They are quirky, fun and totally modern. One of my personal favorites is "Frida Kahol: An Homage to Bloch." Campello is of interest to ArtSee for not only his technical skill, but also his unbelievably smart, savvy and cheap marketing. For a mere $75, a buyer can own an original 8 x 10 inch charcoal drawing, and for $125, the admirer can have it framed and matted by the talented hands of Campello. How do I know this? I bought one myself.

Roxanne Goldberg, ArtSee Creative Writer

Larry Cook, Shanti Grumbine, and Alan Turner, Present Company, 2nd Floor:

Brooklyn-based exhibition, performance and social space Present Company exhibited three uniquely dynamic artists who explore taboo pieces of American culture and who together, revealed a darker side of American society. Curators Brian Balderston, Chad Stayrook, and José Ruiz used cardboard to line the walls of the hotel room and installed additional lighting to create a sleek, clean, curated exhibition space. The extra effort successfully converted the hotel room into an art gallery that highlighted the excellent quality of Larry Cook’s photographs, Alan Turner’s graphite and colored pencil drawings, and Shanti Grumbine’s screen prints. Cook’s striking portraits examining issues of race and racism challenged the viewer with a sense of sincerity and confrontation, while Turner’s “box house” works inserted the viewer within vacated buildings around New York City, begging her to consider economic disparities. Grumbine’s broken horizontal lines reminiscent of a broken television screen were set against a glittered background and hung between the social and economic concerns of Cook and Turner, effectively questioning American media culture and its relation to the issues presented by the other two artists.

 Carol Jackson, Benjamin Bellas, slow, 2nd Floor:

Chicago-based alternative contemporary art venue, slow, presented dark, contemplative, and undeniably humorous conceptual art works that innovatively utilized the fully-furnished hotel room. Walking into the booth, the viewer was greeted by the beautiful script of Carol Jackson. The last words of condemned criminals, so elegantly composed in old-world calligraphy, caused the viewer to alternate between emotions of disgust and contempt, sympathetic compassion, and disturbed hilarity. Humor continued throughout the space, ending under the bed. Crouching near the floor with a flashlight in hand, artist Benjamin Bellas encouraged viewers to crane their necks and lie on the floor in an attempt to see and identify sugar ball constellations. The installation was fun and brilliant for the way in which it engaged the viewer, encouraging a curious audience, and also played with the childhood fear of finding monsters under the bed. Leaving slow’s booth, one could not help but to be affected with a peculiar smile and inquisitive thought. 

Naomi Minkoff, ArtSee Intern

Ali Miller, CONNERSMITH CONTEMPORARY, 2nd Floor:

Ali Miller exhibited many works from her collection bad habits. However, a few small, vibrant pieces stood out to me. These incorporated crystals stuck into the paint. They added a three dimensionally of light and pulled in the viewer's imagination. In her works, Miller takes an ordinary scene from everyday life and departs from it into a fanciful, imagined view of reality. She explores the psyche and the crazy, unexpected directions in which our minds take us. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

The ArtSee Team