Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Exploring the Governor Island Art Fair

2013 . 09 . 27 - Comments / Commentaires (0)

I just got back from a two week trip on the east coast where I was speaking about art and science, meeting with clients, and interviewing subjects for my upcoming series of portraits. On the suggestion of my brother who put me up while I was in New York, I went to the Governor Island Art Fair on the Saturday that I was in the Big Apple. (It’s open this weekend too, and I would recommend going if you’re in the neighborhood.)


To get to the art fair, I took the free ferry to the island. It was a brief ride—less then ten minutes of actual water-crossing—but it provided a sweet view of Manhattan.

Governor Island Art Fair

Once on the island, I was struck by the funny juxtaposition of rundown buildings, lounging behavior, and carnival-style entertainment. This piece, whose name and maker I did not catch, was in the middle of the main grassy area. It was a structure built of big plastic jugs…

Governor Island Art Fair

...and, on the inside, water bottles filled with colored liquid. It was pretty enough, I guess, but I was mostly fascinated by how the crowd interacted with it.

Governor Island Art Fair

Parents were explaining to their children about what an environmental nightmare all this plastic was, and everyone was marveling at the construction. To me, it was a fun piece but nothing terribly inspiring.

Governor Island Art Fair Matthew Callinan

Of course, another person might say the same thing about the work pictured above, Matthew Callinan’s room full of blue balloons.

Governor Island Art Fair Matthew Callinan

But I was completely enchanted, as was my friend Clarissa.

Governor Island Art Fair Matthew Callinan

I loved the sound the balloons made as we moved through them. They seemed to replicate exactly the music of water flowing, but I wonder how much of that was projection based on the fact that we were essentially swimming through a blue rubber bubble world.

Governor Island Art Fair Raquel Paiewonsky

Another highlight for me was Raquel Paiewonsky’s work, especially this wall of plush boobs.

Governor Island Art Fair Raquel Paiewonsky

Such a simple idea, but so fun and delicious.

Governor Island Art Fair Sean Paul Gallegos

And my favorite pieces were the work of Sean Paul Gallegos, Native American masks and other sacred objects made from mass consumed goods.

Sean Paul Gallegos and Brian Jungen

Sean Paul Gallegos’ Reserved Ancestry and Brian Jungen’s Pro­to­type for New Under­stand­ing #5

I’d seen similar work by Brian Jungen years ago in Seattle, and I was struck by how the same concept—Native American themes and forms made out of brand name athletic shoes and other modern day status symbols—could result in such a different feel. Jungen’s work is nice and, when I saw it, I really liked it. That said, after seeing Gallegos’ sculptures, Jungen’s expression seems like the corporate art version of the concept while Gallegos’ pieces were much more human, organic, and meditative.

As usual in situations where multiple artists are making with the same basic ingredients, I found myself appreciating all the work on a deeper level and enjoying learning more about how creativity works.

- The dancing argument / La dispute qui danse
- New York and new context
- How to react to work that’s similar to yours

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