JUSTMAD, an annual art fair based in Madrid, Spain, has been showcasing the works and activities of emerging artists and galleries for several years now. The fair has always been international—and rather justifiably Euro-centric, at that—but for this year’s sixth iteration of the event, which ran from February 24th to March 1st, JUSTMAD director Gregorio Camara worked with Nurture Art’s Marco Antonini to assemble a section of the fair devoted entirely to spaces based in our fine borough. The section was dubbed JUST BROOKLYN, and its featured galleries were Fresh Window, Nurture Art, TSA New York, OUTLET Fine Art and Schema Projects, all based in Bushwick, along with Owen James Gallery, a relatively new space based in Greenpoint.
So then, how does an art fair in Spain end up with a Brooklyn-specific section of its program? What kind of art do the Brooklyn galleries bring along? How do the Brooklyn galleries fare at the fair? Does being based in our thoroughly buzzed-about borough fare them well? We reached out to some of the exhibitors at JUSTMAD 6 to get answers to just such questions.
Enrico Gomez: Schema Projects
I was approached by Mary Judge, the director of Schema Projects, about the possibility of sharing a booth and splitting costs in this art fair under the auspices of her gallery. I was just about to launch The Dorado Project, a new project space of my own, so I gladly accepted the opportunity! Mary selected four artists from her program—Robert Otto Epstein, Scott Espeseth, David Ambrose, and Nina Bovasso—and I selected four others from my curatorial endeavors—Lee Lee Chan, Paul Loughney, Aaron Williams, and Frank Zadlo. Common elements among all the works are pattern, dazzling colors and rich, warm grays, and we selected a variety of sizes and mediums including collage, painting, and drawing. There was a lot of interest in the Brooklyn section, and it’s really rewarding to not only sell work, but also to engage a diverse audience on these artists we believe in, and to extend the conversation about their work to a new public.
Owen Houhoulis: Owen James Gallery
I was introduced to Gregorio by Marco, whom I have known for a while. The fair wanted to be an a showcase for what is new and interesting as opposed to tried and true. As a new gallery, I thought that this was a good opportunity to meet clients outside of the normal New York collector/gallery base. I chose to present in my booth an array of emerging artists from the Philippines. My gallery has an international focus, and a large part of the program is dedicated to artists from Southeast Asia. I wanted to promote this aspect of my program to stand out a little from the other Brooklyn spaces, while still exhibiting the energy of young artists that Brooklyn galleries are known for. Since many of these Filipino artists deal with the influences of both the US and Spanish cultures on the Philippines, this seemed like a unique opportunity to present and address those issues in their work. The response in Madrid was mixed. Younger visitors were quite interested in the work, but they don’t seem to buy much art. The older collectors didn’t seem to be interested in artists that are foreign to them. In this way, the edginess of the Brooklyn scene appeared to be lost on the older clients. That said, one of my artists in particular, Dina Gadia, was extremely well received. Most of her works sold very quickly.
Alma Egger: Fresh Window Gallery
Gregorio approached me with this idea about JUST BROOKLYN, and I was definitely interested. When I heard that Marco would be helping him coordinate the galleries, I thought it was great. My husband is from Puerto Rico, and my sister lives in Barcelona, so I speak Spanish. And Spain is close to my heart, so I was excited that my first art fair with Fresh Window would be in Spain. As my father’s work is stored in Barcelona, I decided to bring his work to minimize transportation costs. I also brought work by Alexa Hoyer, Jen Gustavson, Andrea Suter and Victor M. Sosa. We had very positive reactions to our booth. I actually closed it off to be able to turn off the lights for the glow-in-the-dark works by my father, Marc Egger. People were really fascinated and happy to get some New York art in Madrid. They see Brooklyn as something cooler than New York, which was perfect for an emerging art fair.
Yin Ho: TSA New York
We showed artists that have shown at TSA in the past, along with a few of our Flat Files (our annual open call) winners. This was our first fair, and we were compelled to participate chiefly because Marco had organized this specific JUST BROOKLYN section—and because so many of the invited galleries were, like us, artist-run spaces. It seemed like a great way to present TSA-affiliated work to a larger audience and show it in a different context. As a cool surprise, TSA ended up with a “ganador” sign on our booth! Anna Kunz’s paper work took home the fair’s ICON Grand Prize. It’s so great that her beautiful, vibrant work received such attention and accolades!
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