Get 'em Cheap at Fountain Art Fair

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Greg Haberny, The Wanker's Ball at Fountain Art Fair

Yesterday afternoon Wynwood streets were surprisingly light in traffic with the exception of a few taxis, rickshaws and Miami Police squad cars along North Miami Avenue. It was nothing like last year when cabs and limos snaked bumper-to-bumper in the gritty nabe.

On the corner of 26th Street at the freshly hatched Galerie Sellier (2600 North Miami Avenue) the space was empty inside. It used to house a Puerto Rican bodega with poorly lined shelves where one encountered men in folding lawn chairs nursing beers and chomping on chicharrones all day.

Now they were replaced by the artwork of Maximo Caminero, Liana Garcia, Patricia Chaparro and Juan Tejedor, but one swears the gallery still smelled faintly of greasy pork rinds.

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Outside on a light post a pair of ruby red slippers dangled from wires instead of the worn Chuck Taylor sneaks one used to see in the hood. Art Basel's in town and Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore.

Across the street at anti-corporate Fountain Miami Fair (2505 North Miami, Avenue) a handful of indie galleries filled a sprawling warehouse and artists were busy putting the finishing touches on their installations.

Named for Duchamp's urinal, Fountain offers a stark counterpoint to the sleek, white box aesthetic of many of the other Wynwood fairs.

Much of the artwork on view is also consumer friendly with plenty to be had in the $250 range.

New York's GlowLab was offering David Kesting's postcard-sized ink drawings for $250 a pop. Some of them depicted business dudes in shirt and tie with the words "well versed in ass speak" scrawled underneath. Another featured a boy floating toy sailboats under with "50 cent douche bag" written nearby.

New York's Leo Kesting Gallery also had affordable work ($250) by James Turek who had nearly 80 drawings of a monkey man dancing in a top hat over what appeared to be a Mercurochrome wash.

Most of the artists appeared eager to approach the few visitors in the space and talk about their work.

Brian Leo said his installation of canvases engulfing an entire wall and choking with a barrage of pop cultural references was "working within the paradigm of contradiction" and inspired by "9/11, cloning, Bird Flu, Hurricane Katrina and distractions of masturbation."

Leo's 350 canvases on display were drenched in toxic neon colors and ranged from $150 to $5,000 in price.

Another artist who caught the eye was Johnny Fenix who creates silk screens of Pepto Bismal pink brains superimposed by penises or beer cans. One of his paintings depicted Jesus on a bucking bronco, another had the Nazarene making faces and flipping off spectators with both hands.

In another room Brooklyn artist Greg Haberny mistook Riptide for a fire inspector as he was stringing lights on a sculpture that was "part birthday cake part capitalist Christmas tree."

The concoction bristled with dozens of kitchen knives Haberny had plunged into the piece. It was part of an installation he calls Wanker's Ball replete with padded walls and floors covered in pink polka dots and dozens of mixed media works across the manic sprawl.

"It's like a sociopath's dream," cracked the artist pointing to an anti-depressant inspired work riffing on Lexapro. "I'm going to behead those stuffed toys on the floor later on," Haberny said before pointing to his Exxon Mobile piece crafted from paper funnels used to pour oil into cars.

Haberny was also displaying a recipe for "West Nile Potato Salad" on the walls and rattraps baited with dollar bills.

Performance artist Rachel Hoffman was playing the role of Sleeping Beauty as part of Haberny's opus and lay on her back on a box with the blood rushing to her head and her long braid cascading to the floor. "She is going to do a strip tease later on," Haberny explained.

The artist says he took a job delivering pizzas for six months to come to Miami during Basel. "I'm planning to sell works from $150 to $300 to pay for this."

As we left the building Haberny handed us an official looking flyer offering a reward for a Damien Hirst painting stolen in London last month and expected to turn up for sale in Miami during the Art Basel Fair listing a number for the United States Division of Art Theft.

"This is an art stunt but its bogus," he said. "Don't get sucked in." Fountain is having its big artist bash Friday night from 7:00 to 11:00 PM. They have 70 cases of Dos Equis beer on tap for the public and it promises to be a gas.

-- Carlos Saurez De Jesus

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