November 13, 2021 by Tris McCall
No booth at the Art Fair 14C stands alone. That’s not how the organizers designed the event, and they were wise to amplify the continuity between the styles of the artists they’re exhibiting. The open layout of the forty-thousand square foot Glass Gallery at MANA (10 Senate Place) prompts browsing, and the excellent sightlines at the Fair encourage connections. Cheryl Agulnick Hochberg’s stark, dignified illustrations of Meadowlands animals (booth #D4) are just a few quick paces from Sarah Becktel’s plaintive menagerie of bears, ermines, and pizza-munching squirrels (booth #D21), painted in oil and practically begging humanity for mercy. Loura Van Der Meule’s stunning, large-scale renderings of imperiled urban architecture (#D9) whisper across a divide at Tim Daly’s meticulously captured landscapes in the era of widespread habitat destruction (#D12). It requires no imaginative exertion to put these works in dialogue. They’re already in the midst of one.
Nevertheless, if you’re going to the Fair this weekend — and you really should be — there are a few booths that I wouldn’t want you to miss. These aren’t necessarily the best works on display, but they’re ones that speak in unusual voices, and which might signal forward directions for local visual art. For an event of this size, quality control is extremely high, which is a testament to the thoroughness and curatorial vision of organizers Robinson Holloway, Kristin DeAngelis, Gretchen Von Koenig, and producers Art House Productions, and the depth of talent in the Garden State. There’s really no way to go wrong. But here are eleven ways you could sure go right:
6. Andrea McKenna (#D16)
If you told me you’ve never spent any time in 2020 and 2021 pondering mortality, I wouldn’t believe you. Trouble has never felt closer than it does right now. It’s the vexed task of the artist to reflect back some of that fear, and nobody dances on the brink of that precipice with the style and poise of Andrea McKenna. It’s not inaccurate to call her works ghost stories: her distressed and oxidized-looking portraits of beautiful, closed-eyed people suggest a transient state between life and death. What kind of existence do you reckon McKenna’s specters have? I’m afraid that’s between you and your demons.