By Sandra Schulman
Gliding into its second year, Art Boca Raton has found a groove, mixing the high-end blue chip art of Picasso and Chagall with the best of the regional art and artists like Cheryl Maeder and Rolando Chang Barrero.
The 35,000-square-foot exhibition venue on the grounds of the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University is well laid-out and well-curated. The entrance had a red carpet and multiple sculptures while the inside includes a café, sculpture garden and lecture hall. And unlike the mammoth fairs in overcrowded Miami, there was plenty of self-parking and valet parking available.
Opening vernissage night found the fair bustling but not overly crowded, with champagne in tall flutes awaiting as soon as visitors entered the door. The VIP lounge had live music playing and a swarm of well-heeled art lovers lining up at the carving station for sliced tenderloin and shrimp in between cruising the booths. Large sculptures of acrobats hung over the lounge, giving it an upscale circus feel.
At a booth near the lounge was Robert Bery, a Hungarian-born mixed media artist who made his mark in the New York art world in the 1970s. Bery goes back and forth from New York to South Florida, exhibiting at various galleries and fairs. He had two large photo collage works on display through the Sandra Neustadter Gallery and was happily chatting with fairgoers and old friends.
Across the aisle Art Synergy was a hot spot, as the South Florida collective was exhibiting work by Chang Barrero, Ilene Gruber Adams, Laura Ann Jacobs and more artists from Palm Beach and Broward County. Barrero’s work was a simple but powerful statement on public humiliation as relayed by old fashioned wordplay made visceral of tar and feathering.
Adams was exhibiting one of her delicate bird images adorned with stitching. Part of a series, critic Bruce Helander says of her work “Adams likes to integrate a bit of art history in her work where it’s useful. She often pays homage to impressionists like Monet connected at the hip with contemporary sensibilities and a flare for vibrant, almost unnatural color.”
Laura Ann Jacobs was showing a sculptural mosaic corset with delicate inlaid tiles and even dice, a comment on the chance nature of femininity. This was one piece out of a series of over 100 which also include corsets and shoes she has made that poke fun at modern women for the extreme lengths that they endure to attract men.
At the far end of the fair, Galerie Vivendi was exhibiting Cheryl Maeder’s “Submerge: Judith II”, part of a watery series she has been working on for the past year. She photographs swimmers and babies in clear blue pool water then blows up the images to create an abstract world. The ebullient Maeder was holding court in the booth with her husband Gary Antonio who also had a painting in the booth. Her work is featured in the full color catalog for the fair, and Maeder is a featured artist at Art After Dark on Friday at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
The opening night preview was a kickoff to the five-day fair, which includes daily lectures on collecting, film screenings, and artist presentations. Faculty artists from the Boca Raton Museum of Art School will demonstrate techniques as part of the Artist at Work series.
Throughout the weekend there will be live demonstrations of art techniques including gold leafing, painting on porcelain, collage, and figure drawing. Special receptions offer Art Boca Raton collectors the opportunity to enjoy extended hours each evening of the “Warhol 3X” exhibition.
Overall the fair felt like a high-quality mix of established and contemporary. It isn’t too large, allowing for a leisurely stroll of a few hours to see it all. Even the jewelry booths felt at home with exquisite pearl collections from Yvel in a carpeted boutique like booth.
Art Boca Raton has hit its stride, smartly linking up directly with the Boca Raton Museum of Art and Florida Atlantic University. This art-centric town now has a fair worthy of its city.
Art Boca Raton runs today, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the International Pavilion of the Palm Beaches in the Research Park on the grounds of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. For more information, visit nextlevelfairs.com/artbocaraton/.