Moniker International Art Fair has opened its doors in Noho as Frieze NY weekend takes over NYC’s art world. The Fair, which was launched in London in 2009 by Tina Ziegler, is celebrating a second year in New York. After a stint in Greenpoint, Moniker has taken new digs at 718 Broadway and has partnered up with fellow art fair Superfine over in Soho with a ticket deal so that guests can see both at one price.
Last night at Moniker’s opening party, we were greeted by unpretentious attendants. After posing for a portrait with the opening installation by muralists Yok and Sheryo, staff member Madeline Philipp told us why she was having so much fun: “I love all the humans I meet as they all have to come through me first.”
The booth belonging to Chicago’s Cake Agency is one of the first you see, and you need to see it up close to appreciate the details of the engraved watches, rings and pendants by artists Christopher Ser and Buddy Austin. Gallerist Nick Malloy said Seattle-based Austin’s engraved Rolexes and Cartier timepieces have a two-year waitlist. “It’s a young money type of thing and we want to bring something else to the table.”
For those that don’t mind interaction, artist WK was snapping “mugshot” Polaroids of guests and then taking their fingerprints for a project he’s working on. WK’s young assistant Dash, a Parsons student, told us that working with the artist has inspired his own project about “young African-American men being targeted by police.”
Upstairs, Aurora Fisher was running a booth for the Garey The Third art boutique. For sale were books and apparel inspired by late artist LeRoy Neiman, famous for his modern expressionist paintings of athletes and celebrities, along with other vinyl collectables and prints. “We’re based on the West Coast,” Fisher said of the Los Angeles store, “but we have a demand here for our limited releases and we wanted to satisfy that.”
On Moniker’s second main floor, in a spacious basement, an eye-popping 3D installation by artist Li-Hill was on display along with several of her paintings. The London-born, Brooklyn-based Li-Hill explained the installation’s message. “It’s about a potential dark future because we’re in a global crux. So much can be done to the world to make the positive change.”
Also on the second floor was Philadelphia’s Analog Contemporary, featuring the art of Bruce Jefferies Reinfeld and Tai Taeoalii. Reinfeld’s saturated photographs are printed on lenticular plastic; the 3D illusion makes them jump at you from across the room. “These photos of graffitied trains and trucks were taken all over the country, but I just started working in lenticular about a year ago,” Reinfeld told us. “My pieces can range in any size and I’m doing a large lenticular installation for Art Market Hamptons this summer.”
Two levels down in the building’s cellar, Sold magazine partied at their street-art installation while a discussion panel took place on a nearby stage. Titled “The War of Messaging: Ad Takeovers and the Fight For Your Attention,” the talk was moderated by artist and activist Josh MacPhee, who spoke with writer RJ Rushmore, street art photographer Luna Park and public space artist Jordan Seiler. They discussed the subversive methods some artists employ against the giant reach of billboard advertising and how replacing them with street art is a way to resist corporate monotony.
When a fellow artist in attendance challenged whether the street artist had the “right” to illegally change the ads, another artist chimed in to defend them. “Yes, in legal terms they’re not right to do that, but because they admit who they are, what they do and have outlined their cause I would grant them that right. They see the world in a different way than the law and I agree with that difference.”
After the panel, the audience hit up Moniker’s bar, which was embellished by artist SKEWVILLE and run by The Sampler Bushwick, a craft beer house owned by two firefighters from the neighborhood that relaunched 15 months ago. General Manager Joel Suarez explained how The Sampler, which also offers session cans and growler refills, doubles as a gallery and pop-up kitchen. “We have a monthly art show that follows Black History Month, Women’s History Month; we did an indigenous peoples show last Thanksgiving and we give artists 70 percent of the cut. It’s even better when he have guests chefs come use our kitchen because we give them 100 percent. Me and my staff come from the Bronx and we were all artists first so we know how it is.”
Moniker International Art Fair continues through the weekend and will be free to the public on Sunday from 11am-12:30pm.