Trying to make a living from art is always a gamble, but that’s especially true for the two-dozen artists betting their work as part of an all-star Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament that began at the satellite fair Nada on Thursday. Ellen Altfest, Michael Mahalchick, Andrew Kuo, Wendy White, Nic Guagnini, Siebren Versteeg, Gina Beavers and Joshua Abelow are among the gamblers in the event, organised by the painter and printmaker Melissa Brown and the art space Where. The game takes place in a secret RV and will be broadcast on TVs throughout the fair. So who do we have our money on? Not Abelow, who says he has never played poker before—“not even once! I better practise tonight.” Versteeg, on the other hand, has been playing for years. “We used to play $20 games in, like, 2005, which, you know, was a lot of money for us.”
Judd cut short
The octogenarian artist Regina Bogat has tales to tell about encountering some of the greatest names in 20th-century art at Frieze New York. Visitors to the Zürcher gallery stand earlier this week shared Bogat’s reminiscences, including the time she asked Donald Judd to build an alleyway of Corten steel sculptures in her New Jersey garden. (Judd agreed to take a painting by Al Jensen in return for the alfresco commission.) But there was one problem: at 60in, the steel pieces were too high for diminutive Bogat. So Judd kindly agreed to cut down the blocks to 48in. Unfortunately, he died before completing the commission, leaving Bogat, and a legion of Judd devotees, sorely disappointed.
The Gallic charm of Omar Victor Diop. Photo: Gareth Harris
Visitors to the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Brooklyn can admire a series of striking photographs on the stand of the Magnin-A gallery, showing a series of famous black historical figures. These include the former slave Jean-Baptiste Belley who was elected to the National Convention in France in 1793. The artist Omar Victor Diop, dressed up in the costumes of the period, depicts all the figures on show. Diop, a Dakar-based photographer, asked tailors in Senegal to make the outlandish outfits. But little did he realise the effect his commission would have. “My project allowed them to make items they don’t usually consider. They were so happy, and often called in people from the [neighbouring] market to admire the outfits,” he said.
Lager than life
Thirsty work? Kader Attia's Halam Tawaaf (2008). Photo: courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
A swirl of beer cans—2,978 in total—is turning heads at Frieze New York. This circle of tin has not, however, been placed in the trash, but is on view at the stand of Lehmann Maupin. Halam Tawaaf (2008), by the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, may well bring to mind the movement of pilgrims about the Kaaba, the sacred building in Mecca. But some visitors see its more practical aspects. “A few people have asked us if we actually drank all that beer,” a gallery representative deadpanned.
The artist Milena Muzquiz and the actress Emily Mortimer at Travesia Cuatro’s booth (D2), Frieze New York
The Madrid gallery Travesía Cuatro could well be the fairest booth of the fair, thanks in part to an appearance on Wednesday by the English actor Emily Mortimer. To support her friend, the Mexican artist Milena Muzquiz, the Newsroom star sported a dress inspired by Muzquiz’s ceramic vases, which are on display at the gallery, filled with blooms of exotic flowers. “I’m hoping one will be chipped so I can have it,” Mortimer says. The old pals met when Mortimer’s now-husband, actor Alessandro Nivola, was researching a role for a film about the music industry and discovered Muzquiz’s band, Los Super Elegantes (who later played at their wedding). Mortimer came out again on Thursday night to see the band play the Hotel Americano, on a set designed by Muzquiz’s husband, the artist Jorge Pardo.
Some may remember Karley Sciortino as the bikini-clad “Car Girl” who was draped over Richard Prince’s car for a Frieze project in London in 2007. Now Sciortino has returned to Frieze in a very different role: as a speaker in the Frieze Talks programme (“Aesthetics” of “Female” “Attractiveness”, Friday at 12pm). Perhaps Sciortino, who writes the sex blog Slutever, will respond to all her critics, upset at her part in Prince’s car show. “Multiple people attempted to ‘save me’ by pulling me away from the car,” she wrote on New York magazine’s website. “While I can see where they were coming from, I didn’t see those same people trying to convince Lucian Freud’s nude subjects to walk out of his paintings…”
Nails that paint a picture. Photo: Anny Shaw
At a time when manicurists are the talk of the town after the New York Times’s exposé of toxic working conditions in salons across Manhattan, nail art is also in the spotlight at Frieze New York. At the stand of the Brazilian gallery A Gentil Carioca, representative Elsa Ravazzolo is proudly displaying her nails, which are exquisitely painted in the same patterns and colours found on a work by the artist Paulo Paes. Indeed, her fingers match the motifs on a large inflatable balloon displayed on the stand, which is stopping visitors in their tracks. So this, at least, is one NY nail story with a happy ending.