Fountain Artists Honor Armory History With Playful Nods to Duchamp, and Skateable Art

Fountain Art Fair’s opening night party was where all the cool kids wanted to be last night — so much so that they were willing to stand in lines around the block and try to sneak past the security at the front. The punky satellite fair is located in the historically rich 69th Regiment Armory this year, and appropriately so given the origins of the fair’s name. For those who don’t know, the armory on 25h Street happens to be “the” armory where Marcel Duchamp — who would later secure his place in art history with a urinal titled “Fountain” — famously hung his “Nude Descending a Staircase” in 1913, showing alongside a slew of his contemporaries, including Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso, amongst many others. ARTINFO spent the better part of the day trolling the booths of the armory for the next Duchamp, and spent the evening underneath Ryan E Cronin’s gigantic inflated pink “Bunny” watching aerial acrobatics and scouting the scene.

The fair has come a long way from its floating platform on the Hudson of the last few years, and seems to finally be taking on a more standardized format (for better or worse), looking somewhat like its brothers and sisters uptown. However, even though the rows of booths may be similar to those at other fairs, the work within them is far from it. Fountain remains truly a haven for the self-taught, self-represented, and DIY rogues of the art world — a sort of organized free for all, with one part street art and one part explorations in formalist craft, but sharing an across-the-board collective goal: to sell art! Commerce was just as important here yesterday as it was uptown, as was evident from the (relatively) hefty price tags on some of the artwork, which ranged from $300 for a selection of the hand-painted wooden stump series “Levels” by Eric Tureski, to $8,000 for Leah Yerpe’s “Pleiades” ­­­— a stunningly meticulous large-scale figurative drawing.

Leah Yerpe “Pleiades”

Highlights found amongst the booths were Javier Jimenez’s gradient patterned paintings on wood, hung in tight salon style. Miguel Ovalle’s “Enkryption” (2010) can best be described as the death of the Battlestar Galactica if it were to meet its end by way of Samurai swords, jutting dangerously from the wall, illuminated by spacey blue lights. ML Gallery reaffirmed their title as the world’s only body paint gallery — who would have thought! — with artist Paul Roustan on hand giving a live demonstration by painting Julia Alekberova from head to toe. Controversial performance artist Marni Kotak was horizontal and silent on a bed in Grace Exhibition Space’s booth, continuing her series “Raising Baby X: The First Year,” performing “Post Partum Depression.”

Miguel Ovalle (Dizmology) "Enkryption" (2010)

In true Fountain form there was more than one artist who took advantage of the space’s art historical significance and made honorary nods to Duchamp with their work. Brian Goings was spotted representing team Dada with a custom jersey, a readymade bicycle wheel sculpture meant to be touched, and a series of custom baseball cards made for our favorite player, Marcel Duchamp himself, titled “Manifestations of the Artist.” Lastly, what would this fair be without at least one urinal? Don Porcella’s untitled pipe cleaner piece filled that requisite role, set up next to an equally fuzzy, glittering faux-Damien Hirst skull — at a much more affordable price than the original.

— Alanna Martinez

See Eric Tuneski skate his art below: