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March 2014 - Houston

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R ojas Artistic Designs, 1515 Blodgett, 832.215.0043, For a quarter century, artisan Victor Rojas has had his way with hand-forged iron and steel. This craftsman has always stood out for his sense of form and ambitious projects — grand Nouveau-inspired stairways, statement-making Rococo-styled gates — while retaining a streamlined aesthetic, luring clients ranging from the MFAH to Edward Albee. From his architectural beginnings, Rojas branched out, and that's when this writer met him at his previous retail shop; a commission for an obelisk-shaped curio cabinet followed. Then Rojas shuttered to concentrate on large-scale jobs. Flash forward a decade — he's back, with a boîte adjoining Gallery Jatad in a 1930s-era center bordering the Museum District. He and wife Jessica, who serves as director, oversee an airy showroom, welcoming the public and trade alike, stocking his furniture (custom projects are also undertaken) as well as accessories and unique finds. A recent visit charmed with curious objets, from turn-of-the-century industrial forms translated into sculpture to a sublime credenza fabricated by Rojas, a restrained study in wood and metal perfect for a contemporary or classical interior. Catherine D. Anspon Thompson + Hanson's trained Mugo mop pine globes. Reimaging conifers as topiaries is not only imaginative but also slightly subversive. From $90, at Thompson + Hanson. Seth Vaughan Washburn Galleries collaborated to juxtapose Native American masks in the same space with early Jackson Pollock drawings that had been influenced by them. But don't let the erudite ambience fool you — commerce was meant to occur and did. During the preview I observed many a prominent collector (with art advisors, entourage et. al in tow) making the serious business of the art world happen. Best offerings at Masters? There are many, but it was hard to miss the Louise Nevelson totemic sculpture (sold for under $600,000) and Robert Ryman works at Dominique Levy; the de Kooning works at Mnuchin Gallery (nosebleed prices); the small, rare Ellsworth Kelly postcard drawings ($85,000); and Franz West sculptures ($150,000 and up) at Peter Freeman; and (the best buys at the Fair) a selection of Kishio Suga wall sculptures selling briskly for $12,000 and up at Blum & Poe. Frieze London, the older diva sister fair at the other end of Regent's Park, opened to an impatient throng ready to dash in to honor their reserve deadlines and to see what else should be considered. I always make a beeline for the Focus and Frame sections — the area where the youngest galleries inject fun, new talent into the mix, and also where I have made some of my best discoveries. HOUSE + HOME Chris Ofili's Poolside (Crystal), 2012–2013, at David Zwirner Gallery, Frieze London Left: Ella Kruglyanskaya's Trench, 2013, and above, Blue Dress, 2013, at Kendall Koppe Gallery, Sunday Art Fair Right: Ellsworth Kelly's Marigot (EK 74.79), 1974, at Peter Freeman, Inc., Frieze Masters Dan Graham's Groovy Spiral, 2013, at Lisson Gallery, Frieze London Performance artist at Frieze London Eduardo T. Basualdo's TEORIA (Theory), 2013, at PSM Gallery, Frieze London — Frame From back: T. Chemirik's The Bride, 2012, and Pathway, 2012 – 2013, at Galerie BSL, PAD London Fair Fever at Frieze: LEA WEINGARTEN'S ROUNDUP My favorites this year were: Nestor Sanmiguel Diest at Maisterravalbuena Gallery (750 Euros and up, a museum-worthy artist, by the way), Marlie Mul's highly realistic resin and sand "portable puddles" at Fluxia (4,000 Euros and not museum-worthy, but incredibly fun), Johanna Calle and Bernardo Ortiz at Galeria Casas Riegner (Calle pieces were acquired recently by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Ortiz was just picked up by an important Latin American gallery — great value indicators), and Eduardo Basualdo's massive suspended boulder at PSM-Gallery. International art, power, money and celebrity combine for fabulous people watching at Frieze. Among the artists seen strolling the halls: Jeff Koons (whose happy, shiny five-work installation at Gagosian Gallery stopped traffic), Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Yoshitomo Nara. Among other celebs scouting for art: Simone de Pury, Dasha Zhukova, Dakis Joannou and Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci. Fashion turns as many heads as the art. The gents were impressive, dashing in head-to-toe marigolds and rainbows. One fair-goer/performance artist adopted the persona of a live latex blow-up doll, which, given the amount of phallic- related artwork present, was not entirely out of place. My last stop was the Sunday Art Fair. In its fourth year with just 22 galleries, this little gem is located in an underground warehouse and is another showcase for emerging artists. Fast becoming known as a key threshold for new careers, this Fair offers works from the uncomfortably edgy (an aquarium populated by two live axolotls — an evolutionary combination of lizard and fish) to the truly promising (figurative canvases by newcomer Ella Kruglyanskaya, which sold for $20,000 each within the first two hours of the Fair). P aperCity tapped art advisor Lea Weingarten, founder of Weingarten Art Group, for the word from across the pond at the eagerly watched Brit fair convergence Frieze, which storms London every fall. Weingarten reports from Regent's Park and environs, weighs in on the best booths, buzziest artists, noteworthy dealers and fat-walleted tycoon collectors — and divulges who's on her watch list. Read on. The art market is always hungry for the new — from emerging artists deserving serious consideration to older artists who have not received the recognition they deserve. You will find both ends of the spectrum in abundance in London during Frieze Week, craved by the well heeled, well-fêted and well-funded. My first stop was the private preview for the PAD Fair in Mayfair — Frieze Week's offering of 20th/21st-century design and decorative arts. Of the 60 international galleries presenting, the most intriguing showcased hand-worked metal elements ranging from ancient Japanese warring helmets (beginning at $7,000 and snapped up at the Preview), to French jeweler-designed tables, screens and lighting elements. PAD is the only fair at which most of these galleries exhibit all year and is, therefore, an important opportunity to see these treasures in one stop. I never miss a trip to Tate Modern when I'm in London, and this year was no exception. The museum always schedules its most exciting programming during Frieze Week in order to take advantage of the world's best art patrons' presence. While the much-heralded Paul Klee retrospective was a draw, the most gratifying surprise was the Mira Schendel exhibition — the first international survey of her work. Schendel (Brazilian, 1919-1988), one of Latin America's most influential post-war artists, worked in largely geometric, energetic paintings frequently incorporating philosophical text. Her ability to simplify the most complex subjects with quiet beauty is her hallmark. The two divas of the week, Frieze Masters and Frieze London, opened their doors to private VIP previews. As the prices of the super-recognizable rise into the ether (read Warhol, Basquiat), collectors are increasingly buying work of artists no longer living that deserve a second look. Enter Frieze Masters: The gracious, carpeted grande dame takes its mission to offer pre-21st-century art very seriously. With more than 120 international galleries purchasing booth space, patrons viewed the best of ancient to modern, from Tang Dynasty treasures to Calder creatures. Impressively resolved for being just two years old, Masters has evolved since its first year and is serious business — with museum- quality curation of the booths (as opposed to straightforward commercial installation). One impressive example: Donald Ellis and Café Royal (VIP dinner hosted by Alexander McQueen) Hoi Polloi (house bar and restaurant in the new Ace Hotel in Shoreditch) Shrimpy's (for the soft-shell crab burger) The Wolseley (for the service) Simpsons (dinner hosted by Dasha Zhukova) THE MAIN SECTION OF THE FRIEZE FAIR DAZZLED. HERE ARE MY TOP FINDS FOR THE BEST INTERSECTION OF QUALITY AND VALUE: I traveled to London a day ahead of the all-important VIP previews to get situated in my clean, compact, contemporary, Soho flat (rented for 269GBP/night through My highly recommended new find is self-described an an "unhotel" offering "decadent, elegant, quirky and surprising homes" for rent. • Guyton/Walker's functional tables/ sculptures and Gedi Sibony's trailer doors at Greene Naftali. Simone de Pury was eyeing these very closely. • Jon Pestoni's killer abstract painting at David Kordansky. • Jannis Kounellis at Almine Rech. • David Ostrowski at Peres Projects. • Chris Ofili at David Zwirner. • Georg Baselitz at Thaddeus Ropac. • Matt Connors at Herald Street. • Elmgreen & Dragset at Galerie Perrotin. • And finally, if money and space were not an object: Dan Graham's Groovy Spiral at Lisson. • The scene-stealer of the Fair: Jennifer Rubell's Portrait of the Artist. Her large-scale reclining white fiberglass sculpture made of the artist when she was eight months pregnant that allows people to crawl into its open womb. A F T E R - H O U R S H A U N T S B E S T B O O T H S S T A Y LON DON FROM JENNY ANTILL PINING FOR … L awndale Design Fair looms next month, and we've cleared calendars for the PaperCity-sponsored Preview Party Friday, April 25, followed by the lively Fair weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27. Here a curated convergence of rising design talents from Texas and beyond set up booths, along with timeless modern and contemporary gallerists stocking covetable wares from furnishings to lighting, ceramics, glass, metalwork, books and fashion finds. Poggenpohl's Tatiana Bacci and Cecilia Marquez of Saint Cloud do curatorial honors, while the weekend raises funds for the progressive programming of Lawndale Art Center. The Fair officially launches with its free lecture series Wednesday, April 23. Just announced: Urbanist, architecture critic, author and founding editor- in-chief of Dwell, Karrie Jacobs, dishes design. Preview Party tickets $75 (Lawndale members $60), including Fair admission; Fair days $5; contact Kelly Montana, 713.528.5858,, Catherine D. Anspon [Destination] DESIGN Rojas Artistic Designs' hand-forged furniture and reclaimed wares Returns METAL MAN of

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