The non-profit "by artists for artists" organization 4heads opened their annual Governors Island Art Fair yesterday, filling the rooms of the stately, historic homes along Colonels Row with all manner of contemporary work. The fair (which is different from an exhibition in that all the art you see here is for sale) is free and open to the public, and runs every Saturday and Sunday through September.
More than 90 different artists are showing their work this year, and one of the things that makes GIAF so exhilarating is the serendipitous nature of your viewing journey. Basically, all of the artists are given an empty room in one of these old homes—from spacious front parlors to cramped attic areas to hallways, closets, and kitchens—and can fill it however they wish. Crazy installations, big colorful paintings, diaphanous mobiles, bold photography, found-object sculptures, mixed media pieces, literal naked people: You never know what awaits you around each corner.
(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
The front lawns are also put to use, with large, crowd-pleasing sculptural pieces running the length of the row. Also, for the first time, the massive Liggett Hall across the "street" is a part of the GIAF, where you'll find installations on the ground floor.
There's lots of great art here to discover, but some of my favorites would include:
• Ventiko's Vessels of Verisimilitude, a stunning installation (check out the waterfall made from oysters shells! and the moss all over the floor! and the peacock feather bouquets!) that doubles as a "photographic performance" for which you are invited to get naked and join in.
• The disconcerting army of handmade Illuminati dolls by Queens artist Michael Coffino, who takes mug shots from the 1930s to form the face, the dresses them in outfits of death. His paintings are pretty great as well.
(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
• Carin Kulb Dangot's bright, taffy-looking sculptural pieces made entirely from paint. The Brazilian artist pours gallons of the stuff into pans and, when it's hardened just enough to manipulate, she twists and folds the ribbons, to delicious effect.
• The playful, slightly disturbing photography of Joanne Leah, who shoots close ups of body parts, usually with an unexpected addition or two.
• Ben Quesnel's Unburdened Bare, an almost-spooky, almost-cute stuffed creature that's easily overlooked sitting down there at the bottom of some back stairs, but may startle you when you see it.
• The plate of herbed gelatin with a pour-over of condensed milk that Miao Zhao hands you in the front hallway of one of the homes and that tastes... interesting.
4heads GIAF takes place along Colonels Row on Governors Island and is open every Saturday and Sunday in September from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.