The third edition of New Wave Art Wknd took place last weekend in Palm Beach with both virtual and in-person, socially-distanced presentations. This year, the theme was: Art as Activism: The Fight for Equality and Justice.
According to founder Sarah Gavlak, “New Wave’s mission is to foster a vital dialogue around diversity, inclusivity, immigration, and equal rights for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ communities through New Wave Art Wknd, public programs, and an artist-in-residence program for emerging artists from marginalized communities in West Palm Beach.”
Collector extraordinaire Beth DeWoody told us, “The art scene has been fun this season despite the restrictions of Covid. Sarah Gavlak and Sarah Haimes organized a wonderful New Wave weekend here. The pop-up galleries are a great edition here. Gavlak had a wonderful show up of Gisela Colón. Sarah has been a gallery presence for sixteen years. Also very excited about the new director coming to the Norton Museum, Ghislain D’Houmieres.”
Virtual Public Panels throughout the weekend and beyond, organized by Program Director Sarah Haimes, included Women in the Arts: Leading the Way Towards Inclusion, Counter Attack: Artists and Curators Creating Change, The Black Living Archive, and Community from the Artist’s Standpoint. Kicking off a year-round monthly conversation series, the panels included a wide range of voices such as artists Deborah Kass, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Onyedika Chuke, Jon Key, Wildcat Ebony Brown, Miles Greenberg, Samuel Levi Jones, and New Wave’s inaugural artist-in-residence Renzo Ortega whose work resonates with last year’s New Wave theme exploring issues of immigration and migration through a cultural lens.
Collectors, curators, and cultural producers were also highlighted, including Project for Empty Space Co-Founder and the Bronx Museum’s Social Justice Curator Jasmine Wahi; Independent Curator and Co-Founder of Assembly Room Natasha Becker; arts advisor, curator, educator, writer and founder and principal of bldg fund, an innovation platform for BIPOC artists, entrepreneurs and neighbors, Nico Wheadon; collector Demetrio “Dee” Kerrison; Co-Founder and Director of MECA Art Fair and ARTNOIR Danny Baez; art historian, curator, and founding executive director of ALMA|LEWIS, a forthcoming contemporary experimental art space dedicated to Black culture Kilolo Luckett; and Brooklyn Museum’s Associate Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Carmen Hermo.
While New Wave’s mission is to showcase the flourishing contemporary art scene in South Florida, the interactive virtual VIP program took place over Zoom to include as many participants as possible. Annual donors at the $500 level or above enjoyed an exclusive first-look into the new home and collection of London-based Valeria Napoleone, as well as intimate collection visits with Seattle-based collectors Lisa Goodman and Josef Vascovitz, and LA-based Arthur Lewis, Creative Director of UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space.
Virtual studio visits also took place with artists Arlene Shechet, Nate Lewis, and the next two New Wave Artists-in-Residence Estelle Maisonett and Joiri Minaya. Artist and New Wave advisory board member Sanford Biggers will also host a virtual studio visit in February 2021 for New Wave Art Wknd ticket holders. Maisonett, Minaya, and Asser Saint-Val, New Wave’s Summer 2021 artists-in-residence, will each receive an unrestricted $5,000 award. New Wave’s residency program will, once again, be hosted at Rosemary Square in West Palm Beach, which is generously donating an apartment and storefront studio space for each artist’s 6-week stay.
A few socially-distanced in-person events also took place (while observing CDC guidelines, of course). On Friday, an outdoor kick-off event was held at Rosemary Square, including a celebration of United Migrant Familia of America, a public mural completed by Renzo Ortega during his residency this past July and a performance by Ballet Florida. On Saturday, a Gallery Open House was held co-hosted by Gallery Sponsors GAVLAK, Wynn Fine Art, PACE, Acquavella, Paula Cooper, and Lehmann Maupin as well as White Cube, whose West Palm Beach pop-up opened on December 10th.
Public and private viewing and a tour with artist Gisela Colón of her exhibition GISELA COLÓN: EXISTENTIAL TIME at Gavlak Gallery was part of the VIP program. VIPs were also be treated to limited capacity private tours of the refreshed galleries at Beth Rudin DeWoody’s The Bunker Artspace for annual donors at the $1,000 level or above. Donors at the $2,500 level or above received a special limited edition hand signed and numbered silkscreen print by Renzo Ortega. Donors were also given a 3-month complimentary subscription of Blackdove, one of the weekend’s sponsors.
Next up at Pace Gallery, an exhibition of watercolors by Sam Gilliam opened on December 11th. Since the early 1960s, Gilliam has been creating richly colored abstracts using watercolors on Japanese washi paper. The watercolors featured in the exhibition extend the artist’s ongoing exploration of color and form into a palpable entity: a physical, textural presence that reaches beyond painting’s two-dimensional surface.
At 87 years old, Gilliam is one of the great innovators in postwar American painting. He emerged from the Washington, D.C. scene in the mid 1960s with works that elaborated upon and disrupted the ethos of Color School painting. A series of breakthroughs resulted in his Drape paintings, which expanded upon the tenets of Abstract Expressionism in entirely new ways. Suspending stretcherless lengths of painted canvas from the walls or ceilings of exhibition spaces, Gilliam transformed his medium and the contexts in which it was viewed.
As an African-American artist in the nation’s capital at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, this was a way of defining art’s role in a society undergoing dramatic change. Gilliam has subsequently pursued a course in which experimentation has been the only constant. Inspired by the improvisatory ethos of jazz, his work continues to take on an increasing variety of forms, moods, and materials.
Wait, there’s more. From December 20 – February 20, Acquavella Palm Beach will present an exhibition of work by 100-year-old Wayne Thiebaud. Featuring 19 paintings and works on paper, much of which will be shown to the public for the first time, many were completed just this year. It will be the first solo show in the gallery’s new Palm Beach space.
There has been much celebration surrounding Thiebaud’s 100th birthday this year. The Crocker Art Museum in his hometown of Sacramento, CA, mounted a retrospective of his work with 100 paintings, drawings, and prints on view, which was the most comprehensive show of the artist’s work in 20 years.
“We’re thrilled that this year’s New Wave Art Wknd had a large virtual component that allows us to engage and expand our community and audience as well as highlight our past, current, and upcoming artists-in-residence, the heart of our programming,” said Gavlak, “with special thanks to our passionate collaborators and generous advisory board that includes Amy Phelan, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas Lee, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Burt Minkoff, Franklin Sirmans, Gopal Rajegowda, Isolde Brielmaier, Jane Holzer, Joanne Cassullo, Keith Bloomfield, Lindsay Taylor, Lisa and Richard Perry, Mike De Paola, Sanford Biggers, and Yvonne Force Villareal. Now more than ever, it’s necessary to keep the spirit and community of New Wave alive during these difficult times.”
It’s exciting to see such great modern and contemporary art coming to Palm Beach and how it is influencing home design, interiors and culture here. It will be interesting to see how this affects what happens at the Norton Museum and Society of the Four Arts over the year ahead. Maybe it will even inspire someone to do finally something interesting and viable with the old playhouse, too!
(On a sad note, Helen LaFrance has passed away. Her obituary, Helen LaFrance, Folk Artist of Rural Kentucky, Dies at 101, appeared in The New York Times, on December 8, 2020.)