Bold originals, metal works, celebrities and pooches, were a few of the trends at the art world’s main event

Artexpo New York proves to be a ‘colorful event’: bold originals, metal works, celebrities and pooches, were a few of the trends at the art world’s main event

Joe Jancsurak

They came. They saw. And they bought–a lot. But most Importantly, 39,200 attendees of the 27th annual Artexpo New York experienced the emotions evoked the works of 2,600 artists shown by 500 exhibitors on the 294000 square-foot show floor of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, during what is considered to be the world’s largest fine and popular art fair.

Among the established artists at this year’s event were Charles Fazzino, Stephen Holland, Christian Riese Lassen, Bill Mack, Zvonimir Mihanovic, Markus Pierson, Pino, David Schluss, Mackenzie Thorpe and Yuroz, to name just a few. Celebrity artists such as former rocker Grace Slick, actress Jane Seymour and Playboy playmate and model, Victoria Fuller, were there. And, celebrities such as heavyweight boxing great, Larry Holmes, comedian Jackie Mason, TV personality Joy Behar (ABC’s “The View”), and NBC news correspondent, Kelly O’Donnell, were in attendance. And, of course, there were the parties, such as the one held at Lot 61, in honor of the event’s SOLO (unrepresented) artists, whose works could be found in the 15,250 square-foot Artexpo SOLO Pavilion, where 150 artists were exhibiting. (See page 14 for SOLO coverage.)

In Search Of …

Chris and Kathy Maloney, brother-sister owners of Fine Art and Soul, Stevenson Ranch, CA, were among the trade attendees that came looking for new talent, works and contacts. While visiting the Collectors Editions booth, where Steve Weitzel, director of creative development, was showing the works of 20-plus artists, the Maloneys said that they came to Artexpo looking for originals that they might not otherwise see anywhere else. For example, works by two Collectors Editions artists–Ron Chesley (a plein air painter of landscapes) and Jim Rogerson (jazz art) (see February ABN, page 42)–were being shown for the first time, as were the colorful works of Collectors Editions’ Disney artists, including Alison Lefcort.

Throughout the exhibit hall, companies were upbeat about networking opportunities and overall business.

At Nan Miller Gallery (Rochester, NY), owner Nan Miller said this was her company’s “best Artexpo ever.”

Hap Willard, president of Corporate Canvas, LLC, a Wilmington, NC-based publisher, said that as a result of Artexpo, his firm is talking to six SOLO artists and expects to sign at least four of those.

Joanne Chappell, owner of Emeryville, CA-based Editions Limited said that her business was “absolutely nuts” (in a good way).

Tolla Inbar, an Israeli sculptor, whose work is represented by galleries in Israel, Germany, France and the United States, said that for her, “Artexpo is absolutely the most important show.”

SOLO artist Patricia Hansen was pleased at selling 10 limited edition giclees in a single day.

L.A.-based hip-hop artst, Justin BUA, was hoping that his first Artexpo appearance would help grow the market for his “brand” of art, which he refers to as “urban realism.”

Jack Rosen of Bruno Publishing, Wellington, FL, was pleased with the interest in works by newly signed U.K. artist, Gary Benfield (see March ABN, page 26).

Japanese and European buyers were back in force. Keith Tomaszewsky of [S.sup.2] Art Group, Chicago, for example, said that his firm signed 40 new dealers, including new accounts in Japan, Germany and London.

Mark Muller, owner of Kennebeck Fine Art, Louisville, CO, reported a 33 percent jump in dollar sales due to his firm selling more originals and enhanced canvases. Muller also voiced “concern” over instances of “$30 art being shown next to, or across from, originals selling for $30,000 and up.”

Some might argue, however, that this diversity of art for sale is what makes Artexpo, well … Artexpo.

Stopping by the ABN booth were Mike Woolsey, owner of Marina Fine Arts in Marina del Rey, CA, and Richard Roberts, owner of R. Roberts Gallery in Jacksonville, FL. Woolsey said that he relies on Artexpo for networking opportunities with distributors, while Roberts said he comes to have one-on-one time with his suppliers and to buy the works of one or two artists.

Addressing the importance of Artexpo in terms of both business and prestige, was Eric Smith, vice president of the International Art & Framing Group, the show’s owner. “Many of our long-time exhibitors said that this was their best Artexpo ever,” said Smith. “And the independent artists at our SOLO Pavilion were thrilled with the interest and attention paid to their art, with several reporting surprisingly brisk business. The atmosphere throughout the four days (March 3-6) of Artexpo was charged with positive energy.”

Smith added, “Plans are underway now for Artexpo 2006, which will feature an expanded SOLO Pavilion that will include a section devoted to emerging photographers.”

Hugh Tobin, show director, said that he and his staff will build upon the success of this year’s show as planning begins for the 2006 edition. “Our exhibitors and trade attendees know how important Artexpo is to their business, and we realize how important Artexpo is to our industry. We know how a successful show helps attendees and exhibitors succeed throughout the year.”

One example of meeting the needs of attendees and exhibitors at this year’s Artexpo could be found in the newly introduced Art & Framing School, which included 26 seminars attended by nearly 500 persons. Among the program speakers was Charlie Kimbell, vice president of marketing director of Wild Apple Graphics, Woodstock, VT, who spoke on “Spotting Trends in Artwork.”

Kimbell encouraged attendees to keep a watchful eye on the following art trends: Asian-styled art, international images, and retro art. Kimball also believes that works showing dogs, fish, florals and cocktails will continue to gain in popularity, and that bold, vibrant colors will be dominant.

The latter was certainly an important trend at this year’s Artexpo.

More than Just a Splash

Nearly everywhere you turned on the Artexpo show floor, there were examples of exhibitors showing bold, colorful, eye-catching works.

Viewers of the “CBS Early Morning Show” on Friday, March 4, may have recognized the 48- x 60-inch oil on canvas of Ray Charles’ image, by Philip Burke, at the Hus Var Fine Art booth, seen during the weather segment, when nearly 100 Artexpo exhibitors braved cold temperatures to be shown outside in the CBS Plaza during some colorful crowd shots.

Burke used broad brushstrokes and a bright yellow full background to enhance the entertainer’s smile and oversized sunglasses. Clad in a lavender tuxedo jacket and shown with a multi-hued face, this image of the late-great Ray Charles is all about positive energy.

Also exuding positive energy was Sean Hus Vat, president and CEO of the Buffalo, NY-based firm, who said Artexpo was a “runaway success.”

An equally colorful Ray Charles image could be found at the Gorsky Fine Art booth, where, “Ray Charles,” a 48- x 48-inch acrylic on canvas by Vladimir Gorsky, was among the acrylic paintings, giclees, mixed media works and posters, on display.

At the Burns Studio Publishing booth, Scottsdale, AZ-based artist Ron Burns could be found signing copies of his book, “The Dogs of Ron Burns.” Bums invited The Good Dog Foundation of Brooklyn, NY, to bring a group of pet therapy dogs, including Fidel, one of the dogs featured in the book and one of the dogs that visited Ground Zero nearly a dozen times in order to bring comfort to families of victims, rescue workers and others during the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster on 9/11.

Burns said his color choices “reflect the unbridled love that pets, especially dogs, are known for showing human beings. There’s nothing muted about a dog’s love. It’s full-strength, heart-felt and wild as the wind,” he said. “So the green-apple hues, the fire-truck reds, and the swimming-pool blues really choose themselves.”

Also on display at the booth was one of Burns’ latest commissions, a portrait of Sugar, actress Elizabeth Taylor’s beloved pet Maltese. Ten reproductions of the portrait were to be auctioned off in late April, with proceeds benefiting the 2005 Visions of Hope in Phoenix, an event that supports Whispering Hope Ranch, a retreat for special-needs children.

Burns said with a smile that he came to Artexpo to experience “huge sales and to gain networking opportunities.” Judging by the level of activity at his booth, it appeared he was accomplishing both.

Other exhibitors showing much in the way of bold colorful works included (but were not limited to):

* Bonnec Brothers Publishing, Dublin, Ireland, which featured the bright outdoor scenes by Alain Bonnec.

* European Art, Milan, Italy, which featured the works of artists such as Antonio Di Viccaro and Anna Branca.

* Lassen International, Las Vegas, which featured the tropical art of Christian Riese Lassen.

* SPS Limelight, which was showing the sports and celebrity art by Stephen Holland and Opie Otterstad.

* Susan Bowen Photography, Brooklyn, NY, which featured the striking photography (overlapping exposure panoramas) of Susan Bowen.

Mighty Metals

Innovative uses for metals could be found throughout the show floor, with two impressive metal artists found in the SOLO Pavilion.

There, E. Moises Diaz, a former social worker and now an Austin, TX-based artist, displayed his works fashioned from recycled aluminum cans against a variety of backgrounds, including acrylics and suede.

The metal pieces are cut free-hand by Diaz, who started as a paper sculptor. Even the frames are creative, with some of his works displayed in round frames fashioned from recycled bulk-film canisters.

A couple of aisles over from Diaz was Bruce MacDonald, a Burlington, VT, artist whose material of choice is high-grade stainless steel alloy, the material that can be found in designer kitchens featuring commercial-styled stainless steel appliances. MacDonald, who has been a “metalsmith” and “design fiend” for 20 years, uses 5- x 10-foot sheets, which he cuts, folds, notches welds and finishes with abrasion tools. To create his unique special effects, MaDonald uses a variety of burrs with wheels ranging from 1/8 inch to 9 inches. And though he uses a variety of electric and air tools, MacDonald says his favorite tools “don’t even plug in.”

The special nuances and effects created by MacDonald are captivating, or as he puts it, “There’s a magic to them, which has to be seen in person.”

And at the Collectors Editions booth, works by Disney artist Michael Kalish immediately caught the attention of anyone who enjoys bright, bold colors. Then, upon closer inspection, attendees discovered that what looked like a painting from afar, were actually mixed media works using license plate pieces.

Other trends that could be seen throughout the Artexpo show floor included works featuring muted tones; celebrity and sports art; and innovative mixed media works.

“A World of Art Awaits You,” was the slogan for this year’s Artexpo New York. For those tens of thousands who attended, the world they experienced was one that will likely lure them back in the future.

For more information, call 888-608-5300; visit

For reprints of this article, contact LaTonya Brumitt at 314-824-5503, or e-mail

* 1 A 7-foot Elvis Presley sculpture by Mai Sudjai of Metaldude Studio in Bangkok, Thailand, was found “front and center” in Artexpo’s sculpture garden.


* 2,5 The Cat in the Hat, along with approximately 100 Artexpo artists, braved cold temperatures in the name of art and a chance to be on TV with CBS weatherman, Dave Price.


* 3 More than 30,000 attendees enjoyed artworks displayed by more than 500 exhibitors at the 27th Annual Artexpo.


* 4 Paying a visit to the ABN booth was artist Bren Bataclan of the “Smile Boston” art project.


* 6 Bob Chase, president of The Chase Group and his wife, Cynthia, had much to smile about at this year’s Artexpo as sales and interest in original art were both high.


* 7 SOLO artist Bruce MacDonald’s stainless steel works were “shining” examples of unusual art and “reflected” the trend towards increased usage of metals and other unusual materials.


* 8, 9 A violinist serenaded visitors at the Collectors Editions booth, where Russian artists, Michael and Iness Garmash, showed their art.


* 10 SOLO artist Susan Andreasan with her many animals and naturescapes.


* 11 Sculptor Boban was all smiles while showing his work.


* 12 Representing Soho’s CODA gallery were, left to right: Anastasia Star, associate; Virginia Martin, director; and CODA artist, Patricia Karen Gagic.


* 13 Charlie Brown, Lucy and the staff of Animazing Gallery, are shown with Bill Melendez (with mustache, next to Charlie Brown), the director and animator for every “Peanuts” cartoon ever made.


* 14 Israeli sculptor, Tolla Inbar, whose work is represented by galleries in Israel, Germany, France, and the United States, and who has exhibited at numerous major trade shows, said that for her, “Artexpo is absolutely the most important show.”


* 15 A friendly “aloha” awaited attendees.


* 16 Australia-based Createch Art was well represented. Shown here, left to right: Mary-Anne Tormey, consultant; Kristen Bucholtz, managing director; Jeff Gilberthorpe, art director; Ulrich Bucholtz, chairman; and Becky Causer, staff.


* 17 The staff of American Royal Arts are shown enjoying themselves at their booth.


* 1 Art in Motion artist Brent Heighton (left) shares a moment with David Douglas, vice president of national accounts, at the firm’s booth.


* 2 Robusts sales brought smiles to the staff of Smart Publishing.


* 3 World Heavyweight Boxing Champion (1978-1985) Larry Holmes is shown during an appearance at the Image Innovations Sports & Entertainment booth.


* 4 Photographer Suzanne Wampler with Joanne Chappell, owner of Drybrush Graphics.


* 5 Debbie Brooks and her “official” Artexpo handbags “wowed” attendees.


* 6 Artist Zvonimir Minanovic and Suzanne Ron.


* 7 Ruth Clampett, daughter of Warner Bros. director, Bob Clampett, and owner and founder of Hollywood’s Clampett Studio Collections, home of the Warner Bros. Gallery Program, took time to discuss trends in animation art, including “graphic, interpretive” works.


* 8 Mixed media artist Kim Luttrell, a former New York “street artist” originally from Kentucky, was pleased with the interest shown by dealers and galleries.


* 9 Leon Weinstein, artist Dmitri Danish and Mark Muller, owner of Kennebeck Fine Art, are shown at the Kennebeck booth.


* 10 Artist Eric Christensen (left) and David Sylvia, a partner in Eric Christensen Fine Art & Editions, at their booth.


* 11 Charlie Kimbell, vice president and marketing director, Wild Apple Graphics, led the “Spotting Trends in Artwork” seminar.


* 12 Zella Jackson, a fine art business development consultant and publicist, spoke on “The Art of Marketing & Selling Art for Our Changing World” and “Creating Lifelong Collectors Of Art.”


* 13 Celebrity/pop artist Steve Kaufman greeted visitors with “open arms.”


* 14 Carol Anievas of Fiesta Products.


* 15 Artist Martin Roberts (left) hosts “Mr. New York” comedian Jackie Mason (center) on a tour through Artexpo. Shown with Roberts and Mason is actress Judith Taylor.


* 16 Hip-hop artist and first-time Artexpo exhibitor, Justin Bua, is shown with his art, which he refers to as “distorted urban realism”


* 17 Artist Gildo Spadoni poses with his work at the booth.


* 18 Sports artist Opie Otterstad with his works at the SPS Limelight Agency booth.


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