No matter where you live, supporting your city’s cultural institutions is one of life’s great pleasures. Of the places I’ve lived, I feel most at home in New York City and, though I no longer call it home, I still feel a connection to the city’s neighborhoods and arts institutions that helped shape my education and the early stages of my career. Giving back to one of New York’s most impactful nonprofits, the Public Art Fund (PAF), is just one way I stay connected to the city. This year’s auction includes a handful of artworks that I would love to live with—and that, through their sale, will also enable PAF to continue producing engaging public art initiatives across New York’s five boroughs.
Sam Falls, Untitled (Los Angeles, Studio Floor 15), 2012
At only 30 years old, mixed media artist Sam Falls has won the attention of major collectors worldwide, and his work is included in notable private collections like the Zabludowicz Collection (London) and renowned public collections such as the LACMA (Los Angeles). Just last month, Falls opened an exhibition at Ballroom Marfa, featuring new works made during his residency in Marfa in summer 2014. In his ongoing exploration of materials and how they change over time in an environment, Falls focused on forms unique to the Texas landscape.
Wesley Martin Berg, worker (aluminum), 2014
When PAF shared its list of donated works for this year’s auction, the image of Wesley Martin Berg’s worker (aluminum) immediately jumped out at me. The subtlety of the figure emerging from the silver surface is spellbinding. The artist has been tapped by Ugo Rondinone as an artist to watch, and his work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Rondinone’s recently renovated live/work space in Harlem. He’s also been endorsed by Swiss art dealer Eva Presenhuber who featured the artist’s work in her gallery’s “39greatjones” exhibition, curated by Rondinone, in New York.
Mika Tajima, Furniture Art (Prince Edward Island), 2014
I first noticed Mika Tajima’s embroidered works from her “Negative Entropy” series. A combination of performance and decorative arts, the “abstract woven portraits,” as she calls them, are 2D representations of the recorded noises involved with production at several Pennsylvania manufacturing plants. The tactile quality of her embroideries paired with their bleeding color fields caught not only my eye—but also the light streaming into the Deauville Beach Resort (the home of NADA Miami Beach), where they were displayed at Eleven Rivington’s booth in 2013.
The work featured in the PAF auction is from the artist’s ongoing “Furniture Art” series.” To create these paintings, the artist spray paints the backside of acrylic, so the viewer looks through the work, so to speak. The subtitles Tajima selects for her paintings are chosen in order to experiment with the associations her color palettes provoke in viewers when paired with geographic locations, in this case Canada’s Prince Edward Island. In some instances, architectural patterns also cut through the painted surface to expose her layering technique.
Jeppe Hein, Please Touch the Artwork, 2014
Nicholas Baume, chief curator and director at PAF, describes Jeppe Hein’s works as “imaginative, whimsical, irreverent, and emotionally resonant.” These adjectives not only apply to this neon work, but also to the artist’s largest public display in the U.S. to date, Please Touch The Art, which will open at Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 17th. Hein’s work is indeed the antithesis to the old adage “look but don’t touch.” It begs for you to interact with it, but often the artist works in a scale so large that only a museum or public park can accommodate it. This lot offers anyone who can spare just three feet of space the ability to own one of the famed Danish artist’s works.
Rob Pruitt, Hot Air Painting #4, 2012
Rob Pruitt’s Hot Air Painting #6 (2012) was a highly sought-after lot at last year’s Public Art Fund Spring Benefit. Generously, the artist has agreed to auction off a second painting from the series, which he created in honor of PAF in 2012. For all of the underbidders out there, here’s your second chance to own a work by a celebrated contemporary artist. Don’t miss it!
Explore the Public Art Fund 2015 Spring Benefit on Artsy. Bidding closes on Tuesday, April 14 at 10:30 PM ET.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory