DISPATCH - JULY 27, 2013

SOUTHAMPTON, NY-

Along with a drenching rainstorm, Art Southampton blew into town, delivering on all fronts a show that amply filled the enormous tent that spanned 100,000 square feet. With a smart layout, high quality work and a four-hour long opening preview on Thursday, July 25, thousands of people made their way through the rain and traffic jams–with many walking distances along County Road 39–to attend the VIP Opening Reception. Within an hour (give or take some minutes), the parking lot had been closed and police diverted cars away from the art fair leaving drivers to fend for themselves.

Still, once inside civility and art prevailed.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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While there was no live music like at Art Hamptons and artMRKT Hamptons, there were performances. Hardest to miss was Kevin Berlin’s spectacle “Alien Invasion,” which found the PT Barnum-like Berlin herding a glam squad of 6-foot-tall girls wearing little more than thongs, green body paint, antennae and brandishing light-up ray guns around the pavilion.

Scores of photographers and curious onlookers followed them from booth to booth, stopping for photo ops every few minutes. I’ve never seen so many happy (mostly male) collectors taking part in the shoots and walking away with green body paint all over their expensive suits.

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Kevin Berlin's "Alien Invasion" unfolded during the VIP Opening. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Kevin Berlin and his Aliens. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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The actual performance was more of the same, with the Aliens and Berlin posing in front of his painting exhibition sponsored by Gallery Valentine. His new work is based on the disconnect between modern society and how alien human beings can seem when they are more interested in their techie gadgets than in human connection.

Elsewhere in the Art Southampton pavilion, a more down to earth event was taking place with pop culture photographer Jerry Schatzberg chatting with fair goers and signing copies of his art books “Fashion 1950s” and “Paris 1962” at the Nikola Rukaj booth. Schatzberg had some smart black and white 1960s shots on display of Jane Fonda, Edie Sedgwick and Bob Dylan.

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Photographer Jerry Schatzberg signs books. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photographer Jerry Schatzberg signs books. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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RERO, known for his text-based pieces, started painting on a 12 x 8-foot wall at the VIP Opening Reception and will continue through Saturday. He combines “iconic urban calligraphy with a contemporary form of abstract expressionism” said his gallery.

The piece will be called “I AM A LIE THAT ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH…”

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RETRO takes a break from painting his mural to speak with fairgoer. Photo by Sandra Hail Schulman.

RETRO takes a break from painting his mural to speak with fairgoer. Photo by Sandra Hail Schulman.

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The VIP Lounge in the center was a happening meeting place, with bars keeping the crowd lubricated with Perrier-Jouet Champagne and some stunning eye candy diamond jewelry from Graff modeled by girls who weren’t having quite as much fun as the Aliens.

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Graff model. Photo by Sandra Hail Schulman.

Graff model. Photo by Sandra Hail Schulman.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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In only its second year in the Hamptons, Art Southampton has doubled in size and is the largest of the three summer art fairs. If they had any growing pains it wasn’t obvious inside the fair, as the international focus and top-tier exhibitors and sponsors came out with the big guns blazing. The vibe was upbeat at the packed VIP opening, with surprising work at every booth.

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Artist Nathan Joseph with friend. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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"All American" by Marc Sijan, 2011. Polyester resin and oil paint, lifesize. Harley Davidson motorcycle built by Nick Genender. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Director Nick Korniloff believes the pace in the Hamptons is less frenetic than in Miami where he has produced fairs for the last 23 years, and is looking to “cultivate a collectors market with a lot of interactions and socializing with the dealers.” He smartly waited until two weeks after the other fairs, on a weekend filled with some of the biggest charity events of the season. Dealers from Art Miami followed him here, and one wonders how much larger the fair can get. If the quality and enthusiasm remain this high, then the sky is the limit. Or, maybe the pocketbooks of Hamptons art collectors.

Continue scrolling for scenes from the Art Southampton VIP Opening:

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A sculpture by Jeff Muhs is flanked by the artist and art dealer Beth McNeill Muhs. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Artist Darius Yektai (left) and gallerist Tripoli Patterson examine a sculpture. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Artwork by Eric Fischl was presented in a solo booth adjacent to the exhibition he curated featuring New York Academy alumni. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Vered at the VIP Opening. Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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Photo by Tom Kochie.

Photo by Tom Kochie.

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BASIC FACTS: Art Southampton continues through July 29 at the Southampton Elks Club grounds, 605 County Road 39 Southampton, NY 11968. The art fair launched with a VIP preview on Thursday, July 25, from 6 to 10 p.m. with proceeds benefiting Southampton Hospital.

Hours for the art fair are from noon to 7 p.m. from Friday to Sunday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday. Passes are $15 for one day and $30 for a multi-day pass and $10 for students, seniors and groups of more than 10 people. Children under 12 attend free with an adult.

Additional information is available at: www.art-southampton.com.

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© 2013 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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