A cardboard Manhattan and a cosy log cabin: artists stand tall at Nada New York fair


The opening of the Nada New York fair was hopping on Thursday (18 May), when many artists were on hand at the gallery stands to talk about their work. Among them was the Philadelphia-based sculptor Kambel Smith, whose large-scale installation of cardboard recreations of urban landmarks—the Statue of Liberty, the Flatiron Building, a bottle of Mountain Dew—at Shrine gallery’s stand (priced from $12,000 to $25,000) caught the attention of many visitors.

Titled Autisarian City, the work is the artist’s conception of a “utopia where everyone is equal and free to be themselves”. Smith, who has autism, created the impressively accurate models without the use of measuring tools or any architectural training. When asked what he was working on next, Smith said it would be “something very tall”, so expect more big things from him.

Artist Anya Paintsil with her works at Nada New York Photo: Helen Stoilas

At Hannah Traore Gallery, the Welsh and Ghanaian artist Anya Paintsil was keeping an optimistic outlook, despite the fact that her newest series of hair and textile wall pieces were held up by US Customs. Paintsil instead installed several earlier, but still engaging, portrait-style works on the stand, and was expecting the fresh pieces—which are priced from $10,000 to $43,000, and feature contorted figures and evocative titles like Except now I’m drinking £21.00 Tokaji from Waitrose—to be released before the weekend.

The artists were also expected to arrive later in the day—after school lets out—to man the Children’s Museum of the Arts’ lemonade stand on the fair’s rooftop, where sculptures and drawings by local children are on offer (priced from $25 to $100) to benefit the institution. And some of the artists involved with the Center for Creative Works in Philadelphia, which runs an art-making programme for adults with developmental disabilities, were planning to come to the fair this weekend to present their drawings (priced from $100 to $450).

Matt Belk’s hunting scenes and decoy ducks at Nada New York Photo: Helen Stoilas

For those looking for less social interaction, a more hidden treasure is tucked away on the stand of The Hole gallery. There, in a cozy, log cabin-like backroom, are a series of acrylic airbrushed hunting scenes by the Nebraska-born, Oregon-based artist Matt Belk (priced at $10,000 each), with a charming flock of painted decoy ducks (priced at $3,000 each) congregating in the corners.


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