Utopian Visions Art Fair is less of a place to purchase wares and more of an art installation meets street fair. It's extremely interactive. The art intermingles, but every piece has enough space to exist in its own right. There were performances, videos, a silent auction, and more—all happening simultaneously. Surrounded by so many pieces—paintings, wreaths, sculptures, gardens—the mood could have been carnivalesque, but instead tipped towards jovial. Every piece I saw held its own legitimacy, but no one piece demanded all the crowd's attention at one time.
While I was there, curator Srijon Chowdhury—owner of Chicken Coop Contemporary—welcomed attendees and discussed the idea behind the title. Utopian Visions is a plural phrase because the intention was to create a space for multiple imaginings, alternatives, and windows into other worlds. This idea was evident in every aspect of the fair. Some of the works were structures created by one artist to house space for another artist's project. And the fair itself took place in Randy Rapaport's Pegasus Project space. The whole partnership emphasized a utopian view of unconditional artistic support in its best light.
TBA's brochure blurb described UVAF as “a project that centers accessibility and community at its heart— all are encouraged to attend, think, and learn together.” And I think the result came very close to that lofty ideal. Walking up to the fair, I was greeted by a person seated in a delightful geometric sculpture by Alice Konitz. The greeter handed out an exhibition map through a cut-out window in the sculpture. There was a lot to see.
I climbed up a ladder, poked my head into a box, and saw myself in a fractal mirror—a collaboration of John Riepenhoff (the structure) and Brookhart Jonquil (the mirrors). I sat on pillows to gaze at a trippy video by maximiliano. I shook one of many small transparent plastic boxes and discovered they were like mini art galleries. The artist u [Editor's note: Yes, just the lower case letter "u"] makes the plastic boxes and sends them to other artists to curate and fill.
The first room of the fair was so impressive that I was shocked with pleasure to discover the fair's backyard. A large tent sheltered half a dozen more projects. The tent was surrounded by even more art so there was more than enough room to see everything and mingle comfortably. Potentially commenting on the absence of walls, isolated doors were scattered throughout both spaces adorned with wreaths by California Street. I placed a bid on one!
There were more things at the fair than I can list, but I especially noted the quilt brought in by Tropical Contemporary, the bread sculptures (a personal favorite) by Lexie Smith, the occult structures by Pegasus Project, and Emma Courtney Cook’s surrealistic black and white paintings. I also grabbed a sourdough starter, which seemed perfectly in keeping with everything about the fair.
We'll be blogging about TBA 2018 every day of the fest! Keep up with us at: portlandmercury.com/tba