Kevin Consey, who helmed several major art institutions, including, most recently, the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) from 1999 to 2008, died on Wednesday at age 68. A representative for BAMPFA said that he died “following a long illness.” Consey is known for his role in overseeing the institution’s capital campaign for the museum’s current home, which was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and opened in downtown Berkeley in 2016.
Having begun his career as director of the art gallery at his alma mater, Hofstra University in New York, Consey took the top post at the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas in 1980. There, he led the $12 million transformation of the historic Lone Star Brewery into a museum space. Nearly a decade later, while directing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Consey oversaw a $72 million building and endowment campaign and would go on to open a 220,000-square-foot facility designed by Josef Paul Kleihues at the institution in 1996.
Consey joined BAMPFA in 1999 and helped the university find a site and architect for its planned new building. He also guided the institution through a period of major growth in its programs and collection, with exhibitions of work by Joe Brainard, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Paul Kos, Richard Misrach, Bruce Nauman, and more organized during his tenure. Additionally, thousands of works were added to the museum’s art and film holdings while he was director.
After he retired from BAMPFA in 2008, Consey worked as a consultant for museums undertaking capital projects and served as an adjunct professor of museum studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.
The gala opening for The Art Show, the annual fair put on by the Art Dealers Association of America, has historically provided a smooth landing into the fair-packed Armory Week in New York. The evening, a benefit for the Henry Street Settlement, is the epitome of a civilized affair, with top-notch hors d’oeuvres and liberally flowing champagne. Dealers and collectors tend to be in a good mood, coming off the sleepy winter season. The gala for the 32nd edition of the fair took place on Wednesday night, and this time around the mood was a little different thanks to a newly crowded winter art fair calendar (some of the dealers barely had a chance to recover from the second edition of Frieze Los Angeles, which took place two weeks ago) and, more pressingly, the steepest stock-market dip in two years due to coronavirus jitters and political uncertainty around the upcoming presidential election.
But if attendees were anxious or overworked, it didn’t seem to affect attendance much. The 70 galleries in modestly sized booths running along four aisles in the Park Avenue Armory’s Drill Hall saw plenty of visitors, including Jerry Saltz (art critic for New York magazine), Richard Armstrong (director of the Guggenheim Museum), Tom Eccles (of Bard College), Melissa Chiu (of the Hirshhorn Museum), Terrie Sultan (of the Parrish Museum), Maxwell Anderson (of Souls Grown Deep Foundation), Jessica Morgan (of Dia Art Foundation), and David Schrader (from Sotheby’s private sales), as well as artist Nina Chanel Abney and advisers Kim Heirston and Wendy Cromwell, among many others.
The most visible change to the fair this year was the floor. The Park Avenue Armory spent months restoring its floor and sourced reclaimed southern pine for the purpose. The Art Show is the first fair to expose the floor; in the past they have used grey carpets. The effect is curiously like being on the deck of a ship—it works.
Still, it’s always interesting to see what choices dealers make with regard to the floors in their booths. Some had carpeting, others kept it raw. Petzel, whose booth is the first you see when you enter, solved the problem handily by using the space for an artwork: a mirrored floor by Walead Beshty. Mirrors were more potent at the booth of Luxembourg & Dayan, in a large painting by Michelangelo Pistoletto, La Gabbia (The Cage), for which images of steel bars were silkscreened onto a mirror, giving the impression that the viewer is either a prisoner or the one doing the imprisoning. Pistoletto started the piece in 1962 and, after he finished it in 1974, showed it at Sidney Janis gallery, arranging the panels into an actual cage that viewers entered. Luxembourg & Dayan was more forgiving, placing it along a wall.
One of the highlights of the ADAA Art Show, the annual New York fair put on by the Art Dealers Association of America, is its solo and two-artist booths. The booths at this fair, which is held in the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, are not large, so these are less like solo shows in galleries than they are tightly curated, jewel-box installations, often focusing on a specific aspect of an artist’s work—and sometimes even on a single piece. If a monographic museum show is a novel and a gallery exhibition is a short story, an Art Show booth is a vignette.
Last year’s edition of the fair was remarkable for how many such booths were devoted to work by women—a full 55 percent. ARTnews looked at solo and two-artists booths by women at the fair over the past decade, and found there has been a steady rise. This year’s edition, which opens tomorrow night with a gala for Henry Street Settlement, shows a slight dip in the percentage of booths given over to women from 2019, but boasts the highest number of solo presentations by female artists, a full 19—and more solo and two-artist booths overall, a full 49.
As far as painting is concerned, Andrew Kreps Gallery and Bortolami (both from New York) are collaborating on a booth of paintings by Carla Accardi, DC Moore (New York) has landscapes by Jane Wilson, Sicardi Ayers Bacino (Houston, Texas) has geometric abstractions by Mercedes Prado, and Locks Gallery (Philadelphia) has Op abstractions by Edna Andrade. Susan Inglett Gallery (New York) has vintage pornographic images transformed by Beverly Semmes. Pavel Zoubok Fine Art (New York) has sculptures by Vanessa German.