On Wednesday morning, just after Super Tuesday results were called, the 26th edition of The Armory Show opened at Piers 90 and 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. Panic about coronavirus became the go-to small talk topic of choice, and Purell was poured as fast as the champagne. Sales appeared to carry on as usual, as 178 galleries from 31 countries began hawking their wares.
Shortly after the preview began, a few bold souls wandered the halls, shouting to ask if there was a doctor in the house—someone required medical assistance at the back of the fair. Attendees weren’t visibly disturbed. In fact, the prospect of hugging or hand-shaking, in the face of what might be a global pandemic, appeared much more unnerving to the well-heeled crowd. In an industry used to making deals with handshakes, how will this newfound shyness affect business? It’s too soon to tell. For now, enjoy the best presentations the fair has to offer.
Jenkins Johnson Gallery
Galleries Section, Booth 825, Pier 94
With works by Chase Hall, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Lavar Munroe, Rashaad Newsome, Blessing Ngobeni, Enrico Riley, and Ming Smith
An image of trade, chance, and competition looms large at the outset of Jenkins Johnson’s booth. Enrico Riley’s painting Untitled: Card Players, Riches of the Past, Present, and Future (2020, $40,000) features hands around a green felted card table: Some rest, some hold their cards, and some touch their coins. The viewer is watching a game, unsure of the players. “I love how [Riley’s] playing with his palette here,” said Niama Safia Sandy, director of curatorial affairs at the gallery. “This richness in the skin tones is really coming through with his color choices.” Lime green tints the end of some fingernails, while the thumbnail closest to the viewer is bathed in purple.
The rest of the booth features artwork made over the last 50 years by artists including photographer Ming Smith, young painting phenom Chase Hall, and AfriCOBRA co-founders Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell. Mrs. Jarrell’s sculptural suede skirt and top, from 1993, feature chartreuse tie-dye around the edges and hang from a pole with a head made from found objects. The female form, Bird of Paradise (1993, $175,000), becomes a totem overlooking the rest of the art.