Ming Smith and Jenkins Johnson Gallery featured in Culture Type

By Victoria L. Valentine


NEW YORK, N.Y.— Frieze New York opens to the public today in Randall’s Island Park. The eighth edition of the art fair features nearly 200 galleries from 26 countries. This year, there are plenty of opportunities to experience African American art and works by an international slate of black artists, whether exploring the gallery booths or sitting in on the Frieze Talks programs.


Works by contemporary artists and established figures from the 20th and 21st centuries are on view. Upon entering the fair from the north entrance, a monumental painting by British artist Chris Ofili greets you at the Victoria Miro booth. Paintings by Frank Bowling can be found at Alexander Gray Associates and Hales Gallery. A selection of works by artists including El Anatsui, Odili Donald Odita, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others, is on view at Jack Shainman. At Lehmann Maupin, a pair of shoelace works by Nari Ward are displayed.


A special themed section is dedicated to Just Above Midtown (JAM), the gallery founded by Linda Goode Bryant in 1974. She established the legendary New York City space because museums and galleries weren’t receptive to African American artists. JAM provided a place where their work could be seen. At Frieze, a selection of galleries have devoted booths to seven artists who exhibited at JAM—Dawoud Bey, Norman Lewis, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, and Senga Nengudi.


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Museo del Barrio, Frieze is presenting Diálogos, a themed section focusing on works by contemporary Latinx and Latin American artists, including Firelei Baez.


Several galleries are presenting solo exhibitions dedicated to black artists. New York’s Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is showcasing paintings by William T. Williams from the 1970s. David Kordansky of Los Angeles has cast sculptures by Fred Eversley on display. Mariane Ibrahim, who is transitioning from Seattle to Chicago, has works by South African painter Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi. London-based Vigo Gallery is focusing on a new body of work by Brooklyn-based Derrick Adams. Staged with pink walls, the booths featuring works by Nkosi and Adams are among the most striking at the fair.


"Several galleries are presenting solo exhibitions dedicated to black artists. Staged with pink walls, the booths featuring works by Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi and Derrick Adams are among the most striking at the fair."


Preview days featured compelling talks. Faith Ringgold and Hans-Ulrich Obrist were in dialogue on Wednesday, in anticipation of the artist’s solo show at Serpentine Galleries in London. Opening June 6, the exhibition is Ringgold’s first at an international institution. On Thursday, JAM founder Linda Goode Bryant, curator Franklin Sirmans, and photographer Dawoud Bey, were in conversation during a breakfast event. Today Frieze Talks includes artist Simone Leigh. On Saturday, Aruna D’Souza and Nico Wheadon are in conversation with artist Sable Elyse Smith.


Off-site, Frieze Sculpture is installed at Rockefeller Center. The presentation includes works by 14 artists, Nick Cave, Ibrahim Mahama, Paulo Nazareth, and Hank Willis Thomas, among them.


Back on Randall’s Island, both 2019 booth prizes went to galleries exhibiting works by African American artists. Jenkins Johnson Gallery won the Stand Prize, which recognizes the best booth at the fair. Part of the JAM presentation, the gallery is showing a selection of images by Ming Smith, the pioneering New York photographer. The Frame section of the fair features emerging galleries. The Frame Prize went to Company gallery where works by Philadelphia-based painter Jonathan Lyndon Chase are on view.


In March, Frieze announced Lauren Halsey won the 2019 Frieze Artist Award. The recognition included a commission to produce a work for the fair, curated by Courtney J. Martin. Described as an architectural intervention, Halsey’s “Prototype Column for tha Shaw (RIP the Honorable Ermias Nipsey Hussle Asghedom) I & II” is dedicated to Nipsey Hussle (1985-2019), the recently slain rapper and entrepreneur. The Los Angeles artist called him “South Central’s superhero.”