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NEW YORK TIMES: Eric Firestone Gallery at ADAA's The Art Show

Anderson Pigatt, In Honor of the Brothers and Sisters of Reclamation Site One, 1969

The Art Show Highlights Masters—and Artists Under the Radar

The Art Dealers Association of America fair at the Park Avenue Armory offers 78 international galleries with blue-chip booths, along with artisans rescued from the margins.

The world is in tumult but for the moment, the business of art marches on. Artists go to their studios, museums keep their doors open and art critics try to make sense of it all. Meanwhile, the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), a members-only organization known for its blue-chip brands, has assembled for its annual fair.

The 35th edition of The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory offers up 78 galleries and 57 solo presentations. All proceeds from admissions go to the Henry Street Settlement. The quality of artwork here is high: smart, well made, innovative. There are very strong showings here by well-regarded artist like Hope Gangloff, Julie Heffernan, Sheila Hicks, Kurt Kauper, Pieter Schoolwerth and Tavares Strachan — even watercolors by the famed, gender-bending 19th-century author George Sand. What the Art Show demonstrates, however, is the fleet-footed ability of contemporary galleries — compared with larger or besieged institutions — to ferret out lesser-known artists and showcase them in compact, distinctive displays. This edition of the fair really shines in highlighting under-the-radar masters, often women and Black artists. (For more of a design and antiques focus, visit this Armory next week for the Salon Art + Design fair.) Here are a handful of booths that particularly snagged my attention

Eric Firestone Gallery

Eric Firestone has made a career of rescuing artists from the dustbin—or at least the margins—of art history, particularly New York in the late 20th-century. Here he’s featuring five who appeared in important exhibitions devoted to Black art in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Paul Waters’s canvases have a gorgeous, geometric simplicity, but the real standout is Anderson Pigatt, a self-taught sculptor who also worked as a restorer of antique furniture after studying cabinetmaking on the G.I. Bill. In Honor of the Brothers and Sisters of Reclamation Site One (1969) is a hulking monument made from a fallen oak tree in a Harlem park. The idea that wood has a spirit is deftly translated in this tough-but-tender memorial to civil rights activists.

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