New York hosts numerous art fairs from the prestigious Armory Show exhibiting exceptional modern and contemporary art; Art on Paper, with paper based art, Scope, showcasing cutting-edge contemporary art, to the Affordable Art Fair, and more. These fairs not only offer a temporary brick and mortar presence for the virtual galleries, they give the art lover a chance to see a wide range of art under one roof, to meet the gallerists, and maybe even the artists they represent themselves. The fairs are certainly more rewarding than looking at a website. In addition, one can appreciate the technical skill of an artist in real-time and the unspoken dialogue between the viewer and the art work that is best experienced face to face.

Laurence de Valmy

At opening night at Scope, I met with Laurence de Valmy where she was represented by the Kahn Gallery, London. As an emerging artist, Laurence’s work pays homage to the world’s foremost artists and their works of art in a playful way that is apropos for today’s social media dominated era. She recreates renowned works of art as if the master painters were sharing their latest creation on Instagram.

Laurence brings to light the collaborative relationships of artists in her Post series HER and HIStory such as impressionist artists Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, and the abstract expressionist couple Lee Krassner and Jackson Pollock. Women artists have been portrayed as shadowing their male counterparts but they should be thought of as equals.

Imagine if Mary Cassatt’s painting Little Girl in a Blue Chair in 1878 was accepted by the World Fair Jury and exhibited. Degas had advised her on the painting, he supplied the model, and gave her the dog which is in the original painting, and thus it appears that the only reason she wasn’t accepted by the World Fair Jury was gender-biased. Nevertheless, the painting is a testament to Cassatt’s and Degas’s spirited friendship.

We tend to think of master artists living in a vacuum, and perhaps like a piece of art on a pedestal. Laurence takes the artists off the pedestal by making them seem as contemporary artists sharing and connecting on Instagram. Her paint work reminds me very much of one of her favorite artists, David Hockney. Laurence may appropriate an art work, yet she reimagines it and makes it her own, and stretching her technical hand as in her work Rodin where a sculpture is reinterpreted as a painting. Laurence’s art work is an upbeat commentary on social media, and her website connects one to the history of the original works of art she draws from. In essence she is teaching art history in a fun inclusive way. Laurence is originally from France, and she now works and resides in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Toni Silber Delerive

I met up with artist Toni Silber Delerive at her studio in TriBeCa.

Toni was a graphic artist with her own successful business until around 2004 when she transitioned into Fine Art full-time. She is well represented online, yet for me I need to see art in person to get a feel for it, and for the person who created it. I was attracted to her colorful palette, and her aerial views reminded me of the patchwork vibrant rectangles we see from airplane windows. Toni’s work is colorful, and there’s a quality of flatness to her paint work that reminds me of Alex Katz’s work. I can also see the influence of Wayne Thiebault in her Food series. A favorite of mine is Assorted Chocolates.

When Toni isn’t painting, she active member of the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. It is worth mentioning that this club always accepted women since its founding in 1898, as at that time it was the exception than rule.

After spending an afternoon with Toni at her workspace, we headed to the National Arts Club for dinner and a lecture on American Painters in Brittany. It was an informative lecture about the American artist Robert Wylie, and the artist colonies that evolved because of him. Brittany’s pristine pastoral landscape continues to lure artists today.

It was an artful day with Toni from beginning to end. Toni was born in Philadelphia and is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art. She earned her Master’s in Art Education from Kean University in New Jersey.

Maria Christina Jimenez

Realism is making a comeback, perhaps partly because of the computer, as we may appreciate a skilled hand more than we did before. Look no further than Maria Jimenez. Maria brings to light how social media, and cellular phones are transforming the way we connect, and the serious implications they can have - particularly for teenagers. We are all distracted by cellular phones and they can negatively impact the quality of our lives on sleep, productivity, and ultimately to forming meaningful human-to-human connections. Yet for the young the implications are far more worrisome as they are just developing. We need to think of a cellular phone as a tool rather than adapted appendage.

Though Maria draws and paints realistically she may deliberately distort images to emphasize our attention to cellular devices and laptop computers. Maria approaches some of her paintings with a bird’s eye view, such as Drowning in Technology where a drowning bather is a metaphor for how our devices are having a drowning effect on our daily lives. In Dopamine Code we see two adolescents staring at their phones held in their hands above their laps. We can see the influence of Edward Hopper in the portrayal of together yet alienated.

Maria was born and raised in New York where she continues to reside. She earned her Master’s from the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, and her Bachelor Degree at the School of Visual Art in New York. She splits her time between painting, and teaching at the High School Art and Design in New York. Prior to teaching and dedicating her artistic practice to painting, Maria started her career as an illustrator, and then later as a graphic artist.

Through these artists we can see the various implications of social media, cellular phones, and technology on our lives. Laurence connects art history to the present, while Maria brings our attention to the addictive quality of cellular phones. Toni’s career was redirected to the Fine Arts as technology made the graphic arts less profitable. I find that art gives me a sense of direction and helps keep me grounded. Social media maybe a place to share, connect and keep in touch but it will never replace the quality of experiencing life in real-time.