BY CAITLIN DONOHUE The News Alot has changed in Mexico City in the 13 years that the art fair Zona Maco has been in existence. The city once regarded in international press as one of the world’s most violent and polluted metropolises has become its darling — even popping up at the top of the New York Times’ recent list of the top “52 Places to Go in 2016.” The art market is an apt indicator of this shift, and this is “art week” in Mexico City, the perfect time to experience the upper echelons of local creativity. Start with the aforementioned Zona Maco, the OG elite art fair in Mexico City and the one that has established the first week in February as a must-visit time in the capital for art collectors, gallerists and creatives alike.
This year’s Zona Maco is in Centro Banamex, in the tony northwestern Lomas de Sotelo neighborhood. Do not expect to arrive by public transportation, but do expect a panoramic array of works from galleries both local and across-the-globe international — in addition to fashion designer spotlights, like that of textile queen Carla Fernández. Your next stop is Material Art Fair, started by Yautepec Gallery founders Daniela Elbahara and Brett Schultz. Now in its third edition, Material prides itself on providing space for emerging artists and galleries. It does this in spades, and attracts a younger crowd with its hip styling, barrage of public programming and well curated lounges — think tattooed cacti and flamboyant performance art.
Those are the big guns. But, much like in Miami during the week Art Basel comes to roost, art institutions across the city take advantage of the convergence generated by the big fairs to stage excellent exhibitions of their own. www.zsonamaco.com; www.material-fair.com MANUEL SOLANO This young painter abruptly lost most of his vision two years ago, yet has managed to work through the setback and is now creating vivid works that express a vision that has changed, but certainly not dimmed. Karen Huber Gallery presents his work in Zona Maco’s Sur section, a follow up to Solano’s sold out solo show that happened in Huber’s Colonia Juárez space last year. DEBORA DELMAR CORP Another Zona Maco Sur presentation — this one orchestrated by Los Angeles’ LTD Gallery — by an up and coming Mexico City mind. Delmar is best known for solo work that explores the soft edges of consumerism in today’s society via highly original installation work, usually incongruously placed modern artifacts of femininity. SANGREE ART BAR But let’s be real, you’re going to get tired tramping past all those canvases and the real beauty of art fairs is the high level schmoozing that goes on. You will find no better place to talk shop than the first edition of the Absolut Art Bar series in Mexico. Designing the space is Mexico City sculptural duo Sangree, whose works blend epochs effortlessly — think skateparks that double as Aztec ruins, and totemic figures with Nike swooshes tattooed on their posterior. A source tells me the bar will recall visions of a Tenochtitlán rave, nightly programming making the space a perfect swirl of energy in which to grab a beverage. INDEX ART FAIR Even traditional art spaces are re-energized by art week madness. Museo Jumex hosts the reputed first indie art book fair in Mexico Feb. 4-7, featuring volumes published here and abroad. www.indexartbookfair.mx ANDREW BIRK This U.S. painter seeks to recreate the chaos, charm and calamity of the Mexico City streetscape with an immersive exhibition at Anonymous Gallery. Birk finds particular joy in irregular car paint, which will be evident at this opening at 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. www.anonymousgallery.com LUQUIFY / RETRACT One of the most compelling reasons for foreigners to check out the Mexico City art scene is its abundance of phenomenal, non-traditional spaces exhibiting works. Materia — founded by recent art school grads Alina Mendoza and Matias Reding — is one of these, a gallery, party venue, clothing retail space and occasional nail salon occupying the second floor of an unassuming street in the Centro Histórico neighborhood. Friday, Nov. 5’s opening from 6 to 11 p.m. is curated by online design house Janet40 and focuses on the products of digital artists, a sharp corner of the city’s emerging artist community. www.facebook.com/materia.laboratorio