From left, Gallery owner Karen Jenkins-Johnson and Ming Smith surrounded by Smith’s photographs displayed at the Jenkins Johnson booth at Frieze New York. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


GALLERIES DISPLAYING WORKS by African American artists won both booth prizes at the latest edition of Frieze New York. Presenting works by pioneering photographer Ming Smith, Jenkins Johnson Gallery won the 2019 Frieze Stand Prize and Company gallery received the 2019 Frame Prize for its solo exhibition of works by up-and-coming artist Jonathan Lyndon Chase.

The galleries were recognized for their exceptional presentations at Frieze New York held on Randall’s Island May 3-5, with panels of international art experts judging the prizes. Three jurors, including Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, decided the Stand Prize. Lauren Haynes, contemporary art curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, was part of the three-member jury that weighed in on the Frame Prize.


Works by Ming Smith on view at Jenkins Johnson booth in JAM section of Frieze New York 2019. | Courtesy Frieze


Stand Prize: Jenkins Johnson Gallery
Jenkins Johnson participated in a special section of Frieze paying tribute to Just Above Midtown (JAM) gallery. The legendary space was founded by Linda Goode Bryant in 1974 and operated until 1986. Working in collaboration with Bryant, Franklin Sirmans, director of the Perez Art Museum Miami, curated the section inviting galleries representing JAM artists, such as Ming Smith, to mount solo exhibitions of their work.

Photographs by Smith dating from the 1970s to 80s were on view in the Jenkins Johnson booth. The gallery is based in San Francisco and has a satellite space in Brooklyn. Smith’s images included self-portraits, cultural icons such as James Baldwin, Grace Jones, and Gordon Parks, and subjects such as Alvin Ailey’s funeral, jazz musicians, fleeting moments, and neighborhood scenes. Employing a variety of enhancing techniques including double exposure, collage, and painting, Smith’s photographs have an ethereal, otherworldly feel.

Smith was the first female member of Kamoinge, the New York collective of African American photographers. Currently, her work is featured in the traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” A graduate of Howard University, Smith lives in New York City.

“Our decision to honor the JAM initiative in general and Ming Smith in particular was unanimous,” Nancy Spector, one of the jurors who serves as artistic director and chief curator at the Guggenheim Museum, said in a statement. “We recognized that the presentation constituted an important recuperation of an artist’s practice that is not as well-known as it should be. Her booth at Frieze is filled with vintage prints, which is rare to see in the case of artists active in the 1970s and early 80s who did not have a market at that time. Her unique, experimental photographic style is very accomplished and should be celebrated.”


IMAGE: Above right, MING SMITH, “Self-Portrait (From the Self-Portrait Series),” 1972 (mixed-media on gelatin silver print, unique, 48 x 36 inches). | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Pictured in the Jenkins Johnson booth showing works by Ming Smith, Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze fairs (third from left); JAM Founder Linda Goode Bryant; gallery owner Karen Jenkins-Johnson; members of the Stand Prize jury including Nancy Spector, artistic director and chief curator at the Guggenheim Museum; Thelma Golden, director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem; and Cathleen Chaffee, chief curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery) | Courtesy Frieze


Works by Jonathan Lyndon Chase on view at Company booth in Frame section of Frieze New York 2019. | Courtesy Frieze


Frame Prize: Company
The Frame section of Frieze featured a curated selection of galleries in business a decade or less showing solo shows of new work. Following “Jonathan Lyndon Chase: Quiet Storm,” an exhibition at the New York City gallery last year, Company showcased the artist’s work at Frieze. Philadelphia-based Jonathan Lyndon Chase works in a variety of mediums exploring issues of gender, sexuality, and race. He recently earned an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2016) and participated in a 2018 off-site residency with the Rubell Family Collection.

The installation at Frieze featured paintings, drawings, and sculpture by Chase. In its description of the presentation, the gallery said the works “position the kitchen and super markets—once charged sites of gender performance—as backdrops for the liberated queer body. As in all of Chase’s work, the human form takes visceral precedence. Figures hang, kinetically intertwined with ovens, food items, and signage; turning into abstract compositions that sever the boundaries between exterior and interior, physical and emotional.”

The jurors issued the following statement when the Frame Prize was announced: “We’re thrilled to have given the Frame Stand Prize to the Jonathan Lyndon Chase presentation at Company gallery. Bringing together the representation of marginalized bodies, pop aesthetics, common materials and everyday spaces of commerce and cruising, Chase’s installation of painting, sculpture, and sound stood out amongst a fantastic selection of booths.” CT


Pictured in the Company booth showing works by Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze fairs (far left); members of the Frame Prize jury include independent critic and curator Murtaza Vali; Lauren Haynes, curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; and Aram Moshayedi, curator at Hammer Museum (fifth from left). | Courtesy Frieze


In background, Installation view of works by Jonathan Lyndon Chase on view in Company gallery booth at Frieze New York 2019. | Courtesy Frieze


FIND MORE about Jonathan Lyndon Chase on his website

FIND MORE about Ming Smith on her website


Photographer Ming Smith’s work is featured in the exhibition catalog for “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” Showcasing Smith’s photography, “Ming’s Breakfast : Grits and Scrambled Moments” (1991) features captions by Albert Murray and an introduction by Gordon Parks.


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