Photography Show Director Lydia Melamed Johnson’s Artists to Watch

As AIPAD’s Photography Show returns to New York City's Park Avenue Armory in full force, Melamed Johnson lends her well-honed eye to Surface and shares the names to know from this year’s fair.

Credit: Courtesy of the Photography Show.

As New York City’s dizzying calendar of fairs, exhibitions, and cultural events has returned to peak calendar craziness, AIPAD has led the pack with a comeback to its longtime home at the Park Avenue Armory. The venue of choice for creatives on the cutting edge of arts—Justin Peck, Robert Icke, and Rashaad Newsome among them—is welcoming the fair back to its Gothic Revival halls following a post-pandemic hiatus from the venue. Fair director Lydia Melamed Johnson shared the news in an exclusive interview with Surface this past year, explaining that fellow organizers “knew the organization was ready to once again grow and inhabit such a distinct space” following two successful but scaled-down editions in 2022 and 2023. 

Fast forward to today, and the fair is in full swing, showing the latest photographs and prints  from 78 galleries and hundreds of exhibiting artists. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, so Surface tapped Johnson for her expert recommendations on the photographers she has her eye on as their star rises.

Artist Toshiko Okanoue, “Two Women.”

Toshiko Okanoue at The Third Gallery Aya

Toshiko Okanoue is an fascinating artist that I’d love more people to learn about. The surrealism inherent in the images and her mode of depicting femininity are beautiful and entrancing. Her work was rediscovered in the ‘90s after her practice was paused for many years, and it’s quite exciting to have The Third Gallery Aya present her work at the fair this year.

Marcia Resnick, “In her drama club, she would re-enact scenes from violent movies.”

Marcia Resnick at Deborah Bell Photographs

The narrative in Resnick’s work is playful, dark, and dramatic. It’s great to present a New York–based artist that has been inspired by the cultural scene in the city at a historically New York fair. To have a female artist put her own imprint on the violence historically acted upon female bodies in horror movies, long before the current mode of reconsideration and reckoning happening now, is important to witness.

Edward Weston, “Shells 6S.”

Edward Weston at Scott Nichols

Gifted to the art critic for the L.A. Times, from Weston. According to Weston’s log, only six vintage prints were done. Pictured on the cover of Amy Conger’s Edward Weston book. The classic beauty of Edward Weston’s work is iconic and deeply AIPAD. He shaped American photography, and I can’t wait to see this rare, vintage print.

Marilyn Minter, “Goldi.”

Marilyn Minter at CLAMP

The power, grit, and glamour in this image is captivating. Minter never digitally manipulates her photographs, and the way she explores gender and sexuality through her distinctive style always challenges the viewer.

Simone Rosenbauer, “Like Ice in the Clouds (Japan) No129.”

Simone Rosenbauer at Laurence Miller Gallery

Simone Rosenbauer is a young artist that I’m looking forward to seeing at Laurence Miller Gallery. This work is part of a series called Like Ice in the Clouds, which depicts ephemerality through the melting of Popsicles. The colors are lush, and I enjoy the use of such a simple, childish motif to capture time.

Dieter Appelt, “Der Fleck auf dem Spiegel, den der Atemhauch schafft (The Mark on the Mirror Made by Breathing).”

Dieter Appelt at Les Douches la Galerie

It appears both I and our galleries are leaning into Surrealism this year. As a motif for today’s deep, necessary investigations of self and the construction of society around us, it seems only fitting. 

Jaromír Funke, “Untitled,” from the series Cas trvá (Time Persists).

Jaromír Funke at Gitterman Gallery

A gorgeous, enigmatic image that immediately captures your attention from an artist I’ve only recently discovered through Gitterman Gallery’s fantastic program.

Tim Walker, “James Crewe, Fashion: Valentino Haute Couture.”

Tim Walker at Michael Hoppen

A dress and a dream I’d love to live in for a moment. Tim Walker’s photographs are escapist fantasies I want to get lost in. I’m looking forward to seeing its unique, domed presentation in person.

Alma Haser, “Rhodanthemum.”

Alma Haser at Candela Gallery

Artists playing with the medium with three-dimensionality add new layers (wink wink) to photography. I enjoy the experimentation and playfulness of Alma Haser’s work, with its sculptural and voyeuristic quality that seems, on the surface, to be simply floral. 


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