March rolls around and so do literally dozens of art fairs, in what is New York's busiest 10 days for art collectors and dealers. The fairs are many-folded– you can attend as a spectator, in which case the fair functions as a fun smorgasbord of art, champagne, and coffee. You can attend as a dealer, in which case the fair could provide most of your revenue for that year, and form valuable connections with potential buyers. You can attend as a collector, where you might find the perfect piece to add to your collection. You might attend as an artist, but that is pretty unlikely. Artists themselves (the ones exhibited, anyway) tend to stay away from the fair frenzy.
The season kicks off with The ADAA and their 30th-anniversary show, which presents 72 of the country's leading art dealers and their collections. What is an art dealer, you ask? An art dealer is simply a gallery owner. At the ADAA you're likely to find more conservative works of art from the 19th century through today. The ADAA is hosted by the historic Park Avenue Armory– which makes things a little confusing given that the largest art fair in town is called The Armory Show (located on Piers 91 and 94 in Manhattan). The Armory Show, on its 24th year, is better known for displaying the works of modern artists around the globe, specifically 20th and 21st-century art. Armory is a huge event, attracting 65,000 people last year– this year, they will be hosting over 200 international galleries. Armory's younger sister, VOLTA, sets up shop right next door at Pier 90, and this year marks their 14th. VOLTA NY is much smaller in comparison and accessible to younger art-lovers, though it still manages to attract heavy-hitting collectors. VOLTA hosts contemporary established and emerging artists alike.
ADAA Art Show
VOLTA NY 2017, Andy Dixon
If you travel downtown you can hit up NADA (The New Art Dealers Alliance) and Independent NY. NADA is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the cultivation, support, and advancement of new voices in contemporary art; not only hosting an array of contemporary galleries but also offering artists talks and art walks.
Another notable fair this week is SPRING/BREAK Art Show located in Times Square, whose theme this year is "STRANGER COMES TO TOWN", a play on Tolstoy's adage ‘All great literature is one of two stories; a hero goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town', and a direct reference to the country's current political climate. SPRING/BREAK is only in its seventh year but has gained much notoriety and buzz in the art world, holding its own during Armory Arts Week.
“Azikiwe Mohammed A New Davonhaime Thrift Store,” curated by Dustin Yellin
The art fairs tend to be priced between $25 to $80 single-day tickets, depending on the kind of experience you're looking for. Most shows offer VIP passes, where you get to mingle with the art world's VIPs in a special little VIP area, there's better coffee, and its all very VIP.
You can make most fairs, especially Armory, a whole day experience to get the most out of your ticket. Great restaurants set up booths, there are oyster and champagne stands, hundreds of galleries to walk through and even live events like artist talks happening at all times.
Last year The Chelsea Art Group, an art advisory firm, gave Howl Magazine a private tour of Armory and talked to us about the transactional nature of buying and selling art and the huge returns buying a work of art can yield. It is a super interesting and odd process, about which you can read more here.
Someone once told me that the art dealers posted at the booths can tell if you are a serious potential buyer from the shoes you're wearing (?!) which is hilarious. If you are press or one of these expensively-shoed individuals, you sometimes get invited into the "back room" of a gallery booth, a tiny room which holds some of the galleries' most valuable works behind a locked door. If you're an art lover, you can ask every booth for a little brochure or postcard so you can remember which galleries to keep an eye on or follow on Instagram. Sometimes I even ask to see the price list to peep what certain art is going for these days, and after eyeing me up and down and deciding I'm not a serious contestant they dryly hand me a price sheet. It's all a lot of fun!
All in all, this week is a really great time for New Yorkers to get out and experience the art that is happening all around the world concentrated in one place– there are few similar opportunities. So wear your comfy shoes (please don't even think about heels) and treat yo'self to a weekend of fun art exploration– all the fairs we mentioned above run from the 8th to 11th of March, give or take a day.
Above and Below: ARMORY exhibitors
Below is a list of all the major art fairs in town and their respective address and websites, take a look:
Feb 28th - March 4th
Park Avenue Armory, NY (643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets)
March 8th - March 11th
PIERS 92 & 94 (Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street)
March 7th - March 11th
March 6th - March 12th
4 Times Square, NYC (Chashama), Entrance at 140 West 43rd Street
March 8th - March 11th
Skylight Clarkson Sq. (550 Washington Street in West SoHo)
March 9th - March 11th
Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street
Battleground by Claire Tabourtet at The Armory Show
Lily Ives in “Cannibals” (SPRING/BREAK)