Features

Your Concise Guide to Armory Week 2015

Inside the 2014 Armory Show (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Inside the 2014 Armory Show (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless noted otherwise)

It’s time for the art world’s annual migration to the far, far, far west side of Midtown Manhattan for the Armory Show and its many satellite art fairs. This year’s edition of 13 fairs is especially concentrated on the west side, with many of the biggest satellite fairs moving closer to the Armory Show’s perch on piers 92 and 94. For those coming from out of town — or those who simply need to escape the maze of booths — neighborhood-specific special events in Bushwick and the Lower East Side will offer opportunities to check out some actual galleries.

Also, don’t forget to follow Hyperallergic on Instagram for pics from the fairs all week.

ADAA Art Show

When: March 4–8 / Wednesday–Friday: 12–8pm; Saturday: 12–7pm; Sunday: 12–5pm ($25)
Where: Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

With its uptown location and focus on thematic and solo presentations, the ADAA Art Show is a classy and more palatable alternative to the eclectic trade show atmosphere of the Armory Show. Among the enticing offerings this year are David Zwirner’s booth devoted to Forrest Bess, David Nolan Gallery’s presentation of Christina Ramberg works, and an exhibition of self-portraits spanning the Fraenkel Gallery and Peter Freeman Inc. booths.

Armory Show

When: March 5–8 / Thursday–Sunday: 12–7pm ($45)
Where:  Piers 92 & 94 (Twelfth Avenue at West 55th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

The main entrance to the Armory Show
The main entrance to the Armory Show

The mothership of the Armory Week invasion, the Armory Show will bring 195 galleries to the Hudson River piers, split into its Modern (Pier 92) and Contemporary (Pier 94) sections. This year’s region-specific “Armory Focus” sector will showcase galleries and artists from MENAM (Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean) countries, curated by Omar Kholeif. In typical Armory Show fashion, the fair’s special projects are a comical mix of crowd-pleasing gestures — 5,000 specially designed bags of potato chips by Abu Hamdan — and overtures to jet-setting collectors — Abbas Akhavan’s conceptual hedge fence “Untitled Garden” (2008/15) being used to delineate the VIP lounge.

As always, the fair’s schedule of talks and panels is one of its greatest appeals, with this edition’s highlights including “Exhibiting the Collapse: Climate Change in the Art World” (March 6, 12:30pm) and a panel on the impact of the politics of representation in shaping the art and art history of MENAM countries (March 8, 1pm).

Art on Paper

When: March 6–8 / Friday, Saturday: 11am–7pm; Sunday: 11am–6pm ($25)
Where: Pier 36 (299 South Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

You probably think this new fair is devoted exclusively to works on paper — drawings, prints, watercolors, and the like — but, as Art on Paper elusively puts it on its website, it “will feature work by artists who look to paper as a major influence in their sculpture, drawing, painting, and photography.” Its special projects lineup is enticing enough to make the trek from Midtown West to the lowest corner of the Lower East Side worthwhile, and includes an aerial dogfight of paper planes by Michael Scoggins, giant paper puppets by Wayne White, and massive reproductions of Dave Eggers drawings.

Bushwick Beat Nite

When: March 6, 6–10pm (Free)
Where: Various galleries (Bushwick Brooklyn)

The 12th edition of Bushwick’s semi-annual gallery extravaganza, Beat Nite (curated, full disclosure, by this writer), highlights new shows at 10 art spaces spanning the neighborhood’s Morgantown warehouse locales to outliers so out there, they’re technically in Ridgewood. The afterparty at The Vazquez (93 Forrest Street) starts at 10pm, but don’t stay too late — if you’re planning to spend all weekend going to the fairs, you need to conserve your energy.

Clio Art Fair

When: March 6–8 / Friday, Saturday: 10am–6pm; Sunday: 12–6pm (Free)
Where: 508–526 West 26th Street (Chelsea, Manhattan)

Self-identifying as an “anti-fair for independent artists,” the Clio Art Fair cuts out the dealers to let artists without official representation show their works on their own behalf. This year’s edition boasts 50 exhibitors and, based on the important gate-keeping function gallerists play, seems likely to be a very mixed bag.

Independent

When: March 6–8 / Friday, Saturday: 12–7pm; Sunday: 12–6pm ($20)
Where: 548 West 22nd Street (Chelsea, Manhattan)

A view of the Independent, open and light-filled
The Independent in 2014 (photo by Jillian Steinhauer for Hyperallergic)

Wait, wasn’t there an Independent fair just a few months ago? Well, yes and no. That was Independent Projects, an experiment from the team that also puts on the Independent art fair during Armory Week. The fair’s most distinctive feature is its booth-free design, which can be refreshing when you’re coming from the booth labyrinth of the Armory Show or infuriating if you’re trying to figure out who made what and which gallery is showing it. Nevertheless, the quality-to-crap ratio at the Independent is often one of the most favorable among the week’s art sell-offs.

Lower East Side Gallery Day

When: March 7, 12–6pm (Free)
Where: Various galleries (Lower East Side, Manhattan)

Need an excuse to take a break from the fairs and go gallery-hopping on the Lower East Side? Here it is. Orchard Street’s Lesley Heller Workspace has declared Saturday “Lower East Side Gallery Day,” and though the neighborhood’s galleries are always open Saturdays, and none of them will be open especially late in observance of the special day, you will probably be eager to spend an afternoon strolling outside after days spent running around fairs.

Moving Image

When: March 5–8 / Thursday–Saturday: 11am–8pm; Sunday: 11am–4pm (Free)
Where: Waterfront New York Tunnel (269 Eleventh Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Inside the Moving Image art fair
Inside the Moving Image art fair

“Calm” and “art fair” aren’t words I often use in the same sentence, but Moving Image is by far the most calm of the Armory Week art fairs. Its focus on video, digital art, film, and related works means you need to set aside some substantial time to do justice to the art on view, but by the same token, it makes for a much more satisfying and engrossing experience. Consider this your decompression lounge for when you overdose on big paintings and shiny sculptures. Among the notable works on view at this year’s edition will be Charlie Ahearn’s new film Dirt Style — wherein the veteran graffiti documentarian accompanies an artist on a mission to tag the Paris metro — and Peggy Ahwesh, who cut together an alternative account of last year’s Israeli-Gaza war, which plays across five monitors, using clips by the beloved Taiwanese CGI studio Next Media Animation.

New City Art Fair

When: March 5–8 / Thursday–Saturday: 12–7pm; Sunday: 12–6pm (Free)
Where: 529 West 20th Street, Suite 2W (Chelsea, Manhattan)

Packed into hpgrp Gallery’s Chelsea space, the New City Art Fair showcases Japanese contemporary art, with seven galleries hailing from Tokyo, Sapporo, and Nagoya joining the host gallery.

Pulse

When: March 5–8 / Thursday: 1–6pm; Friday, Saturday: 11am–8pm; Sunday: 11am–5pm ($25)
Where: 125 West 18th Street (Chelsea, Manhattan)

One of the biggest Armory Week satellite fairs, Pulse keeps things interesting with a number of special categories of programming, including its Impulse section devoted to young galleries — this year’s participants include Project ArtBeat from Tbilisi, Georgia, Philip Bloom Gallery from Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn’s own Odetta — the Points sector devoted to non-profits — among them Philadelphia’s InLiquid and Lima’s X-Change Art Project.

Pulse’s calendar of talks and tours includes possibly the most outlandishly ambitious event of Armory Week, a 10-person roundtable titled “The Future” (March 7, 2pm) that will feature the likes of Lindsay Howard, El Museo del Barrio curator Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, curator Dexter Wimberly, Hyperallergic contributor and Asian American Writers’ Workshop program director Ryan Wong, and, naturally, someone from the Marina Abramović Institute — though, also naturally, not Abramović herself.

Salon Zürcher

When: March 3–8 / Tuesday–Saturday: 12–8pm; Sunday: 12–5pm (Free)
Where: Zürcher Gallery (33 Bleecker Street, Noho, Manhattan)

Another art fair alternative for people who hate art fairs, Salon Zürcher packs six galleries from as far away as Beijing (Jiali) and as nearby as the Lower East Side (Novella) into Zürcher Gallery. The intimate setting and small gathering tend to make for a convivial atmosphere and impressive selection of works.

Scope

When: March 6–8 / Friday: 6–10pm; Saturday, Sunday: 11am–8pm ($30)
Where: 639 West 46th Street (Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

In the aisles at Scope's 2014 edition
In the aisles at Scope’s 2014 edition

If you wanted to invent and then play “Art Cliché Bingo,” Scope would be the place to try it out. Last year’s fair had skulls splashed with luxury brand logos, a crucifix made of automatic weapons, hyperrealist busts of Andy Warhol, works by Banksy and Hanksy, and the most outrageously overpriced lawn ornaments I’ve ever seen (by Lorenzo Quinn, son of the late screen legend Anthony Quinn). It’s a very silly fair, but it’s also refreshingly unpretentious. This year it has relocated to a space much closer to the Armory Show and, in a decision that will prove to be either brilliant or extremely foolish, embraced the Independent’s open-plan, booth-less layout. How will we know where one gallery’s colorful street art offerings end and the next one’s begin?

Spring/Break Art Show

When: March 4–8 / Wednesday–Saturday: 12–8pm; Sunday: 12–6pm ($10)
Where: Skylight at Moynihan Station (31st Street at Eighth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan)

Where most fairs privilege galleries, the Spring/Break Art Show prides itself on giving curators top billing. This year the fair has left its longtime Catholic school digs for the soaring Skylight at Moynihan Station space and brought along more than 80 curators. Expect the usual, heady mix of salable objects and large-scale, participatory projects and installations, all informed by this year’s theme, “Transactions.”

(Un)Scene Art Show

When: March 4–8 / Wednesday–Sunday: 11am–8pm (Free)
Where: 549 West 52nd Street (Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

The (Un)Scene Art Show is yet another art fair identifying itself as an anti-art fair — in fact, you probably know it better by its 2014 name, the (Un)Fair — and its lineup of participating artists is refreshingly unfamiliar. In addition to the sprinkling of boldface names like Carolee Schneeman, Chris Ofili, and Will Kurtz, there are plenty of up-and-comers like Kara Daving, TJ Volonis, Christina Massey, Charles Heppner, and Sabrina Barrios participating. There’s also an impressive schedule of performances and happenings throughout the (anti-)fair.

Volta

When: March 6–8 / Friday, Saturday: 12–8pm; Sunday: 12–7pm ($25)
Where: Pier 90 (Twelfth Avenue at West 50th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan)

Inside the 2014 edition of Volta NY
Inside the 2014 edition of Volta NY

The Armory Show’s hipper sister fair, Volta, has moved to an adjacent pier this year and will showcase its usual lineup of solo and two-artist booths. This format offers a welcome respite for bleary-eyed fair-goers coming down from an art overdose, though participating gallerists, forced to put all their eggs in one basket, tend to show a lot of colorful paintings and figurative sculptures.

The fair’s calendar of talks and panels, the Volta Salon, includes a conversation about collecting digital art moderated by Paddy Johnson and featuring lightning rod collector Stefan Simchowitz, and a panel titled “Cuba After the Thaw” that will include Bronx Museum executive director Holly Block and Gabriela Rangel, the director of visual arts at the Americas Society.

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