2.28.17 / New York / New York

How To Make The Most Of New York’s Armory Week

[Photo: @springbreakartshow]

On Wednesday the Armory Show is back, setting off the first of the big two art weeks in New York along with Frieze Week. It’s always a little bit chaotic for art fans; you have the option of seeing an incredible selection of works from around the world, including pieces by famed artists, all in one place. But like pretty much everything else in modern culture, too much choice leaves the viewers feeling a bit exasperated. To avoid the fatigue which accompanies the art fair lifestyle, we have some pro tips below, along with our suggestions of where to go this Armory Week.

Figure Out What You’re Looking For

Most of the fairs present modern art, but many of them have a focus. If you’re interested in famous works you can go to the big shows: The Armory Show (March 2-5, Pier 92 & 94) and the affiliate VOLTA (March 1-5, Pier 90), SCOPE (March 2-5, Metropolitan Pavilion), and the Art Dealers Association of New York (March 1-5, Park Avenue Armory) are always popular. But the Art on Paper (March 2-5, Pier 36) and Moving Image New York (February 27 – March 2, Waterfront Tunnel) fairs offer exactly what’s stated. NADA (March 2-5, Skylight Clarkson North) has always has younger feel to it – check out their list of special programs in collaboration with Kickstarter – and to boot will donate half of ticket sales to the ACLU. Independent (March 2-5, Spring Studios) has always presented progressive galleries around central themes in mind, including solo female shows this year. Finally, SPRING/BREAK (March 1-6, 4 Times Square) has always been a fun fair, which puts unique artwork in strange venues (like an out-of-use elementary school a few years ago), and this year it centers around the theme ‘Black Mirror.’

[Photo: Art on Paper]

Know When To Quit

The Armory Show is easily the biggest fair, with 207 exhibitors. If you’ve ever been to an art fair, you know that a quarter of the fair gets your undivided attention, before you end up racing past every booth making sure you’ve caught a glimpse of everything. Not only do you get very little out of that experience, it feels worse than not seeing art at all, especially when you’re surrounded by crowds of people. Conserve your attention for the things that really draw you in, and leave while you aren’t totally mentally fatigued. There’s a reason these fairs are spread over 4 + days.

[Photo: @independentny]

Put Your Wallet Aside

Art should be free, right? Maybe that doesn’t apply to the artists or the dealers or the people the fairs are actually intended for: buyers. But as a viewer you have plenty of compelling options to check out art this week without committing any cash. Clio (March 2-5, 508-526 W 26th Street) serves artists without representation, and a great place to check out artists outside the gallery system. Salon Zurcher (February 27 – March 5, Galerie Zurcher) is a tight collection of six international galleries, which you brings you a global perspective as well as an intimate viewing experience other fairs lack. Along with the Moving Image of New York, the common ground is that they are all free to the public.

[Photo: @movingimageartfair]

Have A Drink

A good way to break up the monotony of art – an ironic statement which holds true after a couple of hours at fairs – is to indulge in a different way. The biggest celebration comes in the form of the annual MoMA Armory Party, where St. Lucia is set to perform. That gathering always draws out an interesting crowd, but most fairs also have previews and vernissages, which are more relaxed than the fairs over the weekend. You’ll have to use your contacts to make it to invite-only events, but fairs like The Armory Show and NADA all have programs designed to entertain everyone; the point is to step away from the booths once in a while to refresh and recharge.