Your Guide to Armory Week

by Reid Singer on March 4, 2013 Art Fair

Even though the hum around Armory week seems subdued this year, visiting half-a-dozen-plus art fairs can in a few days’ time can feel like a week on a Eurail pass. Naive outsiders are treated harshly, the food is unfamiliar and overpriced, and you spend a lot of time snooping around taking pictures. It’s useful to have an index that you can depend on to guide you towards the things that are worth seeing and away from the things that aren’t. A guidebook if you will. Here’s ours.

Image courtesy

Armory Show

Where: Piers 92 and 94
Wednesday, March 6 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Open everyday from 12 – 7 PM
Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $30

The fair that used to take place at the actual Park Avenue Armory now sits on the piers off of the West Side Highway like an enormous, rectangular walrus, with cubicles that practically respire with commerce. The happy embrace of the market is underlined by this year’s panel discussions: art-savvy finance blogger Felix Salmon will moderate a talk on consumerism, the Chubb Insurance Company will sponsor a panel titled, “Why Collect?,” and The Kitchen’s Tim Griffin will lead a discussion on the chimera of collecting performance art.

The selection of Liz Magic Laser as the 2013 commissioned artist for the Armory Show suggests an attempt to balance out all this of this squareness, as much of Ms. Laser’s performance art — centered around political rhetoric and institutional critique — is at the very least hard to pin down. That she should have planned her commission with the help of a corporate focus group earlier this fall (watching attendants, including AFC’s Paddy Johnson, through a two-way mirror), hints that she may accomplish something interesting deep in the commercial cave. Then again, she may not. Describing what was expected of the commissioned artist, the NY Observer’s Michael H. Miller didn’t seem to have his hopes up. “Oh, you know,” he told the other focus group members. “You stage a performance during the first hour, and then you design the tickets and the tote bags.”

Eadweard Muybridge, "Movement of the hand, drawing a circle," 1887, Collotype plates. Image courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery


Where: Park Avenue
Tuesday, March 5 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 – 8 PM
Open Sunday 12 – 5 PM
Park Avenue at 67th Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $25

At the Upper East Side’s ADAA fair, many exhibitors’ booths seem to have a retrospective feel: Sean Kelly will dig back into their trunk of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, Laurence Miller Gallery will show some rare originals by Eadweard Muybridge, Mnuchin Gallery will share a tribute to Andy Warhol’s paintings of Mao, and Galerie Lelong will revive Sean Scully’s quasi-Minimalist paintings in grey from the late ‘70s. The looking-back tendency could have something to do with this year being ADAA’s 25th anniversary, but it could also be a reflection on the large inventory participating dealers have of items from the secondary market. You also might walk by a Rembrandt drawing or a Schiele stud (just sitting there!), but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some derivative sculptures made out of mirrors and crumpled aluminum. Stay on your toes.

Phil Collins in Eurythmics, 2012, courtesy


Where: Chelsea
Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Thursday, 4 PM – 9 PM
Friday through Saturday, 11 AM – 8 PM
Sunday, 11 AM – 5 PM
548 West 22nd Street, NYC
Admission Fee: Free

Standing up to be counted among the week’s closer-to-Earth events, Independent has touted the participation of newly-arrived non-profits including The Kitchen and Printed Matter. The other big item of note is a prize, judged by Artists Space director Stefan Kalmar and independent curator Clarissa Darlymple, that will offer $10,000 to an institution deserving of recognition for curatorial excellence.

Almost by definition, New York fairs are New York centric, and this fair is no different. Still, while it hosts its share of locals — Gavin Brown, Murray Guy, and Andrew Kreps amongst them—their international galleries are serious. In addition to showings Gió Marconi (Milan), Neue Alte Brücke (Frankfurt), and Campoli Presti (London), this year, they add Christian Anderson (Copenhagen) and Christian Nagel (Berlin) to their roster. LA’s David Kordansky Gallery, whose most recent visit to New York involved a High Line billboard by Elad Lassry, are notably absent from this year’s list.


Where: Chelsea
Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Open Thursday through Saturday from 12 – 8 PM
Open Sunday 12 – 7 PM
312 West 33rd Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $20

We’re going to give this year’s Scope NYC the benefit of the doubt — but not because they haven’t had some pedestrian showings in the past, and not because they don’t still need to answer for the 2011 performance work “C’mon Guy (Frat Boy Box Party)”. That piece involved Texas-based artist Richie Budd and Will Robison placing a handful of New Jersey fraternity brothers behind showroom glass and leaving them there to entertain themselves with a marker, a piss bucket, and a hefty case of beer. It will take a few more years to live down.

Still, a commissioned work by Miami-based performance artist David Rohn shows some promise. Adapting the voice of a 18th century historical reenactor, Rohn will talk to visitors through an archaic stereoscope and period telephone installed in the wall.  The Gilbert and George tribute seen in an installation by Ron English of morbid supermarket signage (“Cow Meat,” “Dead Fish,” “Chicken Carcass, $2.99/lb.”) also suggests a modicum thoughtfulness that we’re looking forward to giving a closer look.

We’re also looking forward to whatever NYC twitter maverick and curator Adev9 has up her sleeve. She’s been tweeting the hashtag #whitehotpresents and promising candy for two weeks now. Artists in this intitiatve will include Lee Ranaldo, Leah Singer, Noah Becker, Michael Anderson, and Lucy Pullen.

Image courtesy


Where: SoHo
Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Thursday, 2 PM – 8 PM
Friday through Saturday, 11 AM – 8 PM
Sunday, March 10, 11 AM – 6 PM
76 Mercer Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $15

Volta is the smallest of the week’s well-heeled fairs, and with its one-artist-per-booth model, it could be the most curatorially ambitious. While AFC editors had feared that Volta’s showings had been shrinking, this year’s roster actually has fourteen more exhibitors than 2011, including San Francisco’s Mark Wolfe and Chicago’s Western Exhibitions. Prepare for a lot of obscure work by mid-career artists you might not have heard of, including a conceptual photo series by Katrin von Lehmann from Berlin’s Kit Schulte or Boschesque paintings by Haruko Maeda, exhibited by Christian Larsen, out of Stockholm. New York galleries of note include The Hole, ADA, and DCKT. Curve balls include a panel on the “global upsurge” of contemporary Caribbean art, and some dauntingly open-ended talks with titles like “On Abstraction” and “The Next 10,000 Years of Creation.”

Eva and Franco Mattes, "Emily’s Video," 2012. Image courtesy

Moving Image

Thursday, March 7 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Where: Waterfront Tunnel
Thursday through Saturday, 11 AM – 8 PM
Sunday, 11 AM – 4 PM
269 11th Avenue, NYC
Admission Fee: Free

An art fair’s format is unkind to video art, and dealers who try to put in on in their booth often risk putting themselves in a box (specifically, a box with a bench and some headphones in it). You could say Moving Image is an opportunity to reverse that, even giving institutions like the Winkleman Gallery the opportunity to have more than one star (Cathy Begien, and Janet Biggs). We’d adamantly recommend the panel discussion, “Moving Images and Projections on Public Space” with Sara Reisman, who directs the Percent For Art program for the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as a festival of net artist vines presented by Postmasters, curated by bloggers Marina Galperina and Kyle Chayka.

All of these are definite pluses. The only glaring fault of the fair appears to be an over-representation of American artists, especially from New York. It may not be entirely the directors’ fault, but it’s not like no one in Leipzig or Santo Domingo is showing this kind of work; having a roster with the feel of a personal network of friends and close-knit colleagues suggests that there’s definitely room for breadth.

Photo of Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori courtesy


Where: NoLita
Wednesday, March 6 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Open everyday from 12 – 9 PM
Old School, 233 Mott Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $5

Now in its second year, New York’s SPRING/BREAK Art Show touts itself as the “curator-driven” fair. Organizers Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly may have found their niche. There’s no galleries with booths here, just dozens of curators and artists wending their way throughout the classrooms of a 19th century school building.

Hands down, it sounds far more adventurous than many of the other fairs opening this week. Looking at the list of over 20 curators and 70 artists, there are plenty of names that don’t ring a bell. That’s a good thing because with neither the Brucennial or the Dependent taking place this year, we hope SPRING/BREAK will step up to provide some youthful pep and offbeat charm. We’ll need that while spending most of the week sifting through the dross of neon and shiny things at the larger fairs.

Some of the better known curators include filmmaker Eve Sussman (rufus corporation), dealers Helen Toomer (Toomer Labzda) and Tom Weinrich (Interstate Projects), and semi-celebrity Kyle deWoody (Grey Area). A few familiar artist names we’re always happy to see are Marco Castro, Jennifer Chan, and Rachel de Joode.

Image courtesy


Where: 69th Regiment Armory
Friday, March 8 – Sunday, March 10, 2013
Friday, 12 PM – 5 PM
Saturday, 12 PM – 7 PM
Sunday, 12 PM – 5 PM
68 Lexington Avenue at 25th Street, NYC
Admission Fee: $10

Given how hard it must be to garner attention when you’re competing with seven other fairs in the city (nine, if you count PooL and New City), our hats are off to Fountain directors David Kesting, Lincoln Capla, and John Leo for their roguish spirit and emphasis on tiny galleries and collectives. Highlights to look out for include Bushwick’s Fuchs Projects and et al Projects, and Montreal’s Station 16, as well as an immense street art installation curated by Alex Emmart (Mighty Tanaka, Dumbo) and Robots Will Kill. We’re particularly perked to hear that a concert on Friday featuring art-world-friendly acts including Lucas Walters, Musa, and Spank Rock will be on the menu.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: