New York Art Fair Weekend 2012: Where to Go & What to See

Art show visitors enjoying the Armory Art Fair exhibits in NYC.

Contemporary art enthusiasts, prepare to be completely overwhelmed. This coming weekend is, once again (time flies etc.) New York Art Fair Weekend 2012, one of our personal favorite rites of (pre-) Spring. This year there seems to be at least ten different contemporary art fairs going starting now and extending through Sunday, and though YOU may be able to take that much art in over the course of a few days (we're talking THOUSANDS of dealers and gallerists and artists) we have to pace ourselves a bit. Here then, is a look at some what we hope to accomplish, art-viewing-wise, between now and Sunday.   

Fountain Art Fair exhibition at the Regiment Armory in NYC.

Fountain Art Fair NYC

First and foremost for us, there's the Fountain Art Fair, which we've been to just about every year since its launch in 2005, and at which we always have a great time. Not as massive as some of the other fairs, and with an emphasis on more street-art-ish work (think Bushwick rather than Chelsea) as well as regular bits of performance art going on, Fountain Art Fair NYC is a blast. There's also usually a lot of the artists present and willing to chat about their work, if you're so inclined. The only caveat: this year the Fountain Art Fair is moving off its Hudson River barge, home for at least the last three years, and into the 69th Regiment Armory, on 25th Street and Lexington Avenue. More room, less flavor? Hope not, but we'll see. Lots more info here.


Final adjustments to the displayed artwork at the Armory Art Fair.

Armory Art Fair NYC

The grandaddy of them of all, the enormous Armory Art Show–it takes up two piers, 92 and 94, on West 34th by the Hudson River, and showcases work from more exhibitors than you can count, much less actually see–is worth attending at least once in your life, both for the art (contemporary and modern), and the scene (the people-watching can be hilarious). Our advice: don't try to see it all, just wander and laugh and have a snack (the food is supposed to plentiful and varied this year) and get out before you drop. Info here

Artwork at display at NYC's Scope Art Fair.

Scope Art Fair and Volta Art Fair    

Each year we try to get at least one of these, and it's tough to say which is a better bet. The Scope Art Fair focuses on emerging artists and, like all such endeavors, can be a spotty. But with more than 50 international galleries showing their stuff, you're almost guaranteed enough moments of viewing pleasure to put Scope Art Fair on your list. Plus, this year it's right across the street from the Armory Art Show, which could either good (it's convenient!) or bad (you're so benumbed from the Armory Art Fair NYC you can't take it anymore!). More info on the Scope Art Fair here.

Almost the same can be said for the Volta Art Fair, except that it's several long blocks away from the Armory Art Show, on 34th near Fifth, and emphasizes the "solo artist" more than the gallery, which makes for nicely-focused booths. We've seen some great stuff in Volta's past. Lots more information here

Crowds checking out the artwork at Volta Art Fair in Manhattan.

Independent Art Fair at the Dia Center For the Arts building in Chelsea.

The Independent Art Fair NYC and the Dependent Art Fair

We've always had a good time at Independent, both because of the high-quality art offerings (this is very much a gallerist show, founded and organized by several art-world heavy hitters), as well as the great space it occupies, taking over the entire former Dia Center For the Arts building in Chelsea. Also: unlike just about everything else, the Independent Art Fair NYC is free! Information on the Independent Art Fair

Finally, and only for the most adventurous among you, there's The Dependent Art Fair, a guerrilla-style show spread throughout the Comfort Inn on Ludlow Street–the exhibition spaces are the actual hotel rooms–and open only for eight hours on Saturday. The place was mobbed last year, apparently, but we're going to try to get their early, if only to check out the creative ways in which the invited galleries use the rooms to show off their art. Slightly more info here.     

Art show at the The Dependent Art Fair in Comfort Inn, Manhattan.


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