The Armory Show and the Armory Show–Modern
What is it? The Armory Show is the hottest, snootiest and most overwhelming contemporary art experience in town during Arts Week: Gawk at work pimped out by the 275 galleries participating this year, hailing from Amsterdam, L.A., Beijing and beyond. You'll want a pair of good walking shoes: The main Armory Show dominates Pier 94, dedicated solely to cutting-edge material. Pier 92 houses the Armory Show Modern, where slightly older work and pieces from the secondary market will be on display. But be warned: On busy weekend hours, you'll most likely have to wait in long lines to enter.
What's special this year? The focus is Latin America, and 18 booths from Bogot, Colombia; Mexico City; So Paulo; and a host of other cities vying for your attention on Pier 94 (take a hard left when you enter). Don't miss the Armory's off-site Artprojx Cinema at the School of Visual Arts Theatre (333 W 23rd St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, artprojx.com/cinema), where you can watch more than 80 short films and videos submitted by major galleries. Check out "Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then," by Andrew Edlin Gallery's Brent Green (Thursday 3 at 5:45pm), or Jesper Just's, "Sirens of Chrome," from Copenhagen's Galleri Christina Wilson on Friday 4 at 11:30am.
Get me there! Pier 92 (Modern) and 94 (IFNA): Twelfth Ave between 52nd and 55th Sts (212-645-6440, thearmoryshow.com). Mar 3–5 noon–8pm, Mar 6 noon–7pm. $30 per day, students $10, combination day pass with the Armory Show and Volta NY $40, four-day pass $60. Shuttles run between the Armory Show and VOLTA NY. Preview party and benefit: Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (moma.org/armoryshow2011). Mar 2 8:30–11:30pm, $100 and up (includes Armory Show preview access 5–9pm and entry to the party).
Scope Art Fair
What is it? Scope, known for international contemporary art, is moving from the tent it occupied last year in Damrosch Park to the St. John's Center, on the West Side Highway. Expect work that's sexy and in-your-face, brought by 56 galleries from 16 countries, including Korea and Switzerland. In addition to the art displayed in the booths, there are plenty of films and videos on offer at Scope, plus massive stand-alone installations, like a giant walk-in refrigerator by Conceptual sculptor Andrew Ohanesian.
What's special this year? Take a peek at the multimedia projections in Emmanuel Fremin's booth, plus some edgy photo projects from Foley Gallery. There's also "US vs US," a five-day performance-film series featuring artists Carrie Dashow, Alyssa Taylor Wendt and numerous others, offered under the rubric of Scope's artist-run organization, "The Center."
Get me there! 320 West St (West Side Highway) between W Houston and Spring Sts (212-268-1522, scope-art.com). Mar 3–5 noon–8pm; Mar 6 noon–7pm. $20, students $15. VIP reception 3--9pm; $100 (includes access throughout the fair's run).
What is it? Pulse is a more laid-back version of the Armory show, perfect for those seeking a fair filled with challenging contemporary work without all the drafty armories and windswept piers. Sixty-three galleries are setting up shop in the Metropolitan Pavilion, a two-floor, easily navigable venue in Chelsea.
What's special this year? Despite its relatively compact scale, you'll be treated to work from such far-flung places as the Philippines, Singapore and Norway, as well as lesser-known local spaces like Pablo's Birthday. Be sure to stop by Lower East Side gallerist Jen Beckman's booth: She'll be bringing French photographer Christian Chaize's Portugal beach series, and paintings of warehouses and dollar stores by Michelle Muldrow to Pulse.
Get me there! 125 W 18th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-255-2327, pulse-art.com). Mar 3 1–8pm; Mar 4, 5 noon–8pm; Mar 6 noon–5pm. $20, students $15, groups $12 per person, children under 12 free.
Verge Art Brooklyn
What is it? This brand-new art fair in Brooklyn naturally features art made by Kings County artists or shown in the borough's galleries. The "Brooklyn Arts Now" section is curated by Loren Munk, whose YouTube videos of the NYC arts scene have garnered a huge following since he created his "James Kalm" persona in the mid-'90s.
What's special this year? A juried art show highlighting works in all media features pieces selected by seasoned local artists and gallerists, including Courtney J. Wendroff and Steven Kaplan.
Get me there! Various locations; visit brooklynartfair.com for more info. Mar 3–5 noon–10pm, Mar 6 noon--6pm. Opening-night party Mar 3 8:30pm–4am: Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-222-8500,galapagosartspace.com). Before 10pm free, after 10pm $20.
Volta New York
What is it? Volta runs in tandem with the Armory as a more tightly curated, cutting-edge show, showcasing 86 galleries representing 23 countries. Like the Armory, this fair has selected Latin American art as its focus; look for paintings by Argentine up-and-comer Amadeo Azar and a performance by Mauricio Miranda, whose work will be shown in the 2012 Havana Biennial.
What's special this year? Volta artists are also participating in Artprojx (see the Armory Show), and you can also stop by the fair's Open Forum Talks series featuring artists, critics and curators on location. On Sunday 6, critic-curator Ed Halter will be in conversation with underground filmmaker George Kuchar, whose works influenced both John Waters and Andy Warhol.
Get me there! 7 W 34th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 11th floor (ny.voltashow.com). Mar 3 2–7pm, Mar 4–6 11am–7pm. $15, combination day pass with the Armory Show and Volta NY $40, four-day pass $60. Shuttles run between the Armory Show and Volta NY.
Fountain Art Fair
What is it? This alternative-to-the-alternative art fair takes a cue from Marcel Duchamp's famed urinal. In addition to a wide range of contemporary works from more than 20 galleries—displayed at Pier 66 Maritime—you can count on an anything-goes vibe that's the antithesis of the little-black-dress set farther up Twelfth Avenue.
What's special this year? We like that Fountain doesn't discriminate: When it comes to receptions, everyone's welcome. The public opening-night party features performances by Gordon Voidwell, TECLA and Generic (March 4 7pm–midnight), followed by a show by hip-hop–punk trio Ninjasonik and NSR (March 5 7pm–midnight). Get psyched for first-time exhibitors like Bushwick's Microscope Gallery and Williamsburg's Camel Art Space.
What is it? Even for the most intrepid art fan, your average trawl through Chelsea galleries on a March afternoon will be hit-or-miss, but the Independent, conceived by gallerists Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook, is a decided Chelsea hit. Critics and curators abound at this scrupulously curated fair: On tap will be work from more than 40 wide-ranging galleries and not-for-profit spaces. And much like a real gallery experience, it's all free.
What's special this year? Take in the Conceptual art and sculptural installations on view from Frankfurt's Neue Alte Brcke ("new old bridge"), London's the Approach and Paris's Balice Hertling.
Get me there! 548 W 22nd St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (independentnewyork.com). Mar 3 4–9pm; Mar 4, 5 11am–8pm; Mar 6 noon–4pm; free.
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