The first week in March is the time when the art world flocks to New York, for a week of fairs, most notably Scope, The Armory Show, and Art on Paper. I’ve been going to these shows in NY for years now, as well as Scope and Pulse during Art Basel. As a huge fan of contemporary art, I love seeing such a high concentration of talented, inspiring, and in many cases mind-boggling art all in one location.
The Armory Show featured 210 galleries from 30 countries and drew in about 65,000 visitors during its run time. It’s easy to see how these shows can be completely overwhelming! Here are my tips for surviving and actually enjoying art week.
I’m lucky enough to get Platinum VIP tickets, so I usually make it to the previews before the shows open to the public. Not sure how I made that list, but one day the passes started showing up in my inbox and I confirmed without asking any questions! However if you go to the shows close to the opening time each day you’ll get to really walk through the fairs at a leisurely pace and really take in what you see. I also like going earlier in the day since that leaves more time to chat with the gallery reps and sometimes artist that are in the booths. You can really gain insight into the works and deepen your appreciation.
Repeat after me – flat shoes, layers, small, lightweight bag. Hours spent on your feet lugging a handbag will feel like torture by the end of the day. Of course you want to look chic and stylish, but there are so many ways to do that without sacrificing comfort. Plus layers are key because it’s still pretty chilly in March in NY, but the temperatures inside can get aggressively warm.
Go with a fellow art lover, or on your own
I’ve done the shows, solo, with one friend, and with a group of 5 or 6. The times when I’ve enjoyed myself the most were when I was surrounded by one or more people that are just as into art as I am, or by my damn self. The benefit of going alone is your schedule is 100% yours. If you want to spend 10 minutes staring at a single painting feel free. Or breeze past the buzzy installation that’s trending on Instagram if you are just not interested in the photo opp. Your date or dates will make or break the experience, so choose carefully.
Bring your own snacks
You’ll need them, and the stands at the fairs usually serve overpriced, mediocre options. Eat a decent meal before you go and have some snacks you love on hand for when the hunger creeps up.
But don’t skip the booze
Wandering through the aisles of an art fair with a glass of bubbly in hand will make you feel endlessly chic.
Until Art Basel 2017!