Fair City: An Inside View of NYC Satellite Art Fairs

Armory Arts Week in New York offers a vast range of art and cultural activities, and the satellite art fairs play an important role, by adding even more international flavor to the mix. Artkrush editor Paul Laster contacted the organizers of this year’s four major satellite fairs to find out what separates them from the competition, and to get their personal recommendations of art and program highlights at their venues. All the details after the jump.

Artkrush: What makes your fair different from the other New York art fairs?

Christian Viveros-Faune, curatorial adviser, VOLTA NY: The same thing that makes VOLTA different than any other fair anywhere: we highlight only solo presentations. That, and the fact that my colleague Amanda Coulson and I make a significant effort to curate the fair around a single theme. This year, that theme is, tellingly, “Age of Anxiety.” We took the title from W.H. Auden’s book of the same name, which he published in 1947, during another major world crisis. We’re not necessarily looking to dwell on the negative, but we do want to underscore certain artists who are looking for ways that art can gain a newfound relevance.

Helen Allen, executive director, PULSE New York: PULSE is now the largest fair in the city devoted entirely to contemporary art, and we’re consistently told that we’re the most enjoyable. By emphasizing high-quality exhibitors, an inviting atmosphere, and engaging cultural programming, PULSE NY is in its own category.

Alexis Hubshman, president, SCOPE New York: We aim to create as many opportunities for artists as possible. From installations and solo shows to film, music, and performances, our visitors experience the spectacular. SCOPE is the longest-running concurrent event to the Armory Show and, once again, it takes place at NYC’s cultural icon, Lincoln Center. In its eighth year, SCOPE presents a broad mix of emerging international contemporary art galleries, artists, and curatorial projects, available nowhere else.

SCOPE’s mandate of “art fair as resource” inspired the creation of its nonprofit SCOPE Foundation, which has funded over $500K in grants and awards to emerging artists and curators, to realize projects at SCOPE Art Fairs around the world. It has also established such NY09 noncommercial programs as Cheap Fast & Out of Control, Museum Presents, the Collector Mentorship Auction, and the SCOPE Green Initiative.

Michael Workman, director, Bridge New York: We are the only art fair owned and operated by artists. Bridge was started by artists, and continues to be run by artists today. Furthermore, we are not only a domestic fair, but have staged in the past, and continue to stage Bridge fairs in several international locations, including Berlin, London, and Basel.

AK: Who are the standout galleries and artists exhibiting at this year’s fair?

CVF, VOLTA NY: All our artists and galleries are standouts, really. Having said that, there are certain presentations that I am, personally, especially excited about. Patrick Hamilton, for one, is a great young Chilean artist whose work has not been seen at all in New York. Ditto for British artist Sue Collis. She is getting to be quite a big deal in the UK, and we are in the position to be able to introduce her to a US public. We have two 2009 Venice Biennale participants this year, Miha Strukelj and Gosha Ostretsov, and the winner of the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion in 2005, Regina José Galindo. We have work by legendary Latin American artist and filmmaker Leandro Katz, happenings by the artist-activist group Center for Tactical Magic, the super-duper hyperrealist paintings of Machiko Edmonson, the very cool sculptures of Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Charlie White’s film-inspired photographs, gorgeous moody canvases by Angelina Gualdoni, Pierogi Joe Amrhein’s crazy sign painting… I could go on, but I don’t think you’ll let me. Oh, and I nearly forgot: we have some very beautiful watercolors by Marilyn Manson. Yes, that Marilyn Manson.

HA, PULSE New York: We’re especially excited about exhibitors from countries that have never appeared at PULSE before; for the first time, we’re going to have galleries from Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Philippines, and Singapore. It’s hard to single out individual artists, but we are featuring wonderful installations by R. Luke Dubois, Clifton Childree, and the Glue Society, to name a few.

AH, SCOPE New York: This year’s fair is going to be the best ever! 33 Bond Gallery is featuring a solo show of incredible sculpture drawings from Jeremy Lawson. We have the Charest-Weinberg Gallery from Miami showing the work of the Canadian artist Marc Seguin, who’s creating a special project for the fair called “La Pinata,” which features a taxidermied American Bald Eagle in tar, hovering over a 15-foot-high column. One of my favorite galleries, {CTS} creative thriftshop from Brooklyn, is showing photography from Victoria Campillo, whose work was coveted at our Miami fair. New to SCOPE this year, and in keeping with our artist-first mandate, is an amazing artist-run collective from Austin, Okay Mountain, which has five artists making one piece. My Name’s Lolita, from Spain, presents a huge trompe-l’oeil wall mural by Jesús Alonso. And, of course, we’re all very excited about Maya Hayuk, who has been commissioned by the SCOPE Foundation to explore her obsession with mandalas, playing cards, hexes, totem poles, Ukrainian Easter eggs, quilts, and bandannas, to reinvent our entrance.

MW, Bridge New York: This year’s fair represents 15 countries, up from 12 last year. Seek out our international galleries, including Amstel Gallery from Amsterdam, Craig Scott Gallery from Toronto, Gallery LJ Beaubourg from Paris, and Ginocchio Galeria from Mexico City. These galleries are bringing important work that New Yorkers are otherwise not able to walk down the street to see. As for exciting individual works, I recommend Accomplice Projects Chicago, which offers a large-scale work by Brooklyn-based artist Edouard Steinhauer, combining elements of “green” energy concepts in a windmill-like sculpture. I also suggest visiting the booth of G77 from St. Petersburg, which is presenting a video installation by Izuru Mizutani, The Tears of the Sky, that brings the sky down to the viewer’s feet.

AK: What special projects and programs are you most excited about presenting to a savvy New York audience?

CVF, VOLTA NY: Together with the Armory Show and independent curator Isolde Brielmaier, we have developed Open Forum, a series of panels and conversations that feature a lot of the art world’s major players. These will take place both at the piers and at the Mart. Some of the folks participating are Thelma Golden, Arnold Lehman, Sylvie Fortin, David Ross, and Cay Sophie Rabinowitz.

HA, PULSE New York: For our video lounge, PULSE PLAY>, Marina Fokidis is curating a selection of 19 great artists like Miltos Manetas, Annika Larsson, and Assume Vivid Astro Focus, who are each submitting their favorite Youtube playlists. We are also debuting a new program called PULSE Profiles in sites throughout the fair, where visitors are able to directly engage artists, dealers, and curators in a series of casual, intimate talks.

AH, SCOPE New York: This year, our team has curated its most impressive selection of film, music, auctions, panel discussions, special projects, and installations to date.

Cheap Fast & Out of Control is a 2,000-square-foot annex connected to the SCOPE Art Fair at Lincoln Center, presented by the SCOPE Foundation. Artists are consistently asked to donate artwork for benefits, and CFOOC puts the money directly in the artists’ hands, by giving them 70% of the sales from their auctioned art, skills, and education. The five-day event showcases bands, films, and artist multiples, with a price point geared toward the “everyperson.”

Growing out of our Collector Mentorship Auction, which, in the past, has featured well-known collectors donating their bids on time and expertise to fairgoers, is the PDA, or Personal Development Auction. Fairgoers get the opportunity to bid on things like a personal tour of the Harvard Vision Science Lab, a welding lesson, or an introduction to hydraulics. Master screen-printers, top chefs, pilots, and financial consultants are donating time and education to the winners. Opening bids will be low, so winners gain a chance to learn something completely new without breaking the bank.

Another special program is Private Property, Public Ideas: Street Art in Transition, curated by Jonathan LeVine. This program will really speak to the New York audience. We’re going to screen the new graffiti documentary BOMB IT and then follow it up with a panel discussion moderated by Carlo McCormick, with Pedro Alonzo, Ron English, Steve Powers (ESPO), and Marc & Sara Schiller from the Wooster Collective. I’m really amped that Jonathan could get all these people together in one room.

Our cinema program is quite extensive and provocative. Changing daily, it includes On the Contrary: Recent Artist Videos Concerning War in the Middle East, The Russians Are Here, Monkey Town Presents (which features Regeneration Hex — You Are Your Own Screen, a selection of rare cut-up process films, curated by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge), and Lo-Fi + Street Hi. Making it a complete cultural experience, we’ll also have live music everyday. Martha Colburn will show films with live musical accompaniment, and our Friday-night party presents Neel Mugai playing live sitar with tabla, the outrageously innovative Wolff and Tuba, and the raucous Flaming Fire II. Old-school DJs spin vinyl all night, and throughout the fair you can catch Junkyard Gamelon, Cangelosi Cards, live-jazz round robins, and sitar every morning. On Sunday night, Christy & Emily will bring the fair to a sweet close.

MW, Bridge New York: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the country’s largest art school, is organizing an Artist’s Lounge — distinct from a VIP lounge — where artists can enjoy the benefits of the more well-heeled attendees. Another noteworthy program is Artout, an artist’s escort service, which offers time on hire with internationally renowned artists. Additionally, visitors should check out the Williamsburg Gallery Association space, where they can discover the fantastic work available from artist-run galleries in Williamsburg. Many of the artists running these spaces are the same artists making work seen in Chelsea galleries, but available here at Williamsburg prices.

VOLTA NY is on view at the Mart, 7 West 34th Street, March 5-8; PULSE New York takes place at Pier 40, Houston Street and West Side Highway, March 5-8; SCOPE New York is located at Lincoln Center Damrosch Park, 62nd Street and Amsterdam, March 5-8; and Bridge New York is on view at the Waterfront, 222 12th Avenue, March 5-8. See the fair websites for more details.

Image credit: Angelo Plessas, Future Is Fake, 2008