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New York

Where to See the Art World (and probably some art)
by Collin James Munn

The party scene in New York is elusive, diverse, and very difficult to pin down – all things that can be overwhelming, but also exciting, because you can find really anything you want. The key is to be flexibly dressed – dark colors and uncomfortable looking shoes are a good bet – so that you can go right from champagne and amuse-bouche to a dirty warehouse party in Brooklyn and not look out of place at either. Speaking of Brooklyn, that tends to be where the real party is at but there are still some fun options left on the island, especially during New York’s glittery Armory Week.

Clifford Owens, Anthology (Nsenga Knight), 2011, 2 c-prints, 40 by 60 inches (each). Courtesy of On Stellar Rays.

If you want to play with the big guns and have little mind for your pocket book, then the event to go to is definitely the Amory’s official party hosted at MoMA. It takes place every year on the Wednesday before the fair opens to the public (March 7th, 2012). Last year, MoMA’s bash had musical entertainment provided by Kate Nash, but this year we can expect to see urban-twenty-something favorite Neon Indian perform in the MoMA lobby. For people spotting and photo opportunities this is the party to attend.

Ola Kolehmainen, Untitled (No. 6). Courtesy of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

If playing the socialite isn’t appealing, there are always smaller fairs springing up that attempt to distinguish themselves as hipper and “less commercial” than the mother fair, and have plenty of opportunities for mingling with the often younger strata of the art world. Here’s where you’ll find the emerging artists and the boutique galleries that work with them. These parties tend to be about running into friends, meeting potential contacts and collaborators, and seeing new work not coming from the blue chip galleries that mostly populate the larger fairs.

Your first stop should be Independent in Chelsea, which has a very relaxed vibe with a great selection of galleries, a fun opening party, and an excellent assortment of people to meet, like the staff of Elizabeth Dee gallery which has been putting up some of New York’s hottest shows. Also, make your way to Berlin/London gallery Sprüth Magers’ booth; they have a great presence in both of these art capitals, and it is a good place to find like-minded party people looking for that euro-chic vibe in the Big Apple. PooL Art Fair has an eclectic selection of unrepresented artists - and if you can, their Vernissage party on Friday March 9th is a good bet (if you are invited that is …and hopefully we won’t have a repeat of the Miami debacle when the PooL hotel venue was shut down before the party even started…).

Aakash Nihalani, Stack, 2011, site-specific installation. Courtesy of Carmichael Gallery.


Another noteworthy stop on the party trail is Volta NY. Although it can be a bit of a mixed bag, Volta’s model of showing solo projects, along with the fact that they are sponsored by the Ace Hotel, tends to produce memorable results. So head to the Ace to meet Volta’s VIPs and stay tuned (@VOLTAshow) for parties and spontaneous events at the hotel.

Beyond the parties and events directly tied to the fairs, there are some regular staples on the island that tend to be magnates for the visiting and resident art world. For a truly delicious, and pricey, dinner - at which you could very well bump elbows with the likes of Marina Abromovic or Terry Richardson - check out Soho’s Omen. For late-night activities, follow the flock to the Meatpacking District to hit up dark haunts like The Standard’s Le Bain or the Maritime’s Hiro Ball Room. There are also a whole slew of sleek and tasty restaurants nestled among the clubs of the Meatpacking; most notably Matsuri, Barbuto, and Morimoto - all guaranteed to become post-fair schmoozing zones. The new big name downtown is the famous Parisian club Le Baron, which recently opened a New York location in Chinatown. Le Baron has been doing a pop-up club during Miami Art Week at the Delano hotel for a few years now but their Chinatown local is their first permanent space this side of the pond, and is well worth a visit. The one catch is that it is nearly impossible to get in, so either get ready to spend some real money to reserve a table, or call their reservation line and drop as many names as you can remember. Also downtown, and well worth a visit, is Santos Party House, which will be hosting a really fun regular party called “Spencer’s Gifs” on the Saturday during Armory week – and, while there is a cover, getting in is not nearly such a herculean process as going to Le Baron.

Like I mentioned earlier, however, the best parties tend to be in Brooklyn, but not really in a fixed space, which makes it hard to find them. Your best tool would be to go to twitter and follow some Brooklyn party magnates like the duo GHE20 GOTH1K (@GHE20G0TH1K), or New York-based artist VenusX (@venusxGG).

If you feel like making it to one more borough, then definitely check out MoMA PS1’s now weekly “Sunday Session” events, where you can go roam the Museum, grab a beer, or dance to a great selection of primarily electronic artists in the geodesic dome that has been temporarily built in the Museum’s courtyard. And, if you’re lucky, you may even bump into PS1’s director Klaus Biesenbach, who has been known to attend the Sunday concerts.

The last key to having the most post-fair fun, is get yourself to an Armory Week hot-spot and converse your way to that coveted invite.

--Collin Munn

(top image: Kate Nash Performing at the MoMA Armory Party, 2011, courtesy of MoMA.)

Posted by Collin James Munn on 3/5/12 | tags: art-fairs

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