Paint to eat with Jeppe Hein, toast to new Manhattan galleries and other Armory Week festivities
Like the seasons, art fairs come with their weather signals. The Armory ShowThe previous March slot always seemed to coincide with a snowstorm. When Frieze was in his Randall’s Island tent, a downpour never failed to dampen the festivities. After the pandemic changed those dates and locations, The Armory settled last year on the first week of September, which also overlaps with the art world‘s back-to-work week — and this year, a gentle autumn breeze accompanied visitors as they stomped in and around the Javits Center.
A tribute to the creators of still and moving images
Even before VIPs were admitted to the main fair, the week took off with programming across the city. September 6, Hauser & Wirth The Upper East Side outpost held a rally for the new exhibition of photographic works by Lorna Simpson created between 1985 and 1992 (until October 22), a period marked by body politics and devastation of the AIDS crisis. Simpson, her daughter Zora Casebere and Studio Museum of Harlem director Thelma Golden sat in front of a crowd to look back at the time through the current experience of a new pandemic and crisis around self-reliance and bodily authority. “The issues of the day are still relevant today,” Simpson told her daughter.
Later that evening, Independent Curator and Associate Curator of Performa, Job Piston, hosted a screening of “Excelsior,” a video art program by eight Asian artists at the Quad Cinema as part of the Art in a time like this initiative. “From the back streets of Norway to the bunkers of Berlin and the bars of Taipei,” Piston said of his research for “Excelsior,” which included videos answering the curator’s question: “If you could mythologize your own story origin, what kind of world would you create?”
Take a deep breath – it’s time to party
On September 7, the rain stopped and left revelers to enjoy a whirlwind of events around town. “Don’t walk backwards,” Jeppe Hein told me about staying dry inside his water fountain sculpture, Change space, at Rockefeller Center. Since June, the dancing sprinklers have been keeping New Yorkers and tourists cool during this scorching summer, so much so that the installation has been extended until October 13. Hein and a few of us gathered by the fountain to celebrate the windy sculpture and went to the luxury restaurant Eleven Madison Park. Hein gathered us around a round table to practice his breathing painting technique which meant that each of us – including his friend and the restaurant’s star chef Daniel Humm – painted a blue line on the tablecloth for as long as we could breathe out. slowly.
Next stop was the Armory Show Collectors Night at Fasano Restaurant, where a live piano accompanied Maestro Dobel tequila and chatted about the stresses of the day settling in at the Javits Center. Also Wednesday evening, Sean Kelly celebrated its new shows with Brooklyn painter Landon Metz and Nigerian-American artist Anthony Akinbola (both through October 22) on the 90th floor of a Hudson Yards building. The lightness of looking at the city lights matched the feeling of looking at the winding abstractions of Metz in the gallery hundreds of meters below.
But the gallery’s highest party of the night was the Parisian gallery’s celebration of 56 years TempleNew York’s premier New York space, appropriately held in the golden Boom Boom room of the Standard Hotel. The last time many of us went was for The Armory Show’s own party the first week of March 2020, amid crowds unfamiliar with terms like ‘social distancing’. Brooklyn and Dakar-based painter Omar Ba, whose solo show of new paintings (through Oct. 22) opened Templon’s Chelsea space, welcomed guests who sipped champagne and swayed on the pink carpet.
Grilling new spaces and iconic snapshots
On Thursday (September 8), as 8 p.m. approached, VIPs left The Armory Show opening for various parties around town. Some ventured a dozen blocks south to the Javits Center, where many Chelsea galleries were opening their new exhibits. Among them is a company based in the Philippines Silverlens, with solo shows by Martha Atienza and Yee I-Lann (through Nov. 5) opening the gallery’s 2,500-square-foot New York outpost. Gallery owners Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo, who also share life together, established Silverlens 18 years ago in Manila to provide visibility for artists from Southeast Asia, especially those who are women and who identify queer.
On the east side, Park Avenue South saw an unusual group of queer punky children, all lined up to enter Photographyfor his new exhibition David LaChapelle. Persuade (until January 8, 2023) covers the groundbreaking photographer’s four-decade career and six floors of the museum. Those lucky enough to enter gathered in the museum’s Gothic chapel and watched images of Alexander McQueen, Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian and David Bowie filtered through LaChapelle’s signature and decidedly campy lens.
Uptown, Berlin Spruth Mager celebrated its new Big Apple space, which is tucked away in a chic Upper East Side townhouse with crisp crown molding. The opening of the gallery’s John Baldessari exhibition (through October 29) was followed by a dinner at Sistina where champagne was poured from a magnum-sized bottle. In Soho, 20th century independent evening at Blond and Kasmin Gallery‘s at soiree at Little Ways were conveniently located just an eight-minute walk from each other. The disco ball-lit celebration for performances by Vanessa German and Sara Anstis of Kasmin (through October 22 and October 29, respectively) helped the crowd dance after the first day of the fair was exhausted.