THE BIG FRIEZE
The leaders of London's Frieze Art Fair have a reputation for being controlling, intimidating and disciplined (hence, successful), so it was no surprise when I walked into St. Mark's Bookstore (now restocking its inventory for the first time since Cooper Union tried to shut it down last winter) in the East Village last week and found a stack of Frieze Art Fair pamphlets inside the door, advertising Frieze New York, which doesn't debut until May 2012.
A gorgeous picture of Randall's Island, where I played varsity soccer and baseball back in the mid-'60s, made me sigh: it is now the redoubt of the Friezers' fair. But I quickly noticed, on the cover, the knowing tag "tickets from $25" -- very Romneyesque. A glance inside the booklet revealed that single day tickets are $40. The fair begins at 12 noon, but students and seniors over 62 can get in at 1 pm for $25, meaning that granny in her wheelchair will have to cool her heels if arriving early and, once in, brave the hordes of collectors who had an hour's head start.
Two pages of the Frieze book list participating galleries, with special sections of the fair devoted to what it calls "Focus" and "Frame," the nicknames for the twin babes who once assisted famed erotic photographer Earl Miller (that's a joke for my sexist fans out there). Among the New York entrants, Jack Hanley Gallery is a regular participant, and the Lower East Side’s Canada is in “Focus” and Bureau is in “Framed,” all hipster spaces separated in the Friezer.
Naturally, since we shall be Friezing on an island, much of the pamphlet is devoted to getting there -- indeed, to quote the booklet, "a dedicated Frieze ferry service is included in the admission price." How dedicated? It is run by armed guards (just kidding, I think).
I looked in vain for mention of "The Collector's East River Channel Swim Competition" (imagine Beth Rudin DeWoody, Eli Broad and Adam Lindemann racing in their Speedos to get first crack at a Rineke Dijkstra beach pic), but I guess Frieze is weak in the performance category. The biggest threat to Frieze's New York success is that the first week in May provides plenty of cheaper, more scenic and romantic things to do in our great city (not that that will stop collector lemmings).
I plan to take a walk through the woods, or maybe sail on Pete Seeger's Clearwater vessel along the Hudson. I enjoyed the pamphlet, though.
Frieze Art Fair New York, May 4-7, 2012, Randall’s Island, Manhattan.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).