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Feb. 26, 2010 

Ah, Armory Week. When the art gods dump art on New York City like, well, like the churning blizzard that actually is currently dumping all over New York City.

This year, the Armory Show has taken advantage of its preeminence to launch a specifically branded Armory Arts Week, Mar. 2-7, 2010, an initiative which even features its own stand-alone website, expressing the "formalized" relationship of all the hoopla around the art fairs with the city of New York. Thus, Mar. 2 is dubbed "Uptown & Museum Mile Day," Mar. 4 "Soho Night," Mar. 4 "Long Island City Night" and so on. Don’t let it distract you from the many, many art fairs, of course -- but just know that this beast has become an institution.

Armory Show, Mar. 4-7, 2010
Like last year, the giant-sized Armory Show fair is split between two sections. The "Armory Show Modern," focusing on modernist works, takes place on Pier 92. Sixty-seven modern dealers are expected, from Barry Friedman Ltd., Yancey Richardson and Spanierman Modern (all from New York), to Christopher Cutts Gallery (from Toronto), Scott White Contemporary Art (from Dan Diego) and Locks Gallery (from Philadelphia). Meanwhile, the "Armory Show: Regular" centering on more characteristically zippy contemporary artworks, occupies Pier 94. Some high-profile names go absent -- but branded galleries like Victoria Miro, PaceWildenstein, David Zwirner and White Cube are on hand, among about 190 exhibitors.

British artist Susan Collins, known for "painstaking facsimiles of mundane objects" -- a Phillips-head screw made of gold, say -- has been commissioned as official artist for 2010 to provide the identity of the fair. The show also features a great program of talks on such subjects as "Art Collecting in the Middle East," "The Future of Biennials" and "Post-What?"

Art Show, Mar. 3-7, 2010
Concurrent with the Armory Show this year is the Art Dealer Association of America’s Art Show, which is arguably just as big a deal. To confuse things, while the Armory Show is on the Pier, the Art Show is at the Park Avenue Armory. And to confuse things even more, many of the same heavy-hitting dealers are showing at both fairs, including PaceWildenstein, David Zwirner, Tanya Bonakdar and Peter Blum. High-profile spaces that are Art-Show-only include Luhring Augustine, Acquavella Galleries and L.A.’s Blum & Poe.

As for special events, a panel discussion on art collecting, moderated by dealer Lucy Mitchell-Innes, brings together Melva Bucksbaum, Edward Dolman, William Goetzmann, Robert Mnuchin and Candace Worth on Mar. 6, 2010. For beginners, the ADAA still has its special "Collector’s Guide" on its website, though the sponsor is listed as Lehman Brothers. Better update that when you get a chance.

VoltaNY, Mar 4-7, 2010
Also sure to get its share of press is Volta, if only because it is owned and operated by the same team behind the Armory Show, and shares its VIP program and talks. It takes place at 7 West 34th Street, within a stone’s throw of the Empire State Building. Director Amanda Coulson once again offers the fair’s signature format -- solo projects by artists from invited galleries -- extending it this time around to an inventive rethinking of the fair catalogue (a collaboration with French book publishers onestar press), with each of the 88 artists involved taking control of their own catalogue spread. Look for work by artists like Federico Solmi (of "porno pope" fame), the artist collective Ghost of a Dream, and Richard Dupont, known for his anamorphic sculptures.

Independent, Mar. 4-7, 2010
"Part consortium, part collective," Independent has to be one of the more intriguing additions to the Armory Show week. Conceived by New York dealer Elizabeth Dee along with Darren Flook, of London’s Hotel gallery, Independent goes down at 548 West 22nd, in the former Dia Art Center building, until recently occupied by Dee’s experimental pop-up non-profit X-Initiative (Elizabeth Dee Gallery, it should be noted, is also showing at the Armory). Among the 38 exhibitors are London’s The Approach, New York’s Andrew Kreps, the art theory journal October and a spot that says "Reserved for Leo Castelli." Hot artist Claire Fontaine is placing a neon work, Please God Make Tomorrow Better (2008), above the door to the space. One more intriguing thing about Independent: entry is free. 

Pulse, Mar. 4-7, 2010
This year, the usually pleasing Pulse New York switches locations, from its previous hang-out on the pier to "a former New York Central Railroad freight train terminal housing five blocks of the original High Line" at 330 West Street, just across the West Side Highway from the old location.  The 2010 edition boasts a "tighter roster" of galleries -- 48 dealers in the regular section plus 13 more in the "Impulse" line-up of less-established spaces, plus seven "nonprofits, partners and publications" -- all setting up beneath dramatic "30-foot high ceilings" with "varying levels of lofted space to be used for special projects." Dealers include Diane Lowenstein Fine Arts from Miami, Magnan Metz from New York, Habana from Havanna, Winkleman (which is also at Independent), and PPOW (which is also at the Art Show) 

Scope, Mar. 4-7, 2010
Meanwhile, uptown, the madcap Scope Art Fair returns to its signature pavilion in Lincoln Center Park. The 50 dealers this time out include aureus contemporary (Providence), Gagliardi Art System (Turin), GALERIE GAIA (Seoul), Mike Weiss Gallery (New York), RARE (New York) and x-ist (Istanbul). Also look for the "Scope Markt," a "fashion focused exhibition" curated by journalist Diane Pernet and a "Personal Development Auction," for which visitors can bid to win such experiences as "a private lesson with a top chef, a personal tour of the Columbia Brain Science Lab, a lesson in pyrotechnics, a session with the pied piper of screen printing, or lunch with a top financial planner."

Verge, Red Dot, Fountain, PooL
But, you say, what of the hotel fairs? Fear not, brave art-fair-goer, that niche is covered. Specifically, the Verge Art Fair, Mar. 4-7, 2010, which made its debut in Miami last December at the Catalina, is setting up at the Dylan Hotel on 52 East 41st Street. About 20, mostly small galleries are involved, with the largest contingent coming from Brooklyn -- Front Room, Corridor and Gitana Rosa Gallery -- but a good number more making the journey from points international, like  Galerie Yellowfishart (Montréal), Nroom Artspace (Tokyo) and Fu Xin Galerie (Shanghai).

Meanwhile, perennial hotel fair Red Dot, Mar. 4-7, 2010, moves to the  Skyline Studios at 500 West 36th street. Thirty galleries hold court, from Accorsi Arts (East Aurora, N.Y.), Almacen Gallery (Rio de Janeiro) and Art Gotham (New York) to the University of Miami from Coral Gabbles, Fla., which apparently has a booth.

And, of course, don’t forget the always energic Fountain art fair, Mar. 4-7, 2010, which began as a guerrilla endeavor, and has now secured its own niche within the fair weekend (though Fountain actually chose not to participate in Armory Week last year -- but that is another story). This year, Fountain returns to its large, 10,000-square-foot venue on Pier 66 ("The Frying Pan"). The program is divided between galleries -- Art Bazaar, ArtSlant, Boltax Gallery, Christina Ray, CREON Gallery, Galerie Zeitgeist, Greg Haberny, Holster Projects, Leo Kesting, Nudashank, Open Ground, Red Truck Gallery, Sarah Nightingale and We-Are-Familia -- and individual artist projects.

Finally, there’s PooL, dedicated to unrepresented artists. This year, look for it at the Gershwin Hotel, 7 East 27th Street.

The Dutch, the Koreans
With the Armory Week events having crystallized into an official city-sponsored "Armory Week," whole nations are looking to get in on the action. Among them are those mischievous Netherlanders, always in for a party, who present Dutch Art Now, at the National Arts Club. Twelve Dutch dealers take part.

In much the same vein is the Korean Art Show, which will go down in Chelsea at la.venue (an "exciting new event location" according to its website). This event is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports, and it promises to bring 24 (as yet unnamed) "representative galleries from Korea" to New York, for reasons that are somewhat unclear. The website explains the initiative thusly: "Korea Art Show can benefit from the synergy effect of New York’s art fair season and introduce excellence of Korean art and Asia’s prime art fair; KIAF (Korea International Art Fair)."

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