Armory Arts Week: All Tomorrow’s Parties



Armory Arts Week is unofficially underway. The Armory Show opens to VIP guests today, Flavorpill joins with the Museum of Modern Art to throw an after-party tonight, and VOLTA NY, PULSE New York, SCOPE New York, Bridge New York, and Fountain art fairs open tomorrow. On top of that there are gallery openings, brunches, late night parties, and performances — all coinciding with this New York celebration of contemporary art.

Starting the week off with a bang, but certainly starting early, we attended a benefit viewing and dinner at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca on Monday night and it was crazy fun. Artists sat in their studios and discussed their work on four floors of the school’s wonderful old building, while the first floor was transformed into a magical setting for a dinner and the top floor became the stage for special exhibitions.

Mayumi Ishino drew self-portraits on mirrors with markers and then hit them with a hammer to create a fractured image and Christopher Pugliese put gilded frames on a black wall and provided chalk for visitors to draw a picture. There was a room with ballerinas posing for artists working at easels and a nude posing for other artists at work. A photographer and a draftsman made instant portraits of patrons; a pair of male and female nude models— covered in egg shells — became a canvas for spectators to paint upon; and musicians of all sorts performed on various floors.

A star-studded group of supporters, including singer Justin Timberlake, actor Liev Schrieber, supermodel Alek Wek, designer Kate Spade, hotelier Andre Balazs, philanthropist Henry Buhl, photographer Ralph Gibson, and painter Will Cotton made the rounds, and most stayed for dinner. During the dinner, Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance and was immediately surrounded by devotees, a moment he seemed to relish. We wanted to get a photo of him with Alek Wek, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Last night started with The Girls from Kyoto and other Japanese Contemporary Masters presentation at the St. Regis Residences by Osaka’s Mem, Inc. and New York private dealer Nancy Seltzer. Work by nearly a dozen contemporary artists was on view in every nook and cranny of an elegant suite. Standouts in the display, which continues on view through Sunday, were Noriko Yamagachi’s video animation, made with sticks of chewing gum, and Yuli Itoda’s expressionistic paintings on paper and neon box painting — and both artists were present.

Next stop was Dan Graham’s opening at Marian Goodman Gallery, where Graham is showing a new two-way mirror glass pavilion, Crazy Spheroid: Two Entrances, five models of pavilions recently realized in Europe, and a stage set created for a performance of the band Japanther. It was a stunning show, and a great complement to his retrospective that’s currently on view at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The retrospective travels to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in June.

From there we walked over to Madison Avenue to the Charta party at Furla, where the art book publisher teamed up with the fashion accessories design company, which also supports contemporary art. We met the venerable performance artist Marina Abramovic, who told us about her amusing adventure in learning to drive in these snowy conditions — she ended up in a ditch near a graveyard — and spoke with artist Heide Hatry and photographer Sandro Miller about their recent books.

The final stop of the night was collector Susan Goodman’s pre-Armory Show Art-y Party, which was overflowing with artists, dealers, collectors, and delicious nibbles. Goodman’s collection is a typical of most New York collectors, in that her interests lie beyond our shores. She seems to have a strong bond with European galleries, particularly Berlin dealers. Thorsten Albertz, a director at Arario Gallery, told me she gave him a guest room when he left the Berlin gallery Arndt & Partner for a shot at making it in New York and many of the visiting dealers at the party were from Europe. Armory Show director Katelijne De Backer introduced us to Zurich gallerist Bob van Orsouw, who told us a fascinating DIY story of how he got started in the art business, first staging shows in his apartment and then, when he moved from Amsterdam to Zurich, opening an illegal bar, which also showed art. His ingenuity and determination have led him to exhibiting at the Armory Show — and we look forward to seeing the work he’ll present.