Amidst the extensive art world landscape of New York City, The Art Show (running this 2-5 November) has established itself as one of the most inspiring yet intimate annual events. Presented by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), The Art Show’s distinct blend of contemporary and historical works from member galleries—coupled with a navigable layout inside of the iconic Park Avenue Armory—provides attendees access into a survey of the art world’s most impressive voices. This year, the fair will host booths from 78 ADAA member galleries, with 57 of those being exhibitions dedicated to one artist. And, as with every previous iteration, all ticket sales from the entire event (not just the opening night preview gala) will benefit Henry Street Settlement, a social service, arts and health care organization in New York.
The Art Show is unlike any other art fair in NYC—and that’s thanks to the ADAA. “The ADAA was founded over 60 years ago,” Maureen Bray, ADAA/The Art Show’s Executive Director, tells COOL HUNTING. “It’s a membership-based trade association of over 200 of the country’s best art galleries and art dealers. Our job is to be a voice in the industry—for the contributions that those dealers make to the community as a whole—and to act as an advocate for them in Washington DC and in local and state legislature. We also provide our member galleries access to expertise and resources to help their small businesses thrive.”
The Art Show’s experiential environment sets it apart. “For the 35 years of its history, which is one of the longest continuously running art fairs in the US, The Art Show has been held at the Park Avenue Armory,” Bray continues. “Being there allows for a unique, intimate experience with our members’ booth presentations. This means that it moves at a slower pace. It gives you time to do some serious looking. That’s helpful especially because sometimes a fair environment can be loud or distracting.” In an age of art fatigue from large-scale events, The Art Show aims to welcome but not overwhelm.
“There’s also a vetting process that’s slightly different than other fairs,” Bray continues. “Every member of the ADAA is invited to apply to The Art Show. 50% of all of the exhibitors at The Art Show are accepted into the fair that year by a vote of everyone who submitted a proposal. The other 50% is determined by an art show committee that is also made up of our members. It’s about the peers coming together to bring each year’s presentations together.” This year, The Art Show will feature several prestigious new members, from Perrotin to Shulamit Nazarian, Nicelle Beauchene and Eric Firestone Gallery.
The show’s interwoven nature allows for focused thematic presentations—some of which are composed of historic works, while others are contemporary. An exchange occurs between it all. This year will see presentations by Kiki Smith with Pace Gallery, Faith Wilding with Anat Ebgi Gallery, Tom Wesselmann with Almine Rech, Roy Lichtenstein with Castelli Gallery, Tavares Strachan with Marian Goodman Gallery, Sheila Hicks with Sikkema Jenkins & Co and so much more. “I’d recommend that you allow yourself to walk down the aisles,” Bray says. “The floor plan is very simple. Allow for all of the surprises to happen as you move along. Because it is more intimately scaled, you have the opportunity to look down an aisle and see centuries worth of work in dialogue.”
“From the very beginning of the fair’s founding, there has been a collaborative partnership with our charitable partner, Henry Street Settlement,” Bray notes, of arguably the fair’s most important attribute. “All of the ticket proceeds throughout the entire run of show go to Henry Street. 100%. That’s very important to us. They’re our partner in every sense of the word.” Henry Street provides more than 50 programs to people of all ages—from Meals on Wheels delivery to mental health counseling, job-readiness training and even theater performances. Their efforts directly support some 50,000 New Yorkers.
“I hope people take away how fantastic our member galleries are and how serious they are about their dedication and loyalty to their artists and providing a context for their artists, whether historical or contemporary,” Bray says. “This allows the work to shine and either expands on or establishes scholarship for that particular artist. Our members are fantastic at that. What we hope to do is to provide an environment within the fair that allows our members to do the jobs they do so well.” As The Art Show continues to thrive, ADAA members benefit—and so do attendees in search of something spectacular.
The Art Show will run 2-5 November at the Park Avenue Armory, with an opening night benefit preview gala taking place on 1 November. The Art Show and gala tickets can be purchased online.