Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Make a Better, I Mean Art Fair | Open Thread

A friend of mine has seen it and confirms it's pretty awful, but even without his in-depth critique I had known by merely scanning the zillions of headlines that the new Broadway musical, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” was not the crowd-pleaser its producers would have hoped their $70 million would buy them. At this point, it's become a bit of a cultural phenomenon for its perceived failure, and as such, it made total sense to me that The New York Times art blog would ask its readers to weigh in on how to fix it:
Last week readers were asked to advise the makers of “Spider-Man” on how to improve, overhaul, fix, reinvigorate or totally reboot the opening-delayed, critically-drubbed new musical. As of Sunday over 150 comments were posted on ArtsBeat, Facebook and Twitter (#fixspiderman), ranging from the sincerely helpful to the comically naughty (and dismissively scornful).
The sincerely helpful ones were the ones that caught my attention, as they revealed a sophisticated response by obviously seasoned theater-goers, who are, after all, the intended audience for the eventual production. It occurred to me that the NYTimes had give the musical's producers a wonderful gift in doing so (it's like a free focus group of very well-informed opinions).

As noted above, I haven't seen Spider-Man and thus don't have an opinion, but I thought I'd take a page out of the Times book and see if the seasoned art fair goers still recuperating from The Armory Week in New York might not share their opinions on how the week's fairs (including ours, which received a fair bit of constructive criticism its first time out...sincere thanks to all who cared enough to write about it!) could better serve their intended audiences. Feel free to share your sophisticated opinions (praise as well as frustrations) with any or all of the fairs, including, but not limited to, logistics, entry fees, application process, the quality of the art, the quality of the experience, the quality of the food, etc. etc. etc. Charmingly snarky comments will be published...mean-spirited ones that offer nothing constructive probably won't (I'll decide).

Consider this an open thread on how to build a better art fair.

Labels: Art Fairs, open thread


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spiderman's biggest problem was mundane music and finally after all this time Bono and the Edge are being brought back to fix it. Poor Taymor has spent months trying to work around that black hole and now she is the one being cast off.

As for art fairs, I only went to one (Moving Image) and enjoyed it thoroughly but I don't have enough experience with art fairs to be informative on that subject criticism-wise.

----- ondine nyc

3/14/2011 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Pool was best! Though the Twisted Bicycle Planter in front of the Armory show was cool too. OK, yes I am biased. Joanne is blogging about Art Fairs too, specifically whether an artist should do Pool.

I spent half an hour inside the Armory Show (only free time I had). I saw some things I liked but then when I read the Fair article in the New York Times I was surprised that the images and talk about the fair were the same works that I had seen. I thought there would've been more worth seeing.

3/14/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

Ed, i didn't see you mention the small blurb by Jerry Saltz in his recent column: (First entry near the bottom)

Even historians are considering the benefits of peer reviews done realtime via digital media. "The times they are a changin "

3/15/2011 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Hadn't actually seen that Gam...thanks so much for pointing it out!

Jerry had some very kind things to say about Moving Image when he visited...and some constructive advice as well. He's incredibly generous as an art world personality. I hope he understands how much that means to the folks he shares his time with.

3/15/2011 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I'm not a video person. When I'm in move-mode, I find it hard to stay still to watch a moving image. For this reason Moving Image worked for me. I could meander from viewing station to viewing station, skipping the ones that didn't interest me, moving on to the ones that did. The semi-dark of the Tunnel made for good viewing without trapping me into a black space.
Bottom line: I thought the format and the space were effective. And I even watched some of the videos! That's praise from a stationary-image person like myself.

As for how to make a better fair in general:
. I think Armory, ADAA and Pulse did it well. No one is going to like everything, but the venues and layouts were good and the offerings were interesting. Also, the amenities were decent: lunch options, coat check, and well- maintained bathrooms.
. Independent, the current darling, does not do a good enough job of identifying the galleries or artists. The cliquishness of the dealers is not conducive to an observer obtaining information. The floors are easy to navigate, but getting to them, via elevator or stairs, is pure hell.
. Volta is an odd bird. With a few exceptions (loved the sculptures at Number 35), it usually feels like a school project. I think it's the space.
. The other fairs need to ask themselves: "Do I really need to be here."
. And (with the exception of Armory Modern) somebody needs to tell 30% of the galleries in all of the venues that they are not ready for prime time.

3/15/2011 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

The cliquishness of the dealers is not conducive to an observer obtaining information.

would something like these be helpful or more of yet another wall?:


Should the gallery/museum/artfair outsource specific tasks - features?

3/15/2011 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Part of the problem is that the gallery identification was ambiguous. Was that name on the partition for the gallery space on the right of it or the left? Why no names of artists next to the work? Some gallerists, like Jack Hanley, provided it, but very few other. Hanley, by the way, was right in the middle of his booth chatting with visitors, totally accessible, a model (in my opinion)of how to interact with the public.

I realize that language might have been an issue, as a number of dealers were probably native English speakers, but presentation and body language did not suggest openness.

3/15/2011 06:36:00 PM  

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