Arts / Galleries

An Insider Guide to New York’s Art Fair —The Standouts, Discoveries, and Texas’ Best

The Armory Show Launches the Global Art Season

BY // 09.08.22

28 years ago — a lifetime ago in contemporary art, and nearly a decade before the first Art Basel Miami Beach was staged — a micro art fair was born that would go on to shape both the New York and U.S. collecting scene for a generation to come. It eclipsed the then-dominate Art Expo in Chicago and built a brand, with curatorial chops and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Just four dealers participated that first year, setting up in rented rooms in the art-filled Gramercy Park Hotel. The fair expanded, with a move to the Upper East Side’s historic 69th Street Regiment Armory, then to the West Side Piers, and now its latest home, Javits Center. 

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Naomi Rincón Gallardo’s The Formaldehyde Trip, 2017, at PROXYCO Gallery

This year’s Armory Show offers stimulating and robust programming, as well as the main attraction: a roster of more than 240 dealers (up since last year’s count of 212), encompassing galleries from 30 countries as well as America’s finest, including more than 60 from the heart of the American scene, New York, as well as far-flung art capitals including New Delhi, Budapest, Dubai, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, and London.

In our age of discontent, fraught with extreme global social and political challenges, The Armory Show brings the art world — and welcomes the curious — to a big-table, inclusive dialogue that’s always about more than a canvas on the wall. Calendar these dates: by-invitation VIP Preview, Thursday, September 8; public days Friday through Sunday, September 9 through 11.

245 HR Nnenna Okore, Ashoebi. Courtsey of Kó
Nnenna Okore’s Ashoebi II, 2008, at Kó

Five Sections to Explore 

Ever one to probe the edges of the scene, where fresh curatorial vision happens, The Armory Show in its second iteration at Javits Center has expanded its embrace of emerging dealers (defined as less than 10 years as gallerists), to forge the Presents area of the fair, now showcasing 40 galleries that devote booths to either solo or dual presentations. Presents is one of five sections at the Armory; others include the expansive main Galleries and Solo, which offers an immersive look at a single artist from the 20th or 21st centuries, either established or emerging, historic or today.  

The other two categories add a prescient point of view: Focus and Platform. This year, both share a single and singular perspective for the first time: Latin American and Latinx art, curated respectively by Carla Acevedo-Yates, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, and Tobias Ostrander, Estrellita B. Brodsky Adjunct Curator of Latin American Art at Tate, London. Aligning with this important topic, the Armory has tapped a renowned Texas museum curator to chair the fair’s scholarly fifth annual Curatorial Leadership Summit: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Wortham Curator of Latin American Art, Mari Carmen Ramírez. 

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Trenton Doyle Hancock â Installation Views
Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Mound #1 and The Color Crop Experience, 2018, at Hales Gallery and James Cohan (© Trenton Doyle Hancock 2022. Image courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Tony Luong for MASS MoCA)

Top of Armory 2022

When taking in the fair, it’s de rigueur to check out global gallery brands, especially David Zwirner and Perrotin. The former organizes a two-person exhibition in the Galleries area, pairing YBA Chris Ofili, a Turner Prize-winning painter, with American drawing master of the high and low, Raymond Pettibon. Perrotin is among the Platform dealers that deploy 12 installation-based works along the curated theme of Ostrander’s section, “Monumental Change.” In Platform, Perrotin presents Wild Flowers by Colombian-born artist and filmmaker Iván Argote, now based in Paris. Argote postulates a post-apocalyptic world where flora takes over and regenerates the planet — in this case, vis-à-vis imagining the monument to George Washington that defines Wall Street’s streetscape, toppled and transformed into a planter box.

Also recommended at Platform: London’s Hales and NYC’s James Cohan co-present Houston-based Trenton Doyle Hancock. The internationally exhibited Hancock creates an experiential enclosure where his super-sized Mound #1 and The Color Crop Experience, 2019, holds court, alongside animated videos. Referencing his ongoing personal cosmology, Mound #1 was the calling card of Hancock’s epic 2019 exhibition at MASS MoCA; it also calls to mind fiberglass figures that demarcate fast-food chairs or entertainment megaplexes.  

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Jackie Milad’s A Planet Breaks Open (Dedicated to Clementina Saurez), 2022, at SOCO Gallery

At Focus, bask in the strange trippy cinematic work of Naomi Rincón Gallardo (appropriately titled The Formaldehyde Trip, 2017) at PROXYCO Gallery, New York, and the equally Day-Glo mixed-media collages by Jackie Milad, informed by her dual Egyptian and Honduran heritage, at SOCO Gallery (one of the Armory’s few Southern galleries, in from Charlotte, North Carolina). Then L.A.-based Carolina Caycedo’s installation of embroidered anonymous clothing at Instituto de Visión (Bogotá and New York) addresses systems of power and the need for social justice in Latin American countries such as Colombia, where the artist was reared.

392 Chuck Ramirez Long-Term Survivor Chaps
Chuck Ramirez’s “Long-Term Survivor: Chaps,” 1999, 2019, at Ruiz-Healy Art

Texas’ Best at The Armory Show

Kerry Inman is one of four Texas dealers on the Armory stage. Two, including Inman Gallery, are returning exhibitors, while two are making their Armory debut. In the Galleries section, the Houston-based Inman Gallery presents a tightly curated quintet of artists, four mid-career and one emerging talent: Jamal Cyrus (fresh from his epic Blaffer and Texas Southern shows last year), Shaun O’Dell, Demetrius Oliver, Robyn O’Neil, and introducing Alexis Pye, a Houston artist whose portrait paintings joyfully place Black men in bucolic gardens.     

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Shaun O’Dell’s Kentucky Urpflanze Keep on Shining, 2021, at Inman Gallery

Another Houston trailblazer, this time of the Latin-American modern and contemporary vanguard, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino devotes its booth within Galleries to a great eight from its stable: Gustavo Díaz (Argentine-born, now Houston-based, a master of cut-paper drawings that evoke utopian cities), Thomas Glassford, Marco Maggi, Gabriel de la Mora, Melanie Smith, Miguel Angel Ríos, Fanny Sanín, and, new to their roster, a Cuban talent now residing in Houston, Reynier Leyva Novo.

Note: Also watch for Novo’s large-scale sculpture in Platform, a politically charged work in fiberglass; it reproduces to scale the head of the 19th-century journalist/poet, José Martí, from his monument in Revolution Square, Havana. 

394 GlassfordT-178 [by Tom Dubrock]
Thomas Glassford’s Untitled, 2022, at Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino (Photo by Thomas R. Dubrock)

Newcomers to The Armory Show also bring buzz. San Antonio dealer Ruiz-Healy Art (who also has an Upper East Side, New York, location) showcases in Focus photographic images by Chuck Ramirez, the late artist whose estate she represents. Ramirez, an openly gay man living with AIDS, bravely addressed issues of gender, religion, and the AIDS crisis as a beloved figure of the San Antonio community. More than a decade after his early death from a bicycle accident, Ramirez’s work couldn’t be more visceral or timely.

393 Chuck Ramirez, Cocktail (pill box), 40x26in
Chuck Ramirez’s Long Term Survivor: Cocktail, 1999, 2019/2022, at Ruiz-Healy Art

The final Texas entrée for The Armory Show is 12.26, a fresh Dallas gallery helmed by sisters Hannah and Hilary Fagadau (the latter, based in L.A.). Landing a plum spot in Presents, 12.26 goes for a feminist statement, curating a solo for multi-hyphenate British-Ghana artist Kesewa Aboah (who holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NYC, as well as modeling chops including campaigns for Alexander McQueen and Miu Miu).

In their Armory booth, 12.26 will unfurl Aboah’s recent body-centric images crafted from walnut oil and acrylic on paper. Expect to see “large-scale multimedia works that explore identity, process, and the female form,” says Hannah Fagadau. The dealer characterizes Aboah’s art as “modernizing traditional techniques of embroidery and body imprinting to create bold, colorful and often haunting versions of 20th-century tapestry.”

All images courtesy of the artists and their respective galleries. 

The Armory Show, Thursday through Sunday, September 8 through 11, at Javits Center, New York; info and tickets, here.

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