Seven Global Art-World Insiders Tell Us What They’ll Be Doing, Seeing, Reading, and Eating This Holiday Season

Curators, gallerists, and other insiders share their plans for recharging over the holiday break.

Jewelry and decorative arts curator Levi Higgs on vacation. Photo courtesy of Levi Higgs.
Jewelry and decorative arts curator Levi Higgs on vacation. Photo courtesy of Levi Higgs.

Should I stay or should I go? It’s the age-old question for urbanites during the holiday season, whether to trek off on a new adventure, return home (wherever that may be) to the warmth of family and friends, or keep the luggage on the upper shelf and simply enjoy the delicious coziness of an emptied-out city.

To get some insight into how the international tribe of the art world handles this annual dilemma, we checked in with seven curators, gallerists, and other art professionals about their year-end plans. Also, you may wonder: does the perfect winter respite mean that it’s finally time to see art, or is it the occasion for a mind-clearing visual fast? We find out the answer below. 

 

Touria El Glaoui
Founding Director of 1–54 African Art Fair.

Touria El Glaoui, Founder of 1–54 African Art Fair.

Touria El Glaoui, founder of 1–54 African Art Fair, standing in front of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech. Image courtesy of Touria El Glaoui.

Where She’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
El Glaoui is headed from London to Marrakech. “Not only is it where we have an edition of 1-54 in February, but it’s a city very dear to my heart,” she says. “I’m from there, and my father’s family is there. I spent a lot of time in Marrakech as a child.”

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?
El Glaoui has a jam-packed schedule. Among her must-see shows is “New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca School Archives” at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), an exhibition that traces the peripatetic career of midcentury Moroccan abstract painter Melehi as he moved between Rome, New York, and Casablanca.

She’ll also make time to see “Jacques Azéma: Une Aventure Poétique” at Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech. Azéma was a French artist who moved to Marrakech in the 1930s and taught at Casablanca’s École des Beaux-Arts for several years. 

The Meals She’s Most Looking Forward To
“Moroccan food is delicious, so I will definitely be gorging on some tagines and couscous,” El Glaoui says. “When I’m in the medina for the day, I love to eat at Terrasse des Épices, but if I’m in Gueliz, I will eat at Amal, a nonprofit association dedicated to training and providing jobs for disadvantaged women. The food is fantastic. And, of course, nothing beats home-made food, of which I will have plenty!” 

Mohamed Melehi, Flame, 1975, cellulose paint on wood. Collection of the artist

Mohamed Melehi, Flame (1975). Image courtesy the collection of the artist.

Any Binge-Reading or -Watching Plans?
El Glaoui is looking forward to re-reading Gavin Maxwell’s Lord of the Atlas (1966). “The book looks at the history of Morocco from 1893 to 1956 with a focus on my ancestors, Madani and T’hami El Glaoui,” she explains. “I have read it a number of times, but not for a while. I think it’s so important to know and understand your past, I feel like this year might be a good year to be reminded of my own.”

Her Favorite Seasonal Traditions
Spending time with her family is the most important part of the winter holidays and a time for the ever-on-the-go El Glaoui to get centered. “It will still be quite warm in Morocco, so I’m looking forward to being outside in the sun with my friends and family even if it is a little chilly!” she said. “I also like to unwind and treat myself to some me-time with a visit to the hammam.” 

 

Daniel S. Palmer
Curator, Public Art Fund, New York

Daniel S. Palmer, Curator at Public Art Fund, on a previous holiday in Uganda.

Daniel S. Palmer, Curator at Public Art Fund, on a previous holiday in Uganda. Image courtesy Daniel S. Palmer.

Where He’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
A whirlwind global tour is on the horizon for Palmer, who’ll first be heading to Amsterdam for a quick jaunt, followed by an epic tour of Africa. “I’m going back to Uganda to visit my wife who currently lives in Kampala,” he explains. “This time we’re also planning to explore more of East Africa, specifically Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar.” 

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?
He confesses he may have an art-viewing addiction. “I am notorious for jamming a ton of expeditious sightseeing and art into a layover in any foreign city,” says Palmer. During his flight to Uganda, he plans to lay over in Cairo. “Last year a layover to visit the pyramids at Giza nearly caused me to miss my flight,” he says. This stop in Cairo means a trip to the Egyptian Museum, which he’s wanted to visit since childhood.

Before he even leaves on his trip, Palmer hopes to squeeze in a trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art to catch “Melvin Edwards: Crossroads.” “I’m very excited to be working with Edwards on a survey exhibition of his sculptures at City Hall Park for Public Art Fund in June of 2020,” Palmer says. 

Melvin Edwards. Numunake. 1993. Courtesy the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. © Melvin Edwards, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Melvin Edwards, Numunake (1993). Courtesy the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. © Melvin Edwards, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Any Binge-Reading or -Watching?
He’ll be diving into some very serious books in advance of a 2020 exhibition he’s planning with artist Awol Erizku, which is centered around the penal system. On Palmer’s list are The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and a few re-reads including Angela Y. Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

His Favorite Seasonal Traditions
“My wife and I always love to watch Douglas Sirk movies during the winter holidays,” he says, “And we also have a tradition of starting the New Year off with a big hike.”

 

Rory Padeken
Curator, San José Museum of Art

Rory Padeken, curator. Photo by Gary Sexton Photography

Rory Padeken, curator. Photo by Gary Sexton Photography.

Where He’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
Hawaii, where Padeken will be visiting his friends and family. 

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?
Padeken makes no promises, but thinks he’ll stop by the Honolulu Museum of Art to see the current exhibitions and collection-gallery installations. 

Binge-Reading or -Watching?
​Too many options come to mind for Pakeden: “If I had to pick one book to read over the holidays it would be Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019). And the one show to watch would be season three of The Crown on Netflix—that is if I can hold out on not watching it until after Thanksgiving!”

Hamid Rahmanian, The Night Attack (2013). Courtesy of the Honolulu Musuem of Art.

Hamid Rahmanian, The Night Attack (2013). Courtesy of the Honolulu Musuem of Art.

His Favorite Holiday Tradition?
Lighting fireworks on New Year’s Eve. “It wards off bad spirits and brings good luck for the New Year,” he explains. “Though, admittedly, over the years I’ve been watching more than participating in the lighting part.” 

The Meals He’s Most Looking Forward to
Pakeden has two go-to brunch spots: Moena Cafe and Koko Head Cafe. “I would also love to go to my Aunt’s Nishime’s,” he says. “She makes a Japanese stew made with chicken or pork and various kinds of vegetables. It’s typically eaten on New Year’s Day as the different ingredients symbolize prosperity, happiness, and good health.”

      

Alexandra Fanning
Artist and Gallery Publicist

Alexandra Fanning Artist and Gallery Publicist

Alexandra Fanning, Director of Alexandra Fanning, Communications and Publicity for Artists and Galleries. Image courtesy Alexandra Fanning.

Where She’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
Since her homeland of Australia is just a little too far to travel for the winter break, Fanning is staying put in New York City. “With the cozy bars, the window displays, and the potential to snow, it’s the most festive place to be for Christmas—so I’m not complaining!” she says.

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?
Fanning will be heading to the Lower East Side to visit the galleries that are staying open. On her must-visit list is a trip to her friend’s gallery, Public Swim. “They currently have a window display of work by Emilia Olsen which looks amazing,” she says. “I’m also really excited to see Langdon Grave’s upcoming solo at the new Victori + Mo gallery.” And a battle against the holiday crowds to see the Met’s holiday decoration is not entirely off the table. 

"Month’s Mind by Langdon Graves" opens at Victori + Mo on Thursday, November 21.

“Month’s Mind by Langdon Graves” opens at Victori + Mo on Thursday, November 21.

Binge-Reading or Watching?
“I have big plans to relax and finish Rachel Cusk’s Outline Trilogy so I can start on the Anna Delvey tell-all!” she says. “And, as I do every year, I’ll be watching old Christmas movies.”

The Meals She’s Most Looking Forward to
I say that I will visit Rolf’s every year, but this year it’s going to happen!” says Fanning, who’s also looking forward to a night at the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center. She has one more particular seasonal weakness, with a perfect name to boot: “Honestly, as soon as it starts to get cold and I want to feel festive, I head to Achilles Heel in Greenpoint to sit by the fire.”

 

Juan Garcia Mosqueda
Director of Chamber Gallery

Juan Garcia Mosqueda, director of Chamber Gallery.

Juan Garcia Mosqueda, director of Chamber Gallery. Image courtesy Chamber Gallery.

Where He’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
Garcia Mosqueda will be heading from New York City, where he runs his design-focused gallery, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, to spend time with family and friends. 

The Meals He’s Most Looking Forward to
Three spots Mosqueda will be sure to visit are Marismo, a seafood restaurant with an outdoor seating area; Garzón, the Francis Mallmann restaurant with a lavish selection of Uruguayan and Argentinian wines; and La Olada, a rustic and romantic outdoor restaurant known for its fire pits and cocktails. 

Restaurant Marismo in José Ignacio, Uruguay.

Restaurant Marismo in José Ignacio, Uruguay. Image courtesy Juan Garcia Mosqueda.

Binge-Reading or -Watching?
He is a reader—although he admits his favorite holiday tradition is “getting a lot less reading done than what I had in mind.” That’s understandable, considering he won’t be bringing light-fare. This year, he’s packing Bede Frost’s theological opus St. John of the Cross, 1542-1591; The Bardo Thodol, more commonly known as the Tibetan book of the Dead; and John May’s Signal. Image. Architecture. (2019). 

What He Won’t Leave Home Without
“Sunglasses and a lot of pencils,” he says.

 

Harrison Tenzer
Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby’s

Harrison Tenzer Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby's

Harrison Tenzer, Contemporary Art Specialist at Sotheby’s. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Where He’ll Spend the Winter Holiday
The auction-house specialist will be fleeing the winter chill of Manhattan to spend the winter holidays with his parents and brother in Los Angeles.

His Favorite Holiday Tradition?
Without hesitation, Tenzer says it’s lighting the candles of the menorah with his family for Hanukkah. “On the first night, my brother and I are embarrassingly terrible at the prayers, but by the third night, we are reliving our Bar Mitzvah glory and singing well,” he jokes. “I’m by no means a traditionalist, but I think it’s important to make space today for communion with ancestors and to celebrate spirituality and moments of presence.”

Miriam Schapiro, Heartland (1985) Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. © 2019 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Zach Stovall.

Miriam Schapiro, Heartland (1985) Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. © 2019 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Zach Stovall.

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

Tenzer will be making the most of his art-viewing time on the West Coast, and says he’s eager to see the new Julie Mehretu and Betye Saar exhibitions currently at LACMA. “I’m also stoked about ‘With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985’—I’ve always had a soft spot for Miriam Schapiro and Joyce Kozloff for their embrace of traditional domestic crafts at a time when macho Minimalism and later heroic Neo-Expressionism were the dominant modes of art,” he says.  

“Speaking of ‘With Pleasure,'” Tenzer continues, “I’ll definitely be stopping by the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park, which champions erotic art. You need to spice up the holidays, right?”

The Meals He’s Most Looking Forward to
The classics, he says. Patrick’s Roadhouse right on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica is Tenzer’s go-to spot. “Nothing fancy,” he says. “The building is painted green and serves some of the best patty melts in the world.”

What He Won’t Leave Home Without
His journal. “I have a lot of drawing and writing I’m excited to work on,” he says. 

 

Levi Higgs
Jewelry historian and decorative arts curator

Levi Higgs

Levi Higgs (and his pup Theo) relaxing last winter. Image courtesy Levi Higgs.

Where He’ll Spend the Winter Holiday

Higgs and his partner, Mark, along with their dachshund-terrier mix, plan to head to the winter wonderland of Upstate New York. “Last year over Christmas we were with friends at the Dutchess, which is a beautiful and serene farm retreat,” he says. “It’s a bit private, and you must be referred to stay on the property. We had a very restorative stay in one of the farm houses with two other couples. Then we headed up to Tourists Welcome in North Adams, Massachusetts.”

Art Plans, Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?
Last year, he visited the Clark and MASS MoCA. This year, Higgs has Olana, the moorish-inspired home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, on his list. But he also finds pleasures back in Manhattan, too. “When the city is quiet, we love going to the Met and searching out new stories of forgotten pieces in hidden galleries,” Higgs says.  

Levi Higgs visiting MASS MoCA last fall.

Levi Higgs visiting MASS MoCA last fall. Image courtesy Levi Higgs.

His Favorite Seasonal Traditions?
As a Wyoming native, Higgs remembers heading to the Bighorn Mountains to cut the family Christmas tree. “Waist-high snow, the pristine silence of the forest, and hot cocoa at the lodge really made it a magical time,” he says. “In the city, Mark and I have enjoyed having a real tree every year, just for the jolt of fresh pine smell when you walk into the apartment. We also bake quite a bit!” 

The Meals He’s Most Looking Forward to
Last year, they feasted on vegetarian dining at New York’s abcV, and this year they’re heading next door to its partner, abc Kitchen. “Both our families are from different states, Wyoming and Texas, so it’s a bit easier to just stay put,” he says. “Honestly, there’s nothing better than an empty New York City on the long Thanksgiving weekend.” 

What He Won’t Leave Home Without
A bath bomb for soaking, robes, face masks, and a bottle opener. “Since we are usually near Hudson, New York, when we travel, we always stop at Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions on Warren Street. You literally cannot go wrong with snacks from there! Our favorites include the ginger cookies, the apple or cherry turnovers, and the sausage rolls.”


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