With the art world preparing for Frieze Week, there is a new fair to add to the already crowded calendar, as the inaugural Downtown Fair (May 8–11) enters the fray. (See an earlier artnet News report about the week’s growing number of fairs.) Located in the historic 69th Regiment Armory, host to the original 1913 Armory Show and located just 10 blocks from the Frieze New York ferry’s departure point, the fair offers a quieter (and more convenient) alternative to the main event on Randall’s Island right in the heart of Manhattan.
Initially announced in the fall as the Downtown Armory Fair (see Art Media Agency report), the property has since been purchased by Art Miami, and will mark the Floridian fair’s first foray into New York City. In a conversation with artnet News, Art Miami’s director Nick Korniloff explained that he had been looking for the opportunity to produce a contemporary art fair in New York for 15 years. He says that exhibitors and collectors who make the annual December pilgrimage to Art Miami have already embraced the organization’s Art Southampton on Long Island’s East End, and that there has been “tremendous demand” for a similar event in the city proper.
Korniloff believes that despite Frieze Week’s growing scope, there remains a market for an “investment quality fair in New York during the month of May.” Plus, he adds, “we’re very well connected in New York already.” Despite Korniloff’s interest, he had difficulty finding an available facility to host Art Miami’s newest venture. Buying Downtown Armory was the perfect solution: The right dates and an appropriate venue were already booked, and the fledgling fair was ripe for the picking.
The Downtown Fair will feature 51 exhibitors, including BOSI Contemporary, Richard Levy Gallery, Yossi Milo Gallery, and Cynthia-Reeves, offering what Korniloff describes as a mix of “cutting edge, emerging, and mid-career artists” both from the primary and secondary markets. He views Downtown as the perfect follow-up to the postwar auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s earlier in the week.
As compared to the expansive Frieze tent, Korniloff describes the Downtown Fair as “manageable,” and “very approachable, whether you’re a seasoned collector, or someone who’s just looking to get in to the art world.” Unconvinced you’ll have room for Downtown on your itinerary for the week? “We’ll have the highest quality outside of Frieze for that week,” Korniloff asserts.
What sets the fair apart from the week’s other satellite fairs? Downtown’s high-end secondary market sector, which Korniloff sees as comparable to offerings at the spring auction sales. He also hopes visitors will be impressed by the fair’s slate of lectures and programming. While Korniloff accepts that Downtown isn’t going to be able to compete outright with a fair of Frieze’s size and scope, he believes that “we’re a great complement to what’s happening that week.”
The Downtown Fair will open its doors for the first time on Thursday, May 8. Complimentary shuttle bus from the Frieze New York ferry will be made available for VIPs of the larger fair.