The Frieze New York art fair returns to Randall's Island this week (May 2-6), offering art collectors and lovers the perfect opportunity to check out the latest art in one sceney spot–more than 190 galleries from around the world will be exhibiting under Frieze's massive tent.
But the labyrinth of galleries is just the start. Other attractions include talks (by the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jerry Saltz, for example), performances (like artist Lara Schnitger's live procession, "Suffragette City"), and fun pop-up restaurants (from Roberta's, Frankies Spuntino, and The Fat Radish, to name just a few). One piece is already on view: Adam Pendleton's monumental "Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter)" will fly over Randall's Island Park for the next six months.
Attendees can buy tickets online for the special Frieze buses and ferries leaving from Manhattan's East Side. But if you live in Harlem or further uptown, going by taxi or car service can take as little as 15 minutes. Anyone on a tight budget–a basic ticket to the fair is $48–also has the option of biking or walking across the 103rd Street footbridge.
Now in its seventh year, Frieze New York is just one of a handful of art fairs in town this week. But although most are below 110th Street or in Brooklyn, that doesn't mean you should rush to leave the area when you're done. Here are three Harlem shows worth a detour (from south to north):
Photo: from Arthur Jafa's "Air Above Mountains, Unknown Pleasures," Gavin Brown's Enterprise
Arthur Jafa: "Air Above Mountains, Unknown Pleasures" (May 4-June 10)
439 W 127th Street between Amsterdam and Convent Avenues
Two years ago artist Arthur Jafa rocked the art world with "Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death," a video celebrating black culture set to Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam.” This latest not-to-miss show features a new collection of videos, photos and other art exploring what Jafa calls "Blacknuss" (including a 19th century black sex worker arrested for pickpocketing and black Christian worship ceremonies).
Firelei Báez: "Joy Out of Fire" (through November 24)
515 Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th Street
While the Studio Museum prepares to build its new home on 125th Street, it has been partnering with neighborhood institutions for its inHarlem art exhibits. The latest, at the Schomburg, features the work of Firelei Báez, who has created a series of unconventional portraits of notable black women–think Maya Angelou, Jean Blackwell Hutson, and Ada “Bricktop” Smith–that incorporate copied bits of archival photographs, diaries, letters and manuscripts.
Harlem Perspectives (through May 13)
2602 Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 138th and 139th Streets
Brand new to the Harlem art scene–it opened in February–this gallery with British roots is already onto its second show. The current exhibit highlights the work of local artists from Harlem and the Bronx, including the striking assemblages of David Shrobe and the beautiful, reimagined portraits of Stan Squirewell.