Armory Arts Week 2011, a few personal impressions

The Dependent, where boundaries blurred (here the New York Fine Arts room)

I've found my art fair. "Armory Arts Week" worked this year: Institutions often don't age any better than people, and maybe the secret of life for old art shows is in the spawning of the new.

The Armory Show itself was, well, armorial, although there were pockets of real humanity.

Independent, which was such a hit last year on its first outing, was definitely more cerebral than both the Armory itself and even its own first manifestation. But there was little eye candy or energy, and it felt surprisingly stiff and corporate. I'm certain many individual conceptual projects would open up if only I could hang around some more, but on a frustratingly-short weekend of compelling attractions there's almost never enough time.

Speaking of candy, Daniel Reich hosted a modest, slightly roguish party inside his gallery on Friday afternoon. A salute to the 60s and the current gallery installation, Jack Early's Ear Candy Machine, it included continuous live music performances. it will probably remain one of my personal highlights of the week, and only partly for its odd folksy character (and Daniel's inimitable conversation).

The Dependent was the event I had most anticipated since I first heard about it, and I wasn't disappointed. Last night the Gramercy Fair (The Gramercy International Contemporary Art Fair), the 1994 progenitor of the modern Armory Show, was resurrected for a few hours. This was no sterile reproduction however, but a brilliant, exciting original. On the basis of the magic created last night, may have already created its own legend. It was "let's put on a show," and the results were pretty compelling, beginning with the contagious enthusiasm of the crowds on both sides of the "proscenium," and continuing through the marvelous blur of boundaries between art, environment, artists, viewers and listeners. The dozen or so exhibitors were given one hour to arrange their installations inside an equivalent number of smallish rooms (inside the Sheraton Hotel on West 25th Street) before the doors were opened at 4 pm. The show was supposed to end five hours later, but the crowds were still lined up outside when we left at nine o'clock.