Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Art of Gallery Gallivanting in NYC

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon – or weekday afternoon if you’re collecting unemployment these days – than trolling the streets of Chelsea and visiting the many art galleries?

There are hundreds of free galleries within a ten-block radius – plenty to keep the cultural tourist satisfied while on a budget.

Thanks to an anonymous FF reader, here are a few online resources and art gazing tips that are helpful in finding what's going on and where:

-Chelsea Art Galleries – This site is great because it gives you everything. The recommendations on the homepage are usually pretty reliable and the site also lists exhibit openings and closings. One of the best features is that if you click on the galleries tab at the top you can navigate listings by street, so if you know you're only going to have an hour and you want to hit up all the good shows on 24th Street, they're all laid out for you.

-Artinfo – This site is run by Artinfo, which also publishes a print version that is a guide with short write-ups and maps of the gallery neighborhoods in the city. Artinfo includes listings for Chelsea, as well as the Lower East Side, Brooklyn and Midtown galleries. You can buy the print version of the guide at a Barnes and Noble, but many galleries will have them if you ask the front desk staff.
-West Chelsea Arts - Another good resource for galleries you may not be able to find on other sites.

-Time Out New York and New York magazine both have good listings for galleries in Chelsea, but they usually stick the bigger names. Places like Gagosian, Cheim & Reid, Mary Boone, Pace Wildenstein, and David Zwirner are all amazing galleries that should be on everyone's must-see list. Since they exhibit big name artists and are all ground level they're easy for the burgeoning art lover to spot. You can usually find reviews and information about the shows in Time Out or New York to help you to better digest what you're seeing.

Not all galleries are visible from the street level. Here are a few worth making the extra effort to find:

Priska Juschka
The Cue Foundation

Freight + Volume
Anton Kern (see photo)
Green Naftali
Sara Meltzer
Mary Ryan Gallery

For those who aren’t art connoisseurs, galleries can be daunting since contemporary art is often confusing to understand. Front desk staff are generally more than happy to answer a few thoughtful questions if given the chance, so don't be afraid to pipe up if you're wondering what the heck you’re seeing.
And if you’re in need of a lunch break, check out neighborhood restaurant Bottino, located on Tenth Avenue between 24th and 25th Street. You can eat tasty take-out for under $10, including a drink – the only problem is finding a place to sit outside.

Word to the wise: Keep in mind that galleries have odd hours from July until Labor Day. Since summer in NYC is slow for art, a lot of galleries will choose to put on group shows -- sometimes these the best shows of the year.

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