Art fairs! There’s a good chance you have a strong opinion about art fairs. How did the art fair model became the bellwether of this whole business? What’s the importance of new geographic regions with emerging billionaire-backed markets? And what to make of the varying levels of quality on display on the walls of the booths at art fairs?
Fair questions, all. I’m going to talk about the food I ate at art fairs in 2015.
The Armory Show
I ate bags of Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s potato chips. They were free and I was broke. Yes, the chips were art, and not simply a nice salty snack, but they actually seemed to be of pretty high quality. Your standard kettle chip, sure, but it hit the spot.
Independent New York
One time Empire Diner appeared for two seconds in that Woody Allen movie where he’s sleeping with a teenager. I should have taken the advice of the all-knowing Olivier Zahm, because my sandwich—what this sandwich was, that now escapes me, along with much of what happened at Independent—took forever to come and was really expensive and everyone around me was speaking French. Empire Diner is closed now.
The ADAA Art Show
A station with smoked fish on different types of savory bread-based lox-transporting mechanisms. High-end crudités. Stinky cheeses. Sushi. A station with rare steak bites on—again—different types of savory bread-based steak-transporting mechanisms. Paintings were sold.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Didn’t go to Hong Kong. Probably got a slice in the East Village at some point around then.
Dallas Art Fair
Tall cocktails with collectors with taller hair. With less-coiffed local dealers, longnecks of Lone Star at Lee Harvey’s. Also, at the Joule Hotel, some New York-based art critics took down a pig’s head—the snout, the ears, the tongue, the jowl. Nate Lowman had a show at Dallas Contemporary.
Frieze New York
The Italian Combo from Court Street Grocers—a really great sandwich, good job guys. Three coffees. Champagne some publicist successfully plied me with post-filing. Tony Shafrazi’s prescription painkillers purchased from the Bidoun booth. Fine, I didn’t really buy Tony Shafrazi’s painkillers. I certainly wanted to! Would have helped with those Richard Prince Instagram paintings at the Gagosian booth.
NADA New York
They were giving away free tacos and beer at the NADA New York opening. Free tacos and beer.
The world’s best art fair does not have the world’s best food. One can subsist on schnitzel and raclette for only so long. There is döner at that late-night kebab place on Steinentorstrasse, and it is terrible. My favorite food in Basel is probably the olives in the martinis at the Grand Hotel Trois Rois. I guess there’s, like, chocolate?
At least Liste has a reception with red wine and cold-ish beer before it begins, which is at 10:00 a.m. It’s Switzerland—might as well have a few libations at breakfast. I recall a few little cheese-based delicacies being passed around, which makes the callous quick-grabbing of cheap-ish works from small-ish galleries easier to stomach.
Didn’t go, but probably would have downed a few pints at some dark pub near Regent’s Park and called it a day.
Didn’t go, but probably would have downed a few glasses of red at Cafe de Flore and called it a day.
Art Basel Miami Beach
Ah, the infrequent but glorious appearance of real food and real drink during Art Basel Miami Beach. The gooey butter-smothered Cuban at Las Olas Cafe. The two-for-one Budweisers at Mac’s Club Deuce. And, most importantly, The Terminator at La Sandwicherie. It’s the sub at the end of my dreams: an unholy heap of salami and ham and turkey and provolone topped with a salad’s worth of pickled veggies, all doused in gratuitous amounts of their inimitable homemade pepper-mustard vinaigrette. It almost makes this whole business worth it.