Art Insider May 12: Galleries start to reopen, Frieze art fair goes digital

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What will it be like to walk through the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and other U.S. galleries when they reopen? Photo credit: Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0).

The Dia:Beacon art foundation in upstate New York prepares to reopen, while one California gallery reopens without clearance. The triannual Frieze art fair goes virtual with a focus on women and community. A new viewing room is dedicated to Hauser & Wirth’s staff and families.

Museums and galleries are anxious to reopen, some claim they are essential businesses 


Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, Beacon, New York.
© Dia Art Foundation, New York. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York. Courtesy Dia Art Foundation, New York. 

As museums slowly start to reopen abroad, the U.S.-based ones are anxious to follow suit. New York’s galleries are set to reopen in phase four of Governor Cuomo’s plan, after restaurants and hotels reopen (phase three). The Dia:Beacon recently joined other New York museums to convince state legislators to allow arts organizations to be included in phase three. 

Many museums feel confident that plans are in place for safe, contact-free experiences. That includes timed ticketing, single-direction walkways, plexiglass screens, and virus-killing foggers that would spray disinfectants. 

Meanwhile, Art Ventures Gallery in Menlo Park, CA, reopened on Saturday, although galleries have not been cleared to do so by Governor Newsom. 

“Art galleries are essential,” owner Katharina Powers told the Mercury News. “Art does something that nothing else can achieve, which is that it takes us away from our current mindset and everything that’s going on.” 

Powers received a phone call from the Menlo Park Police last week, although she has not been forced to close her gallery. About 12 people came by the gallery last Saturday, and Powers told the Mercury News that they were “really happy and appreciative.” 

Frieze New York goes digital


Casey Kaplan, Frieze New York 2019. Photo by Mark Blower. Courtesy of Mark Blower/Frieze.

I remember walking through dense crowds at Frieze Los Angeles this past February with thoughts of coronavirus lingering in my mind. The social distancing and stay-at-home orders came just a few weeks later. 

Frieze New York, hosted every year on Randall’s Island Park, has been canceled. It’s been replaced by Frieze Viewing Room (New York 2020 Edition) — an online art fair. The fair launched last week, and is open through May 15. 

In a welcome video, Director Loring Randolph says, “Our mission this year for Frieze New York was to create relevant and innovative programming that was collaborative and community-building.” 

The fair includes its typical sections — Focus, Frame, Spotlight, etc. — now searchable as filters on the site. You can also search by artists’ gender orientation or by price range. Acute Art presents a virtual reality experience via the Frieze app or a computer. 

One section of the fair includes a tribute to women artists who have a history in Chicago, including Suellen Rocca, Gladys Nilsson, Faith Wilding, and Michelle Grabner. “These women are … visionary radicals. I’m really honored that we are celebrating them this year during the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of women’s right to vote in the United States,” says Randolph. 

Register to view Frieze

Hauser & Wirth features artwork by gallery staff and their families


Michael Everett,
Untitled, 2020. Giclee archival inkjet print, 20.3 x 20.3 cm / 8 x 8 inches. Artist information: Michael Everett is based in New York. Image courtesy of Hauser & Wirth. 

Over the past few months, gallery viewing rooms have popped up alongside relief efforts for art workers who have lost work due to COVID-19. A new viewing room by Hauser & Wirth —  Homegrown — combines the two by featuring artwork from its global staff and their families. Hauser & Wirth has 11 locations around the world. For Homegrown, the gallery held an open call to its staff, and 110 staffers submitted artwork. Twelve artists will be featured every two weeks in the viewing room through July 18. 

Proceeds from sales will go directly to the artists (the gallery will not be taking the usual 50% cut), and 10% of sales will go to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

Manuela Wirth, co-president of Hauser & Wirth says in the press release, “We are thrilled to be able to celebrate the artists within our worldwide Hauser & Wirth family. With so much talent in our own backyard, we felt it was important to create a platform where their creativity can be appreciated by a much larger audience.” 

The viewing room launched over the weekend with its first group of 12 artists, and includes a short statement from each answering the question: “How are you staying busy at home?”

Explore Homegrown

Make a milk carton planter with the New Children’s Museum


This week’s design challenge from the New Children’s Museum: Make a milk carton planter box. The challenge is sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric. Image courtesy of The New Children’s Museum.

The New Children’s Museum in San Diego commissions contemporary artists to create interactive installations that kids can physically engage with. During its closure, the museum is offering resources like coloring pages and virtual art experiences. They are also posting a weekly Innovators LAB Design Challenge. This week’s challenge: milk carton planter box.  

  1. Rinse out a milk or juice carton.
  2. Draw a marker line around the carton, about five inches from the bottom. Following your line, cut the top of the carton off. 
  3. Use a scrap from the carton to make a label for your plant (cut a rectangle with the bottom edges cut into a pointed shape).
  4. Punch holes into the bottom of the planter with a ballpoint pen. 
  5. Decorate your planter with paint, markers, or whatever you have around the house.
  6. Add potting soil and plant three to five seeds into your planter.
  7. Share with the hashtag #thinkplaycreatefromhome.

Watch the instructional video