Revered New York non-profit Artists Space will bring live portrait-drawing sessions to The Armory Show

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Artists Space, an assertively anti-commercial gallery founded in New York’s Soho district in 1972, will take part in the city’s biggest art fair this year. The non-profit will have a stand at The Armory Show (7-10 September) under the auspices of the fair’s Armory Spotlight initiative, which honours a New York institution with a gratis booth.

At the fair, Artists Space will stage live performances and a shifting exhibition by Drake Carr, a Michigan-born, New York-based artist known for his bright, sometimes caricature-like portraits of members of the art and nightlife scenes, often informed by his job as a bartender. The project, dubbed Housecalls, will bring Carr’s practice of making commissioned portraits in patrons’ homes to the Javits Center floor.

“Drake’s reflexive practice carries an awareness of what, where and how it’s viewed, which will surely make for a thoughtfully sharp presentation that reflects some of the particularities of The Armory Show back onto itself,” Jay Sanders, Artists Space’s executive director and chief curator, said in a statement.

Visitors will see Carr at work in a studio-like setting that will change over the course of the fair. The project is an evolution of Carr’s life drawing residency-cum-performance, Walk-ins, which took place at the New York Life Gallery in Manhattan last winter, when he made more than 150 drawings during a two-week residency.

Drake Carr, Thora, 2023 Courtesy the artist, Artists Space

“I’m really a fashion designer, but I don’t know how to make clothes and I don’t want to learn how, so I paint and draw clothing designs and they just live there, in 2D,” Carr told Whitewall last year on the occasion of a two-part solo show at New York galleries Situations and Fierman. “I didn’t want to paint on rectangles because for a while I didn’t want to care about the background and setting, I just wanted to make people. But now it’s interesting to me, and I’m trying to figure out why I am so attached to the bar as the setting.”

The Armory Spotlight initiative launched last year with a presentation by the Kitchen, another storied fixture of New York’s downtown scene, which displayed materials from its archives.

“Artists Space has played a pivotal role in positioning New York as a global leader in the art world, nurturing talents like Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, Hito Steyerl and Cameron Rowland during the formative stages of their careers.,” Nicole Berry, the executive director of The Armory Show, said in a statement.

In addition to the Artists Space stand, The Armory Show’s usual special sector for non-profits will feature booths by Aperture, Ballroom Marfa, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Light Work, the Lower East Side Printshop, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Skowhegan, Tate, the Invisible Dog, Wave Pool and Whitechapel Gallery.

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