The season of art fairs in New York is on: art professionals and enthusiasts plan their time carefully not to miss the most anticipated meetings, talks, and parties. For many visitors, mostly art fans, it’s not even a dilemma whether to take their kids with them or not. For those who do have a choice, I would still probably say, “yes, bring your kids along”. But how to make your visit productive and the most enjoyable depends on your “homework” done before heading to the art fair.
1. Research the art fair program, theme, and the list of participating galleries.
Being informed about the art fair schedule and other details will help you plan your day and time carefully, especially if you take your child with you. Some installations may not be suitable for little kids’ eyes and imagination. On the contrary, the certain artworks are totally worth seeing with even little kids.
2. Read art fair previews published by critics or educators.
Art fairs always take care of their public relations and provide a lot of materials to publishers well in advance. Those press releases include pictures, and all art journalists add images to their publications. Pictures and descriptions of the “must-see” paintings, sculptures, and installations will give you an idea how to tour the art fair more effectively. Keeping in mind you are going with a child, be ready to explain to your kid the details about the artwork you are both enjoying. If you don’t know anything, ask questions. People at the booths are always glad to talk with the visitors.
3. Make your child thrilled about your upcoming visit.
Become an art educator for your children – read some stories about artists together, take a look at the panoramic pictures of the pavilions and landscapes full of sculptures and installations – this is not what children see every day. Show the images of some artworks in advance – pick the art your child will understand and will be willing to see in person. If your child is excited about the upcoming fair visit (s)he will be your well-behaved companion.
4. Plan your time at the fair carefully: enjoy “time off” with your child at the cafes.
If adults get tired of hundreds of great artworks around, imagine how your kids feel! Treat your child and yourself with some sweets and desserts from the on-site cafes. Walk around. Relax. For example, Frieze Art Fair always offers outdoor seating which is an additional perk if you are with kids.
5. Let your child run around at the outdoor areas.
Always remember that entertainment is an essential part of an education process, especially for little kids. Enjoy your time at sculpture parks outdoors (if any), let your child relax at the various whimsical chairs that are always placed at the lounge areas. Allow your child to grab the fliers and postcards when available – let the kid “collect” his own art.
6. Encourage your child to take pictures.
If your child is grown up enough to manage a gadget, encourage your kid to record the impressions. Let your son or daughter take pictures, or sketch, or write down some information. You can teach your child how to enjoy her time and preserve memories.
7. Discuss with your child later what you’ve seen and enjoyed together.
This aftermath is very important. It means bonding and education at the same time. Ask your child what (s)he did not like. Try to answer all questions. Find the books or online publications if your child (and you) have questions.
Art fairs is a unique chance to get acquainted with other cultures, view a lot of new and well-known art, meet the artists, talk to the people you and your child may not meet on a daily basis. I always encourage my daughter to ask questions when we visit galleries or art booths together. Art fairs is such a high concentration of creative thinking materialized into the artworks that it’s hard to compare the impact of touring an art fair with anything else. When you visit museums, it’s often means visiting your favorite artworks and galleries. Children like to return to see again and again the art they like. Touring an art fair is always a discovery. Make this useful experience for you and your children an unforgettable fun. // Natalie Burlutskaya, Curator, RE:ARTISTE International Art Organization