New Yorkers looking to lap up the last warm days of summer in one of the city’s more historic green spaces, but who also want to dive head first into the art world’s first offerings of the season, will find a perfect marriage of both a short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan on Governors Island.
Now in its eighth year, the Governors Island Art Fair occupies the former homes of Colonels Row, a grouping of regal brick houses that were occupied by high-ranking officers up until 1992. The houses are no longer private residences, and the island is no longer a military base, but the ghosts of the past will mingle with contemporary art around every crumbling corner beginning September 5 and running every weekend through the end of the month. A ferry ride to Governors Island costs $2, but admission to the fair is free.
Founded by the artist-run nonprofit 4heads, the fair features over 100 artists whose work occupies nearly 100 rooms between four of the Colonels Row houses. There are also a series of large-scale outdoor sculptures and installations peppered across the sweeping lawns in front of the houses, and, for the first time, the fair has placed sound and video works in the tomb-like stone magazine underneath Fort Jay, which once housed explosives and ammunition when it was used by the U.S. Army.
While the fair is no longer a newcomer, and it boasts numerous seasoned artists, it’s refreshing for its use of unorthodox exhibition space, from which many installations that couldn’t possibly exist in a white box gallery are born. And given the many restrictions of showing within a National Park, participating artists are given impressive freedom.