The Ten Best Things to See and Do at Art Month Sydney 2012

As Art Month turns three, Concrete Playground helps you decode its tours, talks, trails and exhibitions.

Art Month turns three this year, returning with its city-spanning hook-up of contemporary art, galleries and the general public. Orbtiting the calendar opposite Art and About, Art Month shifts the focus to many on Sydney's smaller art institutions, with a month-long schedule of tours, talks, cycles, trails and exhibitions.

The gargantuan scale of its full program can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, Concrete Playground is at the ready with this guide to Art Month's 2012 foray.

1. Art at Night

Catching galleries of an evening has long since begun to catch on in Sydney. As its contribution to this widening field, Art Month is hosting six nights of Art at Night, with six Sydney precincts opening their doors late. Each evening one gallery hosts an art bar and FBi DJs, with a constellation of late-opening  galleries around it.

Paddington's hub is MiCK Gallery, flanked by shows like Hugh Ford, Magnum photos and abstracts at Eva Breuer. Rozelle centres around Artereal, with a dLux party, art precinct launch and interesting maps at Paper Plane. Surry Hills starts at the Chalk Horse, with shows at First Draft or Breenspace, and Chippendale offers a duel between MOP and the new Galerie pompom, with drinks later at the White Rabbit. East Sydney's National Art School base is a brisk walk from shows like Alaska Projects' Peep, while Alexandria's evening offers galleries like Darren Knight and hub Sullivan and Strumpf.

Each party has one gallery bar, with participating galleries open 6-8pm, bars 6-10. Paddington/Woollhara is on March 8, Rozelle March 9, Waterloo/Alexandria March 15, Darlinghurst/East Sydney March 16, Chippendale/Redfern March 22 and Surry Hills on March 23.

2. Serial Space Suitcase Market

Serial Space's Brisbane-borrowed Suitcase Market returns for Art Month, this time stocked by art students and ARIs. Vendors (you too can register to sell until March 15) are able to pack what they can in a single suitcase, selling whatever as they please: kitch, art or other treasures. If it's legal, if it fits in a suitcase, it could be going home with you. As a buyer, just turn up on the day with cash in your wallet, an eye for an interesting bargain and, perhaps, a bag of your own to take home your coming stash.

March 17, 10-2pm. Free.

3. Art Cycle

Art Month's Art Cycle combines the need to know with a two wheel tour, taking Art Month attendees on one of four itineraries of galleries around town. An Inner West circuit skirts Newtown galleries, Annandale and Leichhardt, with a finish at At the Vanishing Point and the night-garden-making Tortuga Studios, while a Chippendale and CBD tour pings Customs House before cruising inner-city highlights like Gaffa and Serial Space before ending up at First Draft. Bourke Street's foray touches Dank Street, the National Art School and Artspace, and the Paddington excursion exercises you from the Sherman Foundation through Alaska Projects up downhill to Coo-ee Aboriginal Art down by Bondi Beach.

Bookings are essential. Email info@artcyclesydney.com with your name, mobile and the tour you prefer. Art Cycle recommends bringing water, food cash, a mobile, spare tube/tube or repair kit, tools and weather protection. Helmets compulsory.

4. Beer and Fries

Sydney artist Kath Fries gets about. Dropping sculpture in cemeteries, winning her way to Tokyo with the Japan Foundation's New Artist Award and now a selection of installations in Millers Point's for Scorch at galleryeight. The show casts tree branches in bronze, mixing them into art with nylon, charcoal and a touch of mess. For her Art Month talk, Beer and Fries, Kath gets combined in conversation with MCA Curatorial Assistant Megan Robson and galleryeight director Peter Cramer. At the talk's end, galleryeight's geographical advantages get used to good effect, finishing with a free craft beer-tasting next door at the Lord Nelson Hotel.

11 March, 3pm. Free. RSVP info@galleryeight.com.au (Image: Kath Fries, Hold dear, 2011, bronze, nylon and charcoal, dimensions variable.)

5. Uncollectable Art

Fraser Street Studios is bringing a group of artists together to talk about art you can't sell, letting you decide if it's better to make art that comes with a paycheck, or trade economic constraints for arctic freedoms. Uncollectable Art is moderated by Das Superpaper's Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris, and featuring ideas from ARIs, Primavera almunus and Squatspacer Keg de Souza, and performative walker Sarah Rodigari. The afternoon should leave you with a better appreciation for — or at least a stronger opinion about — the sorts of ephemeral things that are hard to sell, impossible to pack for art spaces and  on occasion delightful to witness.

March 11, 2 - 3pm, Fraser Street Studios. Free. RSVP online. (Strategies for Leaving and Arriving Home image by Adeo Esplago)

6. ARI Tours

ARIs (Artist Run Initiatives — galleries run by artists, for artists) are, on the whole, a good thing. They encourage their artistic operators to get au fait with the business side of the creative arts, while they offer their exhibiting artists the chance to get their work shown by in a sympathetic space at (hopefully) sympathetic prices. The only problem for the outsider can be getting your head around where they are and what they do. While those in the know can do worse than checking out an online how-to, those seeking a more personal touch might look to get themselves shown around by someone who knows the traps. Match Box Projects are those someones, offering a series of four ARI Tours around inner Sydney to get you in the know.

The tours are in Newtown on March 10 at 2pm, the Rocks March 11 at 1pm, Chippendale March 17 at 1pm, Surry Hills March 18 at 1pm. Tours are free, but you need to book.

7. John Kaldor in Conversation

You know John Kaldor's stuff. Commissioning public art like Jeff Koons' puppy at the MCA, domestic wrappers on public sculpture and luring Christo and Jeanne-Claude to cover australian shores, his impressive and extensive collection of modern art now graces the Art Gallery of NSW. During Art Month, Kaldor Public Projects is preparing to launch its twenty-fifth project, The Dailies by Thomas Demand. Demand is printing his art on the Commercial Travelers' Association in Martin Place, even bringing a faint suggestion of scratch-and-sniff to the proceedings. Sitting down in tune with this new endeavour, John Kaldor takes to the stage at Customs House to discuss his collecting proclivities and his love for art, interviewed by ABC art maven Fenella Kernebone.

14 March, 6 - 8pm. RSVP here. Free.

8. Artbank Open Day

Take an uncommon peek into the massed cultural holdings of national art-loan service ArtBank. One of the biggest buyers of art in Australia, Art Bank rents it back to offices around the country and some private homes.  Their vaults are buoyed by up-and-comers, and more established artists around the country. It's not a collection whose spaces are often open to a general public, but for one day in March they're letting regular punters into what's otherwise a more mercantile environment. With a staff on hand to help you get a better look at their massed cultural holdings, this Art Month offering is a slice into a hidden art world, its own micro Sydney Open.

10 March, 2pm - 4pm Artbank. (Free) Bookings: enquiries@artbank.gov.au

9. Magnum Photos

The Magnum Photos co-operative's original members photographed everything. The Spanish civil war, Ernest Hemmingway, Sartre and Ghandi. An agency with an eye for everyday people, and a knack for images à la sauvette, these "toreadors with little Leicas" are slow and selective with their membership. Only one Australian photographer, Trent Parke, is currently on Magnum's books and the Stills Gallery is running images from Parke's book Minutes to Midnight during Art Month, alongside a show of filmic contact sheets (also supporting a book) with Magnum images of Thatcher, the Beatles, Marlene Dietrich and others. A highlight of this photographic visitation will be a floor talk from FotoFreo-loving Magnum rep Fiona Rogers, whose words will no doubt throw the images into clearer relief.

The two exhibitions run at Stills Gallery from February 29 - March 24. Rogers' talk takes place Wednesday 14 March at 6pm. (Image © Magnum LON7485 & LON107693. DAVID HURN - G.B. ENGLAND. LONDON.)

10. The Rocks Pop-Up Project in March

The Rocks gets into Art Month with an open studio run by the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA), under the umbrella of  its Pop Up program. NEIA's space features the Match Box ProjectsSydney Portraits, which invites fresh contributions to their picture of the city, as well as contributions from David Langley, Grace Kingston and Bernardo Bento. Alongside Factory 49, which takes a brutalist-like approach to the raw materials of art, AMBUSH Gallery's Project Five restages prints from previous Project Five shows, before Auctioning off four new, large-scale works to benefit multicultural arts star ICE.

Down and upstairs, 47 George St, the Rocks. Wednesday - Sundays in March. Factory 49's show opens Thursday March 8 at 6pm. Project Five has its launch 6pm on March 9, with painting continuing until March 11. The artists will be in conversation from 11am on March 12, and the auction starts March 22 at 6pm. (Image by E.L.K. Leading image from Julian Rosefeldt's 'asylum' video installation in Migration, courtesy of the artist.)

Published on March 05, 2012 by Zacha Rosen

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