7 Standout Booths at Spring/Break’s ‘Wild Card’ New York Show

All work and no play makes art a dull toy. That’s the message of this latest edition of Spring/Break, the most irreverent of New York’s art fairs.

Founded in 2012 by Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, Spring/Break first occupied St. Patrick’s Old School in Soho and has moved around various New York landmarks since. For both the New York and Los Angeles editions, the organizers announce a theme and then pick the best proposals from a pool of unknown, emerging, and established artists. Each booth is curated by a commercial art dealer, a nonprofit organization, or an artist. There’s little to no exhibition cost for participants. 

For this edition, more than 150 exhibitors have returned to 625 Madison, a checkerboard-floor office space. There’s a degree of whiplash in the viewing: some booths approach subjects with subdued introspection. Others recall a Nyquil-induced dream or the final rung before a ketamine free-fall. (Those are mostly compliments.) Soft sculptures droop from the ceiling like living stalactites, ceramic miniatures spin on hidden axis, and doorways open into the blacklit bowels of an alien star. 

There’s a notable undercurrent of self-reverence; several booths recall shrines, though to variably oblique gods. Which makes sense, given that the 2023 theme is “Wild Card,” explained by the organizers as a remixed retrospective. Participants were asked to reinterpret one of the eleven former Spring/Break themes, which have included “Naked Lunch” and the Tarot’s “Fool.”

“Here the naif and the naught re-enact our enthroned motifs,” a description of this year’s theme reads. “Lampooning, rehearsing, and restaging them.” Seems like a long way of saying thank you, artists, for everything.

Below are a few of our favorite booths from the 2023 New York edition.