When it comes to art, Natasha Schlesinger is a big deal. Not only is she an award-winning art historian and art consultant who has been working in the art field for the past 20 years, specializing in the history of fine and decorative arts, she is also the Art Curator/Art Expert in Residence at the über elegant Surrey Hotel where she conceives and curates exhibitions that connect the hotel’s permanent collection to what is happening in contemporary art today. Needless to say, when I sought out a guide to exploring that annual arts fair that is Frieze New York, Schlesinger was at the top of the list of folks to whom I chose to reach out.

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Natasha Schlesinger at the Surrey Hotel

As a bit of background for the uninitiated, Frieze New York, widely considered to be one of the most influential contemporary art fairs on the planet, returns to Randall’s Island Park to celebrate its fifth anniversary from May 5 – 8, 2016.

In perhaps its most ambitious offering yet, Frieze New York 2016 will showcase over 200 galleries from 31 countries across the fair’s four sections which will include a main gallery section and three feature sections: Frame, Focus and Spotlight. While the Frame section will be dedicated to galleries established less than eight years ago in an effort to present work by artists who have not previously benefitted from an international platform, the Focus section will highlight work conceived for the fair that has not previously been seen within an art fair context and the Spotlight section will feature solo artist presentations of work made in the 20th century, with a special focus on work made after 1960.

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With so much to explore at this year’s edition of Frieze, perhaps the greatest challenge is coming up with a game plan for making the most of the fair and that’s where Schlesinger’s expertise and pointers on maximizing the Frieze 2016 experience come into play. In a quick email interview, Schlesinger, who will also be leading VIP tours of ArtSpeak, a curated collection of pop up art installations by nine emerging and well-known artists that will be fully open to the public in the lead up to Frieze from May 4 through August 31 at the Surrey Hotel, offered the following ten tips to approaching the New York edition of the ever more popular arts fair.

Natasha Schlesinger’s 10 tips for exploring Frieze:

  1. Frieze is one of the bigger art fairs in New York and navigating it coherently is a challenge. So planning ahead is always advisable. I also would suggest to create a grid system of walking it and going row by row.
  1. Hiring a knowledgeable art expert to guide you through is probably the most efficient and best way to get the most out of Frieze.
  1. If possible, peruse the website for Frieze ahead of time to see if there are any specific artists or galleries that you must see while there.
  1. Food is important at the fair and this year the selection is quite wonderful including Sant Ambroues, Roberta’s pizza, Supe Riority Burger, Marlow and Sons and Cosme. So make sure that you are well nourished either before attempting your fair route. (Book ahead for the sit down restaurants)
  1. A few of my favorite galleries I would recommend include: David Zwirner, Lehmann Maupin, Fergus McCaffrey, Gallerie Perrotin, Jack Shaman Gallery, Lisson Gallery, Paul Kasmin and Gallerie Continua.

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  1. Definitely don’t miss the bonus features of Frieze such as Special Projects, created by renown contemporary artists like Maurizio Catalan and Eduardo Navarro and Heather Phillips. Frieze talks are also a good way to add to the scope of interesting ways to engage with the fair and Frieze Sounds give the fair a multi-sensory touch.
  1. Don’t forget that you can get to the fair in several ways, one of these is on a ferry that leaves from either East 90th street or East 35th street. This is definitely the most enjoyable way to get there without being stuck in traffic or riding in a hot stuffy bus.
  1. As you are already in NY to see Frieze, do take advantage of the multiple exciting art opportunities to see and do in NY as well. The New Met/Brauer has just opened and its “Unfinished” exhibit is well worth seeing. The New Whitney museum is a must on the art places to visit in New York, and the main Metropolitan Museum will have its annual fashion institute exhibition, which this year is called “Manus et Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” or the Guggenheim museum, from where the Frieze bus leaves every 30 minutes.
  1. Visit Frieze during the weekdays if possible, and especially in the morning hours, as the weekends get crowded.
  1. The final day of Frieze is on Mother’s Day. It makes for a fun and different way to spend the day with your mom at an art fair like Frieze, on an island in the middle of Manhattan, and perhaps even getting there by boat, and then of course treating her to a delicious lunch in the midst of all that creativity and visual stimulation.

To find out more information about Frieze New York visit frieze.com/fairs/frieze-new-york. Or for more information about the Artspeak tours at the Surrey Hotel, click here.

To read this story on the Huffington Post click here.