ArtYour summer guide to art you don't want to miss
Summer is season of art-going and people-watching. Check both off your list with our definitive roundup of must-see art openings and happenings.
Looking at art during the Summer months can be a crowded affair as major insitutions fill up with AC-seekers and tourist rubes attempting to spend at least one of their vacation days not shopping in the same stores they have in the mall back home. This shouldn’t stop you, the art sophisticate, because there’s an upside to the crowds. Museums wait for Summer to unveil their banger exhibitions, hoping that higher attendance rates will translate into more earned income. The art spills out of their sides and straight into the streets, sometimes literally. Also, since the weather is nice, it’s time to really explore the nether regions of the gallery world, by expanding your repertoire into boroughs less traveled in search of hidden treasures. Now’s not the time to slack on your viewership. Here are our picks for the best, the weirdest, the most intriguing things you can see this Summer.
MARCH 13 – AUGUST 16
Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, TX)
Sam Falls’ paintings aren’t really abstractions, even though their loose, fuzzy grid compositions might make it look that way. Instead, they are photograms meant to represent the geographic formations that surround the Marfa Desert in the form of cattle ranches and highways streaking through the sand. (As part of a residency completed last year, the artist engaged directly with materials and forms native to the west Texan landscape for this suite of new sound, video, sculpture and wall works.) And, the old Ford Ranger filled with plants might look like a redneck lawn ornament, the type of thing you’d see cast away in a random gully or ravine. But upon closer inspection, the engine block has been replaced with solid marble, into which cacti and succulents have been gingerly potted. As the piece ages, it will grow into the land, combining its metal frame with the surrounding soil.
Director of Design, Al-Hamad Design
I’m participating in “Concept Incline,” a group show coinciding with NY Design Week and Frieze NY which examines the intersection between fine art and concept design. The show goes from May 9th to June 14th at Jack Chiles Gallery in Nolita.
The Jazz Age Lawn Party is a Summer tradition. It’s an opportunity for me and my closet to go roaring back in time.
Keren Cytter and Jon Rafman at Feuer Mesler Gallery on the Lower East Side is not to be missed. There's painting, installation, trolling trolls.
APRIL 22 – JUNE 21
Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, England)
“Looks” is a group show spanning the art world’s hot-take intersections with science, technology and identity. From Stewart Uoo’s arresting photographs of mannequins in drag to Juliette Bonneviot’s paintings with xenohormones (a.k.a. artificial hormones that have been known to mess with human and animal endocrine systems), the works on view argue that what influences our identities and shapes our bodies might have nothing to do with our own free will—and everything to do with insidious, sweeping man-made forces. Other artists participating in the show include Andrea Crespo, Morag Keil and Wu Tsang. On June 19th, hit the poetry night, which features Andrew Durbin, Sophie Collins and Penny Goring, to really get into an altered state.
May 1 – September 27
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Go to the Whitney already. Just do it. Stop putting it off because of “crowds” or “social acceptance.” You need to see things like Larry Clark’s “Tulsa” photographs, which he took as a teenage junkie before making it big in New York City and which have now been placed where they rightfully belong, in the canon of the 1970s; Keith Sonnier’s fresh and early neon sculpture “Ba-O-Ba, Number 3,” with colors that resonate now just as much as they did in 1969; or the curatorial decision that covered an entire wall in psychedelic anti-Reagan Donald Moffett posters. Just go. It’s like art world vitamins.
Founder and Director of Inter-Space Gallery
I’m really exicted about apexart's “Profiled: Surveillance of a Sharing Society,” which goes on view from June 3 to July 25 at their Chinatown location. This is the winning entry from “An Unsolicited Proposal,” which asks artists to propose exhibitions that take place anywhere but New York City. I didn’t review this particular project, but I was on the jury and got to read amazing submissions daily for a month and image how they would look IRL. I am really excited to finally see one of them come to life. Actually, I want apexart to release a proposal-a-day app really, really badly.
I’m also looking forward to the Governor’s Island Art Fair, which happens every weekend in September. It’s definitely on the lamestream radar, but I’ve always wanted to go and one of my artists in residence (Claire Breidenbach) is exhibiting so I finally have a good excuse!
Another thing I’m amped about is Cities are Natural (Part Two), happening at Pioneer Works in Red Hook on June 14 and July 25. Pioneer Works never updates their website, but one of their residents, Melissa F. Clark, is planning an amazing installation work for those days.
May 22 - June 22
Wilfredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art (Havana, Cuba)
The American media is fixated on a pair of political arrests (those of artists Tania Bruguera and Danilo Sexto) by the Cuban government, but it’s worth investigating the entire survey being shown at this art festival, 12 of which have occurred since 1984. Besides the obvious emphasis of Central and South American contemporary artists, the Havana Biennial also shows a larger quantity of artists from Africa and the Middle East than you’d expect. Some highlights: Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi’s project reframing released Guantanamo prisoners, who are often not repatriated due to safety concerns, as traumatized immigrants; Adrián Villar Rojas’s installation from his work “Brick Farm Diaries,” where he hand-forms clay bricks on his lot in Argentina and installs them in geometric agglomerations.
MAY 23 – SEPTEMBER 27
Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA)
From afar, Mary Reid Kelly’s graphically-oriented videos look like drawings, but as you approach the work, you can see that they’re actually elaborately hand-painted sets, props, costumes, even eyeballs. Reid Kelley is acting out the philosophical interpretations of Greek myths like the Minotaur, but each character is surreally decked out in comic book-style visual puns, including drawn-on boobs and pubes, and unbelievably striking prosthetic bug-eyes. (One exhibition image features a goofy bottle of Japan’s national liquor with the faux tagline “For Arts Sake!”—it had us laughing for hours.) Very little of Reid’s video work is available online, which makes this solo show not only a must-see, but a must-sit-and-watch-the-whole-thing-at-the-museum.
Secret Project Robot (Brooklyn, NY)
Colin Self is a genre- and gender-straddling polymath who most recently wrote and performed the chamber opera “The Fool” at Issue Project Room with artist partner Raul de Nieves. “The Fool” was part of a longer project entitled “Elation” which Self has been working on for years now, as he completed an MFA in music and performance at Bard. The work, which will be distributed exclusively by USB, deals with, “shared consciousness, transmutation, cognitive agency, and cybernetics.” At Secret Project Robot, interested parties can join Self for a one-hour walking tour and group listening where all will be explained, followed by performances by Self’s collaborators and friends.
JUNE 3 – JULY 26
Long Island University Brooklyn, Humanities Gallery (Brooklyn, NY)
Among the growing legion of artists who endeavor to sell work that is (a) sort of semi-functional and (b) lower-in-cost-than-a-Yale-tuition are Brooklyn duo Terri Chiao and Ryan Frezza. Lately, the multi-talented couple (who live in an amazing self-built loft—don’t google it unless you want to die of jealousy) have been specializing in almost anthropomorphic pressed paper shapes mounted on a solid base like butterflies on a board. Smaller ones are available at nicer retail outlets for around a hundred bucks a pop, but they save the larger sculptures for the gallery. “Paper Islands” will showcase these hand-painted paper blobs, trees, and nuzzling creatures, which look so friendly and bright that they might come up to you and ask for a gummy worm.
June 18 - June 21
Various locations (Basel, Switzerland)
Just FYI, Art Basel has partnered with Kickstarter this year to launch “an initiative to support non-profit visual arts organizations, at a time when public funding for the arts has been dwindling, by sharing their stories, generating contributions, and reaching out to new audiences.” It’s so cute how neoliberal social consciousness is trending right now. Maybe next year the global gatekeepers of the art world will crowdfund a scholarship for MFAs.
I have two solo debuts opening on either side of the country in the next couple of weeks. “Black Leather Sectional” opens May 31st at Joe Sheftel Gallery in New York and “Dear Metal Thing” opens June 7th at Team Gallery in Los Angeles. When that's over, I’m going to Maine and taking a nap.
July 12 - November 1
Hauser & Wirth (Somerset, England)
Jenny Holzer’s decades-old engravings on marble benches and memorial plaques are just as traumatizing as ever, possibly because death is still awful and life isn’t really all that much better. As usual, Holzer’s allure lies in the economy and universality of her language, which she deploys with a cruel whimsy. In any case, this Hauser & Wirth outpost has a lovely garden you can walk through (in which the benches will be installed). If you can hold down your lunch after browsing the carved inscriptions, they also have a bar and grill.
August 1st – September 13th
Knockdown Center (Queens, NY)
The Knockdown Center, a massive complex in Maspeth, is in the midst of actively soliciting artists to create structures that small drones fitted with cameras might be allowed to zoom above, around, below, and through. Entrants are being asked to consider the “atypical point of view” of a remote-piloted drone, as if the robot’s “eye” cared what art looked like, and also “the sinister nature” of the viewer. Riding a bus or bicycle out to this industrial part of town to fly scary machines around weird monuments sounds like the perfect way to spend a lazy sunny day.
FEBRUARY 4 – AUGUST 16
Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia, PA)
Bless the ICA for this six-month survey exhibition of the oeuvre of Barbara Kasten, whose influence on contemporary still-life and fashion photography is unmistakable yet criminally underappraised. Kasten’s work shimmers with mirrored panes, dramatic shadows, and soft, alluring colors; she is just as influenced by Southern California's Light and Space movement as she is by telescopic imaging and the computer graphics of composer Laurie Speigel. Seeing this body of work is sure to be a lightbulb moment for anyone interested in modern photography, design, and digital modeling—viewers will immediately recognize certain vibes and think, “Oh, that’s where that comes from...” Pro-tip: buy the catalog.
I’m hoping the farm where I grew up working will let me paint a mural on the side of one of their buildings. I’m perpetually looking forward to the day. I've finally convinced them it’s a good idea and it looks like it’s going to happen!
I’ve been working on a project with my uncle who hand-cuts wooden jigsaw puzzles. We’re going to release limited editions of puzzles featuring work by different contemporary artists, mostly heavily patterned or dense in ways that will make them really hard to solve. Stoked about that.
Also, I’m trying to find Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Earth Girls Are Easy on VHS.
Warm Up (with Andrés, La Vida + Mahogani Music, Kyle Hall, Pender Street Steppers, Hashman Deejay, Laraaji)
MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY)
If you’re young, stylish and single in New York City, your first order of business this Summer should be scoring tickets to the best dates of MoMA PS1’s annual Warm Up series. The roster is definitely the sleeper hit of the season, featuring low-key balearic vibers Pender Street Steppers and the joyful new-age music legend Laraaji. Bring some special chocolates. While you’re waiting for the music to start (or when you need a break from overheating in the sun), pop inside the galleries to catch Math Bass’s trippy, energetic installation, “Off the Clock,” or Simon Denny’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a surreal critique of startup evangelicals.