(image via The Living Gallery / Facebook)

Behind These Prison Walls
Opening Monday, May 22 at The Living Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. One night only.

This one-night-only exhibition will be showcasing the work of Lorenzo Steele Jr., a visual artist who formerly served as a corrections officer at Rikers Island. As we’ve outlined in the past, conditions at Rikers could be described as “dismal,” if you’re into understatements. This holds particularly true for its younger residents, as New York state still charges 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, one of only two states to do so. This will soon change due to the recent passing of the Raise the Age initiative; individuals under 17 will no longer be held in county jails as of October 2018 (18-year-olds, too, starting a year later) and the “majority” of defendants aged 16 and 17 will be dealt with in Family Court rather than tried as adults.

Lorenzo Steele Jr. knows this particular plight all-too well, as the majority of his photographic documentation (taken from 1987-1999) chronicles the grim conditions to which inmates at Rikers have been subjected. Specifically, his work zeroes in on the adolescent jail and its solitary confinement unit. These images will be displayed alongside found weapons and other prison-sourced artifacts. Even as we spend our days lamenting the state of politics and Russia and the world, it is important to remind ourselves that there are also local travesties still happening around us, and it wasn’t the new administration that put them there.

Philip Taaffe, Aspidium, Pteris, Sage, 2014, mixed media on canvas, 55 1/2 x 65 1/4 inches
© Courtesy of Philip Taaffe and Luhring Augustine, New York.

The Coverly Set
Opening Wednesday, May 24 at Sargent’s Daughters, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 30.

Last time we checked in with LES/Chinatown gallery Sargent’s Daughters, they had put up a massive Jennifer Rubell cookie jar sculpture shaped like Hillary Clinton’s pants, filled with actual cookies made from a recipe Hill herself penned. Those days are gone now; the gallery’s latest offering may not serve up free baked goods, but it’ll give your brain something to chew on.

The Coverly Set, a multidisciplinary group show, takes its name from the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia. In it, a young, 18th century woman named Thomasina Coverly (said to be based on the Countess of Lovelace) devises an equation for a leaf and articulates aloud that because there is an equation for a bell curve, there must be one for flowers and so on. So, delving into nature-meets-calculation phenomenon such as the Fibonacci Spiral, these artists will explore the intersection of nature, numbers, man, and technology.

Opening Wednesday, May 24 at Elizabeth Houston Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through July 14.

This LES exhibition will feature the work of eight different painters, digital artists, and more. The title “Superstar” implies a certain level of achievement, popularity, or prestige.

Each artist seems to embody this term differently and accurately: Jack Balas paints athletic male bodies rendered in watercolor and acrylic and has work in the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection, Kaia Miller is known as a young teen prodigy, Lais Pontes’s “social media art project” transforms her image into a myriad of identities, Anne Spalter writes custom software and founded digital media fine arts programs at Brown and RISD. And that’s just a sampling of the work to be found at “Superstar.”

(image via Samuel Jablon / Facebook)

Opening Thursday, May 25 at Ideal Glass Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm.

Sometimes you just get tired of going into white box galleries for art openings. If you’re looking for more of a taste of fresh air, consider sauntering over to Ideal Glass, where a new mural by Samuel Jablon is being unveiled. As Jablon is also a poet, the opening will feature readings by poets Jeremy Sigler, Todd Colby, and Marine Cornuet.

The title is more topical than it appears, as it comes from lyrics to a song by “beatnik” East Village band The Fugs, from a new track fittingly called “Exorcism of the White House.” This isn’t the first time the band has harnessed otherworldly powers and directed them at a government building (that was 1967, at The Pentagon), but sometimes a little extra banishing effort is needed when someone extra unpleasant comes along.