Vesuvius, Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2018. 10 x 12½’ (image courtesy of Howl Happening)

Homo Eruptus
Opening Thursday, February 14 at HOWL! Happening, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through March 13. 

Scooter LaForge’s paintings, on view at East Village space Howl Happening starting on Valentine’s Day, are satisfyingly messy, so it’s only appropriate they are unveiled on a day classically associated with messy emotional feelings, whether they be good or bad. Similar feelings are articulated through LaForge’s brushstrokes, which create compelling and mind-boggling scenes featuring cartoon animals, bodily fluids, autofellatio, angels, and much more. He manages to fit a doe-eyed rabbit that looks straight out of a Disney movie in the same frame as angry black paint smears, a urinating brown bear with big black boots, and human(ish) figures that look almost like they’d be fit to adorn the ceiling of a church somewhere, provided that church was sufficiently strange. The longer you look, the more you’ll find.

(image via Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC / Facebook)

The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls
Opening Thursday, February 14 at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through June 30. 

If you’re wary of traveling all the way to 112th Street for an art show on Valentine’s Day, know that this isn’t just any ordinary exhibition. This show asks over 30 artists—including Juliana Huxtable, Louise Bourgeois, Cassils, and other familiar names—to explore notions of borders, sanctuaries, security, and the refugee crisis through their work. Not only that, but the art is on view in a church, a space that’s historically served as a literal sanctuary and shelter for undocumented immigrants in danger of being deported. Love doesn’t always have to be romantic or involve flowers and chocolates, sometimes it can just be the caring that comes with valuing someone’s basic humanity.

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It’s all temporary #vanitas @paulpretzer

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Paul Pretzer
Opening Friday, February 15 at Marc Straus Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through March 31. 

If a V-Day art show isn’t your thing, perhaps one the day after will do the trick. Feast your eyes upon the latest solo exhibition by Paul Pretzer, a Berlin-based painter who deals in both the beautiful and surreal. Pretzer’s paintings are predominantly portraits, but there’s always something very clearly off about them. In many cases, entire limbs or faces are replaced with tropical fruits, bulbs of garlic, or bubbles that seem to levitate by themselves. Sometimes this is flipped: his painting Wenn Zwei Lachen features a human skull front and center, and resting on top of it is a a golden apple with an unsettlingly smiling face carved into it.