Deathdays aren’t usually cause for celebration, but in the case of Christopher Wallace– better known as Biggie Smalls– it only makes sense to organize an art show dedicated to the late rapper around the afterlife. Without it, 20 Big Years would have denied the necromancy that runs throughout the life work of Notorious B.I.G. (his mere two studio albums are a clear sign that his life was cut too short), and that has come to define his persona after death. Even if all these ghosts still give his fans the willies. As one visitor, pointing to an altered version of Barron Claiborne’s famous photo of Biggie wearing a crown, said to her friend: “That one with the skull–it’s so morbid, but so deep.” (The friend agreed.)
You wake up in a hospital. There is a doctor standing over you in scrubs, running his hand down a clipboard, a mask pulled tight across his face. There’s a vague beeping behind you and the sounds of miserable sobbing coming from somewhere. The beeping grows longer and louder until, all of a sudden, it flat-lines and your consciousness (soul? being?) rises up out of your body. “Let me tell you a secret. . .” a calm, female, British voice says from somewhere as your consciousness floats into a cosmic, hallucinogenic light show on the way to your alien afterlife.
At first it was sort of sad that for this year’s rendition, Spring/Break Art Show had traded its eccentric, labyrinthine location inside a disused section of the historic James A. Farley Post Office in Chelsea for an actual office space. But when the elevator doors opened on the 23rd floor of the Condé Nast building in Midtown, the switch-up immediately made so much sense–because, let’s be real, an artist-led hostile takeover of corporate America is exactly what we need right now (even it it’s just for a few days).
BYO Art for International Women’s Day
Opening Wednesday March 8 at The Living Gallery, 9 pm. One night only.
If you’re a woman creator, walk yourself over to The Living Gallery this Wednesday for the International Women’s Day edition of their recurring BYO Art exhibition. The idea behind BYO Art is simple: just bring your art to the gallery and set it up. If there are any interested buyers present, you’ll get the full amount without the gallery taking a percentage. Since the art present will be contingent on who arrives with stuff they’ve made, there’s really no telling of what you’ll see. It could be something amazing.
This BYO Art is for women artists only in honor of Women’s Day, and will also host a variety of live music and poetry performances starting at 10 pm, including a short set by my band Squidssidy, so come say hi. Anyone can come, of course, despite the creators being only women. The event requests a $5 suggested donation that will go toward the Bushwick Exchange Zine, a publication dedicated to sharing free resources in and around Bushwick.
The annual NADA New York art fair kicked off yesterday in Soho. With a new space (Skylight Clarkson North) and a new time of year (Armory Week), NADA remains a cacophony of serious art enthusiasts and neophytes. Among the 100 exhibitors are a host of downtown galleries like Jack Hanley Gallery, Regina Rex, Rawson Projects, Alden Projects, and Brennan & Griffin. In classic style, nearly everyone was dressed in an all-consuming black. Here’s a look at what was on display this year.
Slide To Expose
Opening Thursday February 23 at Babycastles, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through March 9.
This “collaborative augmented reality installation” is created by Molly Soda, Nicole Ruggiero, and an augmented reality app called Refrakt. If you’re confused about what augmented reality is, recall Pokemon Go. Two creators known for their “net art” collaborating with a literal app sounds like a match made in heaven. And it seems to be: Slide To Expose plays on themes of digital intimacy and privacy, but does so by asking viewers to scan objects in the gallery to reveal hidden pieces of a life online, like emails or text messages.
On the one hand, art all about online expression and how technology affects our lives can seem like old hat. On the other hand, if you’re getting another chance to take a peek into how an individual person expresses themselves online specifically, you’re going to be getting a unique and different experience every time. Plus, you’re doing so through scanning stuff. When any object could contain a secret, why not give it a whirl? Keep Reading »
Last time we spoke to JJ Brine, the man behind “the official art gallery of Satan,” he told us that Donald J. Trump was “pure poison.” That was in August, right after the Republican National Convention. JJ, the self-declared “Crown Prince of Hell,” refused to say much more about the GOP candidate, even though Brine had his own political agenda: He had just tabled a plan to bring Vector Gallery to Washington D.C. in order to “‘program” the presidential elections and cause “systemic shifts in the geopolitical configuration of power in the Middle East.”
Long before Gordon Gekko’s bimbo cousin was inaugurated in January (no doubt aided by doing the best impression of Ronald Reagan he could muster), trend pieces had picked up a scent that hinted which way the wind was blowing. It had notes of burnt hair and overcooked mini vegetables on the nose, followed by white wine spritzer, and finished with a robust whiff of Misty Slim Lights and the lingering, chemically after-stank of cheap knockoff perfumes like “If you like Giorgio you’ll love PRIMO!” Then, the elections made it official: the ’80s are back, baby.
It might have smelled delicious, but the Decade of Greed wasn’t exactly a superbly excellent time for everyone involved. But for all the negi vibes–magnified in New York City by an extreme wealth gap– the ’80s produced some truly inspiring art, and the best of it came from a thriving, vibrant underground. During this time, graffiti reached its “golden age,” as a recent photography exhibition, Henry Chalfant: 1980, reminded us, and it wasn’t long before graf became a worldwide cultural phenomenon.
Masterpiece Classic: Women in Art
Wednesday, February 8 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $7
It is generally agreed upon that art is Good. However, the art world is where things get a little more polarized. This new character-based show by comedian and actress Hallie Haas takes on the type of people who consider themselves high and mighty creators, the type of people who take themselves reeeeeeally seriously. The premise is that Laura Linney, of course, has gathered together seven of the most sophisticated and acclaimed women artists for an evening that feels a lot like a certain public access television show. Only probably a lot weirder. Especially considering Haas will be playing every character. This spoof on PBS classics feels especially timely, considering I just got an email asking me to sign an online petition so that Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of PBS Kids. Please, think of the children. And the art.
Part Is No Object
Opening Friday February 10 at SOHO20 Gallery, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through March 12.
Denise Treizman’s colorful sculptural creations are refreshingly playful, uplifting and childlike. This solo show of her work is opening in SOHO20 Gallery’s modest +/- Project Space, a space highlighting “ephemeral” or site-specific work. For Treizman, site-specific is everywhere, as her “constructions” are made of essentially anything that crosses her path, from pom-pom puffballs to PVC pipe. She collects these “fragments,” whether they be bits and pieces found on the side of the road or broken remains of a studio project, and then puts the mismatched pieces together to create something entirely new. There will be two other openings this weekend at SOHO20 Gallery, one of paintings by Nana Olivas and one showcasing work by the gallery’s three 2016 Residency Lab artists.
When Quimby’s opened up a few weeks back just off the Metropolitan stop, Williamsburg gained another hip little bookstore in an area where it sometimes feels like culture is on the way out. Thankfully, Quimby’s is the real deal, even if it’s a revival of a Chicago institution first opened by Steven Svymbersky in the ’90s.
But wait a minute, isn’t there already a specialty book store on the block? Yeah, there most definitely is: Desert Island, probably the best comic bookstore in the city, and maybe one of the most glorious shops dedicated solely to graphic novels and arty comics.
Black Lives Matter Art Show
Opening Tuesday January 31 at The Living Gallery, 12 pm – 10 pm. Reception and performances 7 pm to 10 pm. One day only.
This pop-up art show, on view for one day only, features the work of Carla Cubit, who has created art in conjunction with Black Lives Matter in the form of posters, mixed media assemblages, and photos of BLM protests in the NYC area. The daylong event will also feature musical performances, a jam session, a speaker from “mobile social justice museum” The Museum of Impact, and an artist talk.
Throughout the day, a variety of BLM necklaces, magnets, pins, and other creations will be on sale for only $1, and The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will be offering posters for free. If you’d like to get involved on the creative side of things, there will be materials for folks to make their own posters or Black Lives Matter-inspired artwork. If you’re not artistically inclined, attendees are also encouraged to simply share their thoughts on the BLM movement.