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11 Witchy, Queer, and Unique Holiday Markets to Spice Up Your Shopping

(image via Nowhere Bar / Facebook)

Like it or not, holiday shopping season is upon us. Sure, you can go to big-name stores or fight your way through the Union Square holiday market, but there are plenty of other ways to find meaningful gifts. Here are 11 unique pop-up shops and holiday markets to peruse, where you can find something special while supporting alternative and marginalized makers at the same time.

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Murakami, Couture’s Craft, and More Art This Week

(image via Staley-Wise Gallery / Facebook)

Behind the Scenes
Opening Thursday, December 12 at Staley-Wise Gallery. On view through January 25.

The world of fashion, be it editorial or runway, is very much a polished one. Outfits are perfectly tailored, images are retouched, runway shows are directed and planned, and makeup and hair is painstakingly crafted. It’s less common to get a peek at the work that goes into making this possible, but it’s the chief objective of photojournalist Harry Benson’s latest exhibition at Soho’s Staley-Wise Gallery. The prolific photographer, who has captured notable faces from JFK to The Beatles, has been snapping shots at fashion shows for decades. This show focuses on everything but the finished product (well, and some of that too): the designers at work, the models preparing to walk, the people who actually purchase couture, and more.

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Art This Week: Uncanny Glitches and Duchamp’s Commodification

Lina Puerta, Crop Laborer (pink and gold), 2018

Present Bodies: Papermaking at Dieu Donné
Opening Wednesday, December 4 at BRIC, 7 pm. On view through February 2.

Though it’s not quite as big a part of our lives as it used to be, paper is still ubiquitous. It creates our books, our restaurant menus, our never-ending piles of junk mail, and of course, our art. Starting Wednesday, our humble paper will get the star treatment at an exhibit at BRIC, showcasing artists who not only make art on paper but make the very paper displaying their art. The show features eight artists who participated in a recent residency at hand papermaking organization Dieu Donné. They all use their craft to explore marginalized bodies, taking both their identities and the medium their art exists on into their own hands.

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Art This Week: Avant-Garde Retrospective and Mall Memories

Phill Niblock
China 88 Slide 94
1988
Courtesy of Phill Niblock and Fridman Gallery.

Working Photos
Opening Monday, November 25 at Fridman Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through January 5.

Phill Niblock has been creating art for over fifty years, which is longer than the majority of people reading this have presumably been alive. This dedication to creation has manifested in the form of minimalist audio compositions, photographs, and film. He has collaborated with the likes of Sun Ra and shown work anywhere from the Tate Modern to DIY space Silent Barn. Now, he’ll be showing a wide variety of this multifaceted body of work at Fridman Gallery, in an exhibition that will be accompanied by a performance and screening series taking place both at the gallery and at Niblock’s longtime loft space on Centre Street.

(image via Front Room Gallery / Facebook)

Mallrat to Snapchat: the End of the Third Place
Opening Friday, November 29 at Front Room Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. On view through January 12.

One of the most popular places to shop during the holidays is a mall, or at least it used to be. Now, these hubs for teen socializing, family activities, and hurried gift-searching are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by online stores and shifting shopping tendencies. Photographer Phil Buehler seeks to illuminate this cultural shift in his solo exhibition Mallrat to Snapchat, using a New Jersey mall that closed earlier this year as his main case study. The show will appropriately open on Black Friday, and features photographs of the mall in various stages of existence as well as paraphernalia like vinyl albums from 1973, the year the mall opened.

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Performance Picks: Bill Nye Burlesque and a Boozy Experiment

THURSDAY

(image via Stonestreet Comedy Hour / Facebook)

The Stonestreet Comedy Hour
Thursday, November 20 at Stonestreet Studios, 8 pm: pay what you can

Thursday is like the Friday of the weekdays (yes, Friday is technically a weekday too, but you know what I mean), so it’s only natural that you do some sort of activity before you have to go to bed and wake up early one more time that week. One recommended one is The Stonestreet Comedy Hour, a short-but-sweet donation-based comedy show that takes places within Stonestreet, a film production studio that also trains NYU students. Hosted by Jesse Roth, a comedian with an occasional penchant for song and dance, the show features sets by Allison O’Conor, Patrick Nolan, Ariel Gitlin, Andrew Coalson, and Matt Gehring, plus, everyone’s favorite: free snacks.

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Weird New Yorkers, Deathly Drawings, and More Art This Week

(image via shelter_gallery / Instagram)

Impractical Frontiers
Opening Tuesday, November 19 at Shelter Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through January 5.

Despite the magazine’s general air of sophistication, cover art for The New Yorker can run the gamut—recall that one time they put DIY space Palisades (RIP) on the cover. However, they probably wouldn’t sell an issue plastered with the image of someone defecating on the street, or a naked George Washington, looking back at you cheekily. Those images (and more) you can find at artist Timothy Wehrle’s solo show at Shelter Gallery (which occupies the same space on East Broadway as the galleries Shrine and Sargent’s Daughters). The artist’s unique drawings, made from colored pencil and graphite, depict serenely strange scenes from the midwest to the city rendered in soft, surreal detail. 

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Performance Picks: Blacklight Burlesque, Queer Cowboys, Space-Age Late Night

FRIDAY

(image via Plan B / Facebook)

Plan B: Glovember
Friday, November 15 at Bodeguita, 9 pm: $5

There’s no denying it anymore: it’s dark and cold out. Unfortunately for many of us, that means seasonal depression, bemoaning daylight savings, and investing in one of those SAD lamps that may or may not actually work. One way to get a little more light in your life is by attending the latest edition of the Plan B variety show, which presents drag and burlesque in the back of Bodeguita, a cozy Cuban bar and restaurant off Myrtle-Broadway in Bushwick. This time, the show is blacklight-themed, which the performers will be embracing heartily, surely in the form of neon body paint, glowing outfits (that won’t be on for long) and other surprises.

SATURDAY

(photo: Danny Bristoll)

Virgo Star
Now through December 1 at La MaMa, various times: $25 ($20 for students and seniors)

Astrology has exploded in popularity lately, from apps that send you negs from the stars to people’s signs being referenced in movies and TV. Though Virgo Star, the latest performance offering from the Pioneers Go East Collective, seems like the latest edition to that starry trend, but it’s actually an exploration of cowboy culture—another buzzy topic nowadays. Using dance, theater, projections, and more, the show deconstructs the Wild West and classic western movies to find what those stories might look like when told from a queer perspective.

SUNDAY

(image courtesy of The Violet Hour)

The Violet Hour
Sunday, November 17 at Caveat, 7 pm: $10 advance, $12 doors

Late night talk shows are one of our culture’s oldest forms of entertainment. Typically, there’s a white guy in a suit, he does a monologue, he interviews a guest who is there to promote something, a musician plays, etc. Sure, this formula has some slight deviations now, but it mostly remains the same. One attempt to do something new instead is The Violet Hour, a live late night talk show at Lower East Side space Caveat that’s literally out of this world. Hosted by a Victorian spiritualist time traveler who live in a spacecraft, the show focuses on our planet and the climate-related issues plaguing it, as well as how to enjoy our time here while we still can. This Thanksgiving-themed show’s special guests include Broadway performer Alex Brightman, conservationist Brett Jenks, and musician Eileen.

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Food Truck Sweet Chili Finds a Home in Bushwick

Vietnamese caramel pork belly (image courtesy of Sweet Chili)

Longtime cooking competition enthusiasts may recognize chef Lisa Fernandes from her time appearing on the Bravo show Top Chef, where she finished as a finalist in 2008. Those more drawn to mobile cuisine may also know her from her food truck Sweet Chili, which served up southeast Asian food all over the city for five years. Now, Fernandes has retired from truck life and brought Sweet Chili to Bushwick, where it will be opening as a brick-and-mortar restaurant this Friday.

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Art This Week: Anxiety-Inspired Mosaics, Nostalgic Beading, and More

Rashid Johnson
The Broken Five, 2019
Ceramic tile, mirror tile, spray enamel, bronze, oil stick, black soap, wax
246.4 x 398.1 x 7.6 cm / 97 x 156 3/4 x 3 in
left: H.98 W.74 D.3 in
right: H.98 W.86 D.3 in
Photo: Martin Parsekian
© Rashid Johnson
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

The Hikers
Opening Tuesday, November 12 at Hauser & Wirth 22nd Street, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through January 25.

Mosaics have an interesting place in the realm of fine art. Similar to collage, they simultaneously occupy spots in both high and low art, and can occasionally be seen as part of home decor. As it turns out, Rashid Johnson works in both mosaic and collage, as well as sculpture, film, and other multimedia endeavors. His latest exhibition, The Hikers, is inspired by a film he shot in the Colorado mountains and uses all these artistic disciplines to explore the ever-growing anxiety that stems from the mere act of being alive in today’s tumultuous times, both in America and beyond. In addition to The Hikers, the gallery will also be opening a show of eclectic, colorful paintings by Mike Kelley.

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A Notable Pierogi Shop Comes From Overseas to Greenpoint

(image courtesy of Pierozek)

Greenpoint is a place where you can do your laundry while playing pinball, score affordable old-fashioned doughnuts, eat a nice dinner, and catch a metal show in the back of a bar. But in addition to all that, Greenpoint is very much a Polish neighborhood, with no shortage of traditional food. As of this week, the north Brooklyn neighborhood has a newcomer, in the form of Pierozek, a cafe serving up a modest but nourishing menu of borscht, beer, and most importantly, handmade pierogi, which will be crafted on the premises.

Though Pierozek, which opened on Manhattan Avenue this past Wednesday, is a newcomer to both the city and America, that’s about the only thing new about it. Pierozek’s Polish counterpart, PierozeQ, has been serving up traditional dumplings in the city of Częstochowa, in southern Poland, since 1999. PierozeQ’s chefs, Marzena Gęsiarz and Zofia Kuśmierska, have been cooking there since the beginning, and are assisting Pierozek’s owners in recipe development.

According to Greenpointers, Pierozek’s owners, married couple Alexandra Siwiec and Radek Kucharski, wanted to open the restaurant as a way to help maintain the neighborhood’s cultural roots in a time where traditional Polish spots are starting to fade away.

“As Polish-Americans working and living New York City, it was a very natural decision for us to bring Pierozek to life in our hometown,” Siwiec said. “We wanted to keep the Polish pride alive in our neighborhood.”

The couple is far from new to the world of Greenpoint hospitality; they also helm Early, a coffee and sandwich shop offering a Polish street-food sandwich called a zapiekanka. They also opened the now-closed bar Nights and Weekends, which Siwiec reopened in 2017 (and later closed) as the cafe One Bedford. Siwiec even already had her hands in the space at 592 Manhattan Avenue that is now Pierozek—in 2017 it was The Gentry, a poutine-focused spot she opened with chef Gillian Clark.

Pierozek’s Greenpoint menu is straightforward and classic, featuring familiar pierogi fillings like potato and cheese, pork, sauerkraut and mushroom, and spinach and garlic, which are topped with onions and served with sour cream. Those with a sweet tooth are catered to as well, with strawberry, blueberry, and sweet cheese pierogi options also available.

(image courtesy of Pierozek)
(image courtesy of Pierozek)

In addition to pierogi, Pierozek also offers croquettes (patrons can choose from meat or sauerkraut and mushroom) and red borscht, with combo options pairing the savory beet soup with either croquettes or mini pierogi stuffed with mushrooms.

Pierozek, located at 592 Manhattan Avenue, is open daily from 11 am to 7 pm.