Art and About in August
Arts & Entertainment
by James Gaddy, 07/27/2011
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Summertime is playtime. And August, more than any other month of the year, is vacation time, when exploring is not only condoned but also encouraged, where a 10-minute excursion turns into a daylong adventure. And wouldn't you know it, there are a bunch of colorful, playful exhibitions in New York City this month. Like magic, Miami duo FriendsWithYou has mounted at The Hole gallery's new, roomier space on the Bowery and filled it with their anthropomorphic characters, giant inflatables, candy-colored paintings and mystical playground-worthy objects. (But hurry over there, because it closes on August 6.) There's a similar spirit, courtesy of artist KAWS, outside The Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District, where Companion (Passing Through), a 16-foot-tall sculpture that's been dubbed the "spooky Mickey Mouse," is located. It's a familiar work for KAWS' longtime fans—and is his largest public one to date—and it will be there until October.
Across the East River in Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting an entirely different animal—The Muppets' Animal, in fact, and friends Kermit and Miss Piggy, among others, as part of Jim Henson's Fantastic World, a comprehensive exhibition of the puppet master's work. In addition to drawings, puppets, videos and artifacts from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Sesame Street, the museum is featuring special screenings of Henson's films. The Muppets Take Manhattan, showing on August 20 and 21, is a time warp back to the days of Liza Minnelli and Mayor Ed Koch. The show will be up through January 16, 2012.
It's the last full month to see artist Cory Arcangel's work at the Whitney, where the prankster has organized a bowling alley featuring a series of screens showing bowling games—arranged chronologically from the birth of the medium in the 1970s to the present day—whose players have been programmed to bowl only gutter balls. Also in Pro Tools: a collection of electronic dancing stands, like the ones that you used to find at those eclectic-gadget stores in the mall, moves in unison; all Seinfeld references to Kramer's coffee-table book about coffee tables over the course of the series are shown in a nine-minute, 13-second video; and Arcangel's Photoshop prints, created entirely using the gradient tool, hover like rainbows on the walls. The exhibition closes on September 11.
Coincidentally, Colorific! We Make an Art Rainbow—a group show up through August 19 at Postmasters gallery in Chelsea—is arranged according to the color wheel (in the front gallery) and the gray scale (in the back). It's a cheeky jab at those who select works of art based on color compatibility with living-room decor, as well as a wry comment on how you go about hanging a show of any sort in the first place. At Lower East Side gallery Klaus von Nichtssagend (German for "not saying"), the organizing principle of Discursive Arrangements or Stubbornly Persistent Illusions is more conceptual but no less absurd—referencing both Albert Einstein and St. Catherine of Siena—with pieces from the likes of Ruby Sky Stiler, Devon Costello and Mathew Cerletty. See it through August 14.
Two exhibitions offer more tangible results. One is Moveable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Cart Program, up through September 5 at the Museum of the City of New York. In this show, Gabriele Stabile, Will Steacy and other photographers have documented Moveable Feast, a New York City program that helps provide fresh fruit and vegetables to needy communities. Much further uptown, and also through September 5, The Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts Bronx Calling, a 30-year anniversary exhibition of its Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program, whose mission is to educate artists about professional opportunities in the art world as well as introduce them to the public. Billed as the first AIM biennial, the show includes work from the 72 artists who have participated in the 2011 program, including handmade pop-influenced work from Carl James Ferrero and Jessica Stoller.
But the most jubilant installation this month happens at MoMA PS1 in Queens, where every Saturday through September 3 the museum will host Warm Up, a dance party in its gravel courtyard beneath a canopy of rope strung above, courtesy of this year's Young Architects Program winner, Interboro Partners. The Brooklyn studio has also filled the space with benches, mirrors and Ping-Pong tables, while inside the museum are two excellent exhibitions that are nearing a close in early September: Any Ever (through September 3), showcasing Ryan Trecartin's giddy movies, and Francis Alÿs' monumentally ephemeral A Story of Deception (through September 12)—both of which, like the inevitably playful crowd outside, will match, and reward, a willingness for adventure.