Art and About in July

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 06/18/2013

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Celebrate the country's independence this month with two excellent exhibitions that detail the birth of a nation and the sometimes difficult process of establishing a democracy. From Colony to Nation: 200 Years of American Painting at the New-York Historical Society hangs patriotic paintings like portraits of George Washington and depictions of the War of 1812 along with nostalgic scenes of farmers and rural life in the early colonial years—all by masters of American painting such as Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale and John Singer Sargent. (Fans of Sargent, in particular, should also be sure to take in John Singer Sargent Watercolors, at the Brooklyn Museum through July 28, which displays 93 of the artist's finest watercolors, all painted during the first two decades of the 20th century.)

"George Washington" (after 1796), by Gilbert Stuart, on view in "From Colony to Nation." Courtesy, New-York Historical Society

These idyllic colonial scenes turn dark at the Met's exhibition The Civil War and American Art, which documents the impact of the War Between the States on the history of art in our own country. The 60 paintings and 18 photographs focus on a 25-year period—between 1852 and 1877—that reflect the mood of the country before, during and after the war. Timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the show features artists such as Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson and Frederic E. Church.

"Simplon Pass: Reading" (circa 1911) by John Singer Sargent. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Once the fireworks of the Fourth are over, head uptown for an awe-inspiring light show of a very different stripe. The Guggenheim is hosting a new exhibition by the light artist James Turrell, who has transformed the museum's famed Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda into an installation in which a series of five rings with LED fixtures surround a core beam of daylight that streams in from the top of the ceiling. The lights create a purple-colored glow that's intended to promote meditation and contemplation while it also mimics the feel of his magnum opus, a crater in the desert outside Arizona that's aligned with astronomical phenomena. The installation is accompanied by an exhibition of some of the artist's other must-see works in the adjacent galleries.

For fans of work revealing a bit more of a human touch, there are two excellent drawing exhibitions on view. Subliming Vessel: The Drawings of Matthew Barney at The Morgan Library & Museum gives a rare look at the contemporary American artist's pen-and-ink pieces, some of them created for his film series Cremaster, others related to his current project River of Fundament. And at The Drawing Center, Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper 1962–2010 takes aim at the colorful, flat pieces that Price, primarily known as a sculptor, created over the course of a 50-year career.

One of the largest group shows happening in the City this month is spread across two galleries: Made in Space takes over spots at both the Upper East Side's Venus Over Manhattan and Gavin Brown's Enterprise downtown. Opening on July 11, the show places work from more than 30 artists—ranging from colorful Los Angeles sculptor Peter Shire to text-based conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg—from different media and different generations in a series of unexpected combinations. A similar spirit of benign anarchy reigns at Rachel Uffner Gallery on the Lower East Side, where emerging artist Graham Collins, Los Angeles–based Samara Golden—known for her large-scale installations—and the prolific 1970s and '80s artist David Wojnarowicz all jostle together in fine form in Truck Baby, on view through July 21.

"Magnum Opus" (2012), by Jon Kessler, on view in "Jew York." Courtesy, the artist/Salon 94, New York

What do you get when you combine the dramatic photographs of Jon Rafman, the unhinged videos of Keren Cytter and sometimes hilarious self-portraits of Tamy Ben-Tor? Through July 26 at Zach Feuer, Jew York offers a peek at the art world's borscht belt set, as all three artists address international events and experiments in ethnicity with wry—and sometimes outright funny—pieces of art. But it's nothing compared to what might be the most unorthodox show you'll find in New York this month: The Cat Show, at White Columns through July 27, collects cat-centric work from 50 different artists, ranging from late-20th-century artists as diverse as Mike Kelley, Marilyn Minter, Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger to more recent figures like Rob Pruitt, Rita Ackermann and Michele Abeles. But the centerpiece of the show occurs on July 19 and 20, when visitors will even be able to pick up cats for adoption at the gallery as part of the "Cats-in-Residence" program, where feline creatures who need homes will be set loose in the space and given artistic "purr-sonas."

"Untitled" (2009), by Graham Anderson, on view in "The Cat Show." Courtesy, Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery

Briefly Noted
Jane and Louise Wilson
303 Gallery
The two sisters who have exhibited together since 1989 bring together threads of their recent work focused on radioactivity at their fifth show at the gallery. Here, they combine their photographs of Chernobyl's abandoned Atom City, built in the 1970s to house the nuclear facility's factory workers, and large aluminum cast sculptures, which had been previously installed on an H-bomb testing site, with a cast of the 35mm Russian Bolex camera used by the Ukrainian filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko to document the Chernobyl disaster.

No Name

On Stellar Rays
Through July 25
The Lower East Side gallery continues its—ahem—stellar lineup with a show that collects a wide range of up-and-coming and established artists, including painter Jonathan VanDyke, 3-D modeler Shamus Clisset, master of craft Susan Collis and others, all artists whose work refuses to be categorized or labeled, a refreshing break from some of the summer blockbuster shows.


Storefront Bushwick
Through July 28
Ten artists who work with abstract forms will be exhibiting together at this Brooklyn-based gallery, which loosely groups the artists around the title of Plato's book that details Socrates' arguments on the afterlife. The participants—mostly young emerging artists like JJ Garfinkel, Gilbert Hsiao and Emily Berger—all create pieces that use abstraction as a tool for discovery, rather than an end in itself, whether it's represented as tight, psychedelic patterns or soft-focus brushstrokes on canvas.


Through July 27
Don't expect comedy routines at this themed exhibition organized by the young curator Kari Cwynar. Instead, sound installations broadcast experiments on the contagious nature of laughter, photographs relate back to episodes of female hysteria in the 19th century, and early video work from Christian Boltanski in which he performs a stand-up routine that is anything but rote. 

Mira Dancy: Bodytoni

The perennially underrated downtown gallery hosts an exhibition of Dancy's striking paintings filled with imposing, yet venerable, female figures—sometimes sketched in black and white, which she applies with beautiful puddles of color on canvas, shower curtains and pillows. 

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    The New-York Historical Society
    170 Central Park West
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  3. 3
    The Met
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  1. 4
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
    1071 Fifth Ave.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10128
  2. 5
    The Morgan Library & Museum
    225 Madison Ave.
    Manhattan – Murray Hill
    NY 10016
  3. 6
    GBE (Gavin Brown's Enterprise)
    620 Greenwich St
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
    NY 10014
  1. 7
    Zach Feuer
    548 W. 22nd St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  2. 8
    White Columns
    320 W 13th St
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10014
  3. 9
    303 Gallery
    525 W 22nd St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 10011

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