NYC's Art Galleries Map
No this isn't your middle-school-aged sister's bedroom wall. It's Cinders Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. What can we say? You know those hipsters--they thumbtack stick figures to the wall and call in ironic. And we have to admit, we find it appealing when we visit a gallery whose work reminds us of Mrs. Johnson's fifth grade classroom wall.
The gallery founders sought to "create a space to show art that felt more homey, warm and inviting than the often cold and intimidating atmosphere of galleries." The original space intended for Cinders burned down, hence the name. Today, with sprinkler system firmly in place, the gallery hosts monthly art shows as well as other events that have included live music, readings, slide shows and performance.
For multicultural art, especially Central and East Asian works, Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Chelsea is the preeminent space in Manhattan. Established in 2000, the gallery says its mission is to open the exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures:
In a world where communication is instant and cultures are colliding and melding as never before, our goal is to provide a venue for art that transcends boundaries of all sorts.
Sounds like the artistic equivalent of Times columnist Tom Friedman's book The World Is Flat; art, like everything else, is getting globalized. So does this mean we'll be able to buy cut-rate knockoffs of the art from a guy in a trenchcoat a few blocks away in Chinatown?
On the corner of Washington Square Park, amid thousands of sweatpants-wearing college students, rests one of New York's most prestigious and progressive art galleries. The Grey Art Gallery is New York University's fine arts museum. Since the gallery is foremost a place for young artists and art enthusiasts to learn, it's free to experiment more than a gallery that aims to sell paintings.
Take, for example, the current exhibit, The Geometry of Hope: Latin American Abstract Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection. The gallery says it's the most comprehensive overview to date of geometrical abstraction in Latin America from the 1930s to the 1970s.
We won't point out that it's easy to be the "biggest" or "most comprehensive" if you define a category so narrowly that it could only fit your specific show. And we certainly enjoy Latin American geometrical abstractions... But only those made between 1930 and 1970.
[Photo: Shamrock Tattoo]
Agora. It's not a hippy baby name. Or a synthetic form of rabbit fur. It's one of the hottest art galleries in Chelsea. Exhibits range from abstract watercolors to photographs of indigenous tribes--two seemingly tired genres on which the gallery manages to put a fresh twist.
Brazilian painter Karla Caprali's exhibit opens tomorrow and lasts until December 11. Her artwork sounds pretty cool, a Brazil-based newspaper tells us:
Ok, so maybe this sounds like a bit of pretentious, artsy mumbo jumbo. But the images she creates are mesmerizing, and the stark, white walls and hardwood floors of the traditional gallery combined with Caprali's work make for both a familiar yet progressive gallery experience.
She takes a conceptual approach to her memories, perception, lust and ideas about the human condition, exploiting the tension between darkness and light, color and line. Inspired by life and death, dreams and fear, religion and paganism, motherhood and daily routine, she achieves a startlingly contemporary, feminine vision of daily life and her past.
What museum might someday feature your father's collection of toenail clippings?
Our best guess is the American Folk Art Museum in Midtown New York, whose permanent 4,000-piece collection includes a five-foot tower of TV dinner chicken bones all eaten and glued together by the same man, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein.
What is folk art? Well, a lot of it is weird. But it's also endearing. Cobbled together by people with little or no academic artistic training (Von Bruenchenhein didn't graduate high school), nor a desire to emulate fine art (he made paint brushes from his wife's hair), folk art is to high art what Buffalo is to New York City (sorry we can't help it).
Free for children all the time and for everyone on Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., it's $9 the rest of the time. Like most New York museums, it's closed Mondays.
When it comes to travel, we like taking risks. Maybe that's why most of our summer vacations come with an edge. When it comes to art, it's no surprise the same rules apply. Give us pushing the limits, or give us a break. That's why we love the Chelsea gallery Freight + Volume.
Freight + Volume tends to showcase narrative and text-based art. (Don't worry: We didn't know what that meant, either.) Just be ready to see some stuff you can't find anywhere else. We also like that the gallery embraces working class artists. In a city like New York, where it's all about the elite, it's nice to find someone is looking out for the little guy.
[Photo: Chelsea Now]
Since contemporary paintings look like something our kid sister splashed together in arts and crafts, we usually stick to the slightly more realistic stuff. That may be why we like Wallspace so much. The contemporary art gallery started in 2002 in a tiny space that allowed up and coming photographers to display their work. When word got out about the great artists using innovative techniques, the gallery moved to a bigger venue on West 27th Street and expanded to include more than just photographers.
The space is stark, so the images really stand out. And despite the noise of a busy city, Wallspace is a quiet spot for artistic reflection. It's a low-key setting that's anything but pretentious, which in some ways, makes it anything but Chelsea despite its address.
[Photo: James Wagner]
If you find yourself wandering up Fifth Avenue in New York, you know, back to your multi-million dollar townhouse with nothing to do one summer afternoon - be sure to make a stop at the Neue Galerie. Home to the city's most admired collection of German and Austrian art, the gallery's building itself is spectacular, reeking of old world money and style. Once home to Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, today its walls hold works by everyone ranging from Gustav Klimt to Otto Wagner to Marcel Breuer. Currently, you can also catch a special exhibit featuring original Van Gogh and Expressionism masterpieces.
Strangely, the gallery was practically (and perfectly) empty when we stopped in, contributing nicely to our daydream of actually living there. (We'll admit it, the $15 admission fee isn't conducive to all...) Cafe Sabarsky, the on-site cafe headed by chef Kurt Guttenbrunner, offered the ultimate in Viennese specialities, including strudel and Linzertorte to die for. (Stop in on Thursday nights for authentic cabaret!) Come to think of it, the only hard part of our visit was stepping back outside, trudging to the subway and heading home to our, um, non-mansion.