Editors’ Picks: 9 Events for Your Art Calendar, From a Talk About Chinatown’s Art and Activism to a Show of Surreal Cat Art
Plus, stream in to the Migrant Festival, or see a show of "Fairy Organs."
Each week, we search for the most exciting and thought-provoking shows, screenings, and events, both digitally and in-person in the New York area. See our picks from around the world below. (Times are all EST unless otherwise noted.)
Thursday, August 19
1. “Virtual Artist Talk: Aliza Nisenbaum” at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Aliza Nisenbaum will speak in this virtual artist talk about her new large-scale portrait series of people in Kansas City’s salsa music and dance communities, the subject of her new show at the Kemper, “Aliza Nisenbaum: Aquí Se Puede (Here You Can),” on view August 19, 2021–July 31, 2022.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a wave of anti-Asian racism and violence. Artist Tomie Arai, the cofounder of the Chinatown Art Brigade, and Mei Lum, civic practice partnership artist-in-residence at the Met and cofounder of the W.O.W. Project, will speak about how Manhattan’s Chinatown has come together in this difficult time, using art and activism as closely linked tools. Tune in on YouTube or Facebook to watch.
Time: 6 p.m.–7 p.m.
Thursday, August 19–Sunday, August 22
The Migrant Festival uses visual art, music, film, and performance to celebrate refugees and migrants and their contributions to Birmingham society. Virtually accessible events include artist Osman Yousefzada in conversation with author Sathnam Sangera on Friday, August 20 at 6 p.m. GMT, which you can watch on YouTube. They’ll discuss the former’s new public artwork, Infinity Pattern 1, which covers the entire facade of the Selfridges Birmingham Building, and the latter’s new book Empireland (2021), about how contemporary British culture is actually rooted in the nation’s imperial past.
Location: Both digital and in-person events
Price: Free (suggested donation $7)
Time: Times vary
Friday, August 20
For the release party of her new EP, artist and musician Julia Sinelnikova—a member of New York’s new City Artist Corps—is filling Brooklyn’s Refuge Arts with her otherworldly “Fairy Organs” light sculptures, made from materials including resin, plexiglass, aluminum, and steel.
Location: Refuge Arts, 80 Vernon Avenue, Brooklyn
Price: Free with RSVP
Time: 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
Through Friday, August 20
5. “Fringe” at Denny Dimin Gallery, New York
Denny Dimin takes a look at the legacy of the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970s, which was closely related to the feminist art movement’s interest in ornamentation and craft, in this group show. The contemporary artists on view include Max Colby, Pamela Council, and Justine Hill.
Location: Denny Dimin Gallery, 39 Lispenard Street, New York
Time: Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Through Saturday, August 21
6. “Nine Lives” at Fortnight Institute, New York
Henri Matisse famously fed his three beloved cats—Minouche, Coussi, and La Puce—pieces of brioche every morning. Andy Warhol illustrated a book, Cats Named Sam, extolling the virtues of his mother’s 25 cats who all shared the same name. Surrealist Leonor Fini, meanwhile, owned as many as 23 Persians whom she had chauffeured around to join her in their own car. In other words, artists’ fascination with cats is nothing new and this wonderful group show proves it is, in fact, alive and well. “Across generations and cultures, felines have been used as a vehicle for symbolism, with their presence pointing to myriad signs—ranging from rebirth, femininity, to the domestic, and perhaps most ominous and alluring, black magic,” the gallery writes in a statement. Here one finds cats in all these manifestations, from Agata Słowak’s eerie self-portrait with a small black cat sliding down her blouse to Chris Oh’s sculpture of a cat with a recreation of Caravaggio’s Boy Bitten by a Lizard on its fur, plus a whole lot in between.
Location: Fortnight Institute, 21 East 3rd Street, New York
Time: Wednesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday, August 22
7. “For Freedoms: Beyond the Box 3 (Healing through Community Collaboration)” at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn
After police arrested 17-year-old Kalief Browder for robbery in 2010—a crime he maintained he did not commit—he was held at Riker’s Island for three years without trial. In 2015, he died by suicide. To bring Browder’s harrowing reality to life, the artist Coby Kennedy has installed an eight-by-10-by-six-foot glass box—the exact dimensions of Browder’s cell in solitary confinement—outside of the Brooklyn art nonprofit Pioneer Works. To discuss the work, titled Kalief Browder: The Box and on view through September 19, the artist-led organization For Freedoms is hosting a series of town halls. This weekend, the third installment features a performance by the youth Truthworker Theater Company, and a conversation between the troupe members and Ebony Underwood, founder of the advocacy group We Got Us Now, which works with the children of incarcerated parents.
Location: Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn
Price: Free with registration
Time: 3 p.m.–5 p.m.
Through Sunday, August 29
8. “Sandra Mujinga: Worldview” and “Jan Vorisek: No Sun” at the Swiss Institute, New York
Don’t miss the final days of two compelling shows at Swiss Institute—“Jan Vorisek: No Sun,” and “Sandra Mujinga: World View”—with the added bonus that this cutting-edge contemporary art center in the East Village always offers free admission. On the ground floor, visitors encounter Curved Passage, Vorisek’s installation featuring industrial yellow strip curtains that hang in a curve around the room. From a dark corridor behind the curtain, a low-frequency oscillator generates haunting tones that are composed randomly in real time. Entering the darkened passageway to a completely blacked out space as the noise intensifies is both intense and disorienting.
On the basement level, Congolese and Norwegian artist Mujinga has dramatically reduced the size of the gallery to present a serene video of a fjord that was created during the pandemic. It plays on notions of time and riffs on the Nordic nation’s popular Slow TV phenomenon.
Location: Swiss Institute, 38 St. Marks Place, New York
Time: Wednesday–Friday, 2 p.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.–8 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Through Saturday, August 28
9. “Hui Tian: Where Are You From?” at Novado Gallery, Jersey City
On view in Jersey City’s Novado Gallery are paintings and works on paper by Chinese artist, Hui Tian. Tian depicts a wide range of subjects including imagined scenarios, contemporary life, pop culture icons like Basquiat, Warhol, and Haring, and even a reinterpretation of Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat in the current pandemic. One thing ties the works all together: a lively, calligraphic style brushstroke. “Through the depictions of famous people, and through the act and motivations of the artist to create these paintings, we are reminded of the continuum of the desire for positive change,” the gallery states in the press release.
Location: Novado Gallery, 110 Morgan Street, Jersey City, New Jersey
Time: Tuesday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
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