6 Art Events Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in New York and Beyond

The civil rights leader gets a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, among other timely events.

Amy Sherald, The Make Believer (Monet's Garden), 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.
Amy Sherald's The Make Believer (Monet's Garden), 2016, currently on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

The US has celebrated the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day since 1986. The federal holiday honors the civil rights activist, known for his dedication to nonviolent civil disobedience and powerful oration. Since his assassination in 1968, King’s legacy has remained a powerful force in American society. In honor of his invaluable work toward equality, here are some events and exhibitions to visit at area museums and cultural institutions this weekend.

 

Friday, January 12 and Saturday, January 13

Cosplay at the Annual Black Comic Book Festival” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Cosplay at the Annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

1. “6th Annual Black Comic Book Festival” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Once again, the annual Black Comic Book Festival, now in its sixth edition, is being held at the New York Public Library over the holiday weekend. According to the event description, “this year’s highlights will include panels and discussion on topics including diversity and social justice in comics, black comics in digital spaces, black masculinity in comic books, and much, much more.”

Location: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard
Price: Free
Time: Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6:45 p.m.

 

Saturday, January 13

Doreen Garner tattoo sampling. Courtesy of Recess.

Doreen Garner tattoo sampling. Image courtesy of Recess.

2. MLK Day Party for “Doreen Garner’s Invisible Man Tattoo” at Recess
As Recess debuts its new home, it has been transformed into a pop-up tattoo parlor, with artist Doreen Garner inking patrons with designs that aim to bring to light the exploitation of black bodies, from the time of slavery through to the present day. The tattoos are free for “brown and black” visitors, in exchange for recording a video diary discussing the significance of their new ink. (Garner is a licensed tattoo artist.) The exhibition is on view through March 4, but Garner is unveiling a new Martin Luther King tattoo at this weekend’s party.

Location: Recess, 46 Washington Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Price: Free with RSVP
Time: 6 p.m.–8 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.; Thursday, 2 p.m.–8 p.m.; tattoo appointments, Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.

 

Saturday, January 13–Sunday, June 1

View of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing a crowd gathered outside the United Nations following a march from Central Park on April 15, 1967. In his speech, Dr. King decried the Vietnam War as a racist war. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

View of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing a crowd gathered outside the United Nations following a march from Central Park on April 15, 1967. In his speech, Dr. King decried the Vietnam War as a racist war. Photo courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

3. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Museum of the City of New York 
To honor King, the Museum of the City of New York will host a special day of family programs on Monday, January 15. Museum-goers can enjoy the brand new “King in New York” exhibition, chronicling the time he spent in the city. Pair your visit with a return to the ongoing “Activist New York” show, which traces the city’s history of agitation, from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter.

Location: Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at East 103rd Street
Price: Free with general admission; $18 adults
Time: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

 

Monday, January 15

Joachim Prinz and Martin Luther King Jr. Courtesy of <em>I Shall Not Be Silence</em>.

Joachim Prinz and Martin Luther King Jr. Photo courtesy of I Shall Not Be Silent.

4. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the Newark Museum 
The Newark Museum’s annual MLK festivities include a tribute to the civil rights movement from the Premiere Dance Theatre Company of Montclair, family activities, an MLK-themed scavenger hunt/gallery tour, and multiple screenings of the famed “I Have a Dream” speech. At 1 p.m., catch the film I Shall Not Be Silent, a documentary about Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a European refugee who equated the persecution of the Jews with the oppression of African Americans, becoming one of King’s activist allies.

Location: Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey
Price: $5
Time: 12 p.m.–5 p.m.

 

Through Monday, January 15

Sherrill Roland on campus at University North Carolina Greensboro in 2016. Photo by Olivia Bond, courtesy the artist.

Sherrill Roland on campus at University North Carolina Greensboro in 2016. Photo by Olivia Bond, courtesy the artist.

5. “Fictions” at the Studio Museum in Harlem 
Make a last pilgrimage to the Studio Museum in Harlem before it closes for construction until 2021, while the institution builds a new home from Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye and his firm Adjaye Associates. Among its final slate of shows is the fifth in a series of exhibitions dedicated to emerging artists of African descent, featuring the likes of newly minted Michelle Obama portraitist Amy Sherald, 2016 PULSE Prize winner Devan Shimoyama, and Sherrill Roland, who channeled a wrongful conviction into his performance art piece The Jumpsuit Project.

Location: The Studio Museum in Harlem, 125th Street
Price: Free with general admission; $18 adults
Time: Tour Monday, January 15, 3 p.m.; 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

 

Ongoing

Annette Lemieux, <em>Black Mass</em> (1991). Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau ©Annette Lemieux.

Annette Lemieux’s Black Mass (1991). Photo courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Emily Fisher Landau ©Annette Lemieux.

6. “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017” at the Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney has mined its collections for works that demonstrate how artists can double as activists, creating critical, instructive, and inspirational works that serve as commentary on society. The civil rights movement, of course, plays a crucial role in the exhibition.

Location: The Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street
Price: $25
Time: Tour Monday, January 15, 3 p.m.; Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m.


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