Your Concise New York Art Guide for 2021
New year, new energy, right? Regardless of how many resolutions you’ve managed to stick to (or have perhaps wisely given yourself a break on), finding more ways to immerse yourself in art is always a worthy goal. This month, we highlight 10 more exhibitions to break up those gloomy wintery days, including plenty of vivid abstraction, sharp photography, and various smartly curated group shows, many of which are available online or by appointment.
Cauleen Smith, still from “Sojourner” (2018), video, color, sound, TRT: 00:22:41 (image courtesy the artist, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, and Kate Werble Gallery, New York)
When: through January 31 Where: by timed-entry at the Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street, Meat Packing, Manhattan)
A titan of experimental film, Cauleen Smith has spent decades making moving image works and installations that center collectivity, Black histories, spirituality, and science fiction. Now in its final weeks, Mutualities focuses on two of her recent films, Sojourner (2018) and Pilgrim (2017), as well as a series of her literary drawings.
Installation view, Freddy Rodríguez: Early Paintings 1970-1990, Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary, 2020–2021 (image courtesy Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary)
When: through February 13 Where: online and by appointment at Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary (47 East 64th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
For its debut exhibition, the new gallery founded by longtime Latin American and Caribbean art advisor Isabella Hutchinson presents a selection of early career work by Dominican painter Freddy Rodríguez. Works on view include those from his Paradise (1985–1988) and Cimarrón (1985–1988) series, each of which employ myriad styles of abstraction to reflect upon Afro-Dominican history and concerns of the island’s diaspora.
Emily Mason, “In Dormant Nature” (1984–1985), oil on canvas, 44 x 42 inches (© Artist Rights Society [ARS], image courtesy the Emily Mason and Alice Trumbull Mason Foundation and Miles McEnery Gallery)
When: through February 13 Where: Miles McEnery Gallery (520 West 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Known for her vibrant abstractions, painter Emily Mason would toil endlessly in her Chelsea studio, relying upon the solace and plentiful natural light to crank out expressive canvases. This airy environ became her “tuning fork,” where she would go to make or finish many of her most exciting works. Luckily for us, Miles McEnery Gallery is now presenting 22 of them, right in the same neighborhood where they were made.
Margrethe Aanestad, (from left to right) “Stille Forvandling/Silent Transition V” (2020), pastel chalk on paper, 85 x 42 inches; “Stille Forvandling/Silent Transition VI” (2020), pastel chalk on paper, 95 x 47 inches (image courtesy Tiger Strikes Asteroid)
When: through February 13 Where: Tiger Strikes Asteroid (1329 Willoughby Ave #2A, Bushwick, Brooklyn)
Examining themes of love and memory, the works in this five-artist group show pose questions about what constitutes enough when it comes to human connection. Featured artists Margrethe Aanestad, Daniel Arturo Almeida, Dalia Amara, Cyriaco Lopes, and Randy West emphasize impermanence, finding inspiration in the fleeting.
Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, “Even there, there are stars” (2020), watercolor, gouache, color pencil, and marker on paper, 15 3/8 x 21 5/8 inches (image courtesy the artist and CUE Art Foundation)
When: January 14–February 17 Where: CUE Art Foundation (137 W 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Featuring work by Chitra Ganesh, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Emily Oliveira, and Tuesday Smillie, this group show is rooted in dreams of a more just future, and explores the routes by which we might get there. Emphasizing queer, trans, and POC conceptions of futurity, the exhibition celebrates “our wildest dreams of liberation” and also includes a freely available digital catalogue.
Gordon Parks, “Watering Hole, Fort Scott, Kansas” (1963), archival pigment print, 24 x 20 inches (print), edition 1 of 7, with 2 APs (© the Gordon Parks Foundation, image courtesy the Gordon Parks Foundation and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York)
When: through February 20 Where: Jack Shainman Gallery (513 West 20th Street and 524 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Gathering photographs produced between 1942 and 1970, this two-part exhibition spans both of Jack Shainman’s Chelsea galleries, inviting viewers to reflect on the urgency and quiet elegance of Black American life that Parks so ably captured. Including works from his iconic series, Invisible Man and Segregation Story, the exhibition also presents a selection of rarely exhibited photographs. A poignant reminder of the importance of bearing witness, needless to say these are works that hit differently these days.
Allison Maria Rodriguez, “In the Presence of Absence – José María & Ike (video still)” (2017–20), multichannel video installation, dimensions variable (image courtesy the artist)
When: through February 21 Where: Smack Mellon (92 Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn)
In its examination of issues rooted in land and place, this group exhibition features work by nine BIPOC artists whose works push viewers “to reenvision our relationship to the land from a decolonial perspective.” Featured artists include Kiyan Williams, Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, and Rachelle Dang, each of whom intertwines ecological concerns with those of exploitation, regeneration, and survival.
A.K. Jenkins, “Wide Back, Utopian Hues (I)” from Blue Basin (2020), pigment print, 32 x 26 inches (image courtesy Higher Pictures Generation)
When: through February 27 Where: Higher Pictures Generation (16 Main Street, Ground Floor, DUMBO, Brooklyn)
We Wear the Mask takes the titular poem by acclaimed Black writer and abolitionist Paul Lawrence Dunbar as its starting point. Just as Dunbar critiqued the veneer of social progress following the Civil War, photographer D’Angelo Lovell Williams gathers a selection of image-based works that further tug at the quickly unraveling myth of racial harmony in the US, including works by artists Larry Cook, Nakeya Brown, and Trent Bozeman, among others, which lay bare the politics of inclusion, erasure, and Black beauty.
Ilana Harris-Babou, still from “Fine Lines” (2020), installation with wood, sheetrock, tile, grout, glass, mirror, inkjet print, resin, ceramic sculpture, flatscreen monitor and single-channel, HD video, sound, TRT: 00:11:00, overall dimensions 84 × 137 × 56 inches (image courtesy Queens Museum)
When: through February 28 Where: Online and by timed-entry at Queens Museum (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens)
A show we’ve been looking forward to since last spring, After the Plaster Foundation has somehow only become more relevant, even after its opening was pushed back by five months due to the pandemic. Named for the Plaster Foundation of Atlantis, the Soho loft where avant-garde filmmaker and performer Jack Smith lived and worked until he was evicted, this exhibition examines property, real estate, and gentrification amid New York City’s “new era of ‘predatory inclusion.’”
Installation view, This Longing Vessel: Studio Museum Artists in Residence 2019–20, MoMA PS1, 2020–2021 (image courtesy MoMA PS1, photo by Kris Graves)
When: through March 14 Where: by timed-entry at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens)
A showcase I look forward to every year, this year’s presentation of work by the latest Artists-in-Residence at the Studio Museum reflects a change of pace. In addition to being held at MoMA PS1 (the second such presentation, due to ongoing construction on the Studio Museum’s new building), This Longing Vessel is more queer and new media-heavy than usual, and gratifyingly so via an intimate suite of works by recent residents E. Jane, Naudline Pierre, and Elliot Reed.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct location for the Emily Mason at Miles McEnery Gallery. It is on view at the gallery’s 520 West 21st Street location, not the 525 West 22nd Street location.