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Best Interactive Public Artwork
You are in Union Square with a friend and it is summertime. Your friend walks across the Center Lawn to a group of white fiberglass pedestals and stands on a hunk that reads "The Guiltiest One," making a frowny face as you snap a photo. You have just participated in Eleven Heavy Things
, Miranda July's art installation. Doesn't it feel good to take part in something?
Best Provocative Public Artwork
Though intended as a scavenger hunt with statues straddling the skyline around Madison Square Park and from 14th Street up to the Empire State Building, the silhouettes perched precariously on ledges invariably made for many suicide scares. The Gormley sculptures that aren't sky high still scandalized some: prudish tourists couldn't deal with their penises and pert buttocks.
Most Fun Interactive Public Artwork
Seriously: Step into the PS1 courtyard and try not to shake the swaying windsurfing masts, stretching the suspended net and sending neon-toned exercise balls bouncing into each other and tumbling into the central pool. Try to keep off the hammocks and out of the sand; try not to cool off under the embedded misters and compose an ambient symphony with the audio sensor-equipped poles. Resistance is futile: the fun is infectious.
Best Illegal Public Artwork
Granted, there's an app for this, but for all the analog urbanites who sometimes get turned around in the labyrinthine underground tunnels—it's okay, it happens to the most intrepid of us, no need to feel ashamed—it's nice to find one of these inconspicuous stenciled compasses at the top of the subway staircase for quick reorientation. To whoever is behind this guerrilla campaign: Please do Grand Army Plaza next.
Best Street Artist(s)
Brand-name street art stars like Shepard Fairey, Banksy and lesser fanboy Mr. Brainwash rolled onto New York City walls recently, but none had the sustained, successful or seriously enjoyable impact as shadowy street sign-substituting locals TrustoCorp. We first noticed them right outside our offices in Dumbo in the dead of winter with colorful, comic signage reminding us that "Life Is Too Short" and "It's Okay to Play With Yourself," and since then we've followed their signs to sarcastic grocery store items, a credit card debt memorial, and even their first gallery show. Happily, they still show no sign of selling out.
Best Use of Newspapers
Long-dead world leaders reappeared in Sarah Charlesworth's text-free black and white print series, Herald Tribune, November 1977
, at the Guggenheim's Haunted
exhibition. The long line of front pages with only the photos present induces a creeping melancholia in text-loving art patrons who will continue to wring their hands and lament the death of print.
Best Open Studios
Other studio-dense districts like Long Island City, Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park can't compete with the spectacular quantity and quality of the art being produced in converted warehouses beyond East Williamsburg. Nor does any other â�‚��œhood have a group quite like Arts in Bushwick to get everyone coordinated for a massive one-weekend art party. We just hope next year's BOS isn't totally swamped with tourists after the Times
just declared Bushwick "arguably the coolest place on the planet," which is true, but did you have to go and tell everyone?
Best Young Artist We Lost
On May 30th, not quite a year after the death of Dash Snow—another young and ascendant artist with a sharp sense of humor who barely maintained a blurry line between his art and his life—the conceptual artist and designer Tobias Wong was found dead of an apparent suicide in his East Village apartment. He had a fondness for turning sleek design objects into absurd sculptures, perhaps most famously by unveiling a Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair that he'd turned into a lamp before the original design had been released. Such so-called "readydesigneds" exemplified his invaluably creative and critical practice.
Best Old Artist We Lost
The snarky and sharp-witted French sculptress lived to see her superb career retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2008, and then went on producing dozens of new sculptures and works on paper, and hosting her salons for young artists in her Chelsea townhouse well into her 99th year before dying on May 31st. After coming to prominence in the 70s, Bourgeois stood apart from the art world's trends and movements, forging a singular, very personal and intimate but no less affecting aesthetic. Now, whenever we see a spider, we imagine it's Louise keeping an eye on us.
Best Gallery We Lost
Almost exactly a year after opening in the charmingly raw ground floor warehouse space at 28 Marcy Avenue, Catharine Ahearn closed her gallery with the aptly titled and sneakily upbeat exhibition Clean Break
. She made the most of Charlie Horse's 11 or so months, especially when it came to promoting the work of New York City artists who weren't getting shows at other locals-oriented Brooklyn galleries. Such is the fate of DIY galleries in Williamsburg, it would seem.
Best New(ish) Gallery
In January, Jeffrey Deitch took a museum directorship in L.A. and announced
plans to close his Soho gallery, Deitch Projects, prompting everyone to speculate what might happen to the city's hottest roster of young artists. Happily, Deitch director Kathy Grayson
rounded up enough of them to move the whole art star-minting operation a few blocks north to 107 Greene Street. There, if the inaugural exhibition is any indication, things will continue to be ambitiously and irreverently fun.
Best New Brooklyn Gallery
Amidst all the DIY spaces and makeshift exhibitions, a small set of gallerists are beginning to create opportunities for Bushwick-based artists to reach larger audiences without going to Chelsea's gallery mall. Since October Ellen Letcher and Kevin Regan's comfy semi-basement space at 1673 Gates Avenue (technically in Ridgewood according to certain maps) has played host to a series of excellent and creatively installed shows, a tag sale of industrial music legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's belongings, and a new show that involves crawling through a giant tunnel (August 7-September 4). Honorable Mentions: Storefront, 99% Gallery, Pandemic Gallery.
Best Pop-Up Gallery
Heist Gallery in Gutted Madison Avenue Bank
Though it proved to be one of the tiny Lower East Side gallery's last shows (RIP), those who ventured to this random spot on Madison Avenue in the lower 30s in the middle of winter were rewarded with Quick While Still
, a stunning show of large-scale works on canvas. Superb paintings by the likes of Wendy White and Matt Jones enriched the former financial institution's bare walls. Honorable Mention: No Longer Empty's
Never Can Say Goodbye at the former Tower Records.
Best Art Fair
Gallerists Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook's idea to fill the former Dia Art Center building with an art fair during Armory Week made so much sense. Why trek to Pier 92 and pay exorbitant admission to overdose on art when you could go to West Chelsea and pay nothing to see a more manageable and, on balance, much better set of artists in a much nicer environment? Visitors needing a break could flop down in Ryan Trecartin's prison-like living room video installation, or play a set on Rirkrit Tiravanija's stainless steel ping pong table.