NYC's Best Galleries and Unintended Artworks

08/04/2010 4:00 AM |



Nothing says art like Swarovski crystal designs on your ho-ho! This time-based performance piece is typically made for a small live audience of one, so documentation is essential. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is generally regarded as the leader of this little known artistic movement—she announced her own vajazeling this winter on David Letterman, thus sparking the trend. Shortly there after Kathy Griffin televised her own vajazzling in preparation for her live pap smear to increase awareness for cervical cancer.

Darth Vader Robs Bank

Is this month's Star Wars-themed Chase bank robbery in Setauket unintended art? The amount of easy jokes generated by Gothamist makes me think there's no way—even bad art rarely produces this much annoying media coverage—but still, Darth Vader thieves are a close call. The creative use of costumes, the performative act, and the un-ironic use of firearms all suggest art!


Locking down the New York Times most read list for more than a week, the newspaper's features on specialized cat environments mirror a new trend in art! Riding on the recent artistic cat obsession, these installations popularly known as Catios, offer fur friendly extensions to the homes of cat owners. Taking a variety of forms, these patios are typically filled with all kinds of perches and scratching posts for the cats. Although frequently lacking the MDF particle board virtuosity of contemporary sculptor Matthew Ronay, this movement clearly draws inspiration from his scattered obstacle course-like work.


Gavin Brown's Enterprise

The New Museum came under a lot of fire this year and last for so heavily drawing on Gavin Brown's stable. The museum needs to expand its horizons a little, but it's not hard to see why they like the gallery, which continues to launch some of the best exhibitions in the city. This means English funny man and intellectual Martin Creed, artist Rob Pruitt (famed founder of the Guggenheim art awards) and conceptual artist Jeremy Deller.

Miguel Abreu Gallery

Known for its outstanding exhibition program, the gallery continued to launch stellar shows this winter. Eileen Quinlan's black-and-white abstracted still-life photographs titled Nature Morte would be one example, though Blake Rayne's Folder and Application, a mishmash of brilliantly colored Rosenquist-esque paintings and white-on-white shadow typography, proved less compelling. No program is perfect.

Greene Naftali

Gelatin's blind art-making performance not withstanding, Greene Naftali offers consistently strong programming. Their current group show, The Pursuer (through August 13), is no exception. The exhibition includes famed video artist Alex Bag, mixed-media artist Josef Strau, and newcomer video artist Trisha Baga among others. Their Allen Ruppersberg exhibition of comic book cutout sculptures earlier this year was notable, as was the multimedia exhibition of Danish artist Joachim Koester exploring psychedelic experimentation.

Lisa Cooley

Josh Faught and Andy Coolquitt, who both had solo shows at Lisa Cooley this year, aren't household names yet, but if the dealer has anything to do with it they will be. She's been incredibly successful placing her artists in high-profile exhibitions; Coolquitt will be in Illuminations, an exhibition curated by Matthew Higgs at Tony Shafrazi Gallery; Erin Sherriff's work is on display at PS1's Greater New York; Matt Sheridan Smith was at The Sculpture Center, and so on. Cooley's gallery has only been open for two and a half years, so these accolades are a testament to the strength of her artists and her skill as a dealer.

Sue Scott Gallery

This season, Sue Scott Gallery introduced landscape painter Tom McGrath to the scene and launched the widely lauded video artist Elizabeth Subrin's mini retrospective. The gallery just closed the first chapter of the mammoth multi-venue exhibition Lush Life, curated by Franklin Evans and Omar Lopze-Chahoud. Keep this gallery on your radar.

3 Comment

  • you are spot on. miguel abreu and lisa cooley have amazing galleries. orchard street is so exciting right now. don’t forget about rachel uffner!

  • Greene Naftali is so hot right now. Brilliant programming, perfect space, perfect crowd and festive-boozy opening reception. Lurrve it!

  • I think most of the art galleries in NY today are not pushing any boundaries or producing anything really consistently challenging at all. Galleries like Green Naftali are full of color, form and irony. Spectacle is what we’ve been getting in the last 10 years. Gavin Brown Enterprises leads the familiar distraction art that dominates our conscious. Writer Paddy Johnson is correct when she states that there is too much “brainy” art. Meaning that the abundance of thought provoking statements through art are not what this generation of audiences want to see because she or others like her state so? With that in mind we also have to realize that she is not alone in that stance. The desperate need to distract and find art ironic is also the result of mediocre writers, artists and gallery dealers. Tony Schafrazi Gallery has not had a critically innovative show since Keith Haring died. One can remember when Deitch Projects first opened and its challenging diverse programming. Today it’s experience is equal to a dollar store “experience” but then what matters today is distraction as an attraction along with elephants and sword swallowers.