Best of Art & Performance

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08/03/2011 4:00 AM |


Exhibition in a Fire-Damaged Park Slope Brownstone

Associated at Open Source Gallery

After the three-alarm fire that decimated the corner of Fifth Avenue and 17th Street, we worried that we’d lost Open Source Gallery—the only non-profit among a small but very strong set of South Slope galleries—but founders Monika Wuhrer and Gary Baldwin took those charred lemons and made… um, hot lemonade? In April they mounted this superb group show in their badly damaged home next door to the destroyed gallery (which has since reopened down the block).

Best Hipster-Bait-y Street Art (tie)

Hanksy and the Hipster Traps

Yes, the Soho-originating, Bushwick-visiting stencil Hanksy has street and screen cred with its terrific Banksy-Tom Hanks pun, but Jeff Greenspan and Hunter Fine‘s hipster traps actually succeeded in capturing an incredible amount of attention from both hipsters and hipster-haters.

Best New Art Fair

Art Brooklyn in DUMBO

With a record number of satellite fairs this year, Armory Week finally spilled right off the edge of Manhattan, bringing the scrappy Verge Art Fair to DUMBO, where every gallery and vacant storefront was put to great use.

Best Public Sculpture Depicting a Fictional Monster (tie)

The Brooklyn Griffin” on Meserole Street, “The Abominable Grass Man” on John Street

Both the UK street art crew ROBOTS and Brooklyn-based duo Mosstika used their materials (found wood and grass, respectively) creatively, but whereas the turf yeti survived only a few days (nobody watered him), the winged scrap wood creature still watches over the intersection of Waterbury and Meserole streets in Bushwick nearly a year later.

Worst Public Sculpture Depicting a Fictional Monster

Asphalt Tattoo” on Jay Street

We had serious reservations (mostly to do with our bike tires’ prospects for sustained fullness) when this dragon was cut into the street and filled with broken glass near a busy intersection in DUMBO last summer. Was this some Bostonian art prof’s idea of a cruel joke? Apparently, but one year later it looks much, much worse for wear, and the joke’s on Paula Meijerink—plus we didn’t get any flats!

Best Tag


We stopped drawing mustaches on people in magazines ten (ok, two) years ago, but we took comfort from knowing that subway billboard tagger Moustache Man was scrawling his curly, cursive signature on subway platform celebs’ upper lips. Until 26-year-old Virginia native and Gray Line tours employee Joseph Waldo, bka Moustache Man, was arrested in late June after the NYPD tracked him via blog bragging.

Best Neighborhood-Wide Gallery Night

Beat Nite in Bushwick

Sorry, DUMBO First Thursdays and Williamsburg Second Fridays—not to mention Sunset Park Sixth Sundays—but this bi-annual art party all over Bushwick (and contiguous Ridgewood) organized by de facto neighborhood spokes-gallerist Jason Andrew is far and away the borough’s best and most fun.

Best Public Art Exhibition

Total Recall at Metrotech

As a rule we try to spend as little time as possible in the Metrotech environs—easy, since there’s so little of interest there—except that at regular intervals the Public Art Fund mounts kick-ass outdoor exhibitions there, like this one featuring memory-probing sculptures by Martin Basher, Zipora Fried, Sam Moyer, Matt Sheridan Smith and Kevin Zucker (and on view through September 16).

Best Art Space We Gained
Kunsthalle Galapagos in DUMBO
Though dormant since its third show closed back in April—a silence that makes us very concerned that KG not end up in the following category next year—this superb new gallery atop Galapagos Art Space boasts cathedral-like ceilings and an expansive space ideally suited to the type of site-specific sculptural installations that the kunsthalle model of community-supported gallery has fostered in Germany.

Best Art Space We Lost

99% Gallery

This roomy Vice neighbor on North 10th Street seemed to have all kinds of momentum behind it last fall, with shows of locally and nationally renowned street artists, photographers and printmakers. Then everything went quiet; what happened?

Best Artist We Lost

Dennis Oppenheim

This native Washingtonian had been a New Yorker for 43 years when he died at age 72 on January 21st, 2011, after being at the forefront of the land and performance art movements in the 60s and 70s, and helping to expand the field of contemporary sculpture from the early 80s onward.