NYC fall 2017 art guide: 20 exhibits, events, and installations not to miss

September 11, 2017

Now that summer’s over, galleries, museums, and arts organizations are readying for a robust season of offerings. To help navigate NYC’s rich arts and cultural scene, 6sqft has put together a list of the 20 best exhibits, events, and installations, from public murals in the Bronx and a miniature Redwood forest in Brooklyn to an immersive photography village and a city-wide collection of fences by Ai Weiwei to exhibits on never-built New York and public art itself, there’s something for everyone going on this fall.

Via Public Art Fund

1. Spencer Finch: Lost Man Creek
MetroTech Commons
Through March 11, 2018

Finch’s miniature forest has been thriving for almost a year, but soon it will make way for the next curated installation. Enjoy the scaled-down version of the Redwood National Park in California through winter.

1935 drawing of the Harlem River Houses, Courtesy Horace Ginsbern Papers, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York

2. Living in America: Frank Lloyd Wright, Harlem, and Modern Housing
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, 615 West 129th Street
Through December 17
One of many events coinciding with Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, this more specific exhibit looks at Wright’s general Broadacre scheme–a suburban planning idea where each family receives one acre of federally funded land–and how it correlates to the rise of public housing towers across the country, and, in New York, specifically the Harlem River Houses, drawing on ideas of socioeconomic inequality and racial segregation.

Via ArtBridge

3. Bronx Stepstreet Murals
Third Avenue and Weiher Court; Third Avenue and 164th Street; and Third Avenue and Boston Post Road
Through July 2018

The South Bronx neighborhoods of Morrisania and Crotona have the highest obesity rates in the city; to encourage exercise and brighten these communities, the Department of Health teamed up with the nonprofit ArtBridge to bring colorful murals to three outdoor staircases in the area. Diana Perea’s “Blue-Winged Warbler” shows a hexagonal pattern inspired by honeycombs of beehives and the blue-winged warbler, a bird native to the Bronx. Josie Gonzalez’ “Rise Up” and “Rise Up 2” features the mythical Power Bird–part Phoenix, Thunderbird, Puerto Rican parrot, and Quetzal–which are symbols of power and freedom in indigenous and Spanish-speaking communities.

Via Governors Island

4. 4Heads Governors Island Art Fair

Governors Island, various locations
Saturdays and Sundays through October 1

Artists of all genres take over the historic spaces on Governors island–including Colonels Row, Fort Jay, and Castle Williams–and connect site-specific installations with the sites interesting past. For its 10th anniversary, 4heads will bring some of past fairs’ most acclaimed artists with local young, emerging, and underrepresented artists.

Via Hunter College

5. Robert Longo, American Bridge Project
Hunter College, sky bridges over Lexington Avenue at 68th Street
Through December 1, 2017

Longo, the Zabar Visiting Artist this fall at Hunter, transforms the college’s skybridge into a sprawling art installation. The immersive experience precedes Longo’s exhibition at Brooklyn Museum.

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” by Francisco Goya, courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum 

6. Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway
Through January 7, 2018
The black and white works of Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828), Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), and contemporary American artist Robert Longo (born 1953) are compared in this exhibition which explores each artists’ observations of revolution, war, and civil unrest during his time.

Via The Oscar Wilde Temple

7. McDermott & McGough, The Oscar Wilde Temple
The Church of the Village, 201 West 13th Street
Through December 2, 2017

Oscar Wilde, perhaps the earliest and most courageous figure in the centuries-long struggle for gay liberation the fight for equality, is honored in this public installation of sculpture and paintings by duo McDermott & McGough. Backed by The LGBT Community Center of New York, the church will be transformed into a tribute to Wilde, and also be available for weddings and ceremonies.

Via Robin Kang/Arts Brookfield

8. Robin Kang, Active Circuit
Grace Building lobby, 1114 Avenue of the Americas
September 12, 2017 – November 3, 2017

The digital gets an analog treatment in Kang’s vibrant new fiber art installation. The pieces present nine intricate weavings whose colorful patterns are inspired by vintage computer circuitry from the 1970s and ’80s

Via Julienne Schaer for Photoville

9. Photoville
Brooklyn Bridge Park
September 13-17 and September 21-24, 2017

The immersive photography village is back for the sixth year, with two weekends of free photography exhibitions and programming in pop-up shipping container galleries.

Via the Museum at FIT

10. Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme
Museum at FIT, 27th Street and 7th Avenue
September 15, 2017 – January 6, 2018

Scope out 70 designer pieces in this large-scale exhibition of high fashion influenced by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments on the planet — and off of it.

Photo via Jesse Untracht-Oakner for Ideas City

11. IdeasCity
Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie and Forsyth Streets
September 16, 10am-7pm

Join the New Museum’s outdoor festival for a day-long investigation of strategies, ideas, and propositions featuring artist talks, initiatives by local organizations, performances, and workshops all themed around “100 Actions for the Future City.” This year’s events range from Black Gotham walking tours led by Kamau Ware to a conversation on food and social justice with Ghetto Gastro to workshops on urban activism led by MTL+. Hester Street Fair will also be setting up food trucks nearby.

Buckminster Fuller, Dome Over Manhattan, 1960. Courtesy Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries and The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller

12. Never Built New York
Queens Museum
September 17-February 18, 2018
Based on the book “Never Built New York” by architecture writers and critics Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell, this exhibit showcases original prints, drawings, models, installations, and animations of some of the most interesting proposals NYC has ever seen but that never came to fruition. From a floating airport to a Manhattan football stadium, these never-built ideas encourage guests to  “think beyond the present tense and push the boundaries of what the future of the metropolis holds.”

BOOKLYN at NYABF2016. Photo courtesy Megan Mack.

13. NY Art Book Fair
MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
September 22-24
The 12th annual NY Art Book Fair is free and open to the public and is considered the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. This year’s fair will feature 370+ booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from 28 countries.

Via Max Ernst/MoMA

14. Max Ernst: Beyond Painting
Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street
September 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018

This exquisite exhibition is a 100-work survey of Dada and Surrealist master Max Ernst’s long and incredible career.

Via the Guggenheim

15. Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue
October 6, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Chinese Contemporary Art has risen in the art world in recent years, and its growth is explored in this museum-wide show. Chinese experimental art from 1989 to 2008, framed by the geopolitical dynamics attending the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization and the rise of China give visitors a peek into Chinese artists’ motivations.

Via Public Art Fund

16. Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Oct 12, 2017 – February 11, 2018
The ambitious Weiwei takes inspiration from the current international migration crisis and tense sociopolitical battles surrounding the issue in the United States and worldwide, using the fence as an artistic symbol. The artist will construct fences throughout recognizable corners of the city- in bus shelters, parks, retail spots, and transportation hubs.

Via Arts Brookfield

17. Canstruction
Brookfield Place New York, 230 Vesey Street
November 2, 2017 – November 15, 2017

Each year, 25 teams of architects, engineers, and contractors are challenged to create the most over-the-top sculptures using unopened cans of food, which are they lovingly donated to City Harvest. Check out the contestants and winners every day inside Brookfield Place.

“Red Cube” adjacent to the Marine Midland Building, c. 1970. Photo by Edmund Vincent Gillon. Museum of the City of New York

18. Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art in New York
Museum of the City of New York
Opens November 10
Marking the 40th anniversary of the Public Art Fund, this exhibit looks back at how, in the late 1960s, “public art” went from war memorials and civic-minded murals to works that “embraced the individual artist’s voice and vision in the public realm.” The show features renderings, models, photographs, and video footage of hundreds of works that have been created since, from artists such as Kara Walker, Red Grooms, Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Via the Met

19. Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue
November 13, 2017– February 12, 2018

This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition focuses on the 15th Century master, known by his contemporaries as Il Divino (the divine one) for his mastery. The exhibition will be a true treat of Michelangelo’s works together for the first time: 150 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, as well as a substantial body of complementary works by other artists for comparison and context.

Erwin Redl, Proposal for Whiteout, 2017. Steel and animated white LEDs, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. © Erwin Redl

20. Erwin Redl, “Whiteout”
Madison Square Park, 23rd Street and Madison Avenue
November 16, 2017 – April 15, 2018

The crispness of winter will be accentuated this November in Madison Square Park, with Redl’s sea of LED-clad orbs that will seem to float in a grid above the park’s grassy knolls. The lights will illuminate the dark winter with a computer-generated undulating wave pattern that will pass over the suspended spheres like waves.


Lori Zimmer is a writer, curator, and founder of Art Nerd New York, an off-beat art history guide to the city. Lori is also the author of two books, The Art of Cardboard: Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse and The Art of Spray Paint. Follow her on Twitter @ArtNer

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