The flowers are finally blooming, spring is in the air, and there are tons of awesome art exhibits popping up all over the city. Although we recently highlighted some amazing art day trips from New York City, there is always art at our doorstep that we should take advantage of, so we’ve rounded up 10 terrific exhibits and events that will not last long. So take an extra long lunch break or sneak out of work early to catch these temporary shows that are all worth a visit.
New York Historical Society
Charlie Wagner tattooing Millie Hull, 1939; Image courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.
We think of 1960s, ’70s and ’80s New York City as a freewheeling island of individuality and an alternative lifestyle haven, but the practice of body tattooing–more popular throughout history than many realize–was banned from 1961 until 1997. The ban was blamed on a Hepatitis B outbreak but could have had its origins in a number of things from a pre-World’s Fair crackdown to a health inspector’s personal vendetta. “Tattooed New York,” a current exhibition at the New-York Historical Society traces the practice of tattooing from its use among Native American tribes through its history with sailors, trendy victorian ladies and more recent ink aficionados. One of the more fascinating detours of that history tells of how the scene changed with the ban, when NYC’s tattoo artists set up private shops in their apartments.
A couple weeks ago, a long list of artists, including Cindy Sherman and Richard Serra, started a petition calling for cultural institutions to close on Inauguration Day as “an act of noncompliance” against “Trumpism.” That list has grown to 740 artists and critics, and many galleries, museums, and academic spaces will shut their doors tomorrow according to the J20 Art Strike. But there’s also a long list of museums and cultural institutions across the city that have decided to take an alternate approach and remain open, offering free admission and/or special programming. From a marathon reading of Langston Hughes’s”Let America Be America Again” at the Brooklyn Museum to special gallery tours at the Rubin, these are all the (free!) ways to use the arts as an outlet on Inauguration Day.
Among the more positive things to emerge from the 2016 election was the very visible outpour of love and solidarity by New Yorkers, who not only took to the streets together to stand up for what they believe in, but without inhibition expressed their anger, fears, hopes and words of comfort for one another on colorful Post-Its stretched along the 14th Street-6th/7th Avenue subway corridor. Recognizing the historic nature of this spontaneous art movement, Governor Cuomo announced this morning that the New-York Historical Society will partner with the MTA to preserve some of the thousands of “Subway Therapy” sticky notes that have materialized over the last weeks.
After living in art world limbo for more than a year, Pablo Picasso’s largest creation has finally found a new home in the city. The 20-by-19-foot painting, called Le Tricorne, has been moved to the New-York Historical Society site along Central Park West, and will be available for your viewing pleasure starting May 29th.
As urbanists we tend to define the city by locations and the historic events that unfolded at them. But what about getting even more specific and looking at New York’s past through tangible objects? That’s exactly what New York Times urban affairs correspondent Sam Roberts has assembled in a new book, A History of New York in 101 Objects. And a corresponding exhibit at the New York Historical Society puts Roberts’ choices, along with objects from the Society’s collection, on view.
We were so intrigued by this idea that we decided to put together a 6sqft version of the list. From preservationists to architects to real estate brokers, we’ve asked ten people to give us the ten objects that they feel best define New York City’s history. There are definitely some favorites that emerged like cobblestones, Metrocards, and pizza, as well as an eclectic mix of items that speak to our participants’ personal connections to New York.