The Art Gallery Crawl: A Secret Alternative To Art Museums In New York City

I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

We’ve made no bones about the fact that this blog keeps us pretty busy. But every once in a while someone cancels or plans fall through and we find ourselves with an opening in our otherwise overpacked schedule. So, what do we do when we have some time to kill? Well, we turn to a tried-and-true solution, one that requires no tricky reservations or extensive planning. And one that happens to be the best kept pseudo-secret in town: an art gallery crawl. Oh, and the cherry on top? It won’t cost you a dime.
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To Infinity and Beyond: Yayoi Kusama’s Festival of Life at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City

Why on earth would a nocturnal creature such as myself wake up at an uncivilized hour on a frigidly cold Saturday morning in November just to stand on line for nearly two hours–and not just any line but a discouragingly gargantuan queue that appeared to stretch into infinity? A fair question. And the answer is quite simple: when you have the opportunity to see recent works from an artist of Yayoi Kusama’s caliber, whose contributions have been essential to some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th Century, you dig deep. You pull on your big boy pants and wrap yourself in a puffer jacket. You fill a thermos with strong coffee. And you get moving.

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Chasing Rainbows at the Bushwick Collective: The Ultimate Street Art Destination in New York City

I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

If you’re a fan of street art, then you’re in luck.  There’s no shortage of it here in New York City, and all you have to do is keep your eyes open.  (Judging by how regularly people bump into me on a sidewalk, this doesn’t seem to be as regular a practice as you might think.)  Thanks to its temporary nature, graffiti is both a literal and figurative fresh coat of paint — blanketing the city with different images, styles and personalities on a regular basis.  

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A Marriage of Tradition and Modernity: Yoshitomo Nara’s Thinker at Pace Gallery

I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

We’re big fans of the Ramones, so we excitedly trekked out to the Queens Museum last year for the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit.  (That post can be found here.)  As expected, we found a bounty of fantastic memorabilia on display.  But the exhibit also included amazing art from the likes of Sergio Aragones and Shepard Fairey.  In fact, this little gem graced the entrance:

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SPRING/BREAK Art Show during Armory Week

I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

You know that saying about opinions and how everybody has one? Let’s be honest, you can probably say the same about blogs. There are so many out there, from personal blogs to those run by corporations and news outlets. Standing out is a challenging task. I’ll admit that when I meet new people I balk at mentioning the blog. It’s a part of ourselves out there for public consumption, and each post is an exercise in acceptance and rejection. Giving someone immediate access to that puts us in a vulnerable position.

But blogs are simply one of the many vessels of self-expression. Artists, since inception, have dedicated their lives to it. Acceptance and rejection are woven into the fabric of their existence, because their desire to create supersedes everything.  

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Armory Week - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Artist: Michael Zelehoski

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Silence of the Music by OSGEMEOS at Lehmann Maupin

When you arrive at 2nd Avenue and 1st Street in the East Village of New York City, you’re met with a massive yellow figure climbing out of the wall, dressed in a turned-around cap and a track jacket,wielding a boombox.  It’s a tribute to the hip hop culture that heavily influenced the artists, Brazilian twins known artistically as OSGEMEOS.  The mural features one of their signature yellow characters which is meant to be racially neutral (in contrast with having to identify with one of the six preset emoji skin tones offered by WhatsApp), and it’s just one of the thoughtful concepts you’ll find at the duo’s exhibition, Silence of the Music, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea.

Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo are consistently included in group exhibitions featuring street artists, which is how they made their start the 1980s.   Like most other street artists, accessibility was a priority.  But it served a greater need in their home of Sao Paulo where economic disparity, violence, and drug use were common societal ills.  At Silence of the Music, it’s difficult not to find hope and cheer in the pure explosion of color contained within the rooms.

Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

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IKON by Nychos at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”  I believe we all have an innate desire to create — to produce something we can call our own, however big or small — whether we’re painting, baking a cake, taking a photograph, or writing.  Every now and again an artist is able to hone his or her craft to the point of achieving a signature style, one so recognizable that it’s associated instantly with that individual.  Nychos, the Austrian illustrator and urban street artist, is fortunate to be one of those talents.

Nychos is well known and highly respected internationally, with multiple gallery shows and murals already under his belt at the tender age of 34.  He created Rabbit Eye Movement, a collective of international artists, which not only brings its members together but gives them agency and a permanent home in a gallery space in Vienna.  In his documentary “The Deepest Depths of the Burrow”, Nychos cements his commitment and support for the proliferation of art, propelling the motto “Travel to Paint, Paint to Travel” forward.  

Nychos IKON

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Cindy Sherman at Metro Pictures Gallery

Cindy Sherman is the definition of a controversial artist — which, according to some, makes her a true artist.  Some find her work distasteful, or lacking in depth, while others find her work inspiring, innovative and provocative.  Regardless of which side you find yourself on, her influence in the art world cannot be denied.  Cindy Sherman is an American artist who is best known for turning self-portraiture on its head.  She acts simultaneously as photographer and model, but her pieces are narratives within a scene, so she also fills the role of writer, creative director, set designer, costume designer and makeup artist.  Her collections might capture her likeness as movie actresses, or as historical figures, or as clowns.  She has employed prosthetics and masks to alter her appearance or as standalone props.  

In an age where selfies have propelled celebrity, Cindy Sherman appears to be the anti-selfie queen.  Although she takes photographs of herself, she has always maintained that she considers herself anonymous in her work.  The makeup and costumes transform her into a character, and after hundreds of works (which she prefers to leave untitled so that viewers can invent their own stories to suit the scene — perhaps even insert themselves in it), she is as much a mystery as ever.  

Cindy Sherman NYC

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Ibrahim El-Salahi: Alhambra at Salon 94

As we’ve established in previous posts, and will likely continue to demonstrate in the future, New York City is home to a staggering number of museums and cultural institutions, and they offer a virtually limitless number of exhibits and installations to appreciate.  While Chelsea has long been the heart of the city’s art scene, art publications like ArtNews and Artsy have been covering the migration of many art galleries to the Lower East Side now that the High Line and the Whitney Museum have ushered in exponential growth, and therefore, rising rents in Chelsea.  

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

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Not a Photo at The Hole

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This proverb is often used when discussing art (let’s admit it, usually when we see something we don’t enjoy).  Art appreciation truly is a subjective, personal experience.  We’ve definitely seen our fair share of pieces that have induced that squinty-eyed, cocked-head pose, with a virtual question mark poised neatly above our heads.  While we may not all agree on what constitutes art, whether it’s good or bad, or where it’s headed, we can (hopefully) agree that there’s an abundance of it and we’re better off for it.  We’ve featured street art as well as the more conventional kind found in museums here on the blog, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also talk about another way to access great art in the city: private galleries.

Although there have always been arguments about culture being only for the elite or art being corrupted by the super-rich, we (who are neither elite nor rich, much less super-rich!) have found no such barrier to entry, and we regularly enjoy visiting the multitude of galleries here in the city that have allowed us to get up close and personal with some stunning pieces of artwork.  For free.  There are bigger players like the Gagosian Gallery who have featured such heavy-hitters as Takashi Murakami and Roy Lichtenstein, but we submit that smaller galleries should not be overlooked. Gems can often be uncovered in these more experimental spaces.  Such was our experience recently when we visited the Not a Photo exhibition at The Hole.


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