The dog days of summer are quickly approaching, and New York’s art spaces are providing some welcome respite. As we ride out a prolonged heat wave, some exhibitions are embracing the casual calm of the city in late summer, with others reminding us to stay focused on the political challenges ahead. Our highlights for August include excavations of feminist surrealism, retrospectives dedicated to underground legends, and contemporary perspectives on print media. Stay cool out there, y’all.
When: through August 19
Where: P·P·O·W Gallery (392 Broadway, Tribeca, Manhattan)
Portia Munson’s latest solo show at PPOW is a delightful smorgasbord of high-femme ephemera. Installations, sculptures, and drawings explore the artist’s preoccupation with kink, introversion, nihilism, and romance. Drenched in shades of white and hot pink, Munson’s angels are bound not just by rope but also a deep desire to carve out a heaven of their own making.
When: through September 2
Where: CUE Art Foundation (137 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
At CUE Art Foundation, three Latin American artists explore the meaning of currency in Chile, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. Tropical fruits appear hardwired, while bank vaults radiate warm neon from behind cold steel doors. Rather than portraying an exchange for goods, Gatica, Parisca, and Torres-Ferrer depict money as inherently ideological and extractive, revealing how exploitation is always present even when not detectable.
When: through August 12
Where: Mrs. (60-40 56th Drive, Maspeth, Queens)
The latest group exhibition at Mrs. aims to confront our surreal reality. Referencing Frida Kahlo’s 1935 painting of the same name, A Few Small Nips addresses the performance of womanhood, from the subtle disguises women wear to the social construction of female gender identity. Drawing from mid-century Surrealism, nine artists explore internal and external pressures forced on them — from beauty branding to political violence and religious fundamentalism — reimagining femininity as a realm where anything is possible.
When: through August 21
Where: Miriam Gallery (319 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
In recent years, art book criticism has shifted to embrace analyses of the physical object itself. From photo monographs to chapbooks and zines, print has become an auxiliary format to the ideas presented within, leading artists to experiment with physical distribution. Miriam Gallery’s new group exhibition visualizes this critique in a series of contemporary artist-made books, showing how online and social media has influenced perspectives around self-promotion.
When: through August 19
Where: Anna Zorina Gallery (532 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
For Azikiwe Mohammed, the last two years have proven the limits of working for change from within the system. In his immersive new exhibition, the mixed-media artist carves out space for people of color to exist autonomously. Gorgeous paintings on wooden boards appear on the wall and are folded into standing human forms across Anna Zorina Gallery, with LED fixtures illuminating their technicolor palettes. Dreamy and defiant, Forever Is Twice As Long From The Ground aims to radicalize rather than lead to despair.
When: through August 20
Where: Fort Gansevoort (5 Ninth Avenue, West Village, Manhattan)
Fort Gansevoort’s latest group exhibition brings together three artists from Iwantja Arts, one of 11 Indigenous-owned Aboriginal arts centers on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands. Following their online exhibition last year, Namatjira, Whiskey, and Yatangki blend brightly colored Indulkana symbolism with British and American iconography, referencing Western influence in Australia and the joys of spoofing the oppressor.
When: through August 12
Where: Lyles & King (21 Catherine Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Climate change isn’t a monolithic disaster. As we have seen, its effects manifest in myriad ways at different times all over the world. As such, Lyles & King’s diverse group show provides some concrete examples, fusing ecology with horror. Broken, dead trees impale bodily forms as dark, polluted ravines fester on the gallery walls. Curated by Geena Brown and Lauren Guilford from more than 20 mixed-media artists, The Tale Their Terror Tells insists that symptoms of our self-inflicted apocalypse are already evident, and that art can help us interpret the signs.
When: through September 18
Where: MOTHER Beacon (1154 North Avenue, Beacon, New York)
Zoë Buckman and Vanessa German are all too familiar with mainstream media’s disregard for non-White and queer people. As such, their latest exhibition at MOTHER Gallery’s upstate outpost is a study of political resilience. German’s sculptures and paintings play on racialized stereotypes and depict Black women over pages of the United States Constitution, complementing Buckman’s meditative and propagandistic tapestries. Focusing on oppression within the imperial core, the artists establish common ground in collective forms of refusal and survival.
When: through August 12
Where: FLAG Art Foundation (545 West 25th Street, 9th Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan)
FLAG Art Foundation’s current Spotlight show features a new large-scale painting by artist and musician Honor Titus. Balancing a love of elegance with class consciousness, Titus strives for beauty in increasingly tenuous social conditions. Portraits substitute faces for flowers, heightening style over identity, or otherwise convey highly personalized scenes of love and friendship. Interchanging intimacy and anonymity, Titus’s work focuses on fractured personal relations, yearning for a past that perhaps never existed.
When: through December 31
Where: Asia Society Museum (725 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
Asia Society’s latest group exhibition explores an up-and-coming generation of artists who came of age during the liberalization of China’s economy. Unlike their predecessors, these seven young conceptualists move beyond traditional Chinese motifs to critique the fast-paced changes experienced in their lifetime so far. Sculptures, video installations, and photographic works confront Western corporate infiltration while ruminating on queerness and censorship, revealing forms of self-reflection that elide concrete definition.
When: through March 4, 2023
Where: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, Manhattan)
Lou Reed passed away in 2013, but archivists are still studying the mark he left on New York’s counterculture. The late art-rock icon is receiving his first-ever retrospective exhibition at the New York Public Library, pairing with the release of rare tracks (including particularly lovely 1965 demos of “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Heroin”). Archival materials from the Velvet Underground years are on display with seldom-seen photographs and sound art installations featuring his most controversial recordings, exemplifying how his work still provokes artists today.
When: through September 4
Where: Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx)
Jamel Shabazz is among the most iconic street photographers New York City has ever known. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Shabazz has captured the innocence and joy of the borough’s Black communities since the 1980s, creating portraits that continue to resonate for their candid charm. His latest retrospective at the Bronx Museum is one of the largest collections of his photographs to be displayed, providing a bit of healing to a blistering summer.
Editor’s Note, 8/4/2022, 6:32pm EDT: An earlier version of this guide incorrectly stated the number of works on view in Honor Titus: Spotlight. This has been corrected.