We spent a day exploring galleries on the Lower East Side, and we found three shows worth checking out for #YourArtWeekend. Doughnuts, cocktails and map included. Update: the three exhibitions featured in this post all closed in early October. To stay updated on what's going on right now, sign up for our #YourArtWeekend newsletter here.
THE ART /
Not that long ago, the Lower East Side gallery scene was barely a scene at all. In the past fifteen years or so, though, exciting new galleries have proliferated in the former tenement neighborhood, bringing tons of great art with them. It’s worth putting up with the icy receptionists and the occasional flop of a show to see some seriously good art in more intimate and surprising environments than the city’s big museums offer. We’ve done some scouting and want to share some of our favorite shows up right now.
Sperone Westwater, at 257 Bowery, features “Everton,” an especially impressive solo exhibition by the Swiss artist Not Vital. On the ground floor you’ll find several massive stainless steel sculptures in the shape of human heads. The shiny sculptures are uniform in their dark gray color, and as tall as the people walking around them. If these heads weren’t so futuristic and alien, they could almost be archaeological -- ready to be discovered deep in some Central American jungle, maybe. On the second floor there are a series of paintings of featureless faces (on a much smaller scale than the steel ones downstairs) that share with their massive 3D neighbors a kind of primal fascination with the shape of the human head.
The Thierry Goldberg Gallery, on 103 Norfolk Street, is showing an exhibit of David Kramer’s work called “Summer Rental,” which captures both life in New York City and our attempts to escape the crowded city during the hot summer. In the middle of the gallery Kramer has installed a large wooden sculpture of a summer cottage’s front porch, beer cooler and all. His colorful paintings -- of city skylines, summer landscapes, and vacation-evoking subjects like lobsters and palm trees -- all feature text that highlights our barely repressed desire to abandon our responsibilities and get out of here one of these days.
A few blocks to the south, on Hester Street, Lu Magnus is showing “Spirit Girls,” a solo exhibition from Brooklyn’s Kristen Schiele. Schiele’s vibrant, colorful and dreamlike images evoke a kind of future urban space, a neon sensory overload that manages to be more fun than dystopian.
Of course, these are just three of the hundred or so galleries in the neighborhood. The best part of spending a day checking out art in galleries is how flexible your plan can be, multiplying your opportunities for finding something new -- a new artist, a new idea, a new space. So don’t rule out pop-ins, quick exits, audibles, and lost hours in front of a single painting. Your art weekend is yours for a reason.
WHAT TO DO AFTER (OR DURING) /
The Doughnut Plant, on Grand Street, is a perfect place to stop for a snack. They’ve got gourmet doughnuts of every possible (and a few seemingly impossible) flavors. You’ll never want to touch a Krispy Kreme again. And a drink at Schiller’s Liquor Bar, at the corner of Rivington and Norfolk Streets, is a great way to cap an afternoon of gallery-hopping. It’s a classic LES bar with a relaxed Parisian look, a friendly atmosphere and an excellent drink menu -- our favorite was the Rockaway, a refreshing gin cocktail.