As New York's bigwig art dealers flock to Miami for Art Basel, it's the perfect week to avoid the snobs and discover some new culture clubs. And while the South Beach crowd might be raving about Andy Warhol's 50 year-old paintings of cats (no seriously, this one will fetch upwards of $30,000), we like to think of our tastes as more three dimensional. Especially this month: whether styrofoam, craft paper, or performance art in boiler rooms, the city's experimental set is offering more than mere sketches. Here's your monthly planner.
December 1: DUMBO Gallery Openings
Brooklyn plays host to the art community tonight, and you should feel free to give her your coat -- you might be there awhile. Six new exhibits will be unveiled in the same building, giving you ample opportunity to explore the DUMBO art scene in one space. The residents at 111 Front Street include Giacobetti Paul Gallery, Amos Eno Gallery, and A.I.R. Gallery.
We recommend starting your visit upstairs, where Giacobetti will present dual installations by Cornelia Jensen and Rebecca Aidlin. While the sculptresses come from different schools of style, both employ exciting use of light and shadows -- Jensen's juxtaposition of styrofoam and fluorescent light might be found in the world's coolest college dorm, while Aidlin's wire and plaster sculptures seem to live more in the shadows of a cave. The collections, named "Structure + Light" and "Water," respectively, will open to the reception crowd from 6-9pm, and will remain on view through New Year's Eve.
December 6: School of Visual Arts
Once again, the city's most exciting artwork is coming not from hardened veterans, but from the fresh faces at SVA. The school's Westside Gallery (133-141 W. 21st Street) hosts "Elbow Room" beginning November 30, with an opening reception on Tuesday, December 6 from 5-7pm. The collection explores the boundaries between sculpture and painting through everyday materials like wood, paper, string and paint, and features the work of students in fine arts programs.
Rebecca Ward, an MFA candidate, will present work combining her skills as a painter -- most of her work is with acrylic and canvas -- and a sculptor, as she cuts, folds, and glues pieces of paper and cardboard into three dimensional shapes. Arts and crafts enthusiasts, eat your heart out.
December 17: Clifford Owens at PS1
This summer, New York artist Clifford Owens was granted a studio space at MoMA's PS1, where he created "performance scores": instructions for performance art that anyone, no matter how embarrassed, could perform. Every week, he would read the instructions out loud, and perform the pieces himself. And these were no chic gallery dates: Owens performed in PS1's boiler room, attic, and roof. On December 17, Owens will give a special performance, highlighting selected scores from his summer job, at 3pm.
The live performance promotes his ongoing exhibit, "Anthology," at PS 1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City), which includes photography, video, and live performance. Owens, who has long been considered the face of African American performance art, enlisted twenty six other performance artists to contribute their performance scores, many of whom created new pieces specifically for his exhibit. While the only time to catch Owens's performance is mid-December, "Anthology" will remain on view through March 12.
Ongoing: Whitney Museum
We know, we know. We weren't going to talk about paintings. But we can't resist reminding you about the most critically acclaimed museum exhibit in New York. When the Whitney decided to dig through its collection before its big move (it's slated to relocate to the Meatpacking District in 2015), it stumbled across some of the most breathtaking surrealist art of the 20th century. Its two month-old exhibit, "Real/Surreal," examines the tension and overlap between the Realism and Surrealism movements, with some twists and turns along the way. Favorite works include paintings by George Tooker, Edward Hopper, and Yves Tanguy, who combined his love for realist tradition with his wild imagination, creating bizarre new worlds in the process. The exhibit remains open through February 12.