Even with New York City’s constantly-full calendar of art events, this weekend is packed with shows, activities and sights for the whole family to enjoy. Check out the Festival of New Ideas around the New Museum, plus their Condo show ending this weekend, and see a new public sculpture by sculptor Jaume Plensa.

We’ve picked out a few events from the lineup and detailed them below. Can’t choose between them? You’re definitely not alone.

Festival of New Ideas

Festival of New Ideas StreetFest rendering (image via artinfo.com)

All around the Bowery this weekend, you’ll probably run into the Festival of New Ideas without even knowing it. Tonight, David Byrne moderates a panel of speakers on “The Sustainable City” at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, tickets are $10. A Bowery street festival on Saturday will feature local vendors and art spaces, not to mention an architectural design by Playlab that resembles an adult version of Chuck E. Cheese’s (seen above).

Saturday night, an international bunch of artists will take over Mulberry Street for “Nuit Blanche New York,” bringing art into the alleyways while NYU’s Grey Gallery (100 Washington Square East) shows documentary clips of downtown New York in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Saturday evening will also mark the completion of the “After Hours” murals on Bowery street, a project that saw artists like Lawrence Weiner and Mary Heilmann create murals for the pull-down metal shutters of restaurant supply stores. Find the ridiculously large full schedule for the Festival here.

Public Sculpture

Jaume Plensa’s “Echo” (image via huffingtonpost.com)

This past Thursday, an enormous head made its home in Madison Square Park. The mammoth public work by sculptor Jaume Plensa is a vertically stretched face, ghostly white and eerily serene, seeming to floating above and beyond its audience stuck on the ground. The work’s subject is no ghost, though. It’s a portrait of a 9-year old girl from Plensa’s Barcelona neighborhood. At night, the work’s paleness makes it stand out, illuminated by spotlights (see some photos at DNAinfo).

Perhaps best known in America for his video-fountains in Chicago’s Millennium Park, now New York City can claim some of Plensa’s work as well. The New York Times has an article about the artist plus a slideshow of some of Plensa’s other work, while Huffington Post has a ginormous photo.

  • The sculpture will remain installed through August 14.

Exhibitions to See

George Condo’s New Museum retrospective (photo by author)

If you’re behind on your exhibition viewing, this is definitely the weekend to catch up. Among the most pressing engagements is the fact that the New Museum’s George Condo retrospective George Condo: Mental States is closing this Sunday. The show has made some big waves critically and is widely accepted as a new watershed moment for the artist, so check this out and you’ll know what everyone’s referring to in the next few years when they talk about that wall of portraits (also see my photo essay of the exhibition).

In the meantime, the Museum of Modern Art is just opening a retrospective of Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, a fascinating conceptualist who lives and works in Mexico City. That exhibition looks to be a killer as well; Alÿs is long overdue for a major show. In Brooklyn news, painter Matthew Miller’s solo show the magic black of an open barn door on a really sunny summer day,
when you just cannot see into it
at Famous Accountants gallery in Bushwick got favorably reviewed by Ken Johnson in the New York Times. Shouldn’t you check out those striking self portraits as well? The show runs through June 5, at 1673 Gates Avenue, Bushwick, between St. Nicholas and Cypress. Do note that the gallery is only open on Sundays, from 1-6 pm.

Well? What are you waiting for? You need to get a jump on this stuff!

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...