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Portrait grave marker by Oscar Blake, Saco Marble Works, Saco, Maine (1860–80), marble, 10 x 8 x 4 in. The sculpture is on view in Securing the Shadow at the American Folk Art Museum. (courtesy Saco Museum, Maine, photo by Ellen McDermott)

This week, we present a special edition of ArtRx NYC celebrating some of the countless cultural happenings organized around Halloween. From a procession of puppet ghouls to art talks in a 19th-century fort, there is something spooky for every soul.

 Jazz and Paintings of the Dead

When: Wednesday, October 26, 2–3pm
Where: American Folk Art Museum (2 Lincoln Square, Upper West Side, Manhattan)

Alongside the American Folk Art Museum’s Securing the Shadow, the Bill Wurtzel Trio is staging weekly Wednesday concerts that respond to the exhibition’s theme of mortality. With paintings of the departed from the 19th century, daguerreotype photographs of the dead, and marble tombstones, the exhibition considers posthumous portraiture in the US in all its forms, particularly as a medium for preserving memory, no matter how brief the life. As a bonus, you can contribute your own ephemeral epitaph on a slate tombstone presented by artist Joyce Burstein.

 Beat Nite Greenpoint

When: Friday, October 28, 6–9pm
Where: Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Looking for some respite from the dark and macabre? Hit the streets this Friday for Beat Nite Greenpoint — a collaboration between Norte Maar and Greenpoint Gallery Night. A total of 10 art spaces will be open late, including Clayspace, Calico, and Kayrock Screenprinting. Download the map and make your own stops, or hop on the Beat Nite Bus for a door-to door tour (tickets can be purchased here). The evening will end with an afterparty at the Brooklyn Bazaar, because you must celebrate our time together before you’re a posthumous portraiture candidate.


When: Friday, October 28, 8:30pm–12:30am
Where: Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53 Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

As part of its ongoing young audience-oriented PopRally programming, the Museum of Modern Art is hosting a ghastly gathering around a screening of the 1973 film The Exorcist. Trivia is planned, and costumes are encouraged, so get your blood-splattered nightgown or priest collar and crucifix ready for an evening of cinematic demonic possession.

The Procession of the Ghouls at Saint John the Divine (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

 Procession of the Ghouls

When: Friday, October 28, 7-9pm; 10–11:55pm
Where: The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, Morningside Heights, Manhattan)

One of the best annual All Hallows’ Eve experiences is the march of the puppet ghouls from Ralph Lee’s Mettawee River Theater Company through the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The Halloween Extravaganza has two sessions, one starting at 7pm and the other at 10pm, both preceded by a screening of the 1920 silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with accompaniment from the Cathedral’s pipe organ. The puppet artist Ralph Lee also launched the Village Halloween Parade, so his phantasmic creations are worth the trip alone, and don’t miss his gargantuan spider creeping on the Rose Window.

 Dark Arts in a 19th-Century Fort

When: Saturday, October 29, 8–10pm
Where: Fort Wadsworth (210 New York Avenue, Staten Island)

Bring a flashlight to witness this coven of speakers discussing the darker side of culture at Staten Island’s Fort Tompkins. Presented by the Alice Austen House with the Morbid Anatomy Museum, the evening features Harold Schechter on dark tourism at serial killer sites, Corinne May Botz on her photographs of miniature mid-century crime scene models, Pam Grossman on female magic in Western art, and Ronni Thomas on the tale of Carl von Cosel, the man who loved a corpse. Linger after for a cocktail party at the Alice Austen House, which should be phantasmagoric by the night light of the New York Harbor.

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx at sunset (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

 Illuminated Mausoleums

When: Sunday, October 30, 7pm; 8pm; 9pm; 10pm
Where: Woodlawn Cemetery (4199 Webster Avenue, The Bronx)

Woodlawn Cemetery is illuminating some of its 1,300 mausoleums that act as the final resting places of New York City’s most famous dead, from the Woolworths to the Strauses, and constructed by architects like McKim, Mead & White and John Russell Pope. The interior lights will cast a glow through the mausoleum stained glass, some of it designed by Tiffany & Co., and provide an atmospheric setting for tours on the cultural and social history of the burial ground.

 Scarecrows: From the Heartland to Horror

When: Closes Sunday, October 30
Where: New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx)

Whether friendly companion to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, or Batman comic book villain, the American scarecrow has taken on numerous cultural roles, aside from its intended use of frightening away pesky crows. Sculptor Ray Villafane created an installation of 30 scarecrows formed from natural materials at the New York Botanical Garden, each exploring some aspect of the scarecrow’s connection to the heartland or horror. Stop by on one of the kid-friendly Scarecrow Nights to see the outdoor exhibition come alive with performances and illuminations.

 Macabre Greenwich Village

When: Sunday, October 30, 11am–12:30pm
Where: Historic Greenwich Village (Manhattan)

This spectral walking tour from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation concentrates on the overlooked macabre history of the neighborhood. Using the built environment and its historic architecture as a guide, the walk will wind by the home of Edgar Allan Poe, a hangman’s house, the infamous Newgate prison, and a 19th-century graveyard.

A contemporary salt print by Hal Hirshorn reimagining the funeral of Seabury Tredwell (courtesy the artist and the Merchant’s House Museum)

 Crypt Tales and Coffin Selfies

When: Monday, October 31, 7pm
Where: Merchant’s House Museum (29 East Fourth Street, Bowery, Manhattan)

The 1832 Merchant’s House Museum proudly claims its title as “Manhattan’s most haunted house,” and this month it’s hosting a series of “spirited” events. On view you can find a mourning dress from the Tredwell family that once inhabited the Bowery home, as well as a 19th-century coffin in which you’re welcome to create your own “postmortem” photograph, if you dare. It all culminates on Halloween itself, when there will be dramatic readings from Gothic literature and ghostly tales in the front parlor, decked out in black crepe and presided over by the casket of Seabury Tredwell.

Cornelia Parker, “Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)” on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

 Last Chance: PsychoBarn

When: Closes Monday, October 31
Where : Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

Cornelia Parker’s dual tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and Edward Hopper fittingly ends its haunting of the Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop on Halloween. The Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) house, built from salvaged barn wood, is a two-thirds scale reconstruction of the Bates home from the 1960 film Psycho.  At the same time, it hints at the eerie emptiness of Edward Hopper’s paintings of old American homes, like his 1925 canvas “House by the Railroad” at MoMA, also worth a Halloween visit.

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...