For the past few months, art, like everything else amid the pandemic, has largely had to be experienced outdoors. Fortunately, the Public Art Fund, always working in public space, was uniquely prepared for this moment. For their exhibition Art on the Grid, 50 artists created work reflecting on the pandemic, the ongoing protests against anti-Black racism, and themes of reconnection and renewal. The curators installed those works in over 500 bus shelters and 1,700 wifi kiosks around the five boroughs, transforming each display into a canvas.
Lingering at a bus stop generally indicates something has failed — my time management, the infrastructure of New York City transit — but I was surprisingly moved by Andrew Kuo’s “Ideal Map of New York City” (2020), which envisions New York not as a grid, but as a series of nested squares, mostly in pastels. Its legend, instead of indicating historical landmarks, pinpoints locations such as “where you can feel safe and be yourself at no emotional cost,” and “where every type of help is available to anyone who wants it.”
On a bus shelter near Cadman Plaza, the usual travel posters and ads for oat milk gave up their real estate to a person in a red cowboy hat, with a bob sharp enough to make knives jealous, carrying a lantern. An urban cowboy to light our way through coronavirus? Better. It was a painting, “Untitled” (2020) by Nina Chanel Abney.
Oto Gillen’s “Path, July 22, 2019,” (2020), is either the opening to a leafy cave, a portal to a new dimension, or perhaps just the inside of a tree. Decoding it on Grand Street was remarkably soothing.
Art on the Grid also features several artists with newly reopened exhibitions, like Jordan Casteel. I adore her portraits, but if you’re not ready to head back to a museum, you can improve your bus waiting experience with her portrait, “Minnesota” (2020), pictured here in Williamsburg. The subject’s eyes are hidden with a hat, but his concentration is palpable, his hunched position so familiar I felt a sympathetic back ache.
The exhibition is set to end on September 20, just as museums are beginning to reopen. I wish it would stick around. The work softens, just a little, our long waits, for the bus, for the pandemic to be over.
Public Art Fund’s 50 Artists: Art on the Grid continues through September 20 across the five boroughs. The exhibition was curated by Nicholas Baume, Daniel S. Palmer, and Katerina Stathopoulou. (You can find an interactive map at the link above.)
Arriving amid increased anti-Asian racism and continuing discourse about the inhumanity of its prison system, this documentary is a strong historical gut punch.
A “show within a show” at the Whitney Biennial pays homage to the visual and literary art of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose life was cut short through an act of brutal violence.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
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Social media persona Sad Beige Werner Herzog presents a seemingly endless array of sniffling tots stuffed into gray, brown, and tan knits.
A new Bronx location for the Universal Hip Hop Museum is set to open its doors in 2024.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
Researchers at the University of South Florida have created a tool that can potentially help hone human concentration through the creation of art with only the power of the mind.
The settlement comes after Tate prevented an artist who exposed sexual harassment by one of its largest donors from co-curating an exhibition.
Let’s be honest: On a best bathrooms list, no one wants to be number two.
Advocacy groups are pushing for a 5% royalty in resales, which would pertain even after the artist dies, in which case the funds would go to their estate.
This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.