The dog days of summer are quickly approaching, and New York’s art spaces are providing some welcome respite. As we ride out a prolonged heat wave, some exhibitions are embracing the casual calm of the city in late summer, with others reminding us to stay focused on the political challenges ahead. Our highlights for August include excavations of feminist surrealism, retrospectives dedicated to underground legends, and contemporary perspectives on print media. Stay cool out there, y’all.
Portia Munson: Bound Angel
When: through August 19
Where: P·P·O·W Gallery (392 Broadway, Tribeca, Manhattan)
Portia Munson’s latest solo show at PPOW is a delightful smorgasbord of high-femme ephemera. Installations, sculptures, and drawings explore the artist’s preoccupation with kink, introversion, nihilism, and romance. Drenched in shades of white and hot pink, Munson’s angels are bound not just by rope but also a deep desire to carve out a heaven of their own making.
Ignacio Gatica, Mariana Parisca, and Gabriella Torres-Ferrer: Money Has No Smell
When: through September 2
Where: CUE Art Foundation (137 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
At CUE Art Foundation, three Latin American artists explore the meaning of currency in Chile, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. Tropical fruits appear hardwired, while bank vaults radiate warm neon from behind cold steel doors. Rather than portraying an exchange for goods, Gatica, Parisca, and Torres-Ferrer depict money as inherently ideological and extractive, revealing how exploitation is always present even when not detectable.
A Few Small Nips
When: through August 12
Where: Mrs. (60-40 56th Drive, Maspeth, Queens)
The latest group exhibition at Mrs. aims to confront our surreal reality. Referencing Frida Kahlo’s 1935 painting of the same name, A Few Small Nips addresses the performance of womanhood, from the subtle disguises women wear to the social construction of female gender identity. Drawing from mid-century Surrealism, nine artists explore internal and external pressures forced on them — from beauty branding to political violence and religious fundamentalism — reimagining femininity as a realm where anything is possible.
Unfolding Forms: Multiple Approaches to the Book
When: through August 21
Where: Miriam Gallery (319 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
In recent years, art book criticism has shifted to embrace analyses of the physical object itself. From photo monographs to chapbooks and zines, print has become an auxiliary format to the ideas presented within, leading artists to experiment with physical distribution. Miriam Gallery’s new group exhibition visualizes this critique in a series of contemporary artist-made books, showing how online and social media has influenced perspectives around self-promotion.
Azikiwe Mohammed: Forever Is Twice As Long From The Ground
When: through August 19
Where: Anna Zorina Gallery (532 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)
For Azikiwe Mohammed, the last two years have proven the limits of working for change from within the system. In his immersive new exhibition, the mixed-media artist carves out space for people of color to exist autonomously. Gorgeous paintings on wooden boards appear on the wall and are folded into standing human forms across Anna Zorina Gallery, with LED fixtures illuminating their technicolor palettes. Dreamy and defiant, Forever Is Twice As Long From The Ground aims to radicalize rather than lead to despair.
Vincent Namatjira, Kaylene Whiskey, and Tiger Yaltangki: Iwantja Rock n Roll
When: through August 20
Where: Fort Gansevoort (5 Ninth Avenue, West Village, Manhattan)
Fort Gansevoort’s latest group exhibition brings together three artists from Iwantja Arts, one of 11 Indigenous-owned Aboriginal arts centers on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands. Following their online exhibition last year, Namatjira, Whiskey, and Yatangki blend brightly colored Indulkana symbolism with British and American iconography, referencing Western influence in Australia and the joys of spoofing the oppressor.
The Tale Their Terror Tells
When: through August 12
Where: Lyles & King (21 Catherine Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)
Climate change isn’t a monolithic disaster. As we have seen, its effects manifest in myriad ways at different times all over the world. As such, Lyles & King’s diverse group show provides some concrete examples, fusing ecology with horror. Broken, dead trees impale bodily forms as dark, polluted ravines fester on the gallery walls. Curated by Geena Brown and Lauren Guilford from more than 20 mixed-media artists, The Tale Their Terror Tells insists that symptoms of our self-inflicted apocalypse are already evident, and that art can help us interpret the signs.
Zoë Buckman and Vanessa German: We Flew Over the Wild Winds of Wild Fires
When: through September 18
Where: MOTHER Beacon (1154 North Avenue, Beacon, New York)
Zoë Buckman and Vanessa German are all too familiar with mainstream media’s disregard for non-White and queer people. As such, their latest exhibition at MOTHER Gallery’s upstate outpost is a study of political resilience. German’s sculptures and paintings play on racialized stereotypes and depict Black women over pages of the United States Constitution, complementing Buckman’s meditative and propagandistic tapestries. Focusing on oppression within the imperial core, the artists establish common ground in collective forms of refusal and survival.
Honor Titus: Spotlight
When: through August 12
Where: FLAG Art Foundation (545 West 25th Street, 9th Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan)
FLAG Art Foundation’s current Spotlight show features a new large-scale painting by artist and musician Honor Titus. Balancing a love of elegance with class consciousness, Titus strives for beauty in increasingly tenuous social conditions. Portraits substitute faces for flowers, heightening style over identity, or otherwise convey highly personalized scenes of love and friendship. Interchanging intimacy and anonymity, Titus’s work focuses on fractured personal relations, yearning for a past that perhaps never existed.
Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity
When: through December 31
Where: Asia Society Museum (725 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan)
Asia Society’s latest group exhibition explores an up-and-coming generation of artists who came of age during the liberalization of China’s economy. Unlike their predecessors, these seven young conceptualists move beyond traditional Chinese motifs to critique the fast-paced changes experienced in their lifetime so far. Sculptures, video installations, and photographic works confront Western corporate infiltration while ruminating on queerness and censorship, revealing forms of self-reflection that elide concrete definition.
Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars
When: through March 4, 2023
Where: New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, Manhattan)
Lou Reed passed away in 2013, but archivists are still studying the mark he left on New York’s counterculture. The late art-rock icon is receiving his first-ever retrospective exhibition at the New York Public Library, pairing with the release of rare tracks (including particularly lovely 1965 demos of “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Heroin”). Archival materials from the Velvet Underground years are on display with seldom-seen photographs and sound art installations featuring his most controversial recordings, exemplifying how his work still provokes artists today.
Jamel Shabazz: Eyes on the Street
When: through September 4
Where: Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx)
Jamel Shabazz is among the most iconic street photographers New York City has ever known. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Shabazz has captured the innocence and joy of the borough’s Black communities since the 1980s, creating portraits that continue to resonate for their candid charm. His latest retrospective at the Bronx Museum is one of the largest collections of his photographs to be displayed, providing a bit of healing to a blistering summer.
Editor’s Note, 8/4/2022, 6:32pm EDT: An earlier version of this guide incorrectly stated the number of works on view in Honor Titus: Spotlight. This has been corrected.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
Artists Show What They Can Do With a Google Phone’s Camera
Works by 21 photographers are now on view in Manhattan for the seventh season and 100th project coming out of the Google Pixel Creator Labs.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Met Museum Kicked Me Out for Praying to My Ancestral Gods
My danced prayer to looted Cambodian antiquities was too much for the New York museum.
A Museum Guard’s Ode to the Healing Power of Art
In All the Beauty in the World, Patrick Bringley revisits the many ways that art meets life, and life art, and how death is often the bridge between them.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
UK Extends Export Ban on Coveted “Portrait of Omai”
London’s National Portrait Gallery was given a few months to acquire the work, which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to the UK.
The Sculptor Making Art With Loved Ones’ Ashes
Inspired by the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian Stair’s exhibition honors the lives of eight people with cinerary jars.
Mondays at Pratt Institute: Weekly Openings of Work by Graduating Artists
Free and open to the public, Pratt Shows celebrate the school’s graduating students. MFA and BFA work on view this spring in Brooklyn, New York.
Art Institute of Chicago Under Scrutiny Over Sacred Nepali Necklace
The 17th-century object remains on display at the Chicago museum despite Nepal’s calls for repatriation.
Art Problems: How Do I Get a Public Art Commission?
Want to leave a mark on your city or town, but don’t know where to start? Paddy Johnson has some tips.