The holiday season is a time of relaxation and retrospect. No matter your tradition, we at Hyperallergic hope you get some time to recharge and value what matters most. If you’re looking for something to see, New York is still thriving with activities at museums and galleries across the boroughs. Our highlights for December include art made during the first stock market crash, a homage to feline friends, and the 10-year anniversary of a crucial public art initiative. See you in 2023!
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Shandaken Projects: 10th Anniversary Benefit Exhibition
Shandaken Projects first formed as an artists’ defense against art-market woes and rapid gentrification. Since 2012, they have worked to build sustainable studio spaces and implement free public programs, including billboard initiatives, printmaking workshops, and residencies at Storm King Art Center. Their 10-year anniversary show is therefore a cause for celebration, with all proceeds going toward next year’s programming. More than 140 mixed-media works are on display from alumni of all ages, charting the trajectory of a young institution with a bright future.
Shandaken Projects (shandakenprojects.org)
Building 9, Governors Island
Through December 14
Marjolijn De Wit: Sorry for the Damage
With all the attention to art-world fossil fuel investments, Marjolijn De Wit’s latest series should both charm and frustrate. Sorry for the Damage turns elite apologia inside out, bringing together symbols of wealth and gorgeous nature scenes. Butterflies, diamonds, and plated dinners flutter and float in heavily wooded environments — all of which were accomplished by juxtaposing advertisements and editorial photographs from National Graphic magazines. Here, De Wit exposes the true value of what we produce, and how many must suffer on its behalf.
Asya Geisberg Gallery (asyageisberggallery.com)
537 West 23rd Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through December 17
Tom Uttech: Headwinds on Windigoostigwan
Rather than claim the wilderness as his own, 80-year-old painter Tom Uttech presents it as is. Uttech captures what he calls the “tranquil ecstasy” of Ojibwe lands now known as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. But while ownership was forcibly changed, many of its protectors remain — the swirling night sky, solitary bears, and running rivers. Presented in handmade wood-grain frames, Uttech brings out the subtle hues of the region he knows best, and encourages us to reflect on the meaning of home.
Alexandre Gallery (alexandregallery.com)
291 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through December 22
Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo: Earth & Iron: Archival Visions of Land and Struggle
Sophia-Yemisi Adeyemo presents the colonized memory as a fractional space, using a cut-up method to accentuate the gaps. Based on 20th-century photography from West Africa and the Caribbean, Adeyemo’s sparse paintings and sculptures render scenes of subjection into fragments of guerrilla fugitivity. Machetes and assault rifles are camouflaged by flora and fauna, punctuated with portraits of Black and Indigenous families staring directly at the viewer. Against the sterile white walls, Adeyemo presents a salon of insurrection that meets the colonial gaze head-on.
647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Through December 23
Even a Cat Can Look at the Queen
Cats have never really been known to follow orders. Rather, their lack of discipline is part of their mystique. Accordingly, a new group show at Mrs. draws from a long tradition of trying and failing to impose our will on feline disobedience. Sculptures of black cats hearken to ancient Egyptian renderings of the deity Bastet, while paintings made with litter and furniture reference the many (many) domestic sacrifices we make for them. Presented together, the 39 artists of Even a Cat Can Look at the Queen show that total control is an illusion — a valuable lesson to us all.
60-40 56th Drive, Maspeth, Queens
Through January 7, 2023
Close Enough: New Perspectives from 12 Women Photographers of Magnum
The ICP’s latest group exhibition surveys women’s contributions to Magnum Photos around the world, highlighting 12 contemporaries across three generations. Sabiha Çimen’s playful portraits of Muslim matriarchs appear alongside Alessandra Sanguinetti’s documentation of the aging process in rural Argentina. Meanwhile, Susan Meiselas’s images of abused British women reveal the innate violence within patriarchal society. As Magnum undergoes a significant reappraisal of its archives, Close Enough is a step forward in amending historical oversights.
International Center of Photography (icp.org)
79 Essex Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through January 9, 2023
Grace Nkem: Images Will Talk
Grace Nkem’s vigorous compositions present a culture in flux. Ancient artifacts and human remains are depicted within European cloisters, hinting at repatriation. Meanwhile, a White man displaying a Black woman’s portrait as a “trophy” signals legacies of colonialism at a time of heightened repatriation. Yet the ghosts and skeletons that appear throughout stand as dutiful watchers from beyond the grave. Presented in a Flatbush townhouse, Images Will Talk admirably redirects surrealism toward its roots in the Global South.
Gallery Particulier (galleryparticulier.org)
281 Maple Street, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn
December 7, 2022–January 23, 2023
Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces
In the 1970s and ’80s, Just Above Midtown (JAM) was the place to find experimental art in the neighborhood where MoMA stands today. As such, this new retrospective deconstructs the Manhattan gallery’s history. Founded by filmmaker Linda Goode Bryant, JAM became foundational for people of color working across generations and disciplines — and often presented emerging with established artists. Bringing together posters and photographs with works by Howardena Pindell, David Hammons, and Lorraine O’Grady, Just Above Midtown honors the thriving social scene that produced many of today’s beloved artists.
The Museum of Modern Art (moma.org)
11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Through February 18, 2023
Maryna Bilak: CARE
Maryna Bilak’s art expresses the all-encompassing nature of Alzheimer’s, from its effects on the patient to the pain it causes loved ones. Bilak’s latest exhibition, CARE, is dedicated to her late mother-in-law, Dorothy, and her experience as a young parent. Frescoes of facial features hint at how the disease wears away at our memories, while plaster sculptures assembled with Dorothy’s own fabrics and furniture recreate the domestic spaces she once occupied. On display within a Jewish retirement community, Bilak’s exhibition takes us on a journey from grief to healing, and shows how art helps us cross that threshold.
Derfner Judaica Museum (riverspringliving.org)
5901 Palisade Avenue, North Riverdale, The Bronx
Through February 19, 2023
Fortune and Folly in 1720
The dangers of market volatility have long inspired artists to spoof the capitalist class in myriad ways. For that reason, the New York Public Library takes us back to December 1720, when the first investing bubble burst. Colorful paintings, drawings, graphic designs, and printed ephemera signal the sheer panic on public display — and the glee artists took in satirizing it all. Sluggish shareholders float lackadaisically on a boat captained by the devil. A personification of greed tries to “overtake or to outrun” that of fortune, embodying a foremost market temptation. Through it all, ordinary working people are shown swept up in the pandemonium. For our age of NFTs and other crypto scams, Fortune and Folly shows how history can both rhyme and repeat.
New York Public Library (nypl.org)
476 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
Through February 19, 2023
Editor’s Note, 12/6/2022, 1:12pm EST: An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Grace Nkem’s exhibition. This has been corrected.