If you thought your New York art calendar was going to slow down during the summer months, well, we hate to break it to you … Our list of must-see exhibitions in June features standout shows across the boroughs, including artworks made on book covers in Brooklyn, Chinese flower-and-bird paintings in Manhattan, and vanessa german’s reinterpretation of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. As with ice cream flavors, there’s something for everyone, so dig in and stay cool.

Toca La Sopa: Umbrales Infinitos

Fabric pennant banner by Pablo A. Medina and offering dedicated to Elegguá, the opener of pathways (photo by Victor Castro, courtesy Chinatown Soup)

Look up “Chino Latino” and most of the results will make your mouth water — the term is a popular descriptor for the Chinese-Cuban fusion restaurants that emerged everywhere from Havana to New York City starting in the mid-20th century. The convergence of Chinese and Cuban culinary traditions was accompanied by a parallel phenomenon in the visual, performance, and literary arts. This exhibition and event series at the arts and community center Chinatown Soup makes the case that the movement was under-studied, and seeks to redress this through presentations of dance, textile, photography, and more. — Valentina Di Liscia

Chinatown Soup (chinatownsoup.nyc)
16B Orchard Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through June 11

Madeline Hollander: Hydro Parade: Watercolors

Madeline Hollander, “Vessel Hopscotch #1 (Steps 1 – 18)” (2023), 33 x 25 1/2 inches (photo by Guang Xu, courtesy the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York)

When I first saw Madeline Hollander’s watercolors on view in a tranquil upstairs gallery at Bortolami, I didn’t know what I was looking at but I was completely transfixed — always a good sign. The delicate forms in some of these works, evocative of Rorschach inkblots or Rubin’s vases, are based on outlines of vessels housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where this month Hollander will stage three choreographic performances charting its various sources of water, from majestic fountains to unseen circuits deep in the earth. The artist made these watercolors, whose beauty belies a complex dance notation system, using water from a natural spring beneath the museum. — VD

Bortolami Gallery (bortolamigallery.com)
39 Walker Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through June 17

Library Group Show

Installation view of Library Group Show at Tappeto Volante Projects (photo by Masaki Hori, courtesy Tappeto Volante Projects)

Someone here at the office said the other day that the books you buy don’t represent who you are, but rather who you want to be. That’s something to think about when you visit this exhibition, in which a striking number of artists (136) make paintings on book covers. What’s more, the book-paintings are organized alphabetically on bookshelves, like a proper bookworm would do. What a lovely concept by this young Gowanus gallery and curator Glenn Goldberg. — Hakim Bishara

Tappeto Volante Projects (tvprojectspaceship.com)
126 13th St, Brooklyn
Through June 18

No Bios

Sofia Moreno, “Mascota” (2022), mixed media on paper, 12 x 9 inches.

In this simultaneously serious, lighthearted, and moving presentation curated by Isis Awad, the New York-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting the work of artists with HIV/AIDS looks introspectively, asking the question: “Does an exhibition need to be ‘about’ HIV and AIDS to make it ‘on mission’ for Visual AIDS?” The vast breadth of works in the show — from HIV-positive photographer D’Angelo Lovell Williams’s intimate self-portraits to the late artist and trans activist Chloe Dzubilo’s uncanny assemblages — offer a layered and nuanced response to this important query. — VD

No Bios (visualaids.org)
EFA Project Space
323 W 39th St, 2nd Floor, Midtown, Manhattan
Through June 24

Lee Friedlander Framed by Joel Coen

Lee Friedlander, “Maria Friedlander, Las Vegas, Nevada” (1970), gelatin silver print (© Lee Friedlander; courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and Luhring Augustine, New York)

If you’re a fan of Lee Friedlander’s photography and Joel Coen’s films, this is the show for you. There’s no overarching theme for the exhibition, except for Coen’s proclivity for odd and unusual compositions. That should be good enough, but you’ll also get a snapshot of American life and a mini-retrospective of Friedlander’s six-decade career. Actor Frances McDormand, who’s also Coen’s wife, had a hand in selecting the 45 photos on view. The show is exhibited simultaneously at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery. — HB

Luhring Augustine (luhringaugustine.com)
531 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through June 24

Flowers on a River: The Art of Chinese Flower and Bird Painting

Curator Willow Weilan Hai stands in front of Zhu Da’s “Flower of a River” (1697) at the China Institute in Lower Manhattan. (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

At the center of this fascinating exhibition is a breathtaking painted scroll by the most famous monk painter Zhu Da (1626–1705, known as Bada Shanren), which comes to New York from the Tianjin Museum. American audiences have long enjoyed the art of Zhu Da, who has many works in US museum collections, but this masterpiece is rarely seen outside China.  The last time it traveled was for a 2013 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Painted when he was 72 years old, the scroll, titled “Flower of a River” (1697), illustrates the life of a lotus flower. The gestural brushwork will appeal to any lover of abstract art, and it’s only one of 100 stunning works by 59 artists highlighting the long tradition of bird-and-flower painting in Chinese art. — Hrag Vartanian

China Institute Gallery (chinainstitute.org)
40 Rector St, Financial District, Manhattan
Through June 25

vanessa german: …please imagine all the things i cannot say…

vanessa german’s “Can I Love You Without Capitalism? How?” (2020) at the Montclair Art Museum (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Female power figures dominate artist vanessa german’s solo exhibition. In her visions of accumulation, german appears to borrow from the long history of altarpieces, toys, dioramas, American commercialism, as well as West African folk practices and the contemporary Black Arts movements. She’s a polymath, and each work demonstrates her sweeping interests and the material universe she finds herself immersed.

The large “LaQuisha Washington Crosses the Day Aware” (2018) is a standout piece, playing with the well-known 19th-century “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1851) painting and updating it in a manner that would be familiar to lovers of Betye Saar’s art. If you attend, check out “Can I Love You Without Capitalism? How?” (2020), a personal favorite as it demonstrates how she can create wonderful silhouettes with her sculptures, while surprising you through color, material, or form. She is stupendously talented at finding a way to connect what might appear to be very disparate and unrelated objects, and it is that care and sensitivity that makes her work so powerful. — HV

Montclair Art Museum (montclairartmuseum.org)
3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey
Through June 25

Cathy Josefowitz: Forever Young

Cathy Josefowitz, “Untitled” (c. 1974), oil on cardboard, 38 1/2 x 26 3/4 inches (© Estate of Cathy Josefowitz; courtesy Estate of Cathy Josefowitz and Hauser & Wirth)

For artist and dancer Cathy Josefowitz, connecting with one’s body could take many forms. In one of her paintings, a joyful figure swathed in lush bedding drinks from a clear blue glass; in another, a man performs the mundane yet satisfying of routine of cleaning his ears with a swab. A gouache on paper work portrays a couple in a loving embrace, sinewy limbs entwined. If you love artists as diverse as Maria Lassnig, Egon Schiele, and Henri Matisse, this expansive show — which also includes footage of Josefowitz’s choreographies — is a good opportunity to discover the work of the New York-born and Swiss-bred artist, who received far less recognition in her lifetime. — VD

Hauser & Wirth (vip-hauserwirth.com)
32 East 69th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through July 22

Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección

Beatriz González, “La isla del conejo de la suerte” (1993), oil and acrylic on canvas (courtesy El Museo del Barrio)

El Museo del Barrio, the East Harlem institution dedicated to Latinx and Nuyorican artists, will breathe new life into almost 500 works from its permanent collection in a year-long series of rotating presentations also featuring recent commissions and acquisitions. Historical works by major figures of Latin American art history, such as Puerto Rican masters Augusto Marín and Myrna Báez, coexist alongside contemporary gems like Brazilian artist Dalton Paula’s oil and gold leaf portrait “Esperança Garcia” (2022). Together, they tell a story of El Museo’s collecting practices over the course of 50 years — as well as the many lacunae that such a project entails, and the museum’s various efforts to address them. — VD

El Museo del Barrio (elmuseo.org)
1230 5th Avenue at 104th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through March 10, 2024

Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch

Shelley Niro, “Time Travels through Us” (1999), gelatin silver print, cotton, and beaded mat work, silver painted wood frame, 37 x 33 inches (courtesy National Museum of the American Indian)

Spanning Shelley Niro’s five-decade career, this retrospective (her first) includes works knitting together the artist’s Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) lineage, womanhood, and joy in the midst of colonial legacies. In one section of the show, paintings reimagine Sky Woman’s story and assemblage “thinking caps” map Mohawk women’s life stages, while beadwork critiques the commercialism of Niagara Falls, a Haudenosaunee spiritual site. Shining through for me was her photography, often coupled with embroidery or adorned matboard in its depiction of matrilineal bonds, women in her family, and sometimes herself with humor and deep affection. — Lakshmi Rivera Amin

National Museum of the American Indian (americanindian.si.edu)
1 Bowling Green, Financial District, Manhattan
Through January 1, 2024

Closing Soon

Valentina Di Liscia is the News Editor at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.