A Cafe, A Gift Shop and a Lecture Hall
The Surrealists had a fantasy of a secret passage that led through myriad rooms in different buildings across Paris, without the wanderer having to return to the street. That wild notion comes to mind when contemplating New York’s commercial art galleries and alternative spaces, for in a way these constitute the world’s biggest, best, and curatorially most heterodox museum of contemporary art, one that happens, also, to be free.
The objection could be raised that a real museum has a café, a gift shop and a lecture hall. Well, if you visit Hauser & Wirth on a Friday or Saturday, they’ll make you an espresso, and The Hole and Gagosian both have stores (and this is not to mention, by the way, that all galleries are, in fact, stores: you can buy things there!). As for the lecture hall, there are artist talks, walk-thrus and panels galore in many of these venues. But the better answer viz educational programing is that, complementing the free museum of contemporary art that it is, New York is also a virtual university of the arts if you add to these gallery offerings the lectures and events at art schools, libraries (let’s blow a trumpet here for the Brooklyn Public Library, host of The Review Panel) and, yes, the “real” museums and universities, all of which expose the idea-hungry New York mind to an ever-evolving encyclopedia of living art.
Just take a given Wednesday in New York City, this Wednesday, October 5, 2016. According to THE LIST, there are half a dozen stellar podium performances to choose from. The young, Iranian-born painter Ali Banisadr, who shows at Sperone Westwater, will present at the New York Academy down in Tribeca; Cliff Owens speaks on his work at Hunter College; Archie Rand talks about his series of cartoon-paintings inspired by Torah, the 613, at the New York Studio School; at Adam Shopkorn and Carolyn Angel’s Fort Gansevoort you have no less that two dialogues on this single evening, Alexis Rockman with Carl Mehling at 7pm and Roy Fowler (showing his wave prints at the gallery) in conversation with Mary Heilmann at 8.30 (but no BBQ at Fort Gansevoort Wednesdays alas, so bring a sandwich!), and at Katie Michel and Brad Ewing’s project space, Planthouse, an interview with Katherine Bradford.
A tantalizing, some would say painful, decision, but Netflix and chill ain’t an option, New York.