Your Concise New York Art Guide for September 2021

Greet fall with Hyperallergic’s September art guide in your back pocket. From an experimental opera inspired by new research into arboreal communication, to the first New York City solo exhibition dedicated to celebrated Gee’s Bend quilter Mary Lee Bendolph, to the Armory Show, which boasts over 200 exhibitors this year, options abound. Enjoy!

–Cassie Packard

The Collective: Chosen Family

Jesse Krimes, “Bow Tie” (2019), hand-sewn fabric, image transfer, fabric paint, 102 x 80 inches (courtesy Martos Gallery)

When: September 8–October 23
Where: Martos Gallery (41 Elizabeth Street, Chinatown, Manhattan)

Artmaking under carceral conditions can be a profoundly communal act, with materials, specialized knowledge, and care flowing from networks of support among incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and otherwise system-impacted people. During their time at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Fairton, a men’s prison in New Jersey, Jesse Krimes, Jared Owens, and Gilberto Rivera committed themselves to fostering one another’s artistic practices longterm. The Collective: Chosen Family presents their work as well as that of Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter (aka Isis Tha Saviour), Tameca Cole, Russell Craig, and James “Yaya” Hough, who also make art that reflects their experiences of incarceration and their investment in carceral communities.

The Armory Show

The Armory Show (image courtesy the Javits Center and the Armory Show)

When: September 9­–12
Where: Javits Center (429 11th Avenue, Hudson Yards, Manhattan) & online

The Armory Show, now on its 27th edition, will be held at its new digs at the Javits Center for the first time (and in the fall rather than the spring). Fifty-five of the 212 participating galleries have moved their booths online due to the pandemic — and in the case of some far-flung galleries facing travel restrictions, physical booths will be staffed by “proxy booth attendants.” There will be a lot to see, though between the ongoing pandemic and the art world’s carbon footprint problem, big international art fairs might be losing their luster.

Pamela Council: Bury Me Loose

Pamela Council, “Red Drink: A BLAXIDERMY Juneteenth Offering” (photo by Ronald Llewellyn Jones, courtesy Denny Dimin Gallery)

When: September 10–October 23
Where: Denny Dimin Gallery (39 Lispenard Street, Tribeca, Manhattan)

Pamela Council brings together Black vernacular camp, pop culture, horror, and humor in their visceral, ongoing exploration of “Blaxidermy,” a fusion of the words “taxidermy” and “blaxploitation.” Among the works on view are a scale model of a racetrack built from fake nails modeled on the manicure of Olympic track star Florence Griffith-Joyner, and a video of a recent “Juneteenth fountain” from the artist’s Fountains for Black Joy series, accented with palm trees and filled with 800 gallons of red soda. The show will overlap with Council’s public art installation “A Fountain for Survivors,” which opens in Times Square in October.

Dawoud Bey: In This Here Place

Dawoud Bey, “Cabin and Benches” (2019), silver gelatin prints mounted on Dibond, 48 x 59 inches, edition of six and two APs (© Dawoud Bey, image courtesy Sean Kelly, New York)

When: September 10–October 23
Where: Sean Kelly Gallery (475 10th Avenue, Hudson Yards, Manhattan)

For the third installment of Dawoud Bey’s History series (2012–present), which has previously delved into the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Alabama and the Underground Railroad in Ohio, the photographer visited the site of former slave plantations in rural Louisiana. The resulting evocative, large-format black-and-white photographs, and one multi-channel video, bear witness to painful and complex Black histories that are embedded in the American landscape. It is also the last chance to see Dawoud Bey: An American Project at the Whitney Museum, a major survey of the artist’s work — including some pieces from the History series — that will close in early October.

Bushwick Open Studios

From the 2019 Bushwick Open Studios: a row of gouache paintings by Sarah Lubin, on view in her studio at 1717 Troutman Street in Ridgewood (photo by Dessane Lopez Cassell/Hyperallergic)

When: September 17–19
Where: various locations (Brooklyn)

Organized by volunteer-based nonprofit Arts in Bushwick, the annual Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) invites the public into the studios of local artists at venues scattered across the neighborhood. This year, additional offerings include an opening exhibition at a warehouse at 49 Wyckoff Avenue — where BOS is also inviting local artists to paint murals — and a film festival that centers the work of Black and Brown independent filmmakers. Stay tuned for an official map of the event.

The Last Stand

Prospect Park (photo by Elizabeth Keegin Colley, courtesy Prospect Park Alliance)

When: September 18–October 10
Where: Prospect Park (Brooklyn)

What would an opera for trees sound like? For Creative Time’s Emerging Artist Open Call, experimental composer and performer Kamala Sankaram worked in the spirit of musique concrète, building an aural assemblage of field recordings, archival nature sounds, and abstract sonic loops to tell the story of a three-centuries-old Northern Red Oak located in the Black Rock Forest in the Hudson Highlands. The 10-hour soundscape, which was inspired by recent research surrounding communication and cooperation among trees, will emanate from multi-channel speakers and vibrating benches set amid the trees of Prospect Park.

Piece of Mind: Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Lee Bendolph, “Grandpa Strips” (2010), corduroy, 98 x 83 inches (courtesy the artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery)

When: through September 25
Where: Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (7 Franklin Place, Tribeca, Manhattan)

Gee’s Bend, an isolated hamlet in rural Alabama with a predominantly Black population, is celebrated for its rich quilting traditions, which have been established over three generations. Piece of Mind features a collection of bold quilts made from 1979 to 2010 by Mary Lee Bendolph, who is perhaps the best known of the Gee’s Bend strip quilters. Composed of simple geometric shapes made of repurposed found fabric including denim, satin, and corduroy, the quilts frequently occupy improvisational terrain, riffing on the local canon.

Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality

Installation view of Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (image © 2021 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, photo by Denis Doorly)

When: through January 1, 2022
Where: MoMA (11 West 53rd Street, Midtown East, Manhattan)

Shigeko Kubota may not be a household name, but the early Japanese video artist and Fluxus “vice president,” who died in 2015, perhaps should be. Video sculptures made between 1976 and 1985 are the subject of this small but mighty museum exhibition, the artist’s first in the US in 25 years. A highlight is the first video sculpture ever acquired by MoMA (in 1981), an homage to Marcel Duchamp’s famous painting “Nude Descending a Staircase” for which Kubota embedded a series of video monitors into a plywood staircase.

“From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires

Installation view of From Surface to Space: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires, Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York (2021) (photo by Martyna Szczesna, courtesy of Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA))

When: through October 30
Where: Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (50 East 78th Street, Lenox Hill, Manhattan)

Challenging the common Western-centric narrative of concrete art, From Surface to Space considers the reciprocal relationship between Swiss artist Max Bill and Latin American concrete artists affiliated with the Buenos Aires-based groups Arte Madí and Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención. The exhibition presents a number of elegant and animated sculptures by Argentine artists Claudio Girola, Enio Iommi, and Gyula Kosice, Uruguayan artist Carmelo Arden Quin, and Max Bill, as well as charcoal drawings by Argentine painter Lidy Prati that playfully invert the sculptural notion of “drawing in space.”

59th New York Film Festival

Parallel Mothers, directed by Pedro Almodóvar (photo by Iglesias Más, courtesy El Deseo)

When: September 24–October 10
Where: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West Side, Manhattan) & select virtual events

For its 59th edition, the New York Film Festival will take place in-person, with a selection of virtual events but no virtual screenings. Take in the US premiere of Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, starring Tilda Swinton as a botanist haunted by an auditory aberration; the world festival premiere of octogenarian Armenian director Artavazd Peleshian’s first feature film in 27 years, Nature; and a special sidebar dedicated to Amos Vogel, the late film programmer and film historian who ran the New York City avant-garde film society Cinema 16 with his wife Marcia Vogel from 1947 to 1963.

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