An August Art Agenda (& Exes)

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Perhaps you’ve heard that the typically hyperactive art scene in our fine town slows down a bit over the summer, especially during the month of August. It’s true, it does. Quite significantly, actually. One must spend a certain extended amount of time at one’s summer home in the Hamptons, after all. Right? Right.

Anyway, while it’s very true that art matters do slow down a fair measure, a related truth is that there are still more than enough openings, performances, yet-on-view exhibitions and so forth to keep you very, very busy. All day, all night. All weekend, all week. Even in August. And all right here.

The museums don’t shut down. Plenty of galleries stay open. Outdoor arts programming even tends to get an extra surge of activity, and I’m not only talking about concerts and movies. Actually, I’m not going to talk about concerts and movies much at all. Wait, that’s not quite true. At any rate, you can find out a lot more about those things—including this publication’s very own Summerscreen series at McCarren Park—in their respective sections of our website.

That said, it’s definitely true that I am not going to tell you everything there is to do in town, art-wise, in the coming weeks. That’s not much more practicable for August than it is for the busier months.

However, I’ll most happily tell you about a handful of things I’ve seen or am looking forward to, and that you would do well to add to your August art agendas. All basically free, too, by the way. And all a bit associatively rich. Take notes.

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BRIC CELEBRATE BROOKLYN

First and foremost, have a look at the almost unbelievably extensive, splendidly interdisciplinary schedule of free concerts, screenings, performances and exhibitions you can take in at the Prospect Park Bandshell during the August portion of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn series. Incredible, right? Jazz concerts? A screening of Run Lola Run with a live score? A performance by Bowie collaborators of the Donny McCaslin group, followed by a screening of Labyrinth? A multimedia showcase of imagery from the Hubble telescope, accompanied by a live orchestra and chorus? And last but not least, a Digable Planets concert? Yes, A DIGABLE PLANETS CONCERT! And those are but a few of the totally free things BRIC has lined up for you at the Bandshell—beyond their regular schedule of art exhibitions, that is, which are free to visit at BRIC House in Fort Greene. So great it almost doesn’t make sense. (Once more: Digable Planets!)

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DANCE AT SOCRATES

Speaking of interdisciplinarians, the tireless, über-creative artistic directors at Brooklyn’s Norte Maar for Collaborative Projects in the Arts wouldn’t be able to slow down if they found themselves in quicksand. If you know directors Jason Andrew and Julia Gleich, or if you have any idea of what Norte Maar’s programming is like from one month to the next, then you know just what I mean—and you might agree that it’s imaginable that they’d welcome the choreographic challenge of dancing their way out of quicksand. Anyway, while some arts programmers slacken their calendars in August, Norte Maar amps things up with their annual Dance at Socrates series, a choreographic residency and sequence of free outdoor dance performances in the aesthetico-bucolic environs of Socrates Sculpture Park. Various dance companies represented, a number of resident choreographers, music and sometimes a bit of casual dancing for everyone after performances wrap. Lots of fun. Mark you calendars for any of the first three Saturdays of August, 4pm, and don’t be surprised if going to the first one gets you hooked enough to attend all three. Full schedule here. Also, if you find yourself somewhere between MoMA and Times Square in the coming months, be sure to stop by 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery, where Norte Maar recently filled this massive exhibition space with another deep-benched group show, Ways and Means.

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RE:ART

You’ll find lots of warning signs and explosion-proof rooms. You’ll note alarms and gauges all over the place. You’ll see doors labeled things like ‘Module 5,’ with a note about your need to wear a respirator. You’ll encounter color-coded labeling indicating “definitions” for things like “the 5 S’s”: “Sort, Store, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.” Idle control panels aren’t lacking. Hydraulic lifts aren’t lacking. Spent kilns aren’t lacking. Fire extinguishers aren’t lacking, though sometimes they’re not exactly located beneath the signs that indicate them. Fun hiding places are fucking everywhere. Everywhere. This, of course, is all quite interesting, all quite curious. But really, the whole structure in question, namely the erstwhile Pfizer research and chemical compounding complex in Bed-Stuy, is about as curious and interesting as NYC structures that have slipped into desuetude—and which you almost bafflingly find yourself permitted to access—might get, not least because a portion of its space on the 5th floor is now the temporary base for Re:Art, an evolving exhibition project launched by Erin Davis and Max C. Lee in collaboration with an initial group of a couple dozen artists. So you’ll also find an intriguing installation by Jeff Feld in the corner of a refuse-strewn stretch of a room that will make you wonder what kind of alien abduction took place before those festive little pennant flags. And you’ll find a room full of foam-embedded wooden ‘neon signs’ by Brent Owens, one of which dangles between two control panels while displaying a most recognizable pair of hands held together in a gesture of prayer. And you’ll find an amusing and somewhat stalkerish altar of sorts to Britney Spears, made no less creepy by being surrounded by thousands of square feet of relatively empty space above and around it. And you’ll see videos projected on huge walls, and in nooks and crannies. And you’ll hear sound pieces echoing about through ceilings and truncated pipes. And you’ll make your way through and around—and upon—a kind of spare yet space-swallowing installation by Peter Clough, one that invites you to climb around on it to be able to view its self-reflective video pieces playing on little screens here and there, up and down. And so on, and so forth—emphasis on ‘so forth,’ as the installations will continue to evolve and accrue in the coming weeks and months. The second official opening is on Saturday, August 6th. It’s precisely the kind of ‘wtf’ shit you don’t want to miss, so don’t miss it. If you do, though, then be sure to find out about weekend visiting schedules. You can find info about Re:Art here on Instagram. (And one more thing, have a good long look at the historical photos as you enter or exit the building. Those are quite some stunning batches of ascorbic acid!)

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FURTHER ON & OTHER EXES

All of that should keep you pretty busy in the coming weeks, but if you’re looking to get even busier, consider any number of forthcoming events at a Maspeth venue that is also pretty well known to very rarely slow down, The Knockdown Center. They’ve got plenty of current and soon-to-come exhibitions and performances on the rest of their summer schedule, at least some of which seem to be free, and this ex-doorframe factory is a particularly pleasant place to go and linger about for hours and hours and then some. And in a way rather different from the ex-Pfizer building, it’s a post-industrial structure that’s just crushingly curious.

Another spot you might want to visit in August is Wave Hill. There’s an admission price, but it’s not much, and it grants you access to a most beautifully landscaped suite of gardens, vistas and patios, as well as to exhibitions, openings, talks, concerts, tours and performances at this former estate house—and once-residence at at least one ex-president. The very organically inspired exhibition Nature Pops! is now on view, too, giving you even greater reason to head out to the Bronx sometime soon.

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Now that you’re thinking about heading out to the Bronx, which is almost like leaving the city—especially if Wave Hill is your destination—you might also want to keep in mind how many art venues there are upstate, too, and that a number of them are very active in August. Some will have admission fees, such as Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center, but you’ll not wonder why nor care once you arrive. If you do go to Beacon, of course, you could check in at some of the dozen or so art spaces that have cropped up there, such as the ever-active and most aesthetically sharp Matteawan Gallery. Hudson is another spot with no shortage of art destinations, and if you make it to John Davis Gallery there in the next couple weeks, you can catch a plurality of very differentiably situated solo shows all at once in its multitiered carriage house.

You know, given all the stuff here with exes, and now the matter of going upstate, you know whom you might run into if you do go up there? (Well, it’s actually totally unlikely, but whatever.) Very recently retired and much beloved ex-New York Knickerbocker Amar’e Stoudemire, who probably now has a whole lot more time on his hands—and less ache in his knees—to be able to tend to his passions for organic gardening on the massive farm he owns in Dutchess County, which might be the place for which he’s apparently been collecting art of late. Once a (Panglossian) Knick, always a (Panglossian) Knick!

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Speaking of the Knicks, Panglossian tendencies and farms upstate, now might be a good time to look into CSAs for the fall. An excellent one that delivers regularly to a number of pick-up sites in Brooklyn is called Dirty Boots Farm, run by ex-Brooklynites Shayna Lewis and Matt Hunger. Matt, by the way, is not only an ex-Brooklynite, but also an ex-L Magazine contributor—and an ex-Knicks fan! Just kidding, he’s still a Knicks fan. Once a Knicks fan, always a Knicks fan! Anyway, I look forward to cautiously cheering and perhaps eventually grieving with him this season as we root for a farragoes of a team now chock-full of ex-Bulls.

Before all these ex-associations get me even further afield—references to the State Department and Baroque architecture were up next—I’m cutting myself off.

Have an augustly art-filled August!

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[Image information, from top: Re:Art, photo montage by Paul D’Agostino; Tai Hwa Goh at BRIC, courtesy the artist and BRIC; Dance at Socrates, photo montage by Paul D’Agostino; Re:Art, photo montage by Paul D’Agostino; installation at The Knockdown Center by Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish, courtesy the artists and The Knockdown Center; The Rossback Monocot Garden at Wave Hill, courtesy Wave Hill; Amar’e Stoudemire, courtesy the NBA and New York Knicks; Dirty Boots Farm, courtesy Dirty Boots Farm.]

Paul D’Agostino is @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.

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