NYC Through the Lens of Hyperallergic

Artsy Editorial
May 11, 2013 7:02PM

Veken Gueyikian and Hrag Vartanian—better known as the masterminds behind Hyperallergic—are the pair responsible for the witty, provocative, artblog-meets-magazine that is at once playful and serious and impossible to stop reading. In the midst of Frieze week, Artsy calls on our friends Veken and Hrag to guide us through the weekend—and the season—of art and leisure in New York City.

Artsy: What exhibitions currently on view should visitors not miss?

Veken Gueyikian and Hrag Vartanian: The El Anatsui show at the Brooklyn Museum is a real pleasure, and while you’re there be sure to check out one of the museum’s newest acquisitions, Francisco M. Oller’s Hacienda La Fortuna (1885), which is a work by the Caribbean’s leading Impressionist—the painting is hanging in the Old Masters galleries. Oller was a colleague and contemporary of other more boldface named Impressionists like Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro, but his work is often overlooked.

MoMA’s Applied Design show is a must-see in our opinion. While the most controversial aspect of the exhibition is the inclusion of 14 classic video games, there’s so much more to explore, including beautifully designed objects that demonstrate that design has been more engaged with the world around us than ever before.

In terms of galleries, our vote is for Yael Kanarek’s “High Performance Gear” exhibition at bitforms gallery in Chelsea, and the current show by Sadie Benning at Callicoon Fine Arts on the Lower East Side. We should mention that Callicoon has been putting on excellent shows for a while now and it's always worth checking out what they have on view.

Artsy: What event(s) are you most looking forward to during Frieze NY week?

VG/HV: While the art fairs are the big draw—and we’re excited to see what the city’s newest art fair, Cutlog, brings to the table—the neighborhood gallery events in Brooklyn during the Frieze NY week are a lot of fun and a great way to explore the borough’s art-borhoods. It will not only give you a sense of what emerging artists are most interested in at the moment, but also a great opportunity to meet and talk to people from the local art community.

Friday night is Greenpoint Gallery Night, while Saturday Bushwick is open late for art lovers. While you're in Greenpoint, be sure to check out Halsey Hathaway at Rawson Projects and James Biederman at Janet Kurnatowski, two very refined Modernist shows that are a visual delight.

In Bushwick, make sure to see Mike Olin’s solo show at Parallel Art Space, which even offers 3D glasses to view the paintings, and Linda Ganjian’s wondrous constructions at Auxiliary Projects.

Artsy: A perfect New York City day for Hyperallergic means:

VG/HV: We love to start off our day near N6th Street and Bedford Avenue, at the epicenter of Williamsburg, where locals, tourists, poseurs, and New Yorkers of all stripes converge. A coffee at Toby’s or Blue Bottle, a pastry at Bakeri, breakfast at Egg, a bagel at Bagelsmith, the culinary choices are endless.

Next, we’d pick a neighborhood to explore, like Long Island City, Astoria, or Washington Heights, and find some local art galleries, public art, and a good cafe. It is surprisingly easy to find something you’ve never seen before in New York, or better yet visit a space we see far too infrequently (the medieval wonderland of The Cloisters or the little-known treasures of the Hispanic Society in Washington Heights or The Noguchi Museum and The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria are four great examples).

After we’re art’d out (yes, that happens to the best of us), perhaps dinner in a local restaurant (Yelp or Foursquare can help us find a new place) and then cap off the day with cocktails at one of our favorite bars, like Dutch Kills in Long Island City, Donna in South Williamsburg, Little Branch in the West Village, or the bar at the Mandarin Oriental in Columbus Circle.

The key to experiencing an ideal day in New York is to make it as diverse as possible. To get the most out of this place, you have to be open to a lot of different things.

Artsy: Can you choose three-four artworks on Artsy that you feel epitomize New York City and explain briefly why?

VG/HV: Nothing says classic New York like a black-and-white Berenice Abbott photograph. There’s something in the romance of her images, like Fifth Avenue Houses, Nos. 4, 6, 8 (1936), that make you want to look at the city again and again. Abbott’s framing, eye, and compositions are stunning. And if you look in the right places, you can see corners of New York that haven't changed much since the early 20th C.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's work is also very very New York in so many ways. Works like Diagram of the Ankle (The Ankle) (1982) may not directly reference New York, but his line and the poetry of his words are instilled with the energy and rhythm of the city.

Fred Tomaselli's New York Times frontpage prints and drawings are another example of an artist who uses the city in fascinating (and indirect) ways. In works like Nov. 11, 2010 (2011) Tomaselli takes a city icon and transforms the main image with his trippy sensibility to make it come alive. It's his way of talking back and transforming news into something more timeless. This city has magical tendencies and we think these works capture a little of that pixie dust.

William Powhida's New Museum (2010) epitomizes New York. Shifting through the not-only-obvious insider politics of this place with it's weird plutocratic tendencies, Powhida distilled the dysfunction that is the art world into this one drawing and it is still a pleasure to look at for the clarity of his jab at the city’s art establishment.

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Artsy Editorial