Top 4 New York City Art Exhibitions, Winter 2011-2012

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The poster for "War Is Trauma" (via booklyn.org)

The Art of Reuse in Long Island City

When: December 1 –  February 29, 2011; Opening reception on December 1 from 6 – 9pm with a panel discussion at 7pm.
Where: Materials for the Arts (33-00 Northern Boulevard, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, Queens)

Founded in 1978, Materials for the Arts, is New York’s largest municipal reuse program, making reusable materials available for free to nonprofit arts organizations, public schools and community groups with an art focus. For their show Creative Reuse in New York City, opening this Friday, MFTA brings together the site-specific work of three of its member organizations, Flux Factory, Local Projects and Free Style Arts Association, that probe the art of repurposing materials. Visit the opening of the exhibition and catch a panel discussion at 7pm with the artists where they will talk about the use of found objects in their work and the role of their host organizations in the community.

First Fridays at the Bronx Museum of Art

When: Friday, December 2, 7 – 9pm
Where: Bronx Museum of Art (1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street, Bronx, New York)

Here’s a hidden gem: every first Friday of the month the Bronx Museum of Art presents free film, art, performances, music and other special events. This Friday singer, songwriter, and humanitarian Maya Azucena and her band will present an interactive music workshop covering themes on Artist Identity, Self-Expression and Improvisation. At 7pm Azucena will discuss how bands work together and use improvisation to develop a distinct sound, as well as demonstrate her own unique style of music that mixes hip-hop, jazz, soul, jazz, reggae, electronica and pop. A screening of Azucena’s activist music video, “Cry Love,” filmed at the Rebels Art Collective in the South Bronx, follows at 8pm.

Street Posters by Iraq War Veterans in Brooklyn

When: December 3 – January 8, 2012; Opening reception on December 3, 7 – 10pm
Where: Brooklyn Art Gallery (37 Greenpoint Avenue, 4th Floor, Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

Brooklyn Art Gallery presents War Is Trauma, a portfolio of handmade prints produced by the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative in collaboration with the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Back in November 2010, Justseeds, a group of 26 printmakers based in the US, Canada and Mexico, provided graphics for the IVAW’s “Operation Recovery” campaign to stop the redeployment of traumatized soldiers. Posters were pasted in public, replacing many corporate advertisements, to focus public attention towards the issues not being discussed such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sexual assault of women in the military. These prints, some created on paper made from cut-up military uniforms, challenge the culture of militarism in the US and call for the end of both wars abroad and the economic war at home.

Get In On the Action at Dia:Beacon

When: Until February 13, 2012
Where: Dia: Beacon (3 Beekman Street, Beacon, New York)

This past weekend I took a day trip to Dia:Beacon and stumbled across Franz Erhad Walther’s Work as Action on the gallery’s main floor. While most works at Dia:Beacon come with signs that scream DON’T TOUCH, Walther’s exhibition is all about touching the work — unfolding it, shaping it, even crawling inside it. Work as Action features a selection of Walther’s Action Pieces from the early 1960s as well as the complete version of First Work Set (1963-69) that was part of Documenta 5 in 1972. The show is comprised of fifty-eight fabric elements, or “instruments,” plus a set of visual instructions for each piece that you must collaborate with others to carry out. The performative actions are delightfully silly and revealing, especially if you’re with people you know. I chose one action that requires six visitors to unroll a heavy piece of canvas and slide into six large pockets cut into the fabric. Go with a group to activate the pieces that require several participants, or recruit a stranger and make some friends.

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