If you are a lover of art, Las Vegas may not have quite enough to satisfy your appetite. Sure, First Fridays are great, but a sensory overload awaits you in New York. If you consider taking a trip to the Big Apple this summer, you’ll want to check out some of these exhibitions. Or if you’re stuck at home, you can enjoy an armchair art tour by reading along and then visiting the listed websites.
Courtesy: Jonathan LeVine GalleryJeff Soto, “Broken,” Jonathan LeVine Gallery.
Arguably one of the best galleries featuring contemporary and street art in NYC, the Jonathan LeVine Gallery (529 West 20th St., Ninth Floor; Jonathanlevinegallery.com) showcases work from a plethora of artists who were schooled in fine art but inspired by hip-hop, science fiction and tattoos. LeVine—who represents 35 artists—opened the gallery in 2005 to high acclaim and has been featured in The New York Times. Solo exhibitions by California-based Pop surrealism street artist Jeff Soto (web-surfing art lovers should visit his blog, which offers insight into his creative process) and cartoonist Dave Cooper (featuring somewhat disturbing “new drawings and paintings of twisted ladies”) will be running June 26-July 24.
The Woodward Gallery (133 Eldridge St., Woodwardgallery.net) has The Great Outdoors exhibition (now until July 24), which features pieces from renowned outdoor artists Royce Bannon, Darkcloud, Michael De Feo, Lady Pink and others. These artists adapt their artwork to weather, space, people and situations. Taking the great outdoors outside, this gallery also has the Woodward Gallery Project Space, which is a “rotating exhibition of street art” located across the street from the gallery.
Not just confined to designated walls, New York is home to some incredible rogue street art. A stroll through neighborhoods such as Chelsea, Dumbo and the Lower East Side in Manhattan will expose you to the video game murals of France’s own Space Invader (space-invaders.com), Gaia’s (gaiastreetart.com) black-and-white people drawings and the robot-obsessed artist Stickman (so mysterious “he” has no website).
It’s also a must that you familiarize yourself with British street art legend Banksy (banksy.co.uk). His signature “Banksy Rats” can be seen all over NYC with larger murals in Soho. To find out more about the man who’s become famous for combining graffiti with a distinctive stenciling technique, check out his critically acclaimed documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which has been billed as “The World’s First Street Art Disaster Movie.” Unfortunately, with no Vegas screenings, you’ll have to go to Banksyfilm.com for updates on where the movie can be seen.
Street art doesn’t come with docents or helpful gallery directors, but you can find all the info you need via other forums. Street Art New York (Prestel USA, 2010), a new book by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo will get you started. If you are an iPhone user, the application All City Art is a user-generated GPS catalog for street art around the world. The application will give you information on the artist and the piece that is in your location, like a Wikipedia art navigation system. It’s perfect for cities such as New York which have massive amounts of art scattered throughout.
If you like your art a little more contemporary, head over to the P.P.O.W. Gallery (551 W. 25th St., Room 301; Ppowgallery.com). Catch Ben Gocker’s first solo exhibition (now through July 16) titled There Is Really No Single Poem, which features the University of Iowa graduate’s wall-mounted sculptures and drawing series inspired by his MFA degree in poetry.
For those Las Vegans who still mourn the loss of the David LaChapelle-designed Elton John show Red Piano, you can get your fix of the outrageous photographer’s candy-colored images at his new exhibition, “American Jesus” at the Paul Kasmin Gallery (July 7-Aug. 14, 293 10th Ave., Paulkasmingallery.com, Lachapellestudio.com).
With the aforementioned locations as well as popular museums such as The Museum of Modern Art (moma.org), the Met (metmuseum.org) and the Guggenheim (guggenheim.org), New York is the perfect place to expand your artsy side.
Andreas Hale is the editor of StreetLevel.com and has written for publications such as 944, XXL, The Source and many others. He spent a year in NYC while working for BET Networks and returned to Vegas with an even greater appreciation of art.