Located in the heart of Bowery in New York City, the New Museum of Contemporary Art is a work of art in itself – an architectural contribution to New York’s urban landscape and home to unique modern works that intrigue and impress viewers. Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa were commissioned in 2002 to create this seven-story, eight-level structure. “The Bowery was very gritty when we first visited it,” the website writes. It has said, despite recognizing potential for an interesting combination of elegance and urbanism.
Current exhibitions include Jim Shaw’s three-dimensional “The End is Here” (runs through 1/10/16), Wynne Greenwood’s video and performance compilation “Kelly” (runs through 1/10/16), and Barbara Rossi’s enigmatic “Poor Traits” (runs through 1/3/16).
Influential and versatile-in-medium artist Jim Shaw explores the associations between his own psyche and the larger ideas of politics, society, and spirituality in America through art. Despite being a prominent figure in the Los Angeles art scene, Shaw has only just created his first comprehensive New York art show in the form of the three-floor “The End is Here.” One floor had dedicated half of its gallery space to an assortment of sacred and secular items, including comic books, conspiracy magazines, old record sleeves, along with carefully collected colorful paintings and images to supplement the breadth and inventiveness of historical research going into the display. Another floor housed three-dimensional upright pieces, with various contradictory personas and scenes painted on one side of the wooden medium.
Next, Wynne Greenwood examines the idea of oneself and how we as humans form a real-life persona within public and private spaces. A popular feminist performance artist, Wynne is known for her work as Tracy + the Plastics, an all-girl band to which she plays all three parts! She performs on video in 30-40 minute segments as the lead vocalist and the two backup singer personas Nikki and Cola performing both song and dialogue. The exhibit consists of several television sets, which constantly loop material. They are each individually hooked up to headphones that viewers may use to hear audio. Wooden benches are set up in front of each tv. This personally wasn’t one of my favorite exhibits due to the quite monotonous nature of the videos.
A few floors down, Barbara Rossi captivates audiences with her puzzling and distinctly distorted non-Western graphite drawings. Rossi is a Chicago-based artist and is known for her membership in a young artist group called the Chicago Imagists. Rossi’s “magic drawings” seem to entrance the viewer into a world of free-flowing psychedelic color, something she’d managed to create through a very open and introspective process.
All interesting and unique in their own way, these exhibitions are surely worth seeing, especially since students are admitted for free through age 19 with an ID. The Sky Room is also open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays during Museum hours, providing a gorgeous view of the Lower East Side especially on sunny days. It’s a breath of fresh city air as well as a great place to take pictures. The gift shop in the lobby is also filled with interesting books, t shirts, and other museum visit keepsakes. Plus, there’s a bin with some really cool buttons with witty saying and clever images by the checkout register. Definitely worth the visit!