Our Mid-February Picks of New York City Art Shows

This is our inaugural mid-month art picks list because New York is a 24/7 city and time is money, which means some exhibitions are shorter than we’d hope, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try to draw your attention to them. This mid-month list includes one of the most exciting new spaces to open in the city in a while, along with a solo show by a classic American Cubist, while haunting paintings rooted in ideas of Victorian childhood glow in Tribeca. —Hrag Vartanian 

Cathleen Clarke: The Night Grows Long

Clarke’s focus is the strange history of childhood, when the concept of a pre-adult life and consciousness started to develop. We could spend time as pre-adults evolving ideally under the supervision of adults. Yet, in the Victorian era, which is the artist’s preoccupation, society hadn’t developed theories of psychology to figure out what was going on during this curious period of human leavening. Even Lewis Carroll’s bizarre through-the-looking-glass vision of children’s play was late to the era but has since tinted all fantastical visions of childhood. It is also an inspiration for the artist. Clarke’s oil paintings are haunting, rendering strange closely cropped moments that float across hazy planes seemingly permeated with silence throughout. “The Sandman” (2023) is typical of her surreal style, which blends art history — I can’t help but see Henri Rousseau’s “La Guerre” (War) (1894) in the mysterious streaking form — with intimacy that feels self-consciously performed for an audience, all of which gives the paintings a theatrical snapshot feel. —HV 

Margot Samel Gallery (margotsamel.com)
295 Church Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through February 24

Sharon Louden: Barriers to Entry

I’ve been a collaborator with Louden for years, but recently we’ve been busy with our own projects and haven’t seen much of each other, so seeing this show was a welcome reconnection with an artist who marries her passion for issues with a deep love of formalism. Louden’s characteristic aluminum sheets undulate on the walls of the Signs and Symbols space, while smaller paintings of floating shapes are placed throughout. The artist’s exuberant vision is more defined here than in past work and she turns her attention to the barriers women face in the art community. Like many of her installations — and I collaborated with her on some of the first ones — there’s a sheer joy that comes from being confronted with the beauty of raw aluminum and the funhouse thrill it can convey. The installation brings to life some of the same issues she is grappling with in her painting, with their love of color, shape, and an overlapping of colors and shapes that reveals as much as it obfuscates. —HV 

Signs and Symbols (signsandsymbols.art)
249 East Houston Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through March 2

RIM Broken Spectre RUSH1 MR
Installation view of Richard Mosse: Broken Spectre (2018–22) (photo courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery)

Richard Mosse: Broken Spectre

This is the soft opening of the Jack Shainman Gallery’s new space by City Hall, and it’s a wonderful addition to the city’s already vibrant downtown art spaces. Irish artist Richard Mosse is the first to show here. The result feels like an important exploration of the environmental devastation of the Amazon during the Jair Bolsonaro presidency in Brazil. The multi-channel video fills the whole room and pulls you into the operatic devastation of what is often called the “lungs of the world”; near the end, the words by a young Indigenous woman will punch you in the gut. Come and expect to spend an hour immersed in this riveting cinematic world. —HV 

Jack Shainman Gallery at Clocktower (jackshainman.com)
46 Lafayette Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through March 16

Max Weber: Art and Life Are Not Apart

The best-known American Cubist, Max Weber’s canvases are stiffer and less adventurous than some of his contemporaries, but they demonstrate the evolving vision of someone who was part of the modernist wave that helped us see the world anew. The show’s title comes from a quote from the artist who claimed that life and art are more connected than some want to admit. While that connection isn’t always easy to find in the Cezanne-like paintings on display, they are nonetheless charming, if slightly too precious. The early still-lifes (1907–14) are the real draw with their weird spatial arrangements that seem on the verge of edging into a new reality. “Chinese Planter with Green Leaves” (c. 1907) is a modern take on a very old genre, and captures a little of the spirit Weber expressed in a 1915 newspaper article where he explained that his art is “not what I see with my eye but with my consciousness . . . mental impressions, not mere literal matter-of-fact copying of line and form. I want to put the abstract into concrete terms.” —HV

Schoelkopf Gallery (schoelkopfgallery.com)
390 Broadway, Third Floor, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through April 5

Sayar & Garibeh: Broomlithic

If the Flintstones lived in the Levant, their furniture would’ve looked like this. Inspired by the utilitarian beauty of brooms and the lithic stage in human development (not exactly two natural fits on the same mood board), Stephanie Sayar and Charbel Garibeh have created these slightly retro-looking objects that also appear remarkably soft for being made of limestone. Like their other work, there’s a tinge of the surreal in their creations and they feel sculptural in their sense of whimsy and their carefully considered elements, with the broom bristles being the most optimistic in spirit. If you end up furnishing your place with this, please invite me over. —HV

R & Company (r-and-company.com)
64 White Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through April 19

Joan Snyder: ComeClose

Each of Snyder’s works on linen are wondrous experiments that suggest new worlds she is embarking on in various ways. Critic Faye Hirsch calls her a “maximalist” in the way she negotiates her surfaces and materials, but I’d add that it’s a maximalism in service of developing new conjugations in her evolving art vocabulary. Her work can often resemble a bird gathering materials for her artistic nests, and the results evoke the subconscious imprints of her ideas on the objects she creates — it doesn’t always feel right to call them paintings because of their insistence on projecting out from the surface — as well as her magpie sensibility and the pleasure of discovery that it entails. —HV

Canada Gallery (canadanewyork.com)
60 Lispenard Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through February 24

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