Must-See Art | Sep 2017 Must-see art exhibitions in New York right now


By Nicole Bray, Contemporary Art Consultant |


Open season commences on the Thursday after Labor Day in the art world. The galleries of New
York open their doors after a quiet Summer and present their gangbuster shows to a frenzied
crowd of collectors, advisors and fans, eager to get back in the mix. Here are my favorite shows
that recently opened:

Sanford Biggers
Open until October 21
Marianne Boesky
507 West 24 th Street, New York, NY 10001

In his first solo exhibition with the gallery, Sanford Biggers shines a light on the often overlooked political and cultural narratives in American history through symbolic gestures and imagery. By embracing painting, sculpture, textiles, video, film and multi-component installations, Biggers collaborates with the past by adding his voice and perspective to antique quilts, African sculptures, and cultural imagery and references. The show’s central figure, also entitled Selah, stands over ten feet tall with its arms raised. Its shape originates from an African wooden sculpture of a figure preparing to bend in worship or prayer. The posture bears a striking resemblance to one of “hands up.” Covered with antique quilts, and lined with sequins, Selah also shares direct connections with the artist’s well-known textile works in which the body is a critical component.

Sanford Biggers: Selah

Polly Apfelbaum
The Potential of Women
Open until October 21
Alexander Gray Associates
510 West 26 Street, New York NY 10001

Drawing inspiration from graphic designer Rudolph deHarek’s 1963 cover design for The Potential of Woman , which features a flattened, stylized view of a female figure’s head. Polly Apfelbaum presents a series of new work, including gouache drawings, hand-woven rugs, and wall-mounted ceramics. Her appropriation of deHarek’s image, chosen as an icon, is consistent with her ongoing interest in applied design and popular culture. The book and its related symposium imagined a future in which women might be useful contributors; Apfelbaum instead reflects the desire for a broader appreciation and empowerment of legions of capable women in the present. In the exhibition’s title, Apfelbaum changes the word ‘woman’ to ‘women’ to reinforce an inclusive communal narrative around feminism.

Polly Apfelbaum: The Potential of Women

Amanda Ross-Ho
My Pen is Huge
Open until October 14
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
534 West 26th Street, New York, NY, 10001

For the month of August, Amanda Ross-Ho used the gallery as her studio to produce work on-site for her show. Renown for her oversized objects, found pieces, and her examination of the ecology of the studio, Ross-Ho expanded her practice to include a series of paintings based on works on paper created over the past year. Last Summer Ross-Ho found a collection of vintage paper clock face dials on eBay, being liquidated from a clock maker. Removed from the mechanism and components that comprise their intact timepieces, the blank clock faces suggested a poetic potential and a vacant stage for activity. She bought them all, and to mitigate her studio transition while also maintaining a heavy exhibition and travel schedule, Ross-Ho began directly using the paper clock faces as work surfaces, which evolved over the course of a year as she spent time in airplanes, hotel rooms, Air BnB apartments, as well as her kitchen table. Over the course of many months, doodles, calculations, diagrams, lists, notes to self and other anxious scribblings—combined with the residue of her consumption of food and drink—aggregated on the surfaces of the clock faces. The resulting layered surfaces, dense with the recording of her daily activities of life and art, supplant the movement of a timepiece’s usual mechanisms and present a physical recording of the passage of time within the circuitry of a frenetic mind. Ross-Ho treated these works on paper as studies or rehearsals for a performative production to take place onsite at the gallery, translating twelve of the clock works on paper into large-scale paintings produced in real time. The result is a hybrid installation consisting of the authentic residue of work, and the theatrical amplification of many of these same artifacts.

Amanda Ross-Ho: My Pen is Huge

artREAL contributor Nicole Bray is the founder of Mercer Contemporary and guides private and corporate clients through each step of acquiring, selling, managing, and displaying artwork. She received her Masters in Contemporary Art (Hons.) from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. She was the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Emerging Curator Fellowship 2015, and has worked at both an Auction House and for a distinguished private family. If you would like to contact Nicole, or if you are interested in starting your own collection, please email her at or visit

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