I recently returned from my solo trip to New York City, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! I originally booked the trip in late October so that I could see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric Theatre on Halloween, but as I started researching other activities to fill the rest of my trip, I realized that I had inadvertently planned everything to coincide with tons of exciting limited-run art and music experiences!
The Museum of Modern Art‘s main location in Manhattan has been entirely closed for several months this year; the museum was undergoing a huge renovation to commemorate 90 years since it first opened in 1929. The expansion, which opened to the public on October 21, 2019, has increased the museum’s size by 25% and includes new galleries and performance spaces. Much of their collection that was previously on display has been rotated out to make room for more contemporary work by “Latinx artists, Black artists, Asian artists, and other artists from marginalized communities.”
One of my favorite parts of the remodeled MoMA was an interactive sound installation called Rainforest V in the new Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, a dedicated space for live art performances, spoken word and living history (pictured above). The exhibit explores resonating sound by using everyday items, suspended in air and equipped with acoustic sensors. This exhibit is on display through January 5, 2020.
Another highlight of my museum trip was a display on the contemporary visual and performance artist William Pope.L called member: Pope.L, 1978–2001. The mixed media pieces were compiled from a series of landmark performances that defined him as “a consummate agitator and humorist who has used his body to examine division and inequality on the streets and stages of New York City.” This MoMA installation is part of three under the name Pope.L: Instigation, Aspiration, Perspiration, with simultaneous complementary shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Public Art Fund. This exhibit is on display through February 1, 2020.
David Byrne released his 7th solo album, titled American Utopia, in March 2018. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 charts at No. 3 and the subsequent tour routinely sold out. Earlier this year, it was announced that American Utopia would be transformed into a limited-run stage production, with design and choreography elements that are reminiscent of Byrne’s time as the vocalist and guitarist of the new wave band, the Talking Heads. Rolling Stone magazine has called the Broadway production, “a heady swirl of hope for our anxious times,” and the show has been extended an additional month. This is not Byrne’s first theater collaboration: most recently in 2006, he worked with DJ and producer Fatboy Slim to create Here Lies Love, a disco opera about Imelda Marcos (which was also fantastic when I saw it in Seattle in 2017).
Kehinde Wiley‘s paintings are best known for using the pose and staging of 18th century aristocratic portraits – air of nobility, influence and power permeating from the painting’s subject – and replacing the dignified white people with African Americans in contemporary clothes. Barack Obama selected Wiley to paint his official portrait in 2018, which can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Wiley’s first public sculpture, Rumors of War, was unveiled in Times Square in September. Measuring 9 feet tall, the bronze piece “continues [his] career-long investigation of the politics of representation, race, gender, and power.” It evokes the monuments that were built to honor the Confederate generals of the Civil War, many of which still stand today and are a heated topic of debate. The statue will remain in New York until December 1st, when it will move to Richmond, Virginia – which was the capital of the Confederacy from 1861 until 1865.