Your Concise New York Art Guide for January 2023

Happy 2023, dear readers! We hope you’ve resolved to spend more time seeing art this year. As New York enters the post-holiday winter fog, the city’s galleries, nonprofits, and museums are gearing up for a season of clarity — from historical representations of gender fluidity to the overwhelming effects of colonialism on personal identity. Our highlights for January include portraits from the Black Liberation Movement, tapestries interweaving histories of border resistance, and the Indigenous origins of contemporary design.


Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

Bill Miller

Bill Miller, “TV Dinner” (2022) (courtesy dieFirma)

Bill Miller creates his landscapes and domestic scenes using linoleum lifted from long-abandoned households. In a collage style akin to Romare Bearden or Hannah Höch, Miller weaves together gentle scenes of blue-collar life. Inspired by his own family history — both his father and grandfather perished in Pittsburgh industrial accidents — these proletarian tapestries use found materials to salvage the memory of working-class intimacy, with overlapping patterns symbolizing the myriad outcomes that befall everyday workers. Images of family, nature, and home seem less a reinforcement of traditional values than a ritual return to bygone places.

dieFirma (
32A Cooper Square, Noho, Manhattan
Through January 14

Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful

Kwame Brathwaite, “Grandassa Models at the Merton Simpson Gallery, New York” (ca. 1967) (courtesy New-York Historical Society)

The latest Brathwaite retrospective takes a closer look at the New York photographer’s contributions to the Black Is Beautiful movement in the mid-1960s. In 40 photos taken around Harlem, the exhibition highlights the artist’s own involvement in pageants and concerts, when his focus was directed toward the neighborhood’s burgeoning jazz scene. Portraits of Grandassa Models and bandleaders like Max Roach reveal the lesser-represented cultural side of the Black Liberation Movement in Manhattan, thus portraying Brathwaite as both instigator and documentarian.

New-York Historical Society (
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Through January 15

Sara Flores: Kené

Sara Flores, “Untitled (Maya Kené 2, 2022)” (2022) ( photo by JSP Art Photography, courtesy the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York / Los Angeles / Brussels)

Peruvian artist Sara Flores is a master of kené design, which transforms local flora and fruit into complex geometric patterns seen across pottery and textiles. Rooted in traditions from the women-led Shibipo Nation, these serpentine compositions draw from the tail of a mythical anaconda named Ronin, who is known as the “mother of all mothers.” Equally hallucinatory and meticulous, Flores’s earth-toned paintings reveal connections between the natural world and Indigenous design, which the fashion and art industries continue to appropriate today.

C L E A R I N G (
396 Johnson Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn
Through January 22

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

Herman Landshoff, “André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst (standing behind Morris Hirshfield’s “Nude at a Window (Hot Night in July)”), and Leonora Carrington (seated) at Peggy Guggenheim’s townhouse, Fall 1942, New York” (courtesy Münchner Stadtmuseum and Sammlung Fotografie)

A retrospective dedicated to self-taught painter Morris Hirshfield feels long overdue. The first comprehensive display of his work since Peggy Guggenheim’s 1947 review, the Folk Art Museum’s latest exhibition portrays how Hirshfield worked his way from garment factory worker to market darling, becoming known as the “master of two left feet” for his flattened perspective. Coinciding with a new text by historian Richard Meyer — whose article on Hirshfield is worth reading before visiting — Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered is a fascinating study of art-world politics in the age of surrealism. 

American Folk Art Museum (
2 Lincoln Square, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Through January 29

Gwen Smith: The Chance Whale

Gwen Smith, “All Four Boats Gave Chase Again; But the Whale Eluded Them, and Finally Wholly Disappeared (for Paul and Toby)” (2022) (courtesy the artist and Baxter Street CCNY)

The narrative works made during Gwen Smith’s recent Baxter Street residency portray an “origin story” — one in which the chance of encountering a “white whale” leads the artist to the precipice of personal freedom. A series of colorful, fluid mixed-media works incorporate towering blue ocean currents, images of slave ships, and themes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, as if Smith is herself surfing a wave of self-discovery. A meditation on the life cycle and the process of art-making, The Chance Whale conveys the thrill of the ride.

Baxter Street at Camera Club of New York (
126 Baxter Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through February 1

Afia Prempeh and So Lee: Portals

Afia Prempeh, “Royal Dream” (2021) (courtesy UniX Gallery)

Two contemporary representational painters turn quaint domestic scenes into metaphysical studies of self-reflection. Prempeh and Lee respectively hail from Ghana and South Korea, but a shared theme emerges in their distorted realism. Prempeh’s subjects gaze into mirrors, windows, and painted compositions, seeing in them an idealized version of themselves. Meanwhile, Lee’s domestic scenes blur all facial and bodily details, as if anyone could inhabit these spaces. Presented together, the works in Portals subtly critique our own complacency and dare us to dream bigger.

UniX Gallery (
520 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through February 4

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: Threads from Border-landia

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, “HiWays to Heaven” (2022) (photo by Daniel Terna, courtesy Ruiz-Healy Art)

Underwood’s latest exhibition, one of two in the United States right now, explores cross-cultural identity intertwined with creative labor. A recent recipient of the Latinx Artist Fellowship, the artist creates vivacious textiles that translate Indigenous, Chicana, and patriotic motifs into critiques of border imperialism. Pale pieces of embroidery from the 1990s are shown alongside newer, darker works composed with barbed wire and caution tape, interweaving her experience as a child of immigrant workers with contemporary migrant struggles at the US-Mexico border. Above all, Threads from Border-landia posits that a reckoning is long overdue.

Ruiz-Healy Art (
74 East 79th Street #2D, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through February 18

Samira Abbassy, Oona Brangam-Snell, and Jia Sung: Carrying the Effigy

Samira Abbassy, “Anastasis” (2021) (photo by Jeannette May, courtesy Candice Madey)

Three women working in painting, textile, and embroidery create a shared study of generational consciousness. Named after a painting by Abbassy, Carrying the Effigy elides any simplistic understanding of femininity and spirituality. Many-headed women gaze at animalistic and human-like forms in Abbassy and Sung’s paintings, which respectively draw from ancient Iranian and Chinese traditions. Meanwhile, Brangam-Snell’s designs show disembodied hands grasping at elusive household objects. In this setting, the “effigy” theme symbolizes not just fire and anguish, but also love and solidarity.

Candice Madey (
1 Rivington Street, Second Floor, Lower East Side, Manhattan
January 12–March 4

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América

Juan Francisco Elso, “Por América” (José Martí)” (1986) (courtesy the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC)

Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso passed away from cancer at age 32, just as his work was receiving international renown. This tragic legacy informs El Museo del Barrio’s new contextual survey of Elso’s oeuvre, which places his sculptural and assemblage works within a larger movement of Latin American artists in the 1980s. Elso drew from Indigenous spirituality and revolutionary iconography to envision a “new Cuban art,” inspired by martyred poet José Martí’s desire for a unified Americas. As new generations fight against neoliberalism in Latin America, Por América positions Elso as an anti-colonial ancestor.

El Museo del Barrio (
1230 Fifth Avenue, East Harlem, Manhattan
Through March 26

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

Macho: Representing Masculinity

Installation view, Macho: Representing Masculinity at Another Space (photo by Adam Reich, courtesy Another Space)

With mainstream media laser-focused on criticizing gender nonconformity, Another Space’s group exhibition on masculinity is a welcome intervention. A companion to its 2018 Second Sex show, Macho questions what it really means to be a man today. Installations, self-portraits, and sculptures produced from the 1940s to now trace a history of nonwhite and queer artists contemplating the nature of male camaraderie and self-identification, particularly as they relate to the nuclear family and heteronormativity. Presented in three separate displays, Macho posits that male identity is much broader than patriarchal institutions let on.

Another Space (
Chelsea, Manhattan (email address: [email protected])
Through April 1


No votes yet.
Please wait...