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15 Art Shows to See in New York City This Summer | Featuring Suchitra Mattai

By Lisa Yin Zhang

Not everyone can flee the hot mess of summer in New York City — it ain’t all “what pleasure, what joy” down here, as it seems to be Upstate. I kid — I’m probably just salty from the heat ricocheting off the concrete, sending sweat down my face. But hey, we’ve got gardens down here, too. The manicured greenery of Wave Hill cocoons the Bronx-forward work within, while Suchitra Mattai’s sculptures erupt from rough earth in Socrates Sculpture Park, contrasting with the quiet sculptures in the Noguchi Museum’s shady courtyard mere steps away. The exhibitions below will transport you — whether to parts of the city most of us ought to visit more, like the Staten Island waterfront or the northern tip of Manhattan, or to the city’s past, as in the Met’s Harlem Renaissance show, or to pockets of the psyche both nostalgic and repressed, as in Diamond Stingily’s architectural interventions at 52 Walker. Stand before Amalia Mesa-Bain’s moving altars in Spanish Harlem, elbow your way through the careerists in midtown to find yourself before Rose B. Simpson’s bronze-and-steel sentinels. Living here has always been about finding the way through the labyrinth. We’ve unspooled some string to guide you through. 

Suchitra Mattai: We are nomads, we are dreamers

Socrates Sculpture Park is yet another underrated green space in the city, with sculptures that erupt vertiginously from tufts of grass along undeveloped waterfront. Beautiful as they are — shiny fabrics ripple in wave formations around their sides — Suchitra Mattai’s sculptures are grotesque as well: Their mirrored surfaces reflect sunlight like warning beacons, and their black bases appear as if twisted uncomfortably out of their own skin. Inspired by the East River’s passage into the Atlantic Ocean, host to myriad migration journeys including that of Mattai’s family, the sculptures recall topographical masses on a slow course, embodying both the promise of new possibilities and the threats of such collisions.

Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Astoria, Queens
Through August 24