Summer School

peppermint patty lumina

Even in the heat, it is definitely unpleasant to consider summer’s end. Immediately, I begin to feel guilty about how many times I haven’t gone to the beach or spiked my lemonade.

And the long days of summer give fewer excuses to avoid writing, allowing for time to seek inspiration in places beyond the chilly AC at your local coffee shop. If you can stand the heat, drag your pens or laptops outdoors to a park bench or stoop and take a look around. Or, if you’re traveling, hole up in the crowded peacefulness of a bus, train, or airplane and scribble down your observations.

But if you’re in New York, here are two summer exhibitions that will keep you thinking.

The Romance of Certain old Clothes: Sheryl Sutton, My Sister, My Mother, Senga Nengudi, and the Rest is a portion of Hilton Als’ six month residency at the Artist Institute in Manhattan. The first installation entitled,  James Baldwin/Jim Brown and The Children, was the artist’s exploration of James Baldwin as a writer, gay man, an influence.

Als exhibit Lumina

   Diane Arbus, “Make War Not Love!” Sunday Times Magazine (London), September 14, 1969

The Romance is a mosaic of images and objects that represent Hilton Als’ perception of himself and family. A self described “emotional retrospective,” the installation is an unique experience with art. Visitors move through the three rooms of family artifacts and projections, as if one could walk around inside of an essay furnished with Als’ insights. The exhibition references the question of “how,” dancing on the surface of a writer’s mind, while underneath several ideas are bumping into one another.

There is no point in making things if you don’t learn something about the world, oneself. Hilton Als

Through August 7th at The Artist Institute, 132 East 65th St.

Diane Arbus Lumina

The second is an enormous collection of previously unreleased photographs by Diane Arbus at the MET Breuer called Diane Arbus: In the Beginning. A haunting and remarkable photographer, Arbus’ work recalls a time unknown to those of us who live in New York today. In the New Yorker essay Full Exposure, by Claudia Roth Pierpont, the writer picks up on Arbus’ journalistic approach to her famous portraits. Her work portrays an elongated experience or conversation, not the brevity of a snapshot that we place significance on today. The Arbus photograph (featured above) from the Hilton Als exhibit was a serendipitous parallel.

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning is on display through November 27th at the MET Breuer, 1000 Fifth Avenue.