Art walk

The Lower East Side's galleries are still dwarfed by their neighborhood's historic specialty shops: cheap clothes, kitchen gear and food. Get culture and dessert.

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Photos: Roxana Marroquin

Start: 379 Grand St between Essex and Norfolk Sts
End: 47 Orchard St at Grand St
Distance: 1.7 miles
Time: 2 hours

1 If you haven’t walked farther than the newsstand since last fall—or even if you have—prepare by carbo-loading at the Doughnut Plant (379 Grand St between Essex and Norfolk Sts; 212-505-3700, doughnutplant.com) with an ultramodern square PB&J (house-made organic jelly filling with peanut-butter glaze) or a more traditional-looking tres leches doughnut.

2 The LES Business Improvement District (70 Orchard St between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-226-9010, lowereastsideny.com) has neighborhood information, gallery maps and a secret bathroom. If you ask nicely (or look really desperate), maybe they’ll let you use it.

3 Two blocks up Orchard, look for freshly painted skateboard decks screwed to the walls of Gallery Bar (120 Orchard St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-529-2266, gallerybarnyc.com). The boards (and some paintings on canvas) are the work of Katch 1, who has been tagging, bombing and designing his way through life for 25 years—he started writing graffiti in 1984. His work will be on display here through May 5; accordingly, Gallery Bar cofounder Darin Rubell has noticed a trend: “We’ve got more skaters in here,” he says. “Different shows bring different crowds.” No matter what’s on exhibit, this venue also provides a do-it-yourself option: Snap a self-portrait (or five) in its photo booth.

4 At 53--57 Stanton Street (between Eldridge and Forsyth Sts), you’ll find a little slice of Chelsea in the form of four gallery storefronts in a row: Fusion (212-995-5290, fusionartsmuseum.org), Luxe (212-582-4425, luxegallery.net), Smith-Stewart (212-477-2821, smith-stewart.com) and Scaramouche c/o Fruit and Flower Deli (212-228-2229, scaramoucheart.com). Fusion’s “XX” exhibit showcases women’s multimedia work, through July 27; at Scaramouche, “A Momentary Fantasy” exhibits five young artists, through May 24.

5 Lehmann Maupin (201 Chrystie St between Rivington and Stanton Sts; 212-254-0054, lehmannmaupin.com), which shows big names here and in Chelsea, is hosting Hernan Bas’s paintings through July 10. His bright, young lads in wild landscapes look a little like Huck Finn as imagined by Hieronymus Bosch.

6 Gazing down the Bowery, you’ll see the off-kilter layer-cake-shaped New Museum tower (235 Bowery at Prince St; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.org). As you’ve no doubt heard, “Younger than Jesus” is the venue’s first attempt at a triennial-style blockbuster franchise show—a “generational” that focuses on artists who are all 33 or younger. The concept is ingeniously self-renewing: There will always be hot young artists and people who want to say they saw them first. Fortunately, you don’t need a $12 ticket to sit at the amoeba-shaped cafeteria tables, raid the bookstore or just watch guards chase visitors off the couch sculpture. And while signs say you do need that ticket to use the basement-level Jerome L. and Ellen Stern restrooms, most days you can walk right down.

7 Eleven Rivington (11 Rivington St between Bowery and Chrystie St; 212-982-1930, elevenrivington.com), spawn of Fifth Avenue’s Greenberg Van Doren gallery, is showing Ishmael Randall Weeks, who recycles with morbid glee. Eye his topographically carved blueprints; spliced, stapled and whitewashed life rafts; and a saddle made from shredded tires. The resulting work is here through May 22, and if you find yourself in Cuba anytime soon thanks to President Obama, there’s more at the tenth Bienal de la Habana.

8 Across Rivington, a dark alley juts north and dead ends. What are you waiting for? Outside the gallery door of Salon 94 (1 Freeman Alley off Rivington St between Bowery and Chrystie St; 212-529-7400, salon94.com), which is currently showing the works of Marilyn Minter through June 13, the alley walls are lined with unusually literate graffiti: A war forever stencil is improved to gwar forever, and a neatly hand-lettered paradox asks readers to ignore this text. A few yards down, plastic shopping bags embellished with embroidery decorate a tree branch. They’re the work of Josh Blackwell, whose solo show you’ll run into later. At the dead end, a glass door leads to Freemans (Freeman Alley off Rivington St between Bowery and Chrystie St; 212-420-0012, freemansrestaurant.com). If you’re thinking cheeseburger or bananas Foster, they can help.

9 Canada (55 Chrystie St between Canal and Hester Sts; 212-925-4631, canadanewyork.com) opened in 2001, and in its space, Luke Murphy has pointed three Geiger counters at a sweet little vase of flowers, which turns out to be made from an obscure decorative glass containing traces of uranium. In a further mash-up of nature and man’s manipulation of it, Geiger counters cue projectors that broadcast abstracted images punctuated by doves. The whole apparatus will be whirring along until Sunday 3. Next up: new paintings by Carrie Moyer, May 8 to June 7.

10 Rachel Uffner has paid her dues. After working at Christie’s and directing, for five years, someone else’s successful gallery, she finally has her own space (47 Orchard St between Grand and Hester Sts; 212-274-0064, racheluffnergallery.com). Through Sunday 3, she’s hosting art by Josh Blackwell, the careless man who left all those shopping bags in Freeman Alley. From some angles, his Casual Dress Pants looks like rabid Abstract Expressionism—and from others, they resemble Maira Kalman’s illustrations. If the whole thing makes you want another doughnut, good, because you’re within three blocks of where you started.


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