Best free things to do today in New York City

Looking for a gratis event going down today? We’ve got you covered! Discover the top free things to do right now.

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So you’re pinching pennies and bored. We’ve been there. But that’s no reason to stay in your apartment!  Get outside and check out these cool free things to do.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in NYC


1

Jordan Wolfson

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

After nearly 30 museum and gallery shows in cities worldwide, and more than a decade working in various mediums, Jordan Wolfson makes his splashy debut at David Zwirner. Starting out, he mostly relied upon broadly pop-cultural or Hollywood-themed material, but then around 2009, he shifted to more provocative, psychosexually charged content, which he continues to explore in this exhibition—most notably with a showstopping audio-animatronic sculpture that’s a bad dream come to life. Visitors are greeted by a sofa-filled lounge hung with four photomontages. Sparse yet oddly suffocating, the room serves as a sort of waiting area for the animatronic installation, which, sealed within its own soundproof gallery, can be entered only by appointment (there’s a long waiting list). In the meantime, you can peruse the photo pieces, in which sophomoric bumper stickers (socrates was an asshole) are plastered over magazine images. A back room hosts Wolfson’s 2012 animated video, Raspberry Poser. The piece winds through parts of L.A., Paris and New York, as the artist’s cartoon doppelgänger communes with pornographic drawings, candy-heart-filled condoms and CGI-rendered images of HIV. Overshadowing everything else, however, is the sculpture: a robotic witch-mask-wearing female stripper, inspired by the character Holli Would from Ralph Bakshi’s 1992 film, Cool World. Gyrating suggestively before a large mirror to a soundtrack of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and a slowed-down version of Robin Thic

  1. David Zwirner 519 W 19th St. , 10011
  2. Fri Apr 18 - Sat Apr 19
More info
2

Laurie Simmons, "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Widely known for her photographs of dolls, ventriloquist dummies and objects on legs, Laurie Simmons has been a fixture on the New York art scene since the mid-1970s, when she first emerged as part of the Pictures Generation. On the heels of a highly acclaimed series titled “Love Doll,” which captured extremely lifelike sex dolls in otherwise bland, domestic settings, Simmons returns to Salon 94 with two new bodies of work, as well as a lively animation for the gallery’s outdoor video wall. The most extensive group of photos was inspired by kigurumi, a Japanese subculture in which participants known as dollers don costumes and masks to bring female anime characters to three-dimensional life. Simmons convinced a few of her friends, both male and female, to transform themselves in like manner and model for her. The results can be seen in five large color photos taken inside and around a beat-up, abandoned house in Connecticut. Through careful positioning and tight framing, Simmons manages to make her Keane-eyed characters—some of whom stand still in corners, while others vamp coquettishly—appear like they’re in a dollhouse. Another oversize photo features a pair of dollers wearing mermaid tails, stretched out on a deep-blue bedspread like fish out of water. Some smaller prints picture individual dollers indoors and out, intently shooting selfies, suggesting levels of self-dramatization layered one within the next like a matryoshka of narcissism. Tossed into the mix are two larg

  1. Salon 94 Bowery 243 Bowery, at Stanton St, 10002
  2. Fri Apr 18 - Sun Apr 27
More info
3

Paul P., "The Homosexual Lovers Throughout the Ages Party (2014)"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Paul P.’s sculptures take the form of polished mahogany end tables, whose attenuated legs and severe rectilinearity suggest a mannerist version of Donald Judd. They stand on platforms surrounded by monochrome yellow canvases hung in asymmetrical frames, torn-paper collages set on a multilevel wall shelf and luxurious wool carpets. The last, handwoven with images of other collages, complete a mise en scène of rarefied taste and refinement. Compared with Jorge Pardo’s overscaled interior decor currently on view at Petzel Gallery, P.’s show exudes reclusiveness, hermeticism and, dare we say, faggotry. Elegance is refusal, Coco Chanel once said, and P.’s eschewal of sensationalism seems not only stylish but a radical response to an overweening art world. Indeed, the work harkens back to various late-19th-century aesthetes: The yellow panels, for instance, allude to The Butterfly Cabinet by James Whistler and architect E.W. Godwin. P. first gained notice as a painter and draftsman (his drawings are in the current Whitney Biennial), and his suite of seven small untitled paintings constitutes the beating heart of this show. Resolutely abstract, they recall his earlier images of sunlit Italian walls or gauzy fabric blown by a summer breeze. Spare, gorgeous, rendered with loose brushwork, they suggest Abstract Expressionism as envisioned by an enraptured dandy.—Joseph R. Wolin

  1. Broadway 1602 1181 Broadway, at 28th St, third floor, 10001
  2. Fri Apr 18 - Sat Apr 19
More info
4

Michel Majerus

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

As the examples of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat attest, there are few things that can put an artist more firmly on the path to mythological status than an early death. Michel Majerus may be another case. This show is the Berlin artist’s first here since 2002, the year he died in a plane crash at age 35. Employing an exuberant mix of Pop Art, Minimalism and gestural abstraction, Majerus, who hailed from Luxembourg, plumbed postwar art history and the youth market of the late 1990s and early 2000s, a time when the Internet’s impact was just beginning to be felt. That moment, perhaps, accounts for the uncanny quality of his appropriative paintings, which look like they were made yesterday, while speaking of a recent past that already seems oddly distant. It also may figure in the way Majerus peppered his work with pop-cultural referents that were both worldwide in their familiarity (Super Mario Bros.) and not (flyers for Berlin raves), suggesting a tech-enabled melding of global and local. The same may hold true for his trio of paintings alluding to the movie Tron and also to a German hacker known as Tron, who was supposedly killed by government authorities. Art history provided another sort of lingua franca for Majerus, who channeled other painters in various ways, from straightforward Warhol borrowings to abstractions complied from a visual archive the artist kept of De Kooning’s blown-up brushstrokes. Though cut down in his prime, Majerus created works that still res

  1. Matthew Marks Gallery 522 W 22nd St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
  2. Fri Apr 18 - Sat Apr 19
More info
5

Ghada Amer, "Rainbow Girls"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Since she first emerged as an artist in 1990, Ghada Amer has filtered her work through her experiences as an Egyptian woman brought up by observant Muslim parents in France. This background accounts, perhaps, for her particular take on feminism: a fearless mix of politics and pornography, Arabic tradition and Western liberalism, most notable in her signature stitched-canvas “paintings.” Her show at Cheim & Read includes the latest incarnations of these, as well as metal sculptures. An example of the latter, Blue Bra Girls, interconnects the figures of eight women within an egg-shaped form as a tribute to female protesters beaten by soldiers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. Similarly, the rape and imprisonment of Amina Sboui, a Tunisian activist known for her topless protests, is recalled in Amina, an embroidered painting of a reclining nude overlaid with Arabic texts. As powerful as the sculptures are, the paintings command your attention because of the way Amer leaves the end of each basted thread long and loose, creating an effect that recalls painterly drips. The irony underscoring these compositions, of course, is that Amer employs a medium associated with women to explore the line between oppression and empowerment. But it is also this combination of visual allure and political message that makes her work so compelling.—Paul Laster

  1. Cheim & Read 547 W 25th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10001
  2. Fri Apr 18 - Sat May 10
More info
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Users say

12 comments

@me

Must do ..

Annette
Annette

Had a great time. You can walk from gallery to gallery and feel welcome.

Regina
Regina

Sucks that you don't have the West Indian parade listed.

me
me

these seem fun! NOT!

AriellacomA
AriellacomA

Limelight is hosting fashion week- with free shows for the next 6 days... The designers are great and it's a nice crowd. Definitely worth it! RSVP@limelightshops.com

Jane C. Nicholson
Jane C. Nicholson

always like new things and I like your taste i almost everything.