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

Sterling Ruby, "SUNRISE SUNSET"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Although he’s no stranger to New York—having worked his way through the art-world ranks with exhibitions at Foxy Production, Metro Pictures and Pace Gallery—Sterling Ruby’s debut at Hauser & Wirth New York is his biggest and best show to date. Re-creating the spirit of his Los Angeles studio, Ruby presents 19 new, large-scale pieces in a variety of mediums, spread throughout the gallery’s massive main room. The absence of dividing walls lets viewers see how the works relate to one another and the impressive space around them. All are monumental, except for a ceramic bowl, which is still as big as the medium allows. Four of Ruby’s signature spray paintings share wall space with collages constructed from sheets of cardboard originally used to cover his studio floor. Fabric assemblages made with rags, store-bought textiles and painted or bleached canvas stand alongside a tapestry suggesting the American flag and a pair of bronze sculptural reliefs of basins filled with studio detritus. Standouts include Big Yellow Mama, which enlarges Alabama’s notorious electric chair to a scale worthy of the Lincoln Memorial; The Cup, a giant version of the eponymous object carved from foam and covered in dripping, blood-red urethane; and Hanging Figures, which depicts two stuffed soft-sculptural bodies sewn out of material patterned with American flags. Connected to each other, they are strung by their arms from a metal bar hanging overhead. While Ruby here pursues his usual interest in proce

  1. Hauser & Wirth New York 511 W 18th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10011
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Fri Jul 25
More info
2

Andy Freeberg, "Art Fare"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Andy Freeberg has an amazing knack for capturing people involved with the art world. His current show offers a selection of images shot between 2009 and 2011 at art fairs in Basel, Switzerland; Miami and New York. The dozen pictures on view resemble life-size dioramas, in which dealers and their assistants interact with the art and their electronic devices, rather than with clients or the general public. In one amusing juxtaposition, a woman in a booth for the downtown gallery Two Palms talks on her cell phone, while standing next to a Mel Bochner print that reads blah, blah, blah. A strawberry-blond assistant for the Andrea Rosen Gallery wears a yellow top that blends perfectly with the abstract photo behind her by Wolfgang Tillmans. Two men in matching dark suits stand in front of a trio of Ad Reinhardt’s all-black paintings like characters from a Samuel Beckett play. And dealer Sean Kelly, sitting beneath a massive Kehinde Wiley painting of a young black man in a classic death pose, covers his face with his hands as if he were in mourning. As Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage,” and in Freeberg’s work, every booth becomes one.—Paul Laster

  1. Andrea Meislin Gallery 534 West 24th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10001
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Fri Aug 8
More info
3

Mickalene Thomas, "Tête de Femme"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Making a radical shift away from the landscape and interior scenes that dominated her 2012 solo show at this gallery, Thomas concentrates on women’s heads in her new mixed-media portraits. Based on playful collages that the artist made of her friends, the larger-than-life images capture faces through a Cubistic lens while also referencing such Pop Art legends as Warhol and Wesselmann. Rendered on wood panels with a combination of enamel, acrylic, oils, glitter, graphite and rhinestones, Thomas kicks her process up a notch by adding silkscreened elements to the mix. Untitled #10 depicts a woman with one eye closed and the other substituted by a screen-printed flower from a Warhol painting. Her angular nose is formed from hundreds of rhinestones, and her lips have been smeared on with red oil stick. A vibrant palette of pink, green, yellow and blue shapes define the head’s form, which besides Cubism also alludes to Matisse, particularly his late cut-paper works. Carla, the only titled work here, portrays Lehmann Maupin partner Carla Camacho floating on a field of hard-edge, colorful shapes and gestural flourishes, while Untitled #8, the only diptych in the show, has almost a Basquiat feel to it. Multilayered with all of the artist’s new techniques in play, it epitomizes what Thomas so eloquently adds to the genre of portraiture.—Paul Laster

  1. Lehmann Maupin 540 W 26th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Fri Aug 8
More info
4

Jerry Kearns, "RRRGGHH!!!"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Jerry Kearns’s brand of comic-book-derived painting is deeply eccentric, a bit creepy and an acquired taste. You can’t call it Pop Art, as the term seems too limiting; to quote one of the many written sound effects surging across his images, it’s more like Blam! Art. His latest show mashes together Westerns and film noir with a generous helping of the Rapture. In many of the scenes, Jesus, portrayed as a gunslinger wearing a crown of thorns, shoots it out with the Devil and his minions, like the Second Coming at the O.K. Corral. In a couple of instances, this mayhem results in a hail of bullets lacing the canvases as lines of tracer fire accompanied by onomatopoeic ejaculations—kling!, skreeee and b-doom! Kearns’s style borrows from such early-’50s chestnuts as Tales from the Crypt, but while bold outlines and flat colors predominate, Christ’s face is finely rendered, as if it had wandered in from a religious picture hanging over Grandma’s bed. Frozen in the same expression throughout, it resembles a mask collaged onto each composition. Kearns’s depictions of a fundamentalist, open-carry America are certainly over-the-top, but his commitment to excess is a goal in and of itself—a thumbing of his nose at art-world insiders most noticeable in a view of Christ’s ascension to Heaven via the Guggenheim rotunda. A fever dream? Indubitably. But also, perhaps, an allegory about the reactionary furor of a hard-pressed segment of the populace, its exploitation by the 1 percent, and the

  1. Mike Weiss Gallery 520 W 24th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Sat Aug 23
More info
5

Socrates Sculpture Park Spring Show

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s harder to justify indoor art-peeping once the weather is nice, and you don’t have to. Head to the en plein air sculpture haven—one of the city’s few locales designated specifically for outdoor works. Then, get up close with large-scale creations, the handiwork of three international artists and an architectural firm, while working on your tan. The superlative view of the Manhattan skyline doesn’t hurt either.

  1. Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Blvd, at Broadway
  2. Tue Jul 22 - Sun Aug 3
More info
See all free things to do today


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.