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

Carl Ostendarp, "Blanks"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

A pall of conflicting emotions seems to hang over Carl Ostendarp’s current exhibition, a mix of cheerfulness and depressive funk that finds expression through a series of monochrome canvases. Empty save for the artist’s initials, they’re carefully spaced around the room, coated in dampened shades of pink, yellow and orange. The lettering is large and crude, resembling something you might find on an ineptly executed yard-sale sign. The characters C and O bump up against the bottom edge of each painting, floating up and down (and sometimes apart) from one piece to the next. Put together in an animated sequence, they’d make a hypnotic, if somewhat bleak, screen saver. Ostendarp was part of a wave of Yale-trained painters during the early-to-mid-’90s who took a dyspeptic approach to reviving various art-historical genres. For Ostendarp, that meant ’70s-style minimalist abstraction done with a cartoonish touch—in this case, sending up a nearly forgotten category of site-specific painting that was a thing between 1965 and 1975. Ostendarp compounds the obscurity of the reference by naming each work after a noted player of the Hammond organ (e.g. Groove Holmes). While the paintings appear to be installed as they are for a reason, there is no sense of spatial dynamics here—only a numb presence. The works are meant as nihilistic parody, one where the artist’s signature serves as a self-canceling gesture. In this respect, the show’s title does more than just describe the relatively cl

  1. Elizabeth Dee Gallery 545 W 20th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
  2. Tue Sep 2 - Sat Sep 6
More info
2

Nancy Rubins, "Our Friend Fluid Metal"

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Gagosian Gallery roundup of Nancy Rubins’s latest sculptures represents the Los Angeles artist’s first show in New York since 2006. Rubins, of course, is known for making bold, large-scale aggregations out of like objects, creations that have included a 45-foot-high tornado of discarded appliances for an empty lot in Washington, D.C., and a suspended sculpture that strapped-together amalgam of mattresses and squashed Entenmann’s cakes for the 1995 Whitney Biennial. More recent works—starbursts of recycled canoes and vortices of airplane parts—have emphasized form over references to societal waste. The four sculptures here are made from vintage playground animals, the kind that rock back and forth on springs, massed together and held in equilibrium by a network of steel cables. The largest piece pushes out from one wall, cantilevering overhead like a blobby, multihued cloud. Three others, the size and shape of overgrown shrubs, mushroom from small bases on the floor. The rounded contours of the collected horses, ducks and frogs add to the impression that the works are frothing over. All of these creatures, made from aluminum originally destined to be recycled, were themselves cast from recycled metal. There are formal pleasures here, including the structures’ open, billowy shapes and the painterly use of found color (the occasional shots of bright orange or turquoise amid the dirty yellows, fleshy pinks, faded reds and dull mauves). However, the materials don’t achieve t

  1. Gagosian Gallery 522 W 21st St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
  2. Tue Sep 2 - Sat Sep 13
More info
3

Literary BFFs: Adam Wilson and Justin Taylor

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Two of Brooklyn's literary darlings—and Carroll Gardens neighbors—discuss their new story collections (Taylor's Flings and Wilson's What's Important is Feeling) and the existential crises that plague their characters.

  1. McNally Jackson Books 52 Prince St, between Lafayette and Mulberry Sts
  2. Tue Sep 2
More info
4

"Exposed: A History of Lingerie"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Whatever your interest in ladies’ undergarments, you’ll see more than 70 iterations from throughout history at the Museum at FIT’s new exhibit. From a circa-1770 whalebone corset to Rudi Gernreich’s wireless “no-bra bra” of the ’60s, the exhibit looks at how form and function have shifted over time, as well as how nightgowns and other silhouette-framing pieces (like the Juel Park couture favored by Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor) have inspired formal wear and everyday clothes alike.

  1. The Museum at FIT Seventh Ave, at 27th St
  2. Tue Sep 2 - Sat Nov 15
More info
5

"That Obscure Object of Desire"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Taking its title from Luis Buñuel's 1977 film about dark sexual obsessions, this group show is organized around the theme of erotic desires on the verge of spinning out of control. The show spans the late 1940s to the present and often delves into creepy fetishism, most evidently in photos by Hans Bellmer and Robert Heinecken featuring female figures as the main course at Benihana: sliced, diced and cooked into disturbingly abstract assemblages. Other works with similarly unsettling overtones include those by Alina Szapocznikow, Anthea Hamilton and Alisa Baremboym.

  1. Luxembourg & Dayan 64 E 77th St, between Madison and Park Aves, 10075
  2. Tue Sep 2 - Sat Oct 4
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.