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

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. Thu Apr 24 - Sun Apr 27
More info
2

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. Thu Apr 24 - Sat May 10
More info
3

"Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

On the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four arriving stateside, the Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Grammy Museum showcase memorabilia, recordings, videos and photos of the mop-topped musicians—and the Beatlemania that followed them.

  1. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 65th St
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sat May 10
More info
4

“Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive”

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For its debut exhibit, City Lore revisits the street-art-painted subway cars of NYC in the ’70s and early ’80s. Images of more than 850 tattooed trains line the wall of the gallery, creating an immersive environment that echoes the rail yards where artists would practice their craft.

  1. City Lore Gallery 56 E 1st St, between First and Second Aves, 10003
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Thu Jul 10
More info
5

"I’m Walking Here! Richard Patterson"

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Critics choice

One of the original YBAs (Young British Artists) who gained fame in the 1990s, Richard Patterson is known for paintings of various images or objects overlaid with heavy daubs of paint, all rendered with photorealistic precision. Several of these form the heart of his first New York show in more than a decade, constituting a mini retrospective of sorts. The results are frequently enchanting. In Young Minotaur (1997), a green half-man/half-bull toy figure is blown up to human size. He looks toward a vista of blurred lights, while a convincingly illusionistic, vertical smear of impasto hovers next to him, sharing both his scale and his coloring. An updated allegory of painting, the canvas possesses a sly, economical Pop Art sensibility and a smooth touch. Smaller canvases covered in actual applications of thick paint seem like studies for Patterson’s faux brushstrokes. Too often, though, the exhibition ignores Patterson’s gifts as a painter in favor of dumb objects—a vintage motorcycle parked in the gallery, racing leathers hung on a ladder—and uncritical images that tediously rehearse the privilege of a straight white male artist. A series of collages mashing up modernist interior design, gestural abstraction, and women’s bodies from pornography and advertising seems especially tired. Still, Fair Park Constructivist Pavilion Extension (1999–2014), a diminutive architectural model housing a row of toy soldiers slathered with pigment, suggests a collapsing of phallocentrism and p

  1. FLAG Art Foundation 545 W 25th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, ninth floor, 10001
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sat May 17
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.