While many of Soho’s galleries migrated to Chelsea, there are still several worthwhile art spaces in the area—Team Gallery even reversed the trend when it relocated here several years ago. In addition to shopping, eating and drinking, popular things to do in the nabe include seeing a retrospective or new art-house fare at Film Forum or an experimental show at HERE.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Soho, New York
Founded in 1972, Artists Space is one of the city’s oldest alternative galleries. Over the years it has helped to launch the careers of such art stars as Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons, and continues to support up-and-coming talent, both by including young artists in innovative group shows and by organizing periodic “Artist Survival Skill” workshops.
This nonprofit gallery is all drawing all the time, but don't go expecting a roomful of framed works on paper. Over the past few years, artists have been redefining the medium, and you're as likely to see an abstract sculpture by art-star Richard Tuttle as a selection of works by proto-Surrealist James Ensor. Emerging artists are invited to submit slides to the Viewing Program. Selected artists receive advice from the Center's curatorial staff and other fine-arts professionals during organized sessions.
The city’s leading tastemaking venue, Film Forum is programmed by a fest-scouring staff that takes its duties as seriously as a Kurosawa samurai. It's one of the best places to take in the hottest films from Cannes, Venice and beyond. Amid all the adult fare, parents will occasionally find kid-friendly gold in the classic films that are screened.
After a recent refurbishment, this downtown stalwart is now one of the most comfortable experimental spaces, what with its cozy lobby café (1 Dominick) and relatively impressive multimedia capacity. The upstairs space—long, wide and low—has played host to recent smashes like Taylor Mac’s epic The Lily’s Revenge, while the downstairs 70-seat black box sees new works by everyone from Karinne Keithley to Tina Satter. HERE’s strength lies in its come-one-come-all attitude, its absurdly generous grant and commissioning programs, and a genuine warmth that is largely thanks to the venue’s doyenne and founder, Kristin Marting, and the community of artists who call HERE a second home.
This Soho institution, formerly the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, was granted museum status by the state of New York in 2011. The space was founded by Charles Leslie and his late partner, Fritz Lohman, and is dedicated to showcasing work by LGBT artists. Check for frequent openings, exhibitions and other special events, such as drawing workshops, studio tours and book-launch parties.
An active firehouse from 1904 to 1959, this museum is filled with gadgetry and pageantry, from late 18th-century hand-pumped fire engines to modern equipment. The museum also houses a permanent exhibit commemorating firefighters’ heroism after the attack on the World Trade Center.
José Freire relocated his gallery from an überhip Chelsea address to this high-ceilinged space in 2006, confirming that downtown is once again the place to be. The place showcases such hotshots as Web artist Cory Arcangel and photographer Ryan McGinley, and also represents more established artists, including minimalist installation-assemblagist Ross Knight.
Gallerist José Freire opened this second venue of his noted Soho gallery in the spring of 2011.