There’s a whole other art world, and an increasingly vibrant one, outside the mainstream art gallery and museum system. So-called “alternative art spaces” date back more than a generation but have multiplied in recent years, especially in Brooklyn. Usually headquartered in ad-hoc, unlikely or industrial locations, these spaces showcase emerging artists and performers, and artwork with strong social and political content.
Some the spaces listed below are veterans of the alternative scene, and others newbies. But all of them offer a fresh way to look at art. (Note: Check the Web sites before dropping in, as most spaces keep irregular hours.)
“Skye Parrott: First Love, Last Rites”
103 Broadway, Brooklyn
Nov. 19-Feb. 5, 2011
Photographer Skye Parrott has made the 15th year of her life the focus of this intimate and involving exhibition at the two-year-old exhibition space Capricious. Tackling issues of memory, addiction and adolescence, she seeks to re-create memories she lost while she was doing drugs. A series of photographs employ clothes and settings from her past, along with a friend posing as the artist. Ms. Parrott also supplies letters, items found inside pockets and transcript of an interview with an ex-boyfriend–the “First Love” of the title–to document those missing years.
“Manhattan Was Brooklyn: Works by Clinton Van Gemert”
Live with Animals Art Space
210 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn
Nov. 19-Dec. 19
Clinton Van Gemert is best known around town for his clothing designs: the head of Obama or Elvis Presley on a hoodie, or the T-shirt “I Can’t Afford to § NY.” But because of his “constant fear of copyright infringement,” he began to branch out, overlaying one screen over another to produce such images as a Marilyn Monroe with three mouths or a piano-playing Frank Sinatra with the slit eyes of an angry alien. The show’s on view Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 7, or by appointment.
“Rona Yefman: Let It Bleed”
253 East Houston Street
Nov. 14-Jan. 9, 2011
Headquartered in a former sex club on East Houston, this veteran alternative space features both performance and visual art. Now it’s showing the first U.S. solo exhibition of Israeli artist Rona Yefman. She uses photographs, family snapshots and videotapes to tell the story of herself and her younger brother, Gil, who underwent a sex change from male to female, and then back to male.
“Toni Dove: Spectropia”
512 West 19 Street
Dec. 9-Dec. 11
For three nights in December, the Kitchen will host Toni Dove, who creates hybrids of film, installation art and experimental theater. This particular show will blend movie footage, DJs, actors, a score of Deborah Harry songs and motion sensors to “bounce audiences between a film noir drama set in England in 2099 and New York City in 1931.” The 8 p.m. performances are $15 per person.
“Joan Thorne: Recent Paintings”
319 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Nov. 19-Dec. 19
When Richard Timperio founded the Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg as “an experimental stage for artists” years ago, he was something of a pioneer in the neighborhood. Today a thriving art scene exists. This month, Joan Thorne, a New York artist, is bringing a slew of new paintings to the space in a solo exhibit. The subject of a retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., she is best known for bold and colorful oils and calls herself a “metaphysical abstractionist.”
“Graphic Radicals: 30 Years of World War III Illustrated”
475 10th Avenue
Dec. 7-Feb. 7, 2011
During the Iran hostage crisis of thirty years ago, artists Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper launched a comic-book magazine called World War II. Since then, the annual publication has covered homelessness, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the teacher’s strike in Mexico. The exhibition on the history of the political comic will showcase drawings, animation, documentaries, and a complete set of issues.
Dec. 1-Feb. 13, 2011
Artists Space was founded in 1972 to provide an alternative to the standard gallery and museum system. This month’s show features Sean Snyder, who has had exhibitions at the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam, and at Secession in Vienna, among other high-profile venues on the contemporary art circuit. He folds together material from news agencies, image data banks, government bodies, blogs and chat rooms to look at how information is disseminated and manipulated. The show includes his Dallas Southfork in Hermes Land, Slobozia, Romania (2001), which documents the presence of a replica of Southfork Ranch from the television show Dallas in Romania.