Away from the cachet of Manhattan’s gilded halls and hallowed arts spaces, vibrant and creative artists have been priced out and have moved on. From tiny corner galleries to landmark institutions, there’s no need to fear the MTA's fare hike — get to the outer boroughs, where the art is fresh, the price is right and the sidewalks are clear.
Irondale Arts Center
Theater lovers can come worship their emerging artist deities at the former Fort Greene church that’s been home to the Irondale Center since 2008. This spring, there’s high drama and psychopathy in an opera about the lives of serial killers presented by the French company, Tours Soundpainting Orchestra. In April, the newly minted Royalty Free Theater Collective will get their shot at presenting their very first work, “The War of the Roses,” and in May, Niles Ford’s Urban Dance Collective will somehow make movement out of class values and President Obama’s re-election.
Like rents in Bushwick — which have gone totally bonkers off the charts — this active, vibrant theater has gone from scrappy upstart to small-scale theatrical powerhouse, with puppetry festivals and outreach initiatives to boot. This spring, Eliza Bent explores the inane hijinks that transpire at an Italian hostel in “The Hotel Colors”, and the theater’s annual Big Green Theater festival gives local kids a chance to stage their eco-centric plays.
This spring, the city’s hippest borough celebrates... itself. With the exhibit “Cultural Fluency: Engagements with Contemporary Brooklyn,” artists whose work pivots with the double helix of Brooklyn’s DNA use guerilla opera, text-based art and found maps (as in this piece, by British artist Martin McCormack) to give visitors the ultimate sense that the best art is on the other side of the Brooklyn bridge.
Queens Museum of Art
NYC’s most diverse borough is thoroughly represented in its titular museum, which is muscling through a gigantic expansion set
to finish in October. Meanwhile, the galleries and programs are steeped in the surrounding community with an eye towards inclusion: There are sensory art events for people with autism, family art classes and open studio time for adults with special needs. The museum's panorama of the city is also hypnotic — it's NYC without the insane bustle (or occasionally crazy people, natch.)
The Chocolate Factory
Dance lovers sweet on innovation are in luck this spring. Expect provocative performances by Ursula Eagly, Milka Djordjevich and Keely Garfield. Garfield's "Telling the Bees" examines environmental destruction from the viewpoint of honeybees.
With the recent announcement of its free admission policy to celebrate its 40th anniversary, there is no good reason to skip the Bronx Museum. Still need convincing to hop that northbound train? “Honey, I rearranged the collection,” puts the museum’s 40 years of gifts on display, from abstract and contemporary art to photography and mixed media.
Culture Lounge at the St. George Ferry Terminal
Hurricane Sandy pushed back plans for the eye-catching and stylized Staten Island Council on the Arts and Humanities’ lounge at the S.I. ferry’s arrival terminal, but this June, get excited for the 2,500-square-foot space that will bring visual art and events to the borough’s 21 million ferry riders.