We don't know about you, but some days we prefer wandering the cool halls of a museum to lying on the sunny beach. And, this summer, New York City's arts institutions are offering some pretty enticing exhibitions, from big-name surveys (Yoko Ono, Frida Kahlo) to quirky cultural investigations (sneakers). In fact, whether you're a hip-hop connoisseur or whether watercolors are more your thang, guaranteed there's an exhibit for you. Here are the five you should visit first.
The Rise of Sneaker Culture
Does the Brooklyn Museum have a footwear fetish? Fresh after the success of its “Killer Heels” show, “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” examines the complex — andoften fraught— social history of the tennis shoe, from its humble, utilitarian beginnings to its current status-symbol role. Some 150 shoes will be on display, including classic kicks such as Nike’s Air Jordans and Converse All-Stars, as well as special one-off collabs with artists like Damien Hirst and recent Brooklyn Museum vetKehinde Wiley.(Brooklyn Museum,200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn,July 10 - October 4)
Yoko Ono: One Woman Show
Forget the botched Bjork extravaganza . MoMA’s Yoko Ono exhibition isn’t a cheap celebrity stunt: It’s a reevaluation of one of the most important avant garde artists of the second half of the 20th century. “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” includes 125 works — including installations, films, audio recordings and performances — that meld conceptual, performance and experimental art, one that engages viewers in a visceral way. (Literally, too — take "Painting to Be Stepped On," or "Bag Piece," which allows visitors to crawl inside a sack and take off their clothes ... or not). There's also a room devoted to the sonic experiments she did with husband John Lennon as part of Plastic Ono Band. Perhaps you've heard of him?(The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, through September 7)
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends
This is your I-just-want-to-look-at-some-pretty-pictures show of the season. The Metropolitan Museum will show90 works by American Impressionist John Singer Sargent(most famous for his scandalous portrayal of one “Madame X”), featuring intimate portraits of his circle of artists, writers, dancers, actors and musicians. More experimental than his formal commissions, these works —including portraits of besties like Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin and Henry James — aren’t just “penetrating character studies,” according to the Met but also "records of relationships, influences, aspirations and allegiances." Expect some juicy old-art-world gossip.(The Metropolitan Museum of Art,1000 Fifth Avenue,June 30 - October 4)
Hip Hop Revolution
Following on the heels of its spectacular graffiti exhibition, “City as Canvas,” the Museum of the City of New York explores another aspect of urban culture with “Hip Hop Revolution.” The show features more than 100 photographs taken by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo and Martha Cooper, chronicling the early days of hip-hop, from DJs and breakdancers (or b-boys) like Rock Steady Crew to seminal acts like Run DMC and the Beastie Boys. See it in tandem with “Folk City,” opening June 17, for a music-exhibition double-header.(The Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, through September 13)
Follow Raquel on Twitter @RaquelLaneri.