Terry Adkins’ interdisciplinary art practice was deeply animated by his unwavering passion to transform sound into the material and to make music as concrete as sculpture. His artmaking was grounded in the spirituality of traditional African music and the radiant legacy of the great African-American composers and musicians of our time. A sublime selection of Adkins’ sculptural works made between 1986 and 2013 is now view at the elegant Levy Gorvy gallery. Curated by the artist’s long-time friend and collaborator, Charles Gaines, the show focuses on the physicality of Atkins’ practice: The Smooth, The Cut, and The Assembled. In the second-floor gallery “Darkwater Record”, a stack of five cassette desks with a bust of Mao Zedong, plays W.E.B. DuBois’ free speech appeal “Socialism and the American Negro” from 1960. Its volume on mute, with only the dial angrily visualizing sound, it is an auspicious reminder that that no matter how hard we try to suppress the voice of the disenfranchised, their silence will always be heard. At Levy Gorvy through February 17.

Zach Bruder is looking forward by looking back. Employing a vaguely expressionistic style, Zach Bruder’s subject matter ranges from the religious to the iconoclastic; the modern to the archaic.  Bruder revels in mystification. His sometimes surreal, sometimes humorous mise en scènes mimic Polke with an extra dose of unease. Yet the viridity lies in his ability to make us look anew. In “Demeter”, a moody Edward Munch-like composition, it is not clear whether the goddess of the harvest is pulling out or being pulled in by a plant. “Who is minding the shop” takes a not-so-subtle swipe at the art world. While his canvases seem to be mourning a loss of spirituality, Bruder never loses sight of the limitless allegorical possibilities of history. At Magenta Plains through February 11.

You know something is up the minute you step in the door and see the deranged bartender. Curator Weston Lowe invites to dinner. Proceed along the corridor into the main gallery and be greeted by “The Tenant”, an empty plaster arm chair by Dan Herschlein which seems to contemplate Brandon Ndife’s “Monument to Cold and Hunger”, a stunted hydrocal sculpture with a dirty white sock. Elsewhere, Corin Hewitt’s “Sausage Frescoes” dangle eerily from the ceiling while Jeanette Mundt and Stephanie Hier provide the conventional Western art backdrop of war and still lifes. But Big Brother is invited as well in the form of tiny RFDS embedded in copper casts of GMO corn kernels courtesy of Connecticut-based artist Violet Dennison. “Dinner that Night” is on at Bureau Gallery until February 11.

Thomas Erben Gallery is bringing together four stellar intergenerational artists in a small but cerebral group exhibition that ponders, through a variety of media, the existential, observational, factual, philosophical and idealistic complexities of our existence. The eclectic polaroids of the late German artist Horst Ademeit are obsessive recordings of “cold rays” and other forms of real and imaged radiation that in the artist’s complex reality measure up to the irrational recording of fear. Picking up on the contextual aggregation of irrationality, Jason Eberspeaker’s small oil paintings are moody abstractions that fuse movement with inertia in a superb showing of suspended animation whereas Kahlil Robert Irving’s rich ceramic pieces brilliantly fuse tradition with contemporary culture. The real high-light of the exhibition, however, are Mira Schor’s breezy child-like stick figure paintings.  Bitingly satirical and ethnolocially spot-on, they are powerful political manifestos that traverse the byway between language and painting. At Thomas Erben Gallery through February 10.

Any notion that humanity has learned piety, reconciliation, harmony and co-existence since the right panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych, is thoroughly dispelled by Canyon Castator’s comic book-like nightmarish scenes. Rendered collage-style with oil on canvas, the Los Angeles-based painter delves into the bizarre mayhem of today’s technologically rich/emotionally poor netherworld of consumer gratification, online sex, violence and substance abuse. Castator may replace grisaille and religious imagery with Pop colors and cartoon cut-outs but the result is as clear as it was in the Renaissance: humanity is doomed and we are headed straight to hell. At Postmasters through February 10.

In a thrilling debut at DC Moore gallery, Brooklyn-based artist Michael Stamm investigates the emotional inner life via the bottled-up and buttoned-down outer shell. Stamm’s confident figurative style triggers a dusky melancholic psychology by persuasively employing pensive, somber colors and incredibly detailed imagery. A series of torsos depict sessions with Stamm’s therapist where sweaters and vests are opened to reveal complicated internal turmoil. Other works promise happiness in a bottle and serve as a quiet reproach of an accelerating wellness cult and an ever-increasing pressure towards physical and emotional self-actualization. At DC Moore through February 3.

Responding to the controversy surrounding NFL players protesting racial injustice during the national anthem, Galerie Lelong put together a group exhibition of eight contemporary artists who, through various mediums, explore race and inequality in a political system that is becoming increasingly polarized. Standing out amongst many accomplished and thoughtful works, is Deborah Roberts’ “O’Say Can’t You See” from 2017 – a collage of body parts of different prominent African-American leaders such as Michelle Obama’s fists and James Baldwin’s eyes. Together they form a kneeling girl in Ancient Egyptian Composite Pose who implores us to look beyond color and party affiliations to rejoice in the joys that bind us together. At Galerie Lelong through February 17.

The underlying genius of Stephen Shore’s photographic still lifes and landscapes are his unprecedented implied presence. In each of Shore’s shots you can FEEL the person behind the lens, experience the engagement with the world he inhabits. Despite the tight framework, you know he was there. In a new series of photography, the master shows off the technical wonders of his new Hasselblatt X1D, a digital camera which produces images of uncanny sharpness in astonishing detail. Under Shore’s masterful eye, the cracks and paint bubbles in a blue tile wall, the knobs and brittleness of a tree branch, or the grease stains on a discarded Baskin Robbins paper bag can become an epiphany on the beauty of our daily surroundings. The Hasselblatt works are currently on view at 303 Gallery and a retrospective of the artist’s work over the last five decades is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art. At 303 Gallery through February 11 & at Moma through May 28.

Katherine Bernhardt’s new paintings feel like a picnic scene from the new Alexander Payne movie “Downsizing”. Enormous soft drink cups, cigarettes, birds, bees, and melon slices outlined in psychedelic pink or neon green spray-paint float across her gigantic canvases. Despite their size, the objects appear weightless yet matter-of-fact, as if propelled by some inner purpose that eludes us. Elsewhere a nattily dressed Barbar the elephant, is holding court amongst crows and bugs. Channeling Jean de Brunhoff’s tales, he warns of the commercial trappings of Western civilization. At Canada through February 11.

 “I am truly ambivalent about being back in New York. I desire the slowness and the sun and the full nights of sleep of Florida. But hopping off the C train to a dinner with close friends at Hanneline’s last night is the best of Brooklyn, and being reunited with Lisa makes me feel whole. Hope Sanniva gets into Beacon.” 12/3/17, 2:00 pm, Gowanus. A selection of Byron Kim’s meditative Sunday paintings continues at James Cohan through February 11.

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