Arts / Museums

The Best Art Trips for Summer — 10 Must-See Museum Exhibitions

From Campy Fun in New York City to Puppets Gone Wild in Atlanta

BY // 07.16.19

Travel is all the more warranted when it’s in the pursuit of enlightenment. While the art scene flourishes in Texas (Hello Dior and Monet), sometimes a bit of jet-setting is required for a museum show, blockbuster or esoterica that mustn’t be missed. PaperCity Culture/Style Editor Billy Fong creates a summer itinerary of must-see exhibitions, from the Met’s Camp-y blockbuster to a Dada-esque reason to travel to Mexico City.

“Camp: Notes on Fashion” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A few grumbled: Where is the depth and integrity of the Met in this type of fashion show? But we see no fault in celebrating once in a while what might seem lowbrow. In a time when the world appears so divided, maybe this exhibition is needed. The theme was inspired by “Notes on Camp” an essay written by Susan Sontag in 1964 that explores the concepts of humor, high-drama theatricality, and bold exaggeration, and how they infiltrate fashion.

On display are more than 250 objects that span they 17th century to today. Men’s and women’s wear are seen alongside paintings, sculptures, and drawings, so you won’t leave without feeling the effects of camo. Through September 8, metmuseum.org

“Game of Puppets” at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta

You would have thought the world was ending when legions of fans bemoaned the end of beloved HBO Renaissance Festival soap opera (with dragons), Game of Thrones in June. “Game of Puppets” is not an exhibition, but rather part of the Center’s “Puppets and Pints” interactive series, wherein guests choose a puppet family house and then the members of Houses Hand, Rod, Marionette and Shadow, are given clues to find the puppet assassin in their family.

The evening — over drinks — involves voting on one’s favorite puppet (known as “the puppet that was promised”) and then to take photos of as many of the members of their house that they could find in the galleries as everyone explored the Center’s collection. Through 2019, puppet.org

What to drink while puppeting: It’s Atlanta, home to a lot of hip-hop culture. Have some Hennessy and make your way up to Buckhead for some shopping at Phipps Plaza. There is always a great chance of a star sighting of a rapper or sports legend, and of course, with an entourage accompanying them.

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“Cuban Caricature and Culture: The Art of Massaguer” at The Wolfsonian, Miami Beach

The Wolfsonian is a hidden jewel on South Beach. Housed in a grand Art Deco building, the collection was started by Mickey Wolfson, whose family made its money from movie theater chains. He had a narrow focus on collecting, which comprises the Wolfsonian’s stellar collection of art, documents and ephemera from 1885 to 1945. Nazi propaganda materials sit alongside copies of the Futurist manifesto. This exhibition showcases the work of graphic artist Conrado Walter Massaguer through his biting political satire, celebrity caricatures, and magazine and advertising illustrations. The artist socialized with a wide range of notables, from Albert Einstein to Walt Disney, and was part of Havana’s cosmopolitan culture pre-Cuban Revolution.

Through February 2, 2020, wolfsonian.org

Also on the itinerary: Pop down to Little Havana and have a Cuban sandwich at the globally known Versailles restaurant, then pick-up some handmade dominoes from one of the nearby family-owned shops.

Conrado W. Massaguer’s Come to Cuba, 1930
Conrado W. Massaguer’s advertisement Cuba: Holiday Isle of the Tropics, 1939

“Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art” at the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut

If you are yearning for a Disney-eque, Bedknobs and Broomsticks-like excursion then head to the Connecticut shoreline. Situated along the picturesque Lieutenant River in Old Lyme, Connecticut, the Florence Griswold Museum embodies the artistic spirit of its legacy as the home of the Lyme Art Colony. We love this destination for the impressive Georgian architecture of the namesake home of Florence Griswold; the light-filled modern spaces of the Krieble Gallery; and the hilly campus, which doubles as the home of American Impressionism.

“Fragile Earth” focuses on the varied approaches taken by ecologically concerned contemporary artists, illustrating the powerful role they play in advocating for and bringing to the forefront environmental causes. Through September 8, florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Dining out: Make your way a few towns over to Mystic (AKA WASPlandia) and have a meal at the Daniel Packer Inne (or, the DPI to locals in case you need to ask someone for directions). It’s old-school New England down to its massive stone architecture, martinis in silver stemware, and it sits right on the water. You’ll request a table with a view of the enchanting Long Island Sound.

Courtney Mattison’s Texture Study I, 2019 (Photograph by Paul Mutino)
Courtney Mattison's Coral Sea II, 2015
Courtney Mattison’s Coral Sea II, 2015

 

“Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design” at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art

If you’ve never visited the ICA in Boston, then just seeing the building and the breathtaking water views are worth the price of admission. Award-winning architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed a contemplative space for experiencing contemporary art seamlessly by integrating interior and exterior spaces. The title of the exhibition “Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design,” is derived from the well known Mies Van Der Rohe axiom “Less is more” which was flipped on its head by architect Robert Venturi when he proclaimed “Less is a bore.” The ICA exhibition takes its inspiration from that notion, uniting paintings, ceramics, sculpture, dance, and furniture to spotlight maximalist design. Through September 22, icaboston.org.

What to wear: If there was ever a time to channel your inner Moira Rose (the matriarch of Canadian TV phenom Schitt’s Creek — and if you don’t know that show, you should be ashamed of yourself), this is the time. Perhaps a wig in a subtle shade of lavender, topped with a Treacy-ish chapeau, and a severely tailored Moschino suit (circa 2008, when the Roses still had their video-rental millions).

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Betty Woodman Of Botticelli, 2013

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983” at The Broad, Los Angeles

The Broad is still in its infancy stages, having only just moved into its architecturally significant building, but it must be applauded for mounting such a thought-provoking and needed exhibition. This will hopefully not be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this type of show, as many institutions are finally realizing it is time to focus on women, lesser-known talents, and artists of color. Through September 1, thebroad.org.

Also on the itinerary: If you happen to make your trip the last weekend of the summer, August 30 through September 2, then get tickets to the Malibu Chili Cook-Off. This über-affluent community is known for its beautiful people, whether they be surfers or starlets. During the event, you can even vote for your favorite vegan chili recipe. (However, since you are from Texas that might be sacrosanct.)

 

Dawoud Bey_A Boy in front of the Loews 125th Street Movie Theater_1976-79
Dawoud Bey, A Boy in front of the Loew’s 125th Street Movie Theater, 1976

Barbara Jones-Hogu_Unite (First State)_1969

Barbara Jones-Hogu’s
Unite (First State),1971

“Specters of Disruption” at the de Young Museum, San Francisco

The title of the exhibition is intriguing enough to warrant a visit. Presented for your thoughtful consideration are works culled from the collections of the de Young and The Legion of Honor, which examine patterns that might suggest a storyline of disruption within a collective institutional subconscious. Through November 9, deyoung.famsf.org

Louise Nevelson’s Cathedral’s Presence I, 1959-1962
Tony Feher’s American, 1959-2016

“Everyone’s Art Gallery: Posters of the London Underground” at the Art Institute Chicago

The title makes a poignant point: There should be places that are “everyone’s art gallery.” Yes, there is a thing called “public art,” but due to government cutbacks, pieces are not as readily seen, especially in disenfranchised neighborhoods and communities. Beginning in 1919, 39 posters came to the Art Institute of Chicago, courtesy of the Underground Electric Railways London, and over the next 20 years, more arrived to form a collection of almost 350 works. The posters, awash in vivid colors and innovative designs, encouraged Londoners to use commercial transportation systems to venture to cultural attractions, shop, attend sporting events, and even wander out to the countryside. Through September 5, artic.edu

MuseumofNaturalHistory
Edward McKnight Kauffer’s Museum of Natural History, 1923

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Mary Koop’s Summer Sales Quickly Reached, 1925
Reigate
Edward McKnight Kauffer’s Reigate, 1915

“Bale Creek Allen: My America” at The Old Jail Art Center, Albany, Texas

This little gem, in a former jail (thus the incredible name), to some might seem in the middle of nowhere. Who cares. The exhibitions are always stellar and more often than not, thought-provoking. Bale Creek Allen, the son of influential artists and performers Terry and Jo Harvey Allen, utilizes iconic Texas images and objects often associated with the state for inspiration. His cast-bronze tumbleweeds and roadside tire treads instill a desire in viewers to reconsider banal objects often seen through a car’s windshield. Through August 24, theojac.org.

Also on the itinerary: Make your way to the renowned Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap for a dinner unlike any other. Vegans beware: You might need to bring your own sack meal as this is carnivore culinary nirvana. Also, there is always a chance of a star sighting a la Robert Duvall since he is a huge fan.

Bale Creek Allen’s Decapitated Palm Trees, 2018
Bale Creek Allen’s Crucifence, 2015

“Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and The Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even” at Museo Jumex, Mexico City

The art world’s version of Johnny Depp, provocateur Jeff Koons, is at it again. Now he’s put head-to-head with dada maestro Marchel Duchamp by guest curator Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of the New Museum in New York. This exhibition features more than 70 works by the artists, drawn from more than 30 collections in Europe and the Americas. Museo Jumex is the only location for the show, so it might be a once-in-a-lifetime viewing. Through September 29, fundacionjumex.org

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