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Selecting the best of New York City’s arts scene

The two things that every art form contains are color and pattern. In nature, where the two reveal and conceal every living thing (and non-living too), as well as any object made by people, they are a constant. This week’s gallery selection gives several examples examining these principles in action.

Let’s begin with the ‘Opening This Week’ section and the Wilensky Gallery’s exhibit Magnificent Emeralds: Fura’s Tears. These first-class specimens are stunning testament to the splendor of minerals and crystals left in a natural state and are far more impressive than those turned into jewelry and decorative materials. The range of color and shapes is fascinating, proving once again that the natural world is an endless source of beauty.

But what if you don’t have much access to the natural world and you crave to express yourself with color and pattern? In 1970’s and ‘80s New York City, young people picked up cans of spray paint and went to work, tagging and decorating subway cars and building walls, inventing a subculture that is still going strong today. The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ new exhibit Henry Chalfant: Art Vs. Transit, 1977-1987 has photographs documenting the movement as well as other aspects of the youth culture of the time.

In the ‘Gallery Shows’ section color and pattern take center stage with two exhibits on French fashion. French Fashion, Women, and the First World War at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery examines the evolution of women’s clothing from leisure to practical items for the wartime workers and the social effect in France. The show also discusses the involvement of government, business, and the press to keep the French fashion industry going during the war. That effort was successful and brings us to our next exhibit, Paris, Capital of Fashion at the Museum at FIT. Here, the topic is Paris’ place in the hearts and minds of fashionable people all over the world. The show presents the fashion history of the city, first as the center of royal fashion and taste, then progressing through the centuries to supply both the wealthy and the general population with fashions that set the styles around the world. Finally, we have a review of Museum of Arts and Design’s new show The World of Anna Sui. The exhibit is a mini retrospective of this American designer whose skill with color and pattern is a trademark of her work. It’s a perfect fit for the museum’s stated mission of dedication to creativity and craftsmanship.