Julie Baumgardner
Published on May 2 2023
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Only twenty years ago did Chelsea emerge as a vanguard arts district, a model development in urban regeneration and culture support—now, lucky for New York, it’s basically a free museum quarter. The galleries in Chelsea show the artists that land up with blockbuster institutional exhibitions, in spaces that can handle challenging art of all scales.  And they’re open to all, five days a week (don’t worry about the front-door folks!). Also open to all are art world cantinas, Bottino and Empire Diner, and the Highline Hotel’s garden bar.


540 West 25th Street

On May 20, Pace hosts a benefit auction to support the Nina Simone Childhood Home Preservation Project spearheaded by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The project aims to restore this landmark home of Nina Simone in Tryon, North Carolina, which was jointly purchased by the artists Adam Pendleton, Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu in 2017 as a safeguard to secure Simone’s legacy. The benefit auction is stacked with excellent examples from these artists (and in-demand others’).

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Photo by Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation


552 West 21st Street

To commemorate the centenary of Richard Avedon’s birth, Gagosian tapped nearly 150 artists, designers, musicians, writers, curators, and fashion folks to select a photograph by Avedon that impacted their lives. See the images selected by Naomi Campbell, Elton John, Spike Lee,  Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, and Christy Turlington.

Chelsea_Gagosian China Machado, suit by Ben Zuckerman, hair by Kenneth, New York, November 6, 1958.jpg

RICHARD AVEDON China Machado, suit by Ben Zuckerman, hair by Kenneth, New York, November 6, 1958 © The Richard Avedon Foundation
Courtesy Gagosian


511 West 22nd Street

You might not recognize the latest works from Inka Essenhigh—the powerhouse painter has evolved her aesthetic over the years, currently landing on natural forms that evoke the mood of now. Exaggerated and saturated, Essenhigh’s compositions at once feel familiar and uncanny, perhaps another reason collectors’ can’t seem to get enough.

Chelsea Miles McEnery Inka Essenhigh Blue Mountain(original).34804.jpg

© 2023 Miles McEnery Gallery


Moynihan – High Line Connector (30th St. and 10th Avenue)

Is it a tree? Is it a lung? Is it a sea anemone? Rosenkranz’s Old Tree, a 25-foot high bright red-and-pink monumental sculpture is all of the above, or at least it’s meant to beckon everything associated between nature and life. At the 18th commission for The Highline’s Plinth space, Old Tree also grows where the soon-to-be connector path between Hudson Yard and Penn Station shall stand.

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Courtesy of the artist and The Highline


515 west 26th Street

Unveiling during Frieze week is “Empathy Lab,” the first major exhibition of Masako Miki’s work in New York. For this landmark solo show, Miki has taken over the gallery, framing it as a home by constructing spaces for casual connection and contemplation, including an open gardenscape filled with deities and creatures, and forms. The space also debuts new works from her evocative, playful “Shapeshifters” series.

Chelsea Ryan LeeMasako Miki - Felt Scultpures from Empathy Lab.jpg

Courtesy of the artist and Ryan Lee