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This Week: Must-See Arts in the City

There is so much going on this week, I don't even know where to begin. There's crafty modernism at MAD, artsy urban planning proposals at The Noguchi Museum in Queens and the scratchy-pop paintings of Gary Panter in Chelsea. Not to mention '90s graphic novels, '80s subway photos, and a presentation about the architecture of the dead in Brooklyn. New York has got it going on this week. Here's what we've got in the hopper:

Crafting Modernism: Midcentury Art and American Design at the Museum of Arts & Design This exhibition — which occupies two floors of the museum — looks at the intersection of craft, design and modernism from the 1940s to the 1960s. During this time, craftspeople of all stripes were overturning long-held notions about what was aesthetically appropriate, creating asymmetrical jewelry, bulbous clay sculptures, and mosaic tables studded with humble everyday items, such as house keys (the latter by noted Abstract Expressionist painter Lee Krasner). It was a time of intense experimentation with form and materials, when American Indian artists created abstract ceramics and California innovators turned clay into something more than pottery. Overall, the show is an intriguing look at how some figures were rethinking many of the functional objects in our lives. Through January 15, at Columbus Circle.

Gary Panter, Paintings, 1986-Present, at Fredericks & Freiser Part painter, part comic book artist, part punk, Panter is a legend in comic book circles for his long-running series devoted to the adventures of the everyman Jimbo, as he meanders through dystopic, corporate-run worlds. This tight little show of his painted works is an opportunity to soak up his pop-meets-grit-meets-aggro-doodle canvases (some of which date back to the ‘80s). Especially worthwhile are his notebooks, displayed in a glass case in the back. Through November 5, in Chelsea.

Keith Mayerson, Horror Hospital Unplugged, and Dominic McGill, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, at Derek Eller Gallery This small gallery has a two-fer that should also be of interest to the comics crowd. Mayerson’s show will display the more than 225 original drawings that composed Horror Hospital Unplugged, the pioneering graphic novel from the 1990s about (queer) sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. This exhibit is paired with a trippy collage by McGill that is inspired by recent economic policy. Sounds dry, but it’s not. Opens Friday, in Chelsea.

Bruce Davidson: Subway at Aperture Gallery Starting in the ‘80s, Davidson began photographing New York City’s subway system: old ladies commuting to church, trains doused in graffiti, lone figures, lost in thought, on their way to somewhere else. Some of the photos are almost abstract in nature, focusing on the pink of a scarf or the grey felt texture of a hat. Others chronicle the personalities that gather in this lively public space. Above all, it’s a love letter to New York. Opens on Thursday at 6 P.M., in Chelsea.

Civic Action: A Vision of Long Island City at The Noguchi Museum The issue of development (not to mention over-development) is a hot one in New York. This compelling, if challenging exhibit at The Noguchi Museum, looks at the issue in the context of Long Island City — a neighborhood that was a residential bastion for the aristocracy in the 19th century and is now a gritty industrial center that is increasingly playing home to high-rise luxury development, little of which shows any thoughtfulness to the urban fabric. As a response to this, The Noguchi Museum, in collaboration with the Socrates Sculpture Park, asked four teams of artists, architects and thinkers to reconsider aspects of the neighborhood as a way of making it more livable. The proposals involve everything from waterside esplanades to a greater consideration of power consumption by area businesses. Aficionados of urban planning (and liveable cities), consider this a must-see. Opens on Thursday, in Long Island City.

Plus, there’s a slew of one-off events going on Thursday and through the weekend that merit some investigation. These include:

In a mind-bogglingly good show at the Aperture Foundation, Bruce Davidson pays photographic tribute to NYC's rails and its people -- such as this woman quietly reading a book.
In a mind-bogglingly good show at the Aperture Foundation, Bruce Davidson pays photographic tribute to NYC's rails and its people -- such as this woman quietly reading a book. ( Courtesy Bruce Davidson (Aperture and Magnum Photos 2011) )
Davidson began photographing the subway in the 1980s -- when its cars were still saturated in graffiti.
Davidson began photographing the subway in the 1980s -- when its cars were still saturated in graffiti. ( Courtesy Bruce Davidson (Aperture and Magnum Photos 2011) )
At Fredericks & Freiser, Gary Panter blends his signature savage lines with a pop sensibility.
At Fredericks & Freiser, Gary Panter blends his signature savage lines with a pop sensibility. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
Panter is best known as a comic book artist, but his work extends into multiple mediums, including light art, painting and set design. (He designed the set for Pee-Wee's Playhouse.)
Panter is best known as a comic book artist, but his work extends into multiple mediums, including light art, painting and set design. (He designed the set for Pee-Wee's Playhouse.) ( Carolina A. Miranda )
The exhibit offers an opportunity to check out Panter's sketchbooks -- including this specimen, featuring works from the early 1980s, when he began to be known for his cartooning.
The exhibit offers an opportunity to check out Panter's sketchbooks -- including this specimen, featuring works from the early 1980s, when he began to be known for his cartooning. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
Derek Eller Gallery in Chelsea is displaying the original drawings from the 1990s graphic novel 'Horror Hospital Unplugged' by Keith Mayerson.
Derek Eller Gallery in Chelsea is displaying the original drawings from the 1990s graphic novel 'Horror Hospital Unplugged' by Keith Mayerson. ( Courtesy the artist and Derek Eller Gallery )
Also at the Eller Gallery: Dominic McGill's hyperdetailed multimedia collage 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.'
Also at the Eller Gallery: Dominic McGill's hyperdetailed multimedia collage 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.' ( Courtesy the artist and Derek Eller Gallery )
Artists explore development ideas (such as drive-able grass) for Long Island City  in a compelling new show at the Noguchi Museum.
Artists explore development ideas (such as drive-able grass) for Long Island City in a compelling new show at the Noguchi Museum. ( Courtesy Nasra Nimaga )
In a tribute to Ed Ruscha's famous work 'Every Building on the Sunset Strip,' one team created a collaged photo strip of every building on Broadway, in Long Island City.
In a tribute to Ed Ruscha's famous work 'Every Building on the Sunset Strip,' one team created a collaged photo strip of every building on Broadway, in Long Island City. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
Paul Koudounaris will be presenting his new book "The Empire of Death" in Gowanus, this evening -- an effort that consumed almost five years of travel.
Paul Koudounaris will be presenting his new book "The Empire of Death" in Gowanus, this evening -- an effort that consumed almost five years of travel. ( Courtesy the author and Thames & Hudson )
Koudounaris visited sites around the world where human bones are used as architectural and decorative motif.
Koudounaris visited sites around the world where human bones are used as architectural and decorative motif. ( Courtesy the author and Thames & Hudson )
The craft museum at the Museum of Arts & Design explores the ways that artists influenced craftsment and vice versa. Shown here: a mosaic table by Lee Krasner from 1947.
The craft museum at the Museum of Arts & Design explores the ways that artists influenced craftsment and vice versa. Shown here: a mosaic table by Lee Krasner from 1947. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
MAD's exhibit contains a number of pieces that show the way in which clay was used in unusual and avant-garde ways -- including John Stephenson's 1965 sculpture "The Man."
MAD's exhibit contains a number of pieces that show the way in which clay was used in unusual and avant-garde ways -- including John Stephenson's 1965 sculpture "The Man." ( Carolina A. Miranda )
At MAD: F. Carlton Bell's 1965 sculpture made me think I'd really enjoy having one of these as a pet -- whatever it is.
At MAD: F. Carlton Bell's 1965 sculpture made me think I'd really enjoy having one of these as a pet -- whatever it is. ( Carolina A. Miranda )
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