There’s strength in numbers. One event. Two exhibitions. Seventeen artists.

SculptureCenter, which strives to present emerging international talent, will hold an opening reception for “Searching the Sky for Rain” and “École du soir” in Long Island City on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free with a $10 suggested contribution. The curators and some of the contributing artists will be on hand.

Both multi-medium shows will be on display at the same venue until Dec. 16, but they explore very different themes. “Searching the Sky for Rain” delves into who has the right to abstraction, while “École du soir (or The Evening Academy)” investigates how people live together during turbulent times.

Searching the Sky” features 16 diverse artists — Carmen Argote, Tony Cokes, Rafael Domenech, Mandy El-Sayegh, Charles Gaines, ektor garcia, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon, Tishan Hsu, Rindon Johnson, Becket MWN, Shahryar Nashat, Michael Queenland, Johanna Unzueta, Jala Wahid, Eric Wesley, and Riet Wijnen — who disregard common art industry classifications and categories. They find their own ways. (Domenech currently has a project on view at Socrates Sculpture Park on the other side of LIC.)

For example, Tony Cokes’s video “Evil.27.Selma” shows how the pre-television civil rights movement prompted a “social collectivity heavily dependent on the imagination” that created “fantasy what-if” scenarios.

Meanwhile, “École” consists entirely of work by Christian Nyampeta, a Rwanda native whose art is deeply influenced by the Hutu-Tutsi genocide that rattled his African homeland in 1994. His display consists of a few “hosting structures” that create a study room to host a translation-and-interpretation working group that focuses on making texts by Rwandan philosopher Isaïe Nzeyimana available in English for the first time. The structures actually hold a repository of translations, a printer, publications, and a dossier. Patrons are welcome to use the resources, attend translation sessions, and simply hang out in the space.

Located in a converted 1908 trolley repair shop at 44-19 Purves St., SculptureCenter is NYC’s only contemporary art museum dedicated primarily to sculpture. It was founded in 1928 as The Clay Club in Brooklyn. Over the following decades, it changed its name once and relocated twice in Manhattan before purchasing the present property in 2001. The venue was first redesigned by Maya Lin, the landscape artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Then in 2014, another renovation added a bookshop, coatroom, seating area, and restrooms to 6,500 square feet of exhibition spaces on two levels. The revamp also created a 1,500-square-foot, enclosed courtyard for outdoor activity.

Editor’s note: After 20 years at the helm, Mary Ceruti recently left SculptureCenter. Christian Rattemeyer, a Germany native whose resume includes 12 years at the Museum of Modern Art, will become the new director on Nov. 1.

Images: ‘École du soir’ by Damian Griffiths (top); ‘Searching the Sky for Rain’ courtesy of Rindon Johnson and AALA Gallery, Los Angeles (bottom)


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