The Washington Times JULY 6, 2011

We support MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Whitney wholeheartedly, but sometimes we like to save our pennies — or in the case of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, our $25. Here are four free exhibits to catch this summer that will leave you enriched — literally! 

David LaChapelle "From Darkness to Light"

David LaChapelle is best known for his hyper-sexualized celebrity photographs of everyone from Naomi Campbell to Paris Hilton to David Beckham, and most recently, Lady Gaga. Sure enough, stars turned out for the opening of his latest exhibit, “From Darkness to Light”— Uma Thurman and Daphne Guinness among them.

But this show has none of those flashy, sexy portraits; instead, it involves taking the human body and re-imagining it in different forms. Specifically, in very childlike ways, via stickers, huge looped paper chains, and collages — like something you’d see in a kindergarten art class, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the pieces are crafted of nude photos.

The installation is playful, fun, and just a little bit naughty — and it brings a bit of downtown edginess to this otherwise bland corporate office space. Through Sept. 2, Lever House, 390 Park Avenue, lobby, Midtown.

“Blue Morph” and Mark di Suvero on Governors Island.

It’s always a treat to take the (free) ferry out to this bucolic isle in New York Harbor. It’s even better when there’s lots of (free) art out there to enjoy all summer long. Like Mark di Suvero's giant outdoor sculptures, which look almost as much as home here as they do at the Storm King Art Center (many are on loan from this upstate sculpture garden).

You can spot the twisting metal forms — there are 11 of them — all across the island, but most are looming on the grounds near Fort Jay. Also check out Victoria Vesna and Jim Gimzewski’s "Blue Morph," which bathes the interior of St. Cornelius Chapel in blue light and projected images and sounds derived from the metamorphosis of the Blue Morpho butterfly.

The giant cocoon-like objects suspended from the church ceiling seem creepy at first, but lounge on the pillows and mats provided, and soon you’ll find the sounds and colors quite soothing. It’s part of the New York Electronic Art Festival.
Both installations continue through Sept. 25. Governors Island is open Friday to Sunday and on holidays. 

“Echo” at Madison Square Park.

It’s not easy to miss this gigantic alabaster sculpture of a young girl’s head; The 44-foot-tall “Echo” looms large in the park’s bucolic setting, framed by trees and the decorative Art Deco buildings beyond.

Spanish artist Jaume Plensa modeled the piece, crafted of fiberglass resin and marble dust, on a real-life girl, as well as on the Greek nymph Echo, who was punished by Hera and forever doomed to repeat herself.

None of that angst is present on the face of this sculpture; in fact, she looks remarkably peaceful. It’s best viewed at dusk, when the whiteness forms a stark contrast to the greenery surrounding it. Through mid-August. Madison Square Park (Fifth and Madison avenues, from East 23rd to East 26th streets).  

“BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body.”

Don’t know how to play an instrument? Don’t worry — at the BIORHYTHM exhibit you can use your own body to create all sorts of different soundscapes.

For example, you can “play” music simply by lounging on a “sonic bed” that responds to your movements, or use your own heartbeat as the basis for a song with the Japanese Heart ‘N’ Beat, or watch how your brain respond to pop hooks.

This interactive exhibit, part of the World Science Festival, was a huge hit in its first incarnation in Dublin. Through Aug. 6. Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, 540 West 21st St., West Chelsea.

By Jennifer Ceaser

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