First Friday Exhibitions: An Exclusive Sneak Peek Into Our 2024 Schedule cover

First Friday Exhibitions: An Exclusive Sneak Peek Into Our 2024 Schedule

In February 2023, NOT REAL ART launched First Friday Exhibitions, a new series designed to inspire readers with the artwork and artists we love. Our first year of in-house exhibitions introduced readers to 100s of contemporary artists that tap into the 21st-century zeitgeist. From the communal aspects of eating to mounting environmental anxieties, our exhibitions explore the ideas, philosophies, and concepts close to our community’s heart.

Today, we’re proud to announce our 2024 exhibition season. Starting in January, a curated exhibition will appear on the NOT REAL ART homepage, accompanied by an exhibition guide from the curator. As the name suggests, a new show will open on the first Friday of every month. Scroll down to learn more about the 2024 exhibition schedule, then head over to our exhibitions page to see all our shows from 2023.

Editor’s note: If you’re an artist and feel that one or more of your artworks would be a good fit for any show below, excluding Hollywood Land, Grant Winners 2024, or Indivisible, please email the editor here.

January 5: Hollywood Land

In a salute to the 100th anniversary of the Hollywood Sign, our first exhibition of the year features a gathering of artists who contemplate life inside L.A.’s sprawling metropolis. When the sign first appeared in the 1920s, it read “HOLLYWOOD LAND” and blinked out the syllables in letters 40 feet tall, morphing from ad to icon over the years. The artists included in our January exhibition, selected from applicants to NOT REAL ART’s grant program, blend their creative visions with the realities of life in the City of Angels.

February 2: PINK!

Love it or loathe it, pink is everywhere right now. From Barbiecore and Bimbocore to runway trends and the latest sex toys, pink is the American shorthand for all things femme and feminine. But the color has ~shades~ of meaning; while some pinks feel docile, domestic, and soothing, shocking pink is anything but. Our second exhibition of the year investigates the cultural phenomenon of pink and its evolving meaning in our lives. Some see the color’s ubiquity as a response to the tyranny of neutrals, beige, and the gray-ification of modern architecture. To others, it’s plastic, fluorescent, and fake. Like that box of SweeTARTS you snuck into the Barbie movie under your magenta cowboy hat, the color pink shocks and seduces with equal parts sugar and spice.

March 1: About Books

In 1994, March was named National Reading Month in honor of Dr. Suess’ birthday. In an era of increased censorship and book banning, the annual campaign that celebrates and encourages reading, especially among children, is increasingly vital to our well-being. Our third exhibition of the year, About Books, features artists who work with a scintillating range of media and styles to create literature, documents, periodicals, and zines that address seismic shifts in the political and literary terrain. Their intimately crafted work celebrates the enduring power of books to illuminate, inspire, and transform.

April 5: In My Backyard

As spring casts its spell, our April exhibition captures the tranquility, cultural nuances, sense of community, and dangers lurking outside our back doors. Working with video, painting, textiles, and installation to zero in on personal environments, this month’s artists uncover the hidden significance of everyday objects, anticipate unseen threats, and revel in the restorative qualities of nature.

May 3: The Metamorphosis

What is an allegorical work of art? Our fifth show of the year surveys historical and mythical reinterpretations of classical paintings, fables, or works of literature. Over the centuries, artists have used allegory to express complex ideas through visual symbols and metaphors. An allegorical work of art has a hidden meaning expressed through symbolism and iconography. From biblical references and Greek mythology to early feminist works and art-world lore, the works in May’s exhibition express multitudes of complex ideas through symbols and narrative storytelling.

June 7: Soul Meets Body

June’s exhibition explores the world of wearable art: jewelry, accessories, and clothing designed as fine art. Working across fashion, craft, performance, metalsmithing, and design, these artists reject traditional hierarchies that elevate fine art over craft or make a distinction between the two fields at all. These unconventional works of art celebrate the intimacy of creation and acknowledge its relationship to the body.

July 5: Beyond Likeness

Our July exhibition, Beyond Likeness, investigates the evolving role of self-portraiture in an era dominated by selfies, TikTok videos, and AI. Through conceptually-based images, collections of personal artifacts, virtual reality, performance, and installation, the artists explore gender roles, stereotypes, identity issues, and feelings of belonging and alienation. Moving beyond likeness, they offer frank and insightful glimpses of the self that reveal what lies beneath.

August 2: NOT REAL ART Grant Winners 2024

Our August exhibition honors the six winners of our 2024 grant for artists, so mark your calendars for this momentous event. Founded in 2019, the NOT REAL ART grant is one of our flagship programs and a true cornerstone of our work in the creative industry. Please visit our grant page to learn more about our grant program and its past winners.

September 6: New Shapes

Our ninth exhibition of the year looks at contemporary abstraction in all its strange, mutated forms. Rethinking the divide between figuration and abstraction, these artists ignore the label, focusing instead on the infinite options available in the 21st century. They explore abstraction in the digital age and use new research methods to generate patterns, designs, and evocative new compositions.

October 4: Surrealist Ball

As Halloween looms on the horizon, our October exhibition blends elements of Dadaism and Surrealism with role-playing, puppetry, portraiture, and fantasy in a whimsical masquerade that pays tribute to the original 1972 Surrealist Ball hosted at Marie Rothschild’s hellishly lit French mansion. Inspired by Marie’s legendary party and a tradition of masked revelry that continues today, our October show features a mélange of dream-like figures who dance wickedly across the screen.

November 1: Indivisible

An annual exhibition produced by our parent organization, Crewest Studio, Indivisible launched in 2020 as a response to political unrest and a burgeoning civil rights movement. Hosted on NOT REAL ART for the first time, Indivisible includes artists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who work with themes of equality, justice, human rights, and freedom of expression.

December 6: The After Party

In our last exhibition of the year, we take a moment to relax and reflect before jumping headfirst into a new year. The works in this exhibition offer a window into the quiet, sober moments that sink in once the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.