Holland Cotter

Fierman, ‘Circus of Books’

Even smaller than 56 Henry, this storefront is packed to the ceiling with another cultural homage, this one to an excellent big group show. It’s organized by the artist Rachel Mason, whose parents until recently ran two adult bookshops in Los Angeles. Both were called “Circus of Books” and both served, since the pre-Stonewall 1960s, as unofficial social centers for the local gay community. The show evokes that community with work by nearly 60 artists, most gay, some well known (Ron Athey, Kathe Burkhart, Vaginal Davis, Tom of Finland), others (Chivas Clem, Scott Hug, Jimmy Wright) on and off the radar. Stacks of vintage porn magazines add a sex shop vibe, but it’s the art, installed salon-style, that holds the eye and kicks off still-important communal conversations in art and social history. Through May 6 at 127 Henry Street; 917-593-4086

By Holland Cotter, April 26, 2019