New York City's fall cultural season is now officially underway, and art swells by the score descended upon Chelsea's gallery district last night, hopping around the nearly 40 wine-soaked exhibition opening parties as possible. The people-watching was great—the first Thursday after Labor Day is always one of the biggest nights of the year—and though several of the season's blockbusters are still to come, including Richard Serra at Gagosian and Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner, there was plenty of exciting art to marvel at already.

The most electric exhibition of the evening had to be at Lehmann Maupin, where Los Angeles artist/director/photographer Alex Prager showed her new seven-minute movie "Play the Wind," accompanied by about a dozen meticulously styled and staged photographs depicting key scenes therein. Prager told me she shot the entire film, and all the photographs, in only seven days, bookended by months of planning and months of post-production. This is one of those rare gallery shows that really rewards a lengthy look, and I'll definitely go back when it's less crowded, at least to watch the film a few more times.

I probably only made it to about half of the 40 openings (they run from 6 to 8 p.m.), but a few other favorites on the night would include Mitch Epstein's photographs of conflict and resistance in rural America, called "Property Rights," at Sikkema Jenkins; Sarah Sze's installation at Tanya Bonakdar, for which the artist has set up a working studio, playing with light and shadow to pleasing effect; and Judith Hopf's minimalist tongue sculptures at Metro Pictures. Joe Zucker's "100-Foot-Long Piece, 1968 - 1969" is on display at Marlborough, Jay Stuckey's rude, cartoon murals are at Anna Zorina, and Guy Yanai's paintings look great against those bright yellow walls at Miles McEnry.

If you've never gone gallery hopping in this neighborhood, you should know that admission is always free to everything, and everyone's welcome to come to the opening parties. Next Thursday evening there should be about 25 more, again from 6 to 8:00 p.m, and all the galleries (there are dozens on the blocks between 19th Street and 28th Street, and 10th and 11th Avenues) are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.