This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Who: Ollabelle
What: Special Reunion Show
Where: City Winery, 155 Varick St., 212-608-0555
When: Thursday, September 3, $30-$45, 8:00
Why: We’ve seen NYC folk specialists Ollabelle numerous times over the years, but they went on hiatus in 2012, and it’s been even longer since they toured with their original lineup. So we can’t wait for Amy Helm, Fiona McBain, Byron Isaacs, Tony Leone, Glenn Patscha, and Jimi Zhivago to be back together again on September 3 at City Winery, playing songs from throughout their career, which started in 2001 and includes the albums Ollabelle, Riverside Battle Songs, Before This Time, and Neon Blue Bird. Ollabelle plays the sweet sounds of Americana music, and it should be a joy to listen to them at this one-night-only performance, but you better act fast, because tickets are almost gone.


Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence, the Migration Series, 1940-41, Panel 10: “They were very poor,” casein tempera on hardboard (© 2015 the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society, New York)

Museum of Modern Art
Special Exhibitions Gallery, third floor
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through September 7, $25 (including audio program and film screenings)

Jacob Lawrence, who was born in 1917 in Atlantic City and moved with his family to Harlem when he was thirteen, depicted the twentieth-century African American experience in stunning, colorful panels painted in a style he called dynamic cubism. Half of his seminal 1941 series about the Great Migration is regularly on view at MoMA, but for this special exhibit, the midtown institution has teamed with the Phillips Collection, which owns the other half, to present the complete sixty-piece work for the first time in New York in twenty years. Lawrence was twenty-three when he created the Migration Series, tracing the movement of African Americans from the south to the north in search of a better life, beginning during the WWI era and continuing into the 1960s. Each panel is a work of art that stands on its own, but together they paint a fascinating portrait that unfolds like a documentary film. The works are arranged chronologically at eye level around the large gallery, with the caption for each right underneath the panel. Taken as a whole, it’s a dizzying array of dazzling color, but individually they tell quite a story as well.

panel 23

Jacob Lawrence, the Migration Series, 1940-41, Panel 23: “In a few sections of the South the leaders of both groups met and attempted to make conditions better for the Negro so that he would remain in the South,” casein tempera on hardboard (© 2015 the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society, New York)

In panel 1, men, women, and children line up at the train station to leave for Chicago, New York, or St. Louis, yellows and blues peeking out among muted browns and greens. In panel 5, a train is barreling past, black smoke floating back, a bright light beaming ahead. In panel 10, a man and a woman are sitting at a table, staring down at their meager food; the caption succinctly states: “They were very poor.” In panel 10, a white judge looks down from on high at two black men huddled below; the caption explains: “Among the social conditions that existed which was partly the cause of the migration was the injustice done to the Negroes in the courts.” In panel 18 (“The migration gained in momentum”), the departure of the men, women, and children is almost biblical in nature, evoking the exodus. Throughout the sixty panels, Lawrence plays with perspective and geometric as well as abstract shapes and patterns, creating scenes that often swirl with movement and life. The Migration Series is a towering achievement, an emotionally powerful work that feels as relevant today as it did when it was first presented more than sixty years ago. The exhibit is supplemented with paintings and drawings by Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Charles White, archival footage of Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and Gordon Parks, writings by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright, and other ephemera related to black life in America in the early to mid-twentieth century. And be sure to visit the excellent MoMA website that examines each panel of the Migration Series in detail.


Avery Fisher Hall
10 Lincoln Square, Broadway at 64th St.
September 18-21, $45-$155

The New York Philharmonic’s annual “Art of the Score” presentation this year focuses on that master thespian, method actor extraordinaire Marlon Brando. The Nebraska-born Brando became an immediate star right out of the gates with such early films as The Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, and The Wild One, but it was his 1954 triumph, On the Waterfront, that established him as one of the all-time greats even though it was only his sixth picture. For this year’s “Film Week,” New York Philharmonic artistic advisor Alec Baldwin has selected the two Brando classics for which Mr. Mumbles won the Oscar for Best Actor. On September 18, David Newman will conduct Leonard Bernstein’s score for Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, often considered one of the greatest Hollywood films ever made, with TCM’s Robert Osborne serving as host. On September 19 and 21, Justin Freer will conduct Nino Rota’s score for what many consider the absolute greatest film ever made, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, with Paul Sorvino as the special guest the first night.


Yoko Ono’s “To See the Sky” offers visitors the chance to commune one-on-one with the heavens (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Yoko Ono’s “To See the Sky” offers visitors the chance to commune one-on-one with the heavens (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Museum of Modern Art
The International Council of the Museum of Modern Art Exhibition Gallery, sixth floor
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through September 7, $25 (including audio program and film screenings)

In December 1971, Yoko Ono staged an unofficial one-woman show at MoMA, which she called the “Museum of Modern [F]art,” in which she supposedly released a glass jar full of flies into the sculpture garden, scattering art everywhere, even though a sign inside noted, “This Is Not Here.” Ono now has an honest-to-goodness solo show at MoMA, an involving and affecting retrospective of her conceptual work from 1960 through 1971, and although it’s titled “One Woman Show,” it’s about as participatory as these things can get. Visitors are invited to walk right on “Painting to Be Stepped On,” although many people still opt to carefully tiptoe around it; play a game of chess in the sculpture garden on “White Chess Set,” in which all of the pieces are white; slip under a black sheet and perform on a small stage for “Bag Piece”; make physical contact with others in “Touch Poem for a Group of People,” although the room was empty the several times I passed by; climb a rickety spiral staircase in “To See the Sky” and privately commune with the outside world via a skylight at the top; and choose to carry out any of the myriad instructions that comprise Ono’s storied Grapefruit book, though not necessarily right on the premises. However, you should not do what John Lennon did when he first met Ono in 1966 and take a bite out of the green apple that sits on a transparent pedestal at the opening of the exhibit. “Ono’s art has uncovered not only often concealed aspects of the act of engaging with an artwork (revealing, for instance, the central role the viewer plays in its creation) but also the ways in which cultural, social, and political life influence and affect each other,” explains MoMA curator-at-large Klaus Biesenbach in his catalog essay, “Absence and Presence in Yoko Ono’s Work,” continuing, “Looking back on her conceptual 1971 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, we see that she knew long ago that her groundbreaking practice warranted a solo exhibition there. Forty-four years later, that show is finally a reality, with the same radicality and presence it had when she first imagined it.”

Yoko Ono’s “Half-a-Room” slices domesticity in half (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Yoko Ono’s “Half-a-Room” slices domesticity in half (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The MoMA exhibition also includes such other Ono works as “Cut Piece,” a film by Albert and David Maysles of her sitting calmly as audience members cut off parts of her outfit; “A Box of Smile,” small boxes in a wall that provide pleasant surprises; “Film No. 4,” an onscreen procession of derrières; a room of paraphernalia and music she made with the Plastic Ono Band; “Fly,” which follows flies making their way across a woman’s naked body; footage of political demonstrations she and Lennon led, including “Bed-In”; and other drawings, sculptures, films, posters, invitations, and installations. There’s more in the exhibition catalog, which contains a number of essays and letters written by Ono in the section entitled “Yoko’s Voice”; in November 2014’s “Don’t Stop Me!” she writes, “Let me be free. Let me be me! Don’t make me old, with your thinking and words about how I should be. You don’t have to come to my shows. I am giving tremendous energy with my voice, because that is me. Get my energy or shut up.” She might have been referring specifically to her live musical performances, but the admonition relates to this early-career retrospective as well. Many people come to Ono and her work with a preconceived notion of who she is and what she does, often negative; “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” reveals her to be a much misunderstood artist who actually has a lot to say about the state of humanity, nearly universally positive, still seeking to attain world peace. And what’s wrong with that? (The final week of the show will feature the Gallery Sessions programs “Yoko Ono: From Grapefruit to Green Apple” on August 31 at 1:30 and September 2-3 at 11:30, “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” on September 5 at 1:30, and “Make Your Own Yoko Ono Piece” on September 6 at 11:30, and museumgoers can sit down and play on Ono’s “White Chess Set” in the sculpture garden on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00.)


Ingrid Bergman makes sure everything is just right in her final film, AUTUMN SONATA

Ingrid Bergman makes sure everything is just right in her final film, AUTUMN SONATA

MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
August 29 – September 10
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am

MoMA kicks off its two-week Ingrid Bergman retrospective on August 29, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of one of cinema’s most genuine movie stars, by showing her most famous work, Casablanca, along with her theatrical grand finale, Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata, introduced by two of her children, Pia Lindström and Isabella Rossellini. As it turned out, she died on her birthday at the age of sixty-seven, so it’s also the thirty-third anniversary of her death in 1982 from breast cancer. The fourteen-film survey, several of which were specially chosen by Lindström, Isabella Rossellini, and Ingrid’s other daughter, Ingrid Rossellini, includes such other classic favorites as Gaslight, Notorious, Intermezzo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Bells of St. Mary’s as well as such lesser-known fare as Fear, Paris Does Strange Things, Stromboli, and the short comedy We, the Women: Ingrid Bergman. Each of the three daughters will be back at MoMA individually to introduce select screenings August 30-31 and September 1 and 8-9.


Wim Wenders

Extensive Wim Wenders retrospective at the IFC Center will feature numerous appearances by the eclectic auteur

IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
August 28 - September 24

One of the most eclectic, iconoclastic auteurs in the history of cinema, German author, director, and photographer Wim Wenders has built an impressive film resume over the last forty-five years, from music and dance documentaries to road movies and postapocalyptic tales, from mysteries and fantasies to gripping emotional dramas and a Hawthorne adaptation. The IFC Center is celebrating his career with a wide-ranging four-week series featuring dozens of his full-length and short films, from 1972’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick to a sneak preview of his newest work, Every Thing Will Be Fine, including the New York City premiere of Palermo Shooting and the world premiere of the 4K restoration of The State of Things. Wenders will be at the IFC Center for Q&As following select screenings of The American Friend, Buena Vista Social Club, Kings of the Road, Pina, Tokyo-Ga, Paris, Texas, and other films; in addition, Wenders, who just turned seventy, will sign copies of his latest photography book, Wim Wenders: Written in the West, Revisited, after the Q&A following the 7:20 screening of Palermo Shooting on September 2, and he will participate in the special discussion “Liquid Space: A Conversation on 3D” on September 6.


Samara Golden’s “The Flat Side of the Knife” offers a breathtaking perspective on reality (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Samara Golden’s “The Flat Side of the Knife” offers a breathtaking perspective on reality (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

22-25 Jackson Ave. at 46th Ave.
Through August 30, suggested admission $10 (free with paid MoMA ticket within fourteen days except during Warm Up), 12 noon - 6:00
the flat side of the knife slideshow

In such installations as “Mass Murder,” “The Fireplace,” “Bad Brains,” and “Rape of the Mirror,” Michigan-born, LA-based artist Samara Golden creates surreal multimedia interiors that combine a ghostlike quality with abstract memories; looking at them, you can almost see what’s occurred in their nonexistent past. That is certainly true about her latest project, “The Flat Side of the Knife,” which continues in MoMA PS1’s vertical, multistory Duplex Gallery through August 30. Visible from several viewing points at different levels, the work is an Escher-like depiction of an impossible room with staircases, beds, a rug, windows looking out at the ocean, musical instruments, wheelchairs, plants, books, and other items, all of which are reflected in mirrors that result in a dizzying yet breathtaking illusion of reality turned upside down and inside out. Golden calls it the sixth dimension — she has also referred to her installations as exorcisms — where the past, present, and future combine, evoking abandoned film sets where something clearly happened, but there’s no way to tell exactly what; that is left for viewers to figure out, searching inside their own consciousness for clues and answers. While at PS1, be sure to also check out “Halil Altindere” Wonderland,” “Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades,” “Math Bass: Off the Clock,” “Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys: Fine Arts,” “IM Heung-soon: Reincarnation,” and the Young Architects Program courtyard project “COSMO” by Andres Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation. And on Saturday, August 30, the next-to-last Warm Up dance party features Matias Aguayo, Kingdom, D∆WN, DJ Windows 98, Murlo, and FALSE WITNESS.