Before word of mouth, before the reviews, before the public sees the cast and sets and hears the dialogue and music, a Broadway show attempts to define itself — and sell tickets — by establishing a look, a unique brand, via posters, billboards, and advertisements. For the last twenty years, SpotCo, originally known as Spot Design, has been at the forefront of this business, working on campaigns for more than three hundred clients, including eight Pulitzer Prize winners and the last eight winners of the Tony for Best Musical. The company’s history is celebrated in the new coffee-table book On Broadway: From Rent to Revolution (Rizzoli, April 2016, $45), which explores SpotCo’s branding of such shows as Rent, Chicago, The Vagina Monologues, Doubt, Avenue Q, Hair, Once, Kinky Boots, Fun Home, and Hamilton. “What separates SpotCo’s oeuvre from what has come before and makes it so astounding is that as a whole it has no recognizable visual style, in a business that was long thought to rely on exactly that, no matter how hackneyed and clichéd,” author and graphic designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd writes in his foreword. “The only thing that unites them all is an unwavering sense of intelligence and the apparent belief that their audience is comprised of people who can think, intuit, and take a chance on something they haven’t quite experienced before.” The book also features text by SpotCo founder Drew Hodges and producers, composers, illustrators, playwrights, artistic directors, photographers, and actors (Harvey Fierstein, Cherry Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patrick Stewart, Sting) detailing the various campaigns, in addition to an introduction by former company maid David Sedaris. On May 23, the Rizzoli Bookstore will host the annual Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS charity event while also celebrating On Broadway: From Rent to Revolution; the evening will include a red carpet entrance for numerous stars of the Great White Way, an auction of original art, and more.
Who: Wong Kar Wai, La Frances Hui
What: Modern Mondays
Where: MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves., 212-708-9400
When: Monday, May 23, $8-$12, 7:30
Why: “Our distant comradeship went on for twenty years, all of them blessedly unconstrained by the inhibiting, red-eyed presence of a tape recorder. We never did a proper interview, much less anything so large as a book,” pop-culture and film critic John Powers recently wrote in his Vogue essay “How to Write a Book with Wong Kar Wai,” continuing, “As I flew home to L.A., I was experiencing what I’d long heard about working on one of Wong’s long-gestating films: You spend your time waiting and waiting, dependent on his decisions, wondering if there’s any end in sight.” They were trying to finish what would become WKW: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai (Rizzoli, April 2016, $65) in time for the opening of the Met Fifth Avenue’s exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass,” for which Wong was serving as artistic director. Well, they made it, and on May 23, Wong, the writer-director of such cutting-edge works as Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Happy Together, and the lush In the Mood for Love, will be at MoMA for a Modern Mondays presentation including film clips, a conversation with MoMA Department of Film associate curator La Frances Hui, and a book signing. “China: Through the Looking Glass” continues in the Met’s Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Center through September 7.
Who: Bob Rosenthal, Ada Calhoun
What: Celebration for the paperback publication of Cleaning Up New York: The ’70s Cult Classic (the Little Bookroom, March 2016, $12.95)
Where: Rizzoli Bookstore, 1133 Broadway at 26th St., 212-759-2424
When: Wednesday, May 18, free, 6:00
Why: “$60. I needed $60 in three weeks’ time. I was out of a job so the idea of doing temporary work just popped into my head. I called a friend who had once done cleaning jobs and he told me to call up Everything for Living Space.” So begins Bob Rosenthal’s 1970s cult classic, Cleaning Up New York, which features the rather lengthy explanation on the front: “In which our hero coffees up with a pill, fortifies himself with some (pocketed) weed, and mops and waxes his way through weird vibes, domestic dramas . . . and seduction.” Rosenthal, who documented his time as Allen Ginsberg’s secretary for the Local East Village blog a few years ago, will be at the Rizzoli Bookstore on May 18 to talk about Cleaning Up New York with Ada Calhoun, the author of St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street (Norton, November 2015, $27.95).
Who: Charles Bock, Ani DiFranco, Amber Tamblyn, Belinda McKeon, Kate Neckel, Lady Parts Justice, Amanda Stern
What: Happy Ending Music & Reading Series
Where: Symphony Space, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St., 212-864-5400
When: Wednesday, May 18, $15-$30, 7:30
Why: Symphony Space’s Happy Ending Music & Reading Series presents artists performing risky feats while musicians collaborate on a sing-along of cover tunes. Past participants have included Lena Dunham, John Cameron Mitchell, Zadie Smith, Vampire Weekend, Jennifer Egan, and Moby. On May 18, host and curator Amanda Stern, who founded the series in 2003, brings together author Charles Bock (Alice & Oliver, Beautiful Children), musician, activist, and Righteous Babe Ani DiFranco (Up Up Up Up Up Up, Allergic to Water), author Belinda McKeon (Tender, Solace), artist and designer Kate Neckel (Start Now! The Creativity Journal), author, actress, and director Amber Tamblyn (Dark Sparkler, Joan of Arcadia), and special guests Lady Parts Justice for another unpredictable evening of art, music, literature, and mayhem.
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, May 7, free, 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum celebrates its new exhibition, “Disguise: Masks and Global African Art,” which pairs twenty-five contemporary works of art with historical masquerade pieces to create a dialogue, at its free First Saturday program on May 7. The evening will feature live performances by Ifetayo Youth Ensemble, Jojo Abot, DJ Tunez, Laara Garcia (activating Saya Woolfalk’s “ChimaTEK: Virtual Chimeric Space”), and Djassi DaCosta Johnson (performing Brendan Fernandes’s In Touch); screenings of Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning and short films from Wangechi Mutu’s AFRICA’SOUT!; a multimedia book club reading and discussion with Nnedi Okorafor, N. K. Jemisin, and Ibi Zoboi, along with performing arts collective BKLYN ZULU; pop-up gallery talks; a hands-on workshop in which participants can make their own masks and costumes; a talk by Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands associate curator Kevin Dumouchelle on African masquerade around the world; interactive storytelling exploring African myth with Gage Cook; and, for the grand finale, a Vogue Ball hosted by Jacolby Satterwhite. In addition, you can check out such other exhibitions as “This Place,” “Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective, 1999–2016,” “Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (to a Seagull),” and “Agitprop!”
Who: Sarah Anderson, Mirene Arsanios, Chloë Bass, Jesse Bonnell, Esteban Cabeza De Baca, Glendaliz Camacho, Adriane Connerton, Nick Doyle, Tamar Ettun, Joel W. Fisher, Nadja Frank, Susan Karwoska, Amy Khoshbin, Lisa Ko, Courtney Krantz, Tora Lopez, Melanie McLain, Rangi McNeil, Irini Miga, Trokon Nagbe, Meredith Nickie, New Saloon, Christina Olivares, Piehole, Ronny Quevedo, Maria Rapoport, Keisha Scarville, Pascual Sisto, Stacy Spence, Yuliya Tsukerman, Jessica Vaughn
What: LMCC Open Studios
Where: LMCC’s Studios at 28 Liberty, 28 Liberty St. between Pine, Liberty, Nassau, & William Sts.
When: Friday, April 29, 6:00–9:00, and Saturday, April 30, 1:00–6:00 (Open Texts 6:00–8:00), free with advance RSVP
Why: The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which “empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond,” is kicking off its annual Open Studios by welcoming visitors on Friday night, April 29, and Saturday afternoon and evening, April 30, to wander through its Financial District space and check out works-in-progress by thirty-one artists artists who have been busy since September immersed in paintings, sketches, photographs, sculptures, videos, poetry, dances, plays, and more. The event is free with advance RSVP; the studios will close Saturday at 6:00 for two hours of spoken-word performances. The Open Studios program continues through October with presentations at 28 Liberty and 125 Maiden Lane and on Governors Island with such performers and choreographers as Okwui Okpokwasili, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, Faye Driscoll, Netta Yerushalmy, Amber Hawk Swanson, Ephrat Asherie, Jodi Melnick, and YACKEZ (Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson).
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, $20-$25 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Spring appears to finally have arrived, and that means it’s time for one of the city’s most fabulous annual festivals, the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weekend celebrates the beauty of the blossoming of the cherry trees with live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, Ikebana flower arranging, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, Japanese food, clothing, pottery, wall scrolls, kimonos, lots of children’s activities, and more. Below are ten daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days.
Saturday, April 30
Book signing: Kate T. Williamson, A Year in Japan, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00
Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Art Alley, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00 & 2:00
The Battersby Show: Cosplay 101, with Charles Battersby, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:30
Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks!, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12 noon, 1:15, and 3:00
Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 12:15 & 2:45
Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 1:30
Book signing: Abby Denson, Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00
Hanagasa Odori flower hat procession, with the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 4:00
BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show, featuring live music by the Hanami Ensemble, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 4:30
Yuzu’s Dream: An Urban Folk Odyssey, with Yuzu, Akim Funk Buddha, and his Origami Dance Crew, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15
Sunday, May 1
Japanese Garden Stroll, 10:00 am
Akim Funk Buddha’s Urban Tea Ceremony Unplugged, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 12 noon
KuroPOP dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12:45
Stand-up Comic Uncle Yo, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 1:15 & 3:00
Samurai Sword Soul, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 2:00
Takarabune Dance, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:00
Book signing: Rumi Hara, The Return of Japanese Wolves, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00
Colossal Origami, with Taro Yaguchi, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:45
Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 4:15
The Seventh Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15