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



Since May 2001, twi-ny has been recommending cool things to do throughout the five boroughs, popular and under-the-radar events that draw people out of their homes to experience film, theater, dance, art, literature, music, food, comedy, and more as part of a live audience in the most vibrant community on Earth.

With the spread of Covid-19 and the closing of all cultural institutions, sports venues, bars, and restaurants (for dining in), we feel it is our duty to prioritize the health and well-being of our loyal readers. So, for the next several weeks at least, we won’t be covering any public events in which men, women, and children must congregate in groups, a more unlikely scenario day by day anyway.

That said, as George Bernard Shaw once noted, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

Some parks are still open, great places to breathe in fresh air, feel the sunshine, and watch the changing of winter into spring. We will occasionally be pointing out various statues, sculptures, and installations, but check them out only if you are already going outside and will happen to be nearby.

You don’t have to shut yourself away completely for the next weeks and months — for now, you can still go grocery shopping and pick up takeout — but do think of others as you go about your daily life, which is going to be very different for a while. We want each and every one of you to take care of yourselves and your families, follow the guidelines for social distancing, and consider the health and well-being of those around you.

We look forward to seeing you indoors and at festivals and major outdoor events as soon as possible, once New York, America, and the rest of the planet are ready to get back to business. Until then, you can find us every so often under the sun, moon, clouds, and stars, finding respite in this amazing city now in crisis.


(photo by Natalia Kabanow)

Cancellation of Krystian Lupa’s Polish version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial at NYU Skirball has led to panel discussion and marathon reading in defense of artistic freedom (photo by Natalia Kabanow)

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl.
Sunday, March 8, free, 1:00 - 10:00

NYU Skirball is facing its own Kafkaesque drama in its attempt to stage a Polish version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Krystian Lupa’s adaptation was scheduled to come to the Washington Square theater March 7-8, but the show was canceled when the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (AIM) cut off its funding. “Kafka’s The Trial is the story of political corruption, government censorship, and social malevolence — a story that mirrors our current global realities,” Skirball director Jay Wegman said in a statement. “Sadly, and ironically, the Polish government has pulled its funding in an attempt to silence Krystian Lupa, making this North American premiere impossible.” In a revealing Theatermania article, Wegman went toe-to-toe with AIM acting director Barbara Schabowska, arguing over what really happened, whether it was censorship, sloppiness, or incompetence.

Instead, Skirball is hosting a panel discussion and marathon reading of The Trial, presented in conjunction with the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, PEN America, and CUNY’s Segal Center. The free March 8 program begins at 1:00 with “Art in Danger, Artists at Risk,” a panel featuring Monika Fabijanska, Holly Hughes, Felix Kaputu, André Lepecki, Julie Trébault, and Lupa, moderated by Catharine R. Stimpson, as they explore issues of artistic freedom, particularly amid the global populist movement. “The declaration of Minister Gliński is clear,” Lupa said in a statement. “Artists who do not sympathize with the current leadership’s cultural policy, who criticize its values, decisions, and actions, will be treated as enemies of Poland and will not be supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in any form.” From 3:00 to about 10:00, there will be a marathon reading of Kafka’s posthumously published 1925 novel, with such special guests as Salman Rushdie, Kathleen Chalfant, Zadie Smith, and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Advance RSVP is recommended but not required; there will also be limited spots available to the public the day of the event. “Someone must have been spreading lies about Josef K, for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one morning.” And so it begins.


The Booksellers

Rare-book dealers such as Adam Weinberger scour through private homes to find buried treasure in The Booksellers

THE BOOKSELLERS (D. W. Young, 2019)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, March 6

“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading,” Maurice Sendak is quoted as saying in D. W. Young’s wonderfully literate documentary The Booksellers, which opens at the Quad March 6. I have to admit to being a little biased, as I work in the children’s book industry in another part of my life, and I serve as the managing editor on Sendak’s old and newly discovered works. The film follows the exploits of a group of dedicated bibliophiles who treasure books as unique works of art, buying, selling, and collecting them not merely for the money but for the thrill of it. “The relationship of the individual to the book is very much like a love affair,” Americana collector Michael Zinman explains.

Sisters Adina Cohen, Judith Lowry and Naomi Hample, owners of the Argosy Book Store, at the store on East 59th Street in Manhattan

Sisters Adina Cohen, Judith Lowry, and Naomi Hample of Argosy Book Store keep the family legacy alive

In the film, which features narration by executive producer Parker Posey, Young visits the Antiquarian Book Fair at Park Avenue Armory and speaks with a wide range of intellectual characters, including author and cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz, who relates her experiences in rare-book stores; bestselling writer Susan Orlean, who discusses her archives; leather-bound connoisseur Bibi Mohamed of Imperial Fine Books, who talks about going to her first estate sale; late-twentieth-century specialist Arthur Fournier; Nicholas D. Lowry and Stephen Massey of Antiques Roadshow, the latter of whom was the auctioneer for the most expensive book ever sold, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hammer codex; sci-fi expert and author Henry Wessells; Justin Schiller, who worked with Sendak and other children’s book authors; Rebecca Romney of Pawn Stars; Jim Cummins, who owns some four hundred thousand books; Erik DuRon and Jess Kuronen of Left Bank Books; Nancy Bass Wyden of the Strand; and Adina Cohen, Naomi Hample, and Judith Lowry, the three sisters who own the Argosy Book Store, continuing the family legacy.

But times have changed, for both good and bad. Dealer Dave Bergman complains, “The internet has killed the hunt,” comparing the excitement of live auctions and the detective-like chase for a title to the boredom of automated online searches and bidding. However, diversity is on the rise, as explored with Kevin Young of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Caroline Schimmel, a leading collector of books by women; and hip-hop archivist and curator Syreeta Gates. “I think the death of the book is highly overrated,” Heather O’Donnell of Honey and Wax Booksellers declares. From her mouth. . . . The Booksellers, which is worth seeing solely for Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Swann Auction Galleries president Nicholas D. Lowry’s fab mustache, is screening in conjunction with the sixtieth anniversary of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, taking place March 5-8 at Park Avenue Armory. The Quad is hosting a series of Q&As opening weekend, with Young and such guests as Posey, Wyden, Romney, O’Donnell, and Nicholas D. Lowry, moderated by Eugene Hernandez and Adam Schartoff.


efratia gitai

MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Thursday, March 5, $8-$12, 7:00
Series continues through March 9

In conjunction with the publication of the English-language edition of Efratia Gitai: Correspondence 1929–1994, MoMA will host “‘In Times Like These’: Amos and Efratia Gitai,” a series of events featuring the author’s son, award-winning Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai. Born in 1909 in Palestine to Russian Zionist parents, Efratia Gitai wrote letters throughout her life to Amos, her Bauhaus architect husband Munio Weinraub, and friends, sharing her views on the state of the world, from the Bolshevik Revolution and Viennese psychology to Churchill, Hitler, and kibbutzes. On March 5 at 7:00, Amos Gitai will introduce “The Letters of Efratia Gitai: A Staged Reading,” a ninety-minute presentation featuring Cannes Best Actress winner Barbara Sukowa (Berlin Alexanderplatz, Hannah Arendt) and Belgian actor and producer Ronald Guttman (Coastal Disturbances, Mildred Pierce) dramatizing the letters, which were curated by Rivka Gitai, Amos’s wife; they will be accompanied on piano by sixteen-year-old Yali Levy Schwartz. The series continues through March 9 with screenings of four of Amos Gitai’s films, Carmel, Esther, Berlin-Jerusalem, and Kedma, several of which will be introduced by the filmmaker.


DJ Spooky (photo courtesy Subliminal Kid Inc.) and Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz (photo by Max Basch) will pay tribute to Alfred Jarry at the Morgan on February 28

DJ Spooky (top, photo courtesy Subliminal Kid Inc.) and Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz (bottom, photo by Max Basch) will pay tribute to Alfred Jarry at the Morgan on February 28

Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Ave. at 36th St.
Friday, February 28, $25, 7:00

In conjunction with its current exhibit “Alfred Jarry: The Carnival of Being,” the Morgan is hosting a special event on February 28, bringing together a wide range of performers celebrating the vast influence of Jarry, the French Symbolist who died in 1907 at the age of thirty-four, having left behind an important legacy of plays (Ubu Roi), novels (Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician), essays (The Green Candle), illustrations, and more. The evening includes musical excerpts from actor Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz’s Ubu Sings Ubu, a mashup of Ubu Roi and songs by Cleveland art-punk provocateurs Pere Ubu; a screening of British speculative sculptor Lawrence Lek’s two-minute 2010 film The Time Machine, “a translation of surrealist science fiction into physical form” based on Jarry’s 1899 essay “How to Construct a Time Machine”; “Reading Jarry,” a collaboration between DJ Spooky and Belgian actor and producer Ronald Guttman; and live scoring by DJ Spooky to clips from the late Polish graphic designer and cartoonist Jan Lenica’s 1979 film, Ubu et la grande Gidouille. The program begins at 7:00, but ticket holders are invited to check out the exhibition, which continues through May 10, beginning at 6:00.



André Holland and Phylicia Rashad will honor the legacy of Toni Morrison at the 92nd St. Y on February 18

Who: André Holland, Phylicia Rashad
What: Dramatic readings from The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
Where: 92Y, Kaufmann Concert Hall, 1395 Lexington Ave. between 91st & 92nd St.
When: Tuesday, February 18, $15-$46, 8:00
Why: In honor of what would have been Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison’s eighty-ninth birthday — the Ohio-born author of such novels as Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved passed away in New York City last August — Morrison scholar and Columbia professor Farah Jasmine Griffin has curated an evening of dramatic readings from Morrison’s final book, The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, to be performed by actor André Holland (Selma, Moonlight, Jitney) and Emmy- and Tony-winning actress and director Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, A Raisin in the Sun, Creed). It is a reprise of an earlier event, held in May 2019, celebrating the release of the book; it now takes on a different meaning with Morrison’s death. The Source of Self-Regard is divided into three sections, “The Foreigner’s Home,” “Black Matter(s),” and “God’s Language,” featuring such chapters as “Racism and Fascism,” “The Slavebody and the Blackbody,” “The Site of Memory,” and “Goodbye to All That: Race, Surrogacy, and Farewell,” with tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, William Faulkner, and others. “With The Source of Self-Regard, Toni Morrison further cements her reputation as the towering literary figure of our time,” Griffin, who moderated a conversation with Morrison at the 92nd St. Y in 2015, said in a statement. “Her intellect, like her prose, is original, incisive, and illuminating. Hers is a voice we urgently need now more than ever, and I am honored to join these great artists as we bring that voice to the stage of the 92nd St. Y.”


fanfaire nyc

The High School of Art and Design
245 East 56th St.
Saturday, February 8, and Sunday, February 9, $5-$15 per day, $10-$20 two-day pass, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Fanfaire NYC takes place this weekend, a two-day festival celebrating cartooning, animation, graphic design, architecture, and fashion. An annual benefit for the High School of Art and Design, the multidimensional fest features more than 125 artists and vendors, talks and panels, workshops, costume contests, video games, movie screenings, and portfolio reviews. This year’s guests range from artists and professors to cosplayers and editors, from character designers and executives to writers and high school alum, including Neal Adams, Abe Audish, Bob Camp, Klaus Janson, Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and David Mazzucchelli. Founded in 1936, the High School of Art and Design, which is a public school, has boasted such graduates as Adams, Tony Bennett, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Art Spiegelman, Amy Heckerling, and Steven Meisel. Below are only some of the highlights:

Saturday, February 8
Graphic Design & Illustration Portfolio Review, with Joann Hill and Cryssy Cheung, Library, sixth floor, advance registration required, 10:00 am

Careers in Animation, with Bob Camp, Sachio Cook, Chrissy Fellmeth, and Abe Audish, moderated by Kiara Arias and Jaydan Hyman, Black Box, LL2, 10:30

Tracing Is Not a Crime, with Neal Adams, moderated by Josh Adams, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 10:30

My Life in Ink, with tattoo artist Keith “BANG BANG” McCurdy, Black Box, LL2, 12:00

Breaking into Comics and Other Tales, with Klaus Janson, moderated by Chris Allo, Black Box, LL2, 1:30

Storytelling in Comics with David Mazzucchelli, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 3:00

Mythconceptions — Behind the Scenes of George O’Connor’s Olympians, with George O’Connor, Black Box, LL2, 4:30

Sunday, February 9
Ink Flow: Learning to Ink Like Neal Adams, with Neal Adams, moderated by Josh Adams, Classroom 1, sixth floor, 10:00 am

Freelance isn’t Free — How to Build Yourself as an Artist and Run a Business, with Lucinda Lewis, Chrissy Fellmeth, Nik Virella, and Cristian S. Aluas, moderated by Miss Kill Joy, Auditorium, LL2, 12:00

Cosplay Competition: People's Choice Masquerade, Auditorium, LL2, 2:00 - 5:00

Inside the Art of Sequential Visual Storytelling, with Carl Potts, Black Box, LL2, 2:30

Children’s Books: More than Drawing Cute Bunnies, with Joann Hill, Classroom 3, sixth floor, 3:00

DYNAMIC DUO: The art of last impressions, slide presentation, discussion, and book signing, with Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, and Charles Kochman, Black Box, LL2, 4:00 - 6:00