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


Sylvia Palacios Whitman, Passing Through, Sonnabend Gallery, 1977, documentation of performance (photo by Babette Mangolte)

Sylvia Palacios Whitman, “Passing Through,” documentation of performance, Sonnabend Gallery, 1977 (photo © 1977 by Babette Mangolte)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, May 5, free (“David Bowie is” requires advance tickets, $25), 5:00 - 11:00

Latin art is the centerpiece of the Brooklyn Museum’s free First Saturday program on May 5. There will be live performances by Batalá New York, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (Mujeres Valientes), Combo Chimbita, and Jarina De Marco (with visuals by Screaming Horses); a curator tour of “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985” led by Catherine Morris; a community talk about the Sylvia Rivera Law Project; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make a mask honoring their cultural heritage; a candle-decorating collage workshop with feminist collective Colectiva Cósmica, featuring a set by Ecuadorian-Lithuanian producer, DJ, and cultural activist Riobamba; screenings of experimental short films by Latin American women filmmakers, hosted by Jesse Lerner; a book-club talk about Marta Moreno Vega’s When the Spirits Dance Mambo; and pop-up gallery talks on “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985” by teen apprentices. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can also check out “William Trost Richards: Experiments in Watercolor,” “Arts of Korea,” “Infinite Blue,” “Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” and more. However, please note that advance tickets are required to see “David Bowie is,” at the regular admission price.


BRIC House exhibit serves as inspiration for four-day free festival on borders (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

BRIC House exhibit serves as inspiration for four-day free festival about borders (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

BRIC House
647 Fulton St., Brooklyn
April 26-29, free (advance RSVP recommended)

The theme of this year’s BRIC OPEN festival is “Borders,” four days of free programs focusing on borders both real and imagined, physical and ideological. The series is being held in conjunction with the exhibition “Bordering the Imaginary: Art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Their Diasporas,” a collection of sculpture, painting, installation, and video that, in the words of BRIC contemporary art vice president Elizabeth Ferrer, “consider the complicated interrelated histories of two Caribbean countries that share a single island, their tradition of cultural and social exchange, and the social injustices that have long burdened the people of both nations.” The exhibit includes impressive work by Raquel Paiewonsky, Pascal Meccariello, Fabiola Jean-Louis, iliana emilia garcia, Patrick Eugène, and others. “Borders” begins April 26 at 7:00 with “Art Intersecting Politics,” a conversation between Paola Mendoza and Darnell L. Moore, preceded by a spoken-word performance by slam poet Venessa Marco. Friday night’s schedule consists of a concert by Blitz the Ambassador, Lido Pimienta, and the Chamanas (as well as a screening of Blitz’s fifteen-minute film, Diasporadical Trilogia), the ninety-minute walking tour “Borders We Carry” led by Kamau Ware through downtown Brooklyn, an Immigration Action Fair, and Alicia Grullón’s “Empanar!” mobile art project.

On Saturday, there will be a family art-making workshop in which participants can add to a Building Bridges mural; a Greenlight Bookstore pop-up shop; a “Drawn Together” workshop led by “Bordering the Imaginary” artists Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Antonio Cruz, and garcia; Juanli Carrión’s “Memelismos: Memories from the Other Side” participatory storytelling installation; more walking tours; screenings of short films and Jeremy Williams’s On a Knife Edge; the discussions “Reflections on the DACA and the DREAM Act: Erika Harrsch & Yatziri Tovar” and “Haiti-NYC-DR: Reflections from the Diaspora,” the latter with Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, Edward Paulino, Albert Saint Jean, Ibi Zoboi, and moderator Carolle Charles; and a RAGGA x BRIC dance party with DJs Oscar Nñ of Papi Juice, Serena Jara, LSXOXOD, and Neon Christina and a live performance by Viva Ruiz. Sunday features a gallery tour and the closing talk “Biscuits without Borders” by Jess Thorn, aka Touretteshero. In addition, the exhibitions “Under the Same Sky . . . We Dream” by Erika Harrsch and “What time is it there?” by Katie Shima will be on view throughout the festival.


New monograph on Philip Taaffe kicks off discussion on contemporary painting at the Cooper Union

New monograph on Philip Taaffe kicks off Cooper Union panel discussion on contemporary painting

Who: Lois Dodd, Thomas Nozkowski, Philip Taaffe, Barry Schwabsky, Faye Hirsch, John Yau
What: Panel discussion
Where: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the Great Hall in the Foundation Building, 7 East Seventh St. between Third & Fourth Aves.
When: Thursday, April 19, free with advance RSVP, 6:30
Why: In conjunction with the publication of the first monograph on Philip Taaffe as part of the Lund Humphries Contemporary Painters series, the Cooper Union is hosting the panel discussion “Rewriting Painting” on April 19 at 6:30, featuring Cooper graduates, artists, and Lund Humphries subjects Lois Dodd, Thomas Nozkowski, and Philip Taaffe along with critics Barry Schwabsky (the editor of the Lund Humphries series), Faye Hirsch (who wrote the book on Dodd), and John Yau (who wrote the book on Taaffe). The free event explores the state and shape of contemporary painting, asking the questions “How far have artists extended the boundaries of the medium in the twenty-first century, and what does it mean to be identified as a painter today?,” “Is the word ‘painting’ still adequate to describe a practice which no longer necessarily involves paint or flat surfaces?,” and “And to what extent do the ways in which we write about painting influence both the public’s reception of the work and contemporary practice itself?” The discussion will be followed by a book signing with all of the participants.


(photo courtesy NYBG)

Earth Ball is part of Earth Day festivities at last weekend of the Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden (photo courtesy NYBG)

The New York Botanical Garden
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
April 20-22, $12 children two to twelve, $28 adults ($38 for Orchid Evenings, adults only, 6:30 - 9:30)

The New York Botanical Garden’s 2018 orchid show, featuring installations by Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost, closes this weekend, but not before a flurry of special events in conjunction with Earth Day. On Friday at 11:00 am, Charles Peters will discuss his new book, Managing the Wild: Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, and the Discovery Center at the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden will host activities for children from 1:30 to 5:30. Orchid Evenings take place Friday and Saturday night, with specialty cocktails, music by DJ X-RAY, Alice Farley’s Orchid Dancers, and a nighttime viewing of the show. On Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4:00, there will be a Herbarium Open House in the Steere Herbarium and “The Scientist Is In” booth on Conservatory Plaza. In addition, the fifteen-minute animated film Tree of Life will screen continuously in Ross Hall from 11:00 to 5:00, there will be tours of the conservatory and laboratory and demonstrations of the Hitachi TM4000 PLUS Tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope, and the Earth Ball will be on display on the Conservatory Lawn.


Public Reading on Democracy

“Public Reading on Democracy” at Live Ideas festival features Tamar-kali, Aisha Tandiwe-Bell, Greg Tate, Liz Abzug, and others reading works by Medgar Evers, Ida B. Wells, Muhammad Ali, Shirley Chisholm, Harvey Milk, Bella Abzug, and more

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
April 18-22, free - $30

The annual Live Ideas festival at New York Live Arts has previously explored the legacies of Dr. Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin, examined social, political, artistic, and environmental issues (curated by Laurie Anderson), and looked into a nonbinary future (curated by Mx Justin Vivian Bond). The five-day 2018 festival, “Radical Vision,” asks such questions as “How do we not simply protect democracy but make it stronger?,” “What are new (radical) ways forward — ways that go to the roots of our current democratic crisis?,” “What is your radical vision of Democracy?,” and “What would you give up to make it real?” New York Live Arts will host live performances, panel discussions, special presentations, and participatory events addressing these issues, kicking things off on April 18 with a gala at Irving Plaza honoring Elizabeth A. Sackler and Bryan Stevenson, with performances by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes, Abby Z and the New Utility, and Esperanza Spalding. The festivities then move to New York Live Arts, with three days of free public readings on democracy, the forum “Bending Towards Justice?,” “The Press + the Resistance,” “By the People?,” and “How Do We Prepare for Trump’s Second Term?,” with such creators and thinkers as Xenobia Bailey, Lawrence Lessig, Alicia Hall Moran, Roger Berkowitz, Emily Johnson, Max Kenner, and Erin Markey. Live Ideas 2018 concludes April 22 at 7:30 ($10) with the Democrazy Ball, with DJ JLMR and performances by Daphne Always and the Dauphine of Bushwick. Below are some of the other highlights of “Radical Vision.”

Wednesday, April 18
Contents Under Pressure: Democracy in Crisis, keynote conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill and Professor Lawrence Lessig, moderated by Bill T. Jones and with an opening performance by mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran with artist and puppeteer Matt Acheson, $15-$30, 6:30

Thursday, April 19
Dahlak Brathwaite: Spiritrials, one-man multidimensional play written by and starring Dahlak Brathwaite, with a score by Brathwaite and Dion Decibels, directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Sean San Jose, $15-$30, 8:00

Friday, April 20
Mike Daisey: The End of Journalism, monologue, $15-$30, 8:00

Saturday, April 21
Zephyr Teachout: Hands-on Politics, workshop with Zephyr Teachout, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $5-$10), 1:00


Dahlak Brathwaite will perform Spiritrials at New York Live Arts’ Live Ideas festival

Resistance & Friends, with live performances by vocalist and composer Like a Villain (Holland Andrews), singer Joseph Keckler, choreographer and dancer Marguerite Hemmings, drag queen and performance artist Ragamuffin, poet and performer Saul Williams, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and choreographer and dancer Keely Garfield (Mandala), hosted by drag king Elizabeth (Macha) Marrero, $15-$25, 8:00

Sunday, April 22
Cynthia Hopkins: Learn a Song of Resistance, free with advance RSVP (suggested donation $10), 11:00 am

The Secret Court, staged reading by Abingdon Theatre Company, written by members of the Plastic Theatre and conceived by Tony Speciale, $12-$15, 12:30

Kenyon Adams: Prayers of the People, a secular liturgical performance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” participatory ritual/performance conceived by Kenyon Adams (little ray), directed by Bill T. Jones, featuring Cynthia Hopkins, Padraic Costello, Vinson Fraley, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Walker Jackson, and Adams, $15-$25, 6:00


Benedict Cumberbatch and special guests will perform Letters Live at the Town Hall May 18-19

Benedict Cumberbatch and special guests will perform Letters Live at the Town Hall May 18-19

Who: Benedict Cumberbatch and surprise guests
What: Letters Live New York
Where: The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St. between Sixth Ave. & Broadway, 212-997-6661
When: Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, $62-$202 (use presale code LLNYC), 8:00
Why: On May 18-19, Letters Live will make its New York City debut, with Oscar nominee and Olivier and Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch and special guests reading letters at the Town Hall. Past events have featured letters by David Bowie, Mohandas Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Brontë, Tom Hanks, Katherine Hepburn, Richard Burton, Patti Smith, Abraham Lincoln, James Baldwin, and Che Guevara, read by Gillian Anderson, Sir Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Thandie Newton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rose McGowan, LeVar Burton, Mark Hamill, Anjelica Huston, James Corden, Oscar Isaac, Mary J Blige, Jude Law, Nick Cave, Sir Ben Kingsley, and others. Presale tickets for the epistolary presentation, which was inspired by Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note anthologies and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter, are now available using the code LLNYC. Part of the proceeds will be donated to 826NYC and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.


The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored at Harlem Gate on April 4

The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored at Harlem Gate on April 4

Who: Adepero Oduye, Amma Whatt, C. Kelly Wright, Kyle Marshall, Bertha Hope
What: An evening of live performances and tributes celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Where: Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Ave. at West 135th St., 212-281-9240 ext. 19
When: Wednesday, April 4, free with RSVP, 7:30 & 8:45
Why: On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, altering the course of America’s future. Harlem Stage is honoring Dr. King’s legacy with a special program on April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of his murder. At 7:30 and 8:45, singer-songwriter Amma Whatt, actress, singer, and dancer C. Kelly Wright, dancer and choreographer Kyle Marshall (a solo piece set to Dr. King’s “On the Mountaintop” speech), actress, writer, and director Adepero Oduye (an excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct”), and jazz pianist Bertha Hope will perform a tribute to MLK and Harlem, built around one of MLK’s most famous quotes, putting it into contemporary context: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”