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


passport to taiwan

Union Square Park North
Sunday, May 28, free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm

Held in conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the sixteenth annual Passport to Taiwan festival will take place Sunday, May 28, in Union Square Park. The afternoon will feature live performances by Spintop Snipers, Chai Found, Journey to Broadway, Alvin Ailey Dancers, Formosa Melody, Music Center, and Hello Taiwan Tour; such Taiwanese delights as pan-fried dumplings and noodles, intestine vermicelli, Taiwanese tempura, rice dumplings, red sticky rice cakes, lobabeng, steamed crystal meatballs, mango and red bean shaved ice, oyster pancakes, grilled sausage, taro cake, guabao, smoked duck, and crispy giant squid; exhibits from Notable Taiwanese American Project, Bike Tour with Steven Huang, Compassionate Taiwan with Tzu-Chi Foundation, Famous Taiwan Cuisine Connoisseur — Amazing Gourmet Demonstrations, Hakka Culture Experience, and Shiisu Old Street Cultural Mart of Tainan; and children’s games, calligraphy masters, arts & crafts, and more.


Artists will lead participatory workshops in an out-of-use house on Governors Island as part of free Writing on It All project

Artists will lead participatory workshops in an out-of-use house on Governors Island as part of free Writing on It All project

Governors Island
House 11, Nolan Park
May 27-29, free, 1:00 - 4:00
Continues Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons through June 25

The participatory project Writing on It All returns to Governors Island this weekend, with anyone and everyone invited to add their art to an out-of-use house on Governors Island in workshops led by artists. You can contribute just about whatever you want, from drawings and poetry to projections and music or, of course, painting, each session featuring a different theme. The series kicks off May 27-28 with Olga Rodriguez Ulloa and Alexandra Chasin’s “Forms of Resistance (Literally!)” (the house will be open on May 29 as well) and continues June 3 with Luis Jaramillo & Matthew Brookshire’s “The Other Side: Borders and Crossings,” June 10 with Ana Lara and LaTasha Diggs’s “Here,” June 11 with Mariame Kaba, Darian Agostini, and Reign Rolon’s “Community Safety Looks Like: Transforming Justice and Our Relationships,” June 18 with Laia Sole’s “KABOOM,” and June 24-25 with Anthony Rosado’s “TestOURmonials of the Great Turning.” Also on Governors Island this weekend — and also free — are the Rite of Summer Music Festival with Talujon Percussion (May 27, Colonels Row, 1:00 & 3:00) and Family Fun Day (May 28, Nolan Park, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm).


The Met Cloisters hosts a Middle Ages–themed family festival this weekend (photo courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Met Cloisters hosts a Middle Ages–themed family festival this weekend (photo courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Met Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Dr., Fort Tryon Park
Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, free with museum admission of $12-$25 (children under twelve free with an adult), 12 noon - 4:00

The Met Cloisters is hosting a family festival this weekend, featuring workshops, a self-guided art hunt, craft projects, and more. Children will be able to make a medieval spice box or goblet in the Pontaut Chapter House, begin an art hunt in Cuxa Cloister, searching for food-related items in paintings and sculptures (with a certificate of achievement available for those who find all the items), and learn about many of the ingredients and utensils used in medieval cooking for feasts and special occasions — and see some of them in the Bonnefont Herb Garden. The events are recommended for children ages four to twelve and will not include any food tastings, although participants will be able to see, touch, and smell certain ingredients (and even take home a sprig of fresh herbs). Visitors are encouraged to come in medieval costume but it is not a requirement.


block party

La MaMa hosts multidisciplinary block party on May 20

La MaMa
East Fourth St. between Bowery & Second Ave.
Saturday, May 20

La Mama will be celebrating its fifty-fifth season on May 20 with its annual block party, held in conjunction with the twelfth La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival. “Dancing in the Street” takes place from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on East Fourth St. between Bowery and Second Ave., also known as Ellen Stewart Way, named after La MaMa’s beloved founder, who passed away in 2011 at the age of ninety-one. The afternoon will feature free performances and workshops with Al Son Son Tablao Flamenco, Alexandra Amirov, Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, the Blue Bus Project, Brooklyn United Marching Band, DJ Todd Jones, East Village Dance Project, Janice Rosario, Kinding Sindaw, Kinesis Dance Project, Kinetic Architecture Dance Theater, Lei Making, Hula, Malcolm-x Betts, Pua Ali’I Illima O Nuioka, Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring, Reyna Alcala, Rod Rodgers Youth Ensemble, Company, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Stefanie Batten Bland, Silver Cloud Singers, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Step Team, White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Company, and Yoshiko Chuma. Food and drink will be available from La Contrada, Proto’s Pizza, the Bean, Express Thali, Sobaya, Hasaki, Otafuku, Robataya, Harlem Seafood Soul, Miscelanea, the 4th St Co-op, and Obsessive Chocolate Disorder. There will also be video montages running in the lobby of the theater highlighting the campaign for creative activism (#HereToDance). Attendees are encouraged to bring plastic bags, which Maura Nguyen Donohue will collect and incorporate into her Tides Project: Drowning Planet immersive, interactive installation.


The life and career of influential artist and collector Claude Simard will be celebrated at Jack Shainman Gallery on May 17

The life and career of influential artist and collector Claude Simard will be celebrated at Jack Shainman Gallery on May 17

Who: Hank Willis Thomas, Leslie Wayne, Sarah Douglas, Ian Berry, Jack Shainman
What: Roundtable discussion in conjunction with “If I Had Possession over Judgement Day: Collections of Claude Simard,” running through September 24 at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College
Where: Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves., 212-645-1701
When: Wednesday, May 17, free with RSVP, 6:30
Why: In September 2014, influential gallerist and artist Claude Simard, the cofounder of Jack Shainman Gallery (first in DC, then NYC), passed away suddenly at the age of fifty-eight. In conjunction with the new exhibition “If I Had Possession over Judgement Day: Collections of Claude Simard,” at the Tang Museum at Skidmore, Jack Shainman Gallery will host a roundtable discussion on Simard, with artists Hank Willis Thomas and Leslie Wayne and ARTnews editor in chief Sarah Douglas, a former assistant to Simard and Shainman. The event will be hosted by Tang director and exhibition curator Ian Berry, and Shainman will be in attendance. “Simard dedicated over thirty years of his life to engaging with and enriching the lives of artists as both muse and patron,” the exhibition website explains. “His voracious drive to collect and discover resulted in a sizable collection of art and artifacts from across centuries and continents.” The Skidmore show features works by John Ahearn, Matthew Barney, Alighiero e Boetti, Nick Cave, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Leon Golub, Kerry James Marshall, Roberto Matta, Chris Ofili, Gabriel Orozco, Nancy Spero, Jessica Stockholder, Wayne, Thomas, and many others. You can read the reactions of Skidmore students to specific works in the show here. Currently on view at Jack Shainman is “Becky Suss: Homemaker.”


Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile, oil on canvas, exhibited 1825, but subsequently dated 1826 (© The Frick Collection)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, “The Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile,” oil on canvas, exhibited 1825 but subsequently dated 1826 (© The Frick Collection)

The Frick Collection
1 East 70th St. at Fifth Ave.
Through May 14, $12-$22 (pay-what-you-wish Sundays 11:00 – 1:00)

There’s less than a week left to see the Frick’s splendid exhibition “Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time,” a two-part show that continues through May 14. The exhibit expands on two of the Frick’s finest monumental works by Joseph Mallord William Turner, “The Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile” from 1825 and “Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening” from 1826, which have been moved from the West Gallery into the Oval Room, where they are joined by four other lovely canvases, three from the Tate and one from the Met, all depicting port scenes. In her exhibition catalog essay “Liminal Spaces: Turner’s Paintings of Dieppe and Cologne,” Frick senior curator Susan Grace Galassi writes of “Dieppe,” “Cologne,” and “The Harbor of Brest: The Quayside and Château,” which is also in the Oval Room, “This trio of grand-scale paintings of the mid-1820s, which follow from ‘Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed’ exhibited in 1818, attests to the significance of the port in Turner’s work during the decade after the Continent had been newly reopened to British travelers at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Sea and river ports, whether of the present or past, exerted a powerful hold on Turner’s imagination as transitional spaces of arrival and departure, and as a country’s or city’s welcoming gateways or defensive barriers. While Turner drew upon various models of the past for his port scenes, he departed daringly from naturalism through his use of high-keyed color and effects of transparency and luminosity, provoking criticism and controversy when the works were first exhibited.”

Joseph Mallord William Turner, “Shields, on the River Tyne,” watercolor on paper, 1823 (© Tate, London 2016)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, “Shields, on the River Tyne,” watercolor on paper, 1823 (© Tate, London 2016)

Seen together, the works are majestic in both skill and scope, with the golden light of the sun forging entrancing passageways that emanate from the paintings’ vanishing point until the glow seemingly permeates the room. Boats, logs, buildings, and people are brilliantly reflected in the shimmering water as everyday life goes on. Each work has its unique charms and special details, from the dog nipping at the water in “Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening” to the men and women huddled on the side of the mountain in the unfinished “The Harbor of Brest: The Quayside and Château” (which harkens to Turner’s later, abstract canvases), from the daytime moon in “Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus. The Triumphal Bridge and Palace of the Caesars Restored” to the shadow of a statue in “Ancient Italy — Ovid Banished from Rome.” And in “Regulus,” Turner takes a wicked shot at his critics, who had complained of the “blinding” nature of his use of light, here depicting Roman general Marcus Atilius Regulus — he is not actually very easy to spot in the right side of the painting — who was blinded by the Carthaginians in a particularly nasty way: They either cut off his eyelids or sewed his eyes open, then forced him to stare into the sun as he was tortured to death. Turner’s revenge on his naysayers was to make them stare into the sun in his painting, although it is, of course, far from torturous to do so.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Sun-Rise: Whiting Fishing at Margate, watercolor on paper, 1822 (private collection)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, “Sun-Rise: Whiting Fishing at Margate,” watercolor on paper, 1822 (private collection)

Working primarily from sketches, memory, and imagination, Turner also took advantage of the lifting of European travel bans, venturing to France and Germany in addition to various locations in England and Wales, making wonderful watercolors, more than two dozen of which line the Frick’s East Gallery, along with several prints. The seascapes include the rare vertical “On the Upper Rhine,” in which lumber is being transported on a rickety raft making its way through a narrow gorge; “Shields, on the River Tyne,” with the moon casting its glow on coal workers toiling away on a cargo ship; “Cologne: Colour Study,” in which Turner’s brushstrokes are clearly evident; and “Devonport and Dockyard, Devonshire,” with swirling clouds giving way to the sun as well-dressed women and soldiers rowing toward the shore at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Be sure to grab a magnifying glass to catch every exquisite detail. Making my way through the exhibit, I couldn’t help but think of Timothy Spall portraying the artist in the 2014 film Mr. Turner, the grunting iconoclast heading to his favorite seaside town where he would paint water scenes. If you can’t make it to the Frick, then you must check out its fantastic virtual exhibition, a 360-degree tour of the Oval Room and the East Gallery, featuring zooms as well as links to every piece in the show, with wall text and enlarged images of these illustrious works, which celebrate the natural world while also referencing the rise and fall of civilization. “Turner has some golden visions, glorious and beautiful,” rival artist John Constable said after attending the 1828 Royal Academy Exhibition. “They are only visions, but still, they are art, and one could live and die with such pictures.”


Julian Schnabel

Documentary paints private portrait of superstar artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, May 5

It’s very possible that superstar artist Julian Schnabel is one of the greatest guys in the world, beloved by friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else who comes into contact with him. I met him once briefly and he was very funny and charming. In Italian writer-director Pappi Corsicato’s Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait, praise upon praise is heaped on Schnabel, a marvelously talented painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, with nary a glib or less-than-glowing word anywhere to be seen or heard. A longtime friend of Schnabel’s, Corsicato followed the artist for two years and was given full access to his personal archives, resulting in a bevy of fab footage and home movies and photos, from Schnabel as a baby to his surfing days to his family life with his kids and grandchildren. Daughters Lola and Stella rave about him, as do sons Vito, Cy, and Olmo, sister Andrea Fassler, friend Carol McFadden, and ex-wives Jacqueline Beaurang Schnabel and Olatz Schnabel. Also glorying in all things Julian are actors Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, Mathieu Amalric, and Emmanuelle Seigner, artist Jeff Koons, musicians Bono and Laurie Anderson, gallerist Mary Boone, art collector Peter Brant, French novelist and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, and the late writer-director Héctor Babenco, who all gush about Schnabel’s ingenuity. (Dick Cavett, Takashi Murakami, Christopher Walken, and Francesco Clemente did not make the final cut.)

Of course, Schnabel is an extraordinary artist with wide-ranging interests; Corsicato explores such Schnabel films as Basquiat, Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Berlin as well as such exhibitions as 1988’s “Reconocimientos: Pinturas del Carmen (The Recognitions Paintings: El Carmen),” retrospectives at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Brant Foundation, and a pair of 2014 shows in São Paulo. The film goes back and forth between Montauk and Manhattan, where Schnabel lives and works, including an extended look at his pink Palazzo Chupi in the West Village. Watching Schnabel paint on his large canvases or using broken plates (often in his pajamas) and set up the exhibitions are the best parts of the film, although he never does quite delve into specifics about the artistic choices he makes. The rest of the film is a sugary love letter that he himself contributes to; although he gave full control to Corsicato, who has previously made video documentaries about Koons, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, Anish Kapoor, Gilbert & George, and others, it is telling that Schnabel is credited as an executive producer. In the end, Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait feels like a vanity project, lacking any kind of cinematic tension or narrative conflict; it’s the type of movie one might show at an intimate celebration, not on screens to strangers. So even if Schnabel is an all-around terrific, creative human being, that doesn’t mean a film about his life is entertaining and illuminating, at least not in this case. Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait opens May 5 at the Quad, with Corsicato participating in a Q&A at the 8:10 show Friday night.