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


Brookfield Place will host special French Open-related events June 5-11

Brookfield Place will host special French Open-related events June 5-11

Brookfield Place
230 Vesey Street
June 5-11, free

With Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accords, France and the United States might not be on the best of terms right now. But that shouldn’t stop tennis fans from enjoying the last week of the French Open, which is well under way in the City of Light. Men’s top seed Andy Murray of Great Britain is still chugging along, but women’s top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany was dispatched in the first round in straight sets by Ekaterina Makarova. In conjunction with the major championship, Brookfield Place will be hosting special events June 5-11, with live screenings on the Terrace of all the action, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Thursday, followed by the semifinals on Friday, the women’s final on Saturday, and the men’s final on Sunday. Visitors can get in some action of their own by playing on a full-size clay court that has been installed on Waterfront Plaza or take tennis lessons, both of which are free. There will also be an exhibition of classic Roland-Garros posters (by Joan Miró, Vik Muniz, and others) and an interactive replica of Paris’s Bridge of Locks to make everything feel even more French.


Taja Lindley will give a free preview of Bag Lady Manifesta at the Brooklyn Museum on June 3

Taja Lindley will give a free preview of Bag Lady Manifesta at the Brooklyn Museum on June 3

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, June 3, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum honors LGBTQ Pride Month for the June edition of its free First Saturday program, which continues its 2017 theme, “A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism.” There will be live music from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, SassyBlack, and Tamar-kali; a curator tour of “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” led by Rujeko Hockley; teen apprentice pop-up gallery talks on works by LGBTQ artists; the New York City Legacy Ball, featuring Icons, Legends, Statements, and Stars of the ballroom community, hosted by father Sydney UltraOmni; a Community Resource Fair with the Gender Empowerment Movement Program, Health and Education Alternatives for Teens, Brooklyn Zen Center, Diaspora Community Services, Percent for Green, Well Read Black Girl, Brooklyn Pride, and the Audre Lorde Project; Pop-Up Poetry with Saretta Morgan and Alysia Harris paying tribute to artists in “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85”; a preview performance by Taja Lindley from The Bag Lady Manifesta, which comes to Dixon Place in the fall; a crown-making workshop; the Brooklyn premiere of Mike Mosallam’s Breaking Fast, part of “DisOrient: Queer Arab Film and Discussion,” hosted by Tarab NYC; and the kickoff of the museum’s Black Queer Brooklyn on Film series, with D’hana Perry performing selections from her immersive, multimedia documentary Loose and new works by Frances Bodomo, Dyani Douze, Ja’Tovia Gary, and Chanelle Aponte Pearson of the New Negress Film Society, joined by artists Lindsay Catherine Harris and Isabella Reyes and actor Ash Tai, followed by a Q&A. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85,” and, at a discounted admission price of $12, “Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern.”


Doug Wheeler: “PSAD Synthetic Desert III”

“Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III” is an immersive, meditative wonderland (photo courtesy Guggenheim Museum)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
Friday - Wednesday through August 2, $18 - $25
Timed tickets through July 31 available June 1 at 10:00 am

Don’t miss the special opportunity to experience the otherworldly “Doug Wheeler: PSAD Synthetic Desert III” at the Guggenheim, as timed tickets for twenty-minute visits go on sale June 1 at 10:00 am for the installation’s final month. The Arizona-born Light and Space artist, who lives and works in Santa Fe, has been creating immersive environments that affect visitors’ sense of equilibrium and relationship to reality for more than fifty years, in such installations as “Encasements” and “LC 71 NY DZ 13 DW.” Like fellow Light and Space artists James Turrell and Robert Irwin, Wheeler constructs rooms that stretch the imagination and challenge one’s perception of the world. Conceived in 1971, “PSAD Synthetic Desert III” is a fantastical realm in which no more than five people at a time can enter; the “semi-anechoic chamber” features a platform amid hundreds of gray foam cones spread out across a seemingly infinite landscape, on the floor and the back wall. Meanwhile, a minimized soundscape can be barely heard in the distance, with a drastic reduction in ambient noise. Visitors are strongly encouraged to be as silent as possible in order to best experience the meditative installation, with no cell phones, cameras, or even whispering. Wheeler, who was born in 1939, was inspired to create the work after flying over the Mojave Desert and landing on a dry lakebed, surrounded by emptiness in all directions. “When you’re in some place that has immensity, and it has power in that, and it’s, like, foreign, because there’s nothing human about it,” he says on the Guggenheim blog, “and there are places where I can go where there isn’t a single living thing that you can recognize, there’s not a green bud anywhere, there’s nothing moving on the ground, there’s nothing, and there’s nothing in the sky, and so when you’re in a place like that, and you become conscious of yourself, it changes a lot of your perspective of how we fit in to the mix of the whole universe, really, because we’re just so insignificant.”

Doug Wheeler oversees installation of immersive environment at the Guggenheim (photo courtesy Guggenheim Museum)

Doug Wheeler oversees first realization of immersive environment at the Guggenheim (photo courtesy Guggenheim Museum)

To get the most out of “PSAD Synthetic Desert III,” you really need to give yourself over to the installation, blocking out all other sound and noise in your head, making room to explore its gentle pleasures and not worry about texting, taking photos, or posting on social media. You can walk around, lie on the floor, or sit while absorbing the unique space. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was certain that the cones were moving ever so slightly, as if they were alive and softly breathing, but a Guggenheim staff member assured me that was not the case. I strongly recommend the twenty-minute experience, which requires advance tickets that include museum admission; the ten-minute experience is available every day on a first-come, first-served basis, and you will get the next open time instead of being able to choose your own. But no matter how long you’re in “PSAD Synthetic Desert III” for, just let your mind go and you’re in for a real treat, a respite from the madness of the crazy world outside. “It’s something I thought would be really great for New York, because you never escape noise here,” Wheeler continues on the blog. “Just walking down the street is like sixty-seven decibels constantly, and then it goes up from there. So this’ll be a place that you can go where there won’t be any noise. There won’t be anything in there. That’s a big motivation for me to do something in this town, because [for] a lot of people here, that would definitely be a first.”


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.