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


Spectacular costumes are all part of the fun of annual West Indian American Day Carnival on Labor Day in Brooklyn (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Spectacular costumes are all part of the fun of annual West Indian American Day Carnival on Labor Day in Brooklyn (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Eastern Pkwy. from Schenectady Ave. to Grand Army Plaza
Monday, September 7, free, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Every Labor Day, millions of people line Eastern Parkway, celebrating the city’s best annual parade, the West Indian American Day Carnival, waving flags from such nations as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Aruba, Curaçao, and many more. The festivities actually begin on September 3, with special events (listed below) every day leading up to the parade. The Labor Day partying commences at 2:00 am with the traditional J’Ouvert Morning, a precarnival procession featuring steel drums and percussion and fabulous, inexpensive masquerade costumes, marching from Grand Army Plaza to Flatbush Ave. and on to Empire Blvd., then to Nostrand Ave. and Linden Blvd. The Parade of Bands begins around 11:00 am, as truckloads of blasting Caribbean music and groups of ornately dressed dancers, costume bands, masqueraders, moko jumbies, and thousands of others bump and grind their way down Eastern Parkway to Grand Army Plaza, participating in one last farewell to the flesh prior to Lent. There will also be local politicians galore, with Sen. Charles Schumer and his ever-present bullhorn doing lots of meeting and greeting. Don’t eat before you go; the great homemade food includes ackee and saltfish, oxtail stew, breadfruit, macaroni pie, curried goat, jerk chicken, fishcakes, rice and peas, and red velvet cake. The farther east you venture, the more closed in it gets; by the time you get near Crown Heights, it could take you half an hour just to cross the street, so take it easy and settle in for a fun, colorful day where you need not hurry. This year’s marshals are Facebook global head of diversity Maxine Williams, U.S. Virgin Islands governor Keith E Mapp, and, TWU Local 100 secretary-treasurer Earl Phillips. Oh, and be prepared to see a whole lotta twerkin’ going on that would make even Miley Cyrus blush; we particularly like when the twerkers get the police involved.

Thursday, September 3
Caribbean Freedom Festival, with KES the Band, RemBunction, Scorpion, Young Devyn, Da Big Show, Mr. Pearly, and more, hosted by Riggo Suave, Barrie Hype, Herbert Holler & the Freedom Party NYC, Milo Miles, Biggie and DJ One Plus, and an Ole MAS carnival characters competition, Brooklyn Museum, $25, 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

Friday, September 4
The Official Stay in School Concert and College Fair, with live music by Mr. Pearly, DJ Super Soca Bass, martial arts demonstrations, a fashion show, spoken word, and more, Brooklyn Museum, free, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Brass Fest, with Ricardo Drue, Lyrikal, Skinny Fabulous, Pressure Busspipe, Preedy, Hypasounds, Ravi B & Karma, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons & the Asylum Vikings, DJ Sounds 4 Life, DJ Back 2 Basics, Foreign Bass, DJ Spice, DJ Renee, Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, and Kutters Rhythm Section, hosted by Vybezman Redman and MC Wassy, Brooklyn Museum, $55, 8:00 pm – 3:00 am

Saturday, September 5
Junior Carnival Parade, St. John’s Place between Kingston & Brooklyn Aves. to Brooklyn Museum at Washington Ave., 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Steelband Panorama 2015, championship showdown with Pan Sonatas, CASYM, Pantonic, Steel Xplosion, ADLIB, METRO, “D” Radoes, Crossfire Steel Orchestra, Harmony Steel Orchestra, Despers USA, Bench Warmers Rhythm Section, and Brooklyn Steel Orchestra, with music by DJ One Plus, hosted by MC Godfrey Jack and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $45, 8:00 pm – 3:00 am

Sunday, September 6
Diamanche Gras: A Tribute to Yesteryear, with the Mighty Sparrow, King David Rudder, Swallow, Edwin Yearwood, Something Positive Inc., the Sunshine Band, Boodoosingh Tassa Drummers, Sumkinabakanaal Rhythm Section, the Kings and Queens of the MAS Bands, DJ One Plus, and the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest, hosted by MC Wassy, MC Godfrey Jack, and Jemma Jordan, Brooklyn Museum, $35, 7:00 pm – 1:00 am


Who: Ollabelle
What: Special Reunion Show
Where: City Winery, 155 Varick St., 212-608-0555
When: Thursday, September 3, $30-$45, 8:00
Why: We’ve seen NYC folk specialists Ollabelle numerous times over the years, but they went on hiatus in 2012, and it’s been even longer since they toured with their original lineup. So we can’t wait for Amy Helm, Fiona McBain, Byron Isaacs, Tony Leone, Glenn Patscha, and Jimi Zhivago to be back together again on September 3 at City Winery, playing songs from throughout their career, which started in 2001 and includes the albums Ollabelle, Riverside Battle Songs, Before This Time, and Neon Blue Bird. Ollabelle plays the sweet sounds of Americana music, and it should be a joy to listen to them at this one-night-only performance, but you better act fast, because tickets are almost gone.


Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence, the Migration Series, 1940-41, Panel 10: “They were very poor,” casein tempera on hardboard (© 2015 the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society, New York)

Museum of Modern Art
Special Exhibitions Gallery, third floor
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through September 7, $25 (including audio program and film screenings)

Jacob Lawrence, who was born in 1917 in Atlantic City and moved with his family to Harlem when he was thirteen, depicted the twentieth-century African American experience in stunning, colorful panels painted in a style he called dynamic cubism. Half of his seminal 1941 series about the Great Migration is regularly on view at MoMA, but for this special exhibit, the midtown institution has teamed with the Phillips Collection, which owns the other half, to present the complete sixty-piece work for the first time in New York in twenty years. Lawrence was twenty-three when he created the Migration Series, tracing the movement of African Americans from the south to the north in search of a better life, beginning during the WWI era and continuing into the 1960s. Each panel is a work of art that stands on its own, but together they paint a fascinating portrait that unfolds like a documentary film. The works are arranged chronologically at eye level around the large gallery, with the caption for each right underneath the panel. Taken as a whole, it’s a dizzying array of dazzling color, but individually they tell quite a story as well.

panel 23

Jacob Lawrence, the Migration Series, 1940-41, Panel 23: “In a few sections of the South the leaders of both groups met and attempted to make conditions better for the Negro so that he would remain in the South,” casein tempera on hardboard (© 2015 the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society, New York)

In panel 1, men, women, and children line up at the train station to leave for Chicago, New York, or St. Louis, yellows and blues peeking out among muted browns and greens. In panel 5, a train is barreling past, black smoke floating back, a bright light beaming ahead. In panel 10, a man and a woman are sitting at a table, staring down at their meager food; the caption succinctly states: “They were very poor.” In panel 10, a white judge looks down from on high at two black men huddled below; the caption explains: “Among the social conditions that existed which was partly the cause of the migration was the injustice done to the Negroes in the courts.” In panel 18 (“The migration gained in momentum”), the departure of the men, women, and children is almost biblical in nature, evoking the exodus. Throughout the sixty panels, Lawrence plays with perspective and geometric as well as abstract shapes and patterns, creating scenes that often swirl with movement and life. The Migration Series is a towering achievement, an emotionally powerful work that feels as relevant today as it did when it was first presented more than sixty years ago. The exhibit is supplemented with paintings and drawings by Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Charles White, archival footage of Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and Gordon Parks, writings by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright, and other ephemera related to black life in America in the early to mid-twentieth century. And be sure to visit the excellent MoMA website that examines each panel of the Migration Series in detail.


Avery Fisher Hall
10 Lincoln Square, Broadway at 64th St.
September 18-21, $45-$155

The New York Philharmonic’s annual “Art of the Score” presentation this year focuses on that master thespian, method actor extraordinaire Marlon Brando. The Nebraska-born Brando became an immediate star right out of the gates with such early films as The Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, and The Wild One, but it was his 1954 triumph, On the Waterfront, that established him as one of the all-time greats even though it was only his sixth picture. For this year’s “Film Week,” New York Philharmonic artistic advisor Alec Baldwin has selected the two Brando classics for which Mr. Mumbles won the Oscar for Best Actor. On September 18, David Newman will conduct Leonard Bernstein’s score for Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, often considered one of the greatest Hollywood films ever made, with TCM’s Robert Osborne serving as host. On September 19 and 21, Justin Freer will conduct Nino Rota’s score for what many consider the absolute greatest film ever made, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, with Paul Sorvino as the special guest the first night.


Yoko Ono’s “To See the Sky” offers visitors the chance to commune one-on-one with the heavens (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Yoko Ono’s “To See the Sky” offers visitors the chance to commune one-on-one with the heavens (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Museum of Modern Art
The International Council of the Museum of Modern Art Exhibition Gallery, sixth floor
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through September 7, $25 (including audio program and film screenings)

In December 1971, Yoko Ono staged an unofficial one-woman show at MoMA, which she called the “Museum of Modern [F]art,” in which she supposedly released a glass jar full of flies into the sculpture garden, scattering art everywhere, even though a sign inside noted, “This Is Not Here.” Ono now has an honest-to-goodness solo show at MoMA, an involving and affecting retrospective of her conceptual work from 1960 through 1971, and although it’s titled “One Woman Show,” it’s about as participatory as these things can get. Visitors are invited to walk right on “Painting to Be Stepped On,” although many people still opt to carefully tiptoe around it; play a game of chess in the sculpture garden on “White Chess Set,” in which all of the pieces are white; slip under a black sheet and perform on a small stage for “Bag Piece”; make physical contact with others in “Touch Poem for a Group of People,” although the room was empty the several times I passed by; climb a rickety spiral staircase in “To See the Sky” and privately commune with the outside world via a skylight at the top; and choose to carry out any of the myriad instructions that comprise Ono’s storied Grapefruit book, though not necessarily right on the premises. However, you should not do what John Lennon did when he first met Ono in 1966 and take a bite out of the green apple that sits on a transparent pedestal at the opening of the exhibit. “Ono’s art has uncovered not only often concealed aspects of the act of engaging with an artwork (revealing, for instance, the central role the viewer plays in its creation) but also the ways in which cultural, social, and political life influence and affect each other,” explains MoMA curator-at-large Klaus Biesenbach in his catalog essay, “Absence and Presence in Yoko Ono’s Work,” continuing, “Looking back on her conceptual 1971 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, we see that she knew long ago that her groundbreaking practice warranted a solo exhibition there. Forty-four years later, that show is finally a reality, with the same radicality and presence it had when she first imagined it.”

Yoko Ono’s “Half-a-Room” slices domesticity in half (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Yoko Ono’s “Half-a-Room” slices domesticity in half (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The MoMA exhibition also includes such other Ono works as “Cut Piece,” a film by Albert and David Maysles of her sitting calmly as audience members cut off parts of her outfit; “A Box of Smile,” small boxes in a wall that provide pleasant surprises; “Film No. 4,” an onscreen procession of derrières; a room of paraphernalia and music she made with the Plastic Ono Band; “Fly,” which follows flies making their way across a woman’s naked body; footage of political demonstrations she and Lennon led, including “Bed-In”; and other drawings, sculptures, films, posters, invitations, and installations. There’s more in the exhibition catalog, which contains a number of essays and letters written by Ono in the section entitled “Yoko’s Voice”; in November 2014’s “Don’t Stop Me!” she writes, “Let me be free. Let me be me! Don’t make me old, with your thinking and words about how I should be. You don’t have to come to my shows. I am giving tremendous energy with my voice, because that is me. Get my energy or shut up.” She might have been referring specifically to her live musical performances, but the admonition relates to this early-career retrospective as well. Many people come to Ono and her work with a preconceived notion of who she is and what she does, often negative; “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” reveals her to be a much misunderstood artist who actually has a lot to say about the state of humanity, nearly universally positive, still seeking to attain world peace. And what’s wrong with that? (The final week of the show will feature the Gallery Sessions programs “Yoko Ono: From Grapefruit to Green Apple” on August 31 at 1:30 and September 2-3 at 11:30, “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” on September 5 at 1:30, and “Make Your Own Yoko Ono Piece” on September 6 at 11:30, and museumgoers can sit down and play on Ono’s “White Chess Set” in the sculpture garden on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00.)


Who: The PrimaDonna Reeds
What: CD release concert & party
Where: SPiN, 48 East 23rd St. between Park & Madison Aves., 212-982-8802
When: Saturday, August 29, $10 in advance, $14 at the door, 7:30
Why:Lower East Side six-piece the PrimaDonna Reeds are celebrating the release of their debut CD, Red Stilettos, in the kind of style that would probably make Oscar-winning namesake Donna Reed proud. On Saturday night, singer Karena Reiter, guitarists JC Ryder and Quinn Sheppard, bassist John Sheppard, drummer Slamin’ George Morales, and backup vocalist Christa McNamee will be at SPiN NYC on East Twenty-Third St. highlighting the record, which includes such tracks as “Planetary City Soldier,” “Cell Phone Funk,” and “Give Me the Key.” Attendees will receive a free three-song preview disk consisting of “Red Stilettos,” “Cell Phone Funk,” and “To Feel You.” (You can check out a handful of PrimaDonna Reeds songs here.) Also on the bill are Sylvana Joyce & the Moment, the Vinyl Plane, the Dave Fields Band, and Gusher. And at midnight, an after-party fashion show will feature such models as Ali Bukhari, Starlana Johnson, and Angelina Torreano.


lifes a picnic

Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd St. at Vanderbilt Ave.
August 24-28, free, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm & 4:00 - 7:00

For the second August in a row, Grand Central Terminal’s classy Vanderbilt Hall is getting a makeover, being transformed into an indoor public picnic space August 24-28, with tables covered in gingham cloth, an AstroTurf floor, prizes and giveaways, and food from many of the restaurants that are located throughout GCT. “Life’s a Picnic in Grand Central” will also feature free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and live performances. You can bring your own lunch or pick up specials from a rotating lineup of GCT eateries, including Café Spice, Ceriello Fine Foods, Café Grumpy, Jacques Torres Ice Cream, Financier Patisserie, Junior’s Bakery, Magnolia Bakery, Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate, Zaro’s Bakery, Manhattan Chili Co., Li-Lac Chocolates, Manhattan Chili Co., Shiro of Japan, and Murray’s Cheese. Below is the lineup of special events.

Monday, August 24
Live Food Demonstrations: The Bar Burger by Chef Cenobio Canalizo of Michael Jordan’s, sushi rolling by Chef Hiro Isikawa of Shiro of Japan, mozzarella making with Dan Belmont of Murray’s Cheese, and cupcake decorating by Amy Tamulonis from Magnolia Bakery, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater presents “Echoes of Etta: A Tribute to Etta James,” featuring William Blake & Michael Thomas Murray, 4:30 - 6:30

Tuesday, August 25
Broadway Hour featuring live performance and more from the Broadway musical Wicked, 12:30

Music Under New York: Robert Anderson Jazz Trio, 4:00 - 7:00

Wednesday, August 26
Big Apple Circus presents Peety the Clown’s Yo-Yos & Stuff Show, 12 noon – 2:00 pm

Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater presents Danny Lipsitz and His Brass Tacks, 4:00 – 7:00

Thursday, August 27
Broadway Hour featuring musical performances from the Broadway musicals On the Town and Finding Neverland, 12:30 – 1:30

Music Under New York: Receta Secreta, 4:00 – 7:00

Friday, August 28
Broadway Hour: musical performances from Chicago, Something Rotten! and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, 12:30 – 1:30