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


mlk day 2020

Multiple venues
January 17-20

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned ninety-one years old on January 15; he was only thirty-nine when he was assassinated. In 1983, the third Monday in January was officially recognized as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring the birthday of the civil rights leader who was shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. You can celebrate his legacy on Monday by participating in the twenty-fifth annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service or attending one of numerous special events taking place around the city all weekend long. Below are some of the highlights.

Friday, January 17
BAMcafé Live 2020: BAMcafé Live Featuring Blak Emoji and Starchild & the New Romantic, curated by Black Rock Coalition, BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., free, 9:00

Saturday, January 18
BAMcafé Live 2020: The 1865 w/ Major Taylor, curated by Black Rock Coalition, BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., free, 9:00

Saturday, January 18
Monday, January 20

BCM Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with Volunteer Projects with Repair the World, Create a Peace Box workshop in ColorLab, Storytelling in the Sensory Room, and the Heart of a King Shadow Puppetry Workshop, $13, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Sunday, January 19
Martin Luther King Day Choral Eucharist, with the Cathedral Choir, volunteer Chorale and Boy and Girl Choristers, and poet in residence emerita Marilyn Nelson, 11:00 am followed by a Spirituals SING led by Alice Parker, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 2:00, free

Soul to Soul, with IMPACT Repertory Theatre, Lisa Fishman, Cantor Magda Fishman, Elmore James, and Tony Perry, conceived and directed by Zalmen Mlotek, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., $35-$65, 2:00

Monday, January 20
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March: “Equity Now: Today’s Youth Speak Out for Social Change,” Harriet Tubman Memorial Triangle on 122nd St. at 10:00 am to Manhattan Country School at 150 West 85th St. at 2:00, free

Thirty-Fourth Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, performances by Son Little and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, the art exhibition “Picture the Dream,” and a screening of Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack, 2018), BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave., free, 10:30 am

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including a scavenger hunt in the “Activist New York” exhibit, storytelling, and art workshops, Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St., free with museum admission of $14-$20 (under twenty free), 11:00 am - 2:00 pm


the shed

The Shed, the Bloomberg Building
545 West 30th St. at Eleventh Ave.
Saturday, January 11, free with RSVP, 11:00 am - 8:00 pm

If you haven’t been to the Shed yet, the entertainment hub at Hudson Yards, this Saturday offers you a pretty good reason to finally head over. From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, admission to the two current art exhibits, “Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” and “Manual Override,” which usually require $10 tickets each, is free. There will also be several special programs as well as food trucks in the McCourt, a photo booth on level six, and music and dance. There will be tours of the wide-ranging Agnes Denes retrospective, which consists of more than 150 works from throughout the career of the eighty-eight-year-old Budapest-born American artist (including newly commissioned pieces), at 2:30 with artists Bahar Behbahani, Tattfoo Tan, Avram Finkelstein, Moko Fukuyama, and Janani Balasubramanian and astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Gosnell, at 3:15 with curatorial assistant Adeze Wilford, at 3:45 with senior curator Emma Enderby, and at 5:00 with John Hatfield and artist Torkwase Dyson. “Manual Override” brings together the work of Morehshin Allahyari, Simon Fujiwara, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sondra Perry, and Martine Syms, which combines social and ethical issues with cutting-edge technology. In addition, DJ Synchro will be spinning in the lobby from 2:00 to 4:00, DJ April Hunt from 4:00 to 6:00, and DJ Bembona from 6:00 to 8:00; Dance Battle: It’s Showtime NYC! vs. the D.R.E.A.M. Ring will get under way in the lobby at 2:15 and 4:30; the two dance teams will be hosting workshops around the building at 3:00 and in the Tisch Skylights at 5:00 and 5:15; and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter J Hoard will perform in the Tisch Skylights at 5:30.



Sophia Petrides’s BREATHING WITH THE ROOM is part of New Ear Festival

Once upon a time, January was considered a relative artistic wasteland, as people suffered from a post-holidays letdown with a dearth of high-quality movies and Broadway shows opening up. But this century continues to fill that void with more and more cutting-edge, experimental, and offbeat music, dance, film, and theater at unique performance festivals around the city. You can catch cabaret at Pangea, opera at Prototype, dance at the 92nd St. Y and New York Live Arts, jazz at JazzFest, Irish theater at Origin’s 1st, avant-garde music and film at New Ear, and a little of everything at Under the Radar. Sadly, the last few years have seen the demise of COIL and American Realness. Below are only some of the highlights of this exciting time to try something that might be outside your comfort zone and take a chance on something new and different to kick off your 2020, especially with the majority of tickets going for about twenty-five bucks.

Fridman Gallery
287 Spring St. by Hudson St.
January 6–12, $20, 8:00

Monday, January 6
CT::SWaM ExChange, with Ginny Benson, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Dani Dobkin, Bernd Klug, and a very special guest

Tuesday, January 7
Victoria Keddie exchanges transmissions from Copenhagen, improvised animations and sound by Theodore Darst and Kevin Carey, and a performance by Adelaide Damoah

Wednesday, January 8
Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Roots, with Zachary Tye Richardson, Vuyo Sotashe, Onyx Violins, and Brother Paul Daniels II

Thursday, January 9
Model Home, new commission by Brandon Lopez with TAK Ensemble, and Sa’dia Rehman

Friday, January 10
Susie Ibarra and Dreamtime Ensemble, Allard van Hoorn, and the Dream Mapping Project

Saturday, January 11
Violist Joanna Mattrey, percussionist William Hooker’s quartet, and Sophia Petrides

Sunday, January 12
DeForrest Brown Jr., Muyassar Kurdi and MV Carbon, and SHYBOI

Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
January 6–19

January 6, 10, 12, 20
Daniel J. Watts’ The Jam: Only Child, with Daniel J. Watts and DJ Duggz, Joe’s Pub, $35

January 8–19
The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes, with Michael Chan, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, and Scott Price, LuEsther Hall, Public Theater, $30

January 10–19
Selina Thompson: salt., with Rochelle Rose, Martinson Hall, Public Theater, $30

January 11–19
The Truth Has Changed, by Josh Fox & International WOW Company, Newman Theater, Public Theater, $30

January 11 & 17
Waterboy and the Mighty World by the HawtPlates, Shiva Theater, Public Theater, $25

(photo by Carol Rosegg)

London Assurance is part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Multiple venues
January 7 – February 3

Through January 26
London Assurance, by Dion Boucicault, directed by Charlotte Moore, Irish Repertory Theatre, $50-$70

January 7–18
The 8th, written and directed by Seanie Sugrue, the Secret Theatre, $20

January 22 – February 2
The Scourge, by Michelle Dooley Mahon, directed by Ben Barnes, starring Michelle Dooley Mahon, Irish Repertory Theatre, $50

January 26 – February 1
Appropriate, by Sarah-Jane Scott, directed by Paul Meade, starring Sarah-Jane Scott, New York Irish Center, $26

January 27–28
Round Room: An Open Studio, by Honor Molloy, directed by Britt Berke, music by Susan McKeown, with Labhaoise Magee, Brenda Meaney, Rachel Pickup, Maeve Price, Zoe Watkins, and Aoife Williamson, the Alchemical Studios, $16

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith will present Body Comes Apart at New York Live Arts (photo by Maria Baranova)

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 8-14

Saturday, January 11
Kathy Westwater: Rambler, Worlds Worlds a Part, $10, 2:00
Kimberly Bartosik/Daela: Through the Mirror of Their Eyes, 5:00

Saturday, January 11, 9:00
Sunday, January 12, 12 noon

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith: Body Comes Apart, $15

January 12-14
Sean Dorsey: Boys in Trouble, $15

Monday, January 13
Yanira Castro/a canary torsi: Last Audience, free with RSVP, 4:0

James ‘Blood’ Ulmer

James ‘Blood’ Ulmer will be at the Sultan Room on January 11

Multiple venues
January 8–18

Wednesday, January 8
GilleS Peterson (DJ Set), Lefto, Kassa Overall, Niblu, $20-$25, doors 8:00

Thursday, January 9
Lee Fields & the Expressions with Adeline, Brooklyn Bowl, $25, doors 7:00

Friday, January 10 & Saturday, January 11
Manhattan Marathon, multiple venues, $50-$75 one night, $95-$125 both nights

Saturday, January 11
James ‘Blood’ Ulmer Odyssey, Harriet Tubman, Sultan Room, $25-$30, doors 7:00

Thursday, January 16
Seu Jorge with Rogê, Anat Cohen & Choro Aventuroso, the Town Hall, $55-$85, 8:00

Friday, January 17
Brooklyn Marathon, multiple venues, $30-$55

Multiple venues
January 9–19

January 9, 12, 15–17
Blood Moon, by Ellen McLaughlin and composer Garrett Fisher, Baruch Performing Arts Center, $35-$75

January 11–17
Magdalene, chamber opera cocreated by performer Danielle Birrittella and director Zoe Aja Moore, with poetry by Marie Howe, HERE, $35-$75

January 10–11
Iron & Coal, rock opera by Jeremy Schonfeld, featuring Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Contemporaneous, MasterVoices, Rinde Eckert, and Daniel Rowan, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, $35-$75

January 14–15, 17–19
Ellen West, by poet Frank Bidart and composer Ricky Ian Gordon, Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, $35-$75

January 15–18
Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro, by Gregory Maqoma, featuring Vuyani Dance Theatre, Joyce Theater, $10-$75

January 17–18
REV. 23, libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs, composed by Julian Wachner, featuring Novus NY, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, $35-$75


Harkness Dance Center festival features Catherine Tharin, Kyle Marshall Choreography, and more

92nd St. Y
1395 Lexington Ave.
January 10-12, $15 in advance, $25 at the door

Friday, January 10
King by Kyle Marshall Choreography, through the mirror of their eyes by Kimberly Bartosik (work-in progress excerpt), Quarry by Ivy Baldwin Dance, Good Rhythm Wonderful Life by Kazunori Kumagai, noon

Sunday, January 12
Good Rhythm Wonderful Life by Kazunori Kumagai, 3:00
through the mirror of their eyes by Kimberly Bartosik (work-in progress excerpt), 4:0
Of you from here by Catherine Tharin, 4:45
Quarry by Ivy Baldwin Dance, 5:30
A.D. by Kyle Marshall Choreography, 6:15
DECADOSE (excerpts) by cullen+them, 7:15

Raquel Cion

Raquel Cion will perform Me and Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie at Pangea Winter Alt-Fest

Pangea NYC
178 Second Ave.
January 10–18

Tuesday, January 7, 14, 21
Barbara Bleier & Austin Pendleton, Bits and Pieces, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00

Friday, January 10
Vicki Kristina Barcelona, the songs of Tom Waits, $15-$20 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00

Hannah Reimann: Both Sides Now: The Music of Joni Mitchell 1966 – 1974, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 9:30

Thursday, January 16, 7:00, and Friday, January 17, 9:30
Raquel Cion: Me and Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum

Friday, January 17
Susanne Mack: Where I Belong, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00


El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Ave. at 104th St.
Monday, January 6, free, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

El Museo del Barrio’s celebration of the Epiphany will make its way through East Harlem on Monday, paying tribute to the three kings who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the manger. The forty-third annual event, titled “Nuestros Barrios Unidos: Celebrating Our Collective Strength,” will feature live music and dance by BombaYo, Los Pleneros de la 21, Annette Aguilar & the Stringbeans, Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater, and others, large-size puppets, parrandas, floats, and live camels and more animals beginning at 11:00 at 106th St. near Park Ave., then heads north to 115th. At 1:00, the festivities move indoors at the museum, where there will be workshops for children beginning at 1:00, along with live performances by Teatro 220 and Annette Aguilar & the Stringbeans in El Museo’s El Teatro. This year’s king emeritus is poet and author Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez, and the kings are artist and photographer Hiram Maristany, former Telemundo senior anchor Jorge Ramos, and Board of Regents chancellor Dr. Betty A. Rosa, with madrinas Blanka Amezkua, Eileen Reyes-Arias, Nancy Mercado, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, and Alicia Grullon and padrinos Marcel Agueros, Gabriel “Kwikstep” Dionisio, Gonzalo Mercado, Henry Obispo, and Luis Reyes. Admission to the galleries is free, so be sure to check out “An Emphasis on Resistance: 2019 CIFO Grants & Commissions Program Exhibition” and “Zilia Sánchez: Soy Isla (I Am an Island).”


Stan Douglas, Luanda-Kinshasa, 2013. Video, color, sound; 6:01 hours. © Stan Douglas; Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York

Jason Moran performs in Stan Douglas’s six-hour 2013 video Luanda-Kinshasa (© Stan Douglas / courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York)

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Through January 5 (adults $25, eighteen and under free

Atop his official website, Jason Moran identifies himself simply as “Musician.” As his retrospective at the Whitney reveals, he is much more than that. Born in Houston in January 1975, jazz pianist and composer Moran released his debut album, Soundtrack to Human Motion, twenty years ago and has expanded his horizons significantly since then. In addition to recording such discs as Facing Left, Same Mother, Artist in Residence, Bangs, and Looks of a Lot, many with his group, the Bandwagon, consisting of bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, he collaborates with a bevy of visual artists, creates large-scale installations, and makes eye-catching drawings.

Installation view of Jason Moran (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 20, 2019-January 5, 2020). From left to right: Jason Moran, Run 2, 2016; Jason Moran, Run 6, 2016; Jason Moran, Strutter’s Ball, 2016; Jason Moran, Blue (Creed) Gravity 1, 2018; Jason Moran, Black and Blue Gravity, 2018. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Jason Moran’s music-inspired drawings are a highlight of multidisciplinary show at the Whitney (photograph by Ron Amstutz)

The show, simply titled “Jason Moran,” is an eye-opening exploration of a multitalented artist, one of the most surprisingly delightful exhibits of the year. Upon entering the eighth floor, you encounter Moran’s “Run,” an ongoing series of works in which Moran tapes a sheet of paper, often a vintage player piano roll, over his piano, caps his fingers in charcoal and dry pigment of different colors, and plays the keyboard, resulting in horizontal abstract images that he gives such titles as Black and Blue Gravity and Two Wings 2. Screening on a loop in the far corner is Glenn Ligon’s The Death of Tom, what was supposed to be a re-creation of the final scene from Edison/Porter’s 1903 silent movie Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in which white actors played the main characters in blackface, but it turned into something very different because Ligon improperly loaded the film, resulting in what he called “blurry, fluttery, burnt-out black-and-white images, all light and shadows.” Moran improvised the score based on Bert Williams and Alex Rogers’s 1905 song “Nobody,” a hit for the black vaudeville team of Williams and George Walker, who fought racism on the road and stereotypes in their live performances. The Death of Tom might not have been the film Ligon set out to make, but it still takes on the same ideas.

Installation view of Jason Moran (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 20, 2019-January 5, 2020). Projections: Kara Walker, National Archives Microfilm M999 Roll 34: Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands: Six Miles from Springfield on the Franklin Road, 2009. Stages from left to right: Jason Moran, STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon, 2018; Jason Moran, STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1, 2015. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Jason Moran exhibition features room of large-scale installations and three-channel videos (photograph by Ron Amstutz)

The main room of the exhibit is a beaut, featuring a trio of sculptural installations inspired by the stages of historic New York City jazz clubs, Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, Midtown’s Three Deuces, and the Lower East Side’s Slugs’ Saloon. Three large screens show behind-the-scenes footage and/or full short films from ten of Moran’s collaborations, with such artists as Joan Jonas, Carrie Mae Weems, Adam Pendleton, Julie Mehretu, Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch, and Theaster Gates. In Lorna Simpson’s three-channel Chess, on two screens the artist plays chess in a mirrored room that makes it look like there are five of her; she’s dressed as a man in one, a woman in the other. Meanwhile, on the third screen, Moran plays the piano in a similarly mirrored space, improvising one of Brahms’s fifty-one exercises for piano. The black-and-white keyboard mimics the black-and-white chess sets as both Moran and Simpson display expert finger control.

Lorna Simpson, still from Chess, three-channel video, black-and-white, sound, 2013 (courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth / © Lorna Simpson)

Lorna Simpson, still from Chess, three-channel video, black-and-white, sound, 2013 (courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth / © Lorna Simpson)

Kara Walker’s National Archives Microfilm M999 Roll 34: Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands: Six Miles from Springfield on the Franklin Road is a thirteen-plus-minute full-color video using her trademark cut-paper silhouettes like shadow puppets to tell the story of brutal violence perpetrated against an African American family during the Reconstruction era. (On October 12, Moran and Walker teamed up for the New York premiere of her Katastwóf Karavan, in which he played a steam-powered calliope housed in Walker’s old-fashioned circus wagon adorned with cut-steel silhouettes depicting powerful slave scenes.) In between some of the videos are interludes in which improvisations by Moran emit from a player piano on the “Three Deuces” stage. On January 3 and 4, Tiger Trio, consisting of pianist Myra Melford, bassist Joëlle Léandre, and flutist Nicole Mitchell, will perform at the Whitney as part of the “Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon” program.

Finally, around a corner, Stan Douglas’s Luanda-Kinshasa brings together Jason Moran and a group of other musicians in a fictitious recording session in a reconstruction of Columbia’s 30th Street Studio, known as the Church, where between 1949 and 1981 such artists as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Vladimir Horowitz, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, and Miles Davis made albums. Inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s Rolling Stones concert film Sympathy for the Devil, Douglas films the band over two days in a 1970s-style setting, improvising as if this is a follow-up to Miles Davis’s 1971 album Live-Evil, part of which was recorded at the Church. Douglas himself improvises through the editing process, ending up with a six-hour jam session. Be sure to allow plenty of time to experience “Jason Moran,” an artistic jam session you won’t soon forget.


Los Lobos

Los Lobos has released it first Christmas record and will be playing new seasonal tunes at the Society for Ethical Culture this week

The Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th St. at Central Park West
Saturday, December 14, $55-$95

Mexican East LA band Los Lobos, which means “the wolves,” named its second album How Will the Wolf Survive? after an article in National Geographic. “It was like our group, our story: What is this beast, this animal that the record companies can’t figure out? Will we be given the opportunity to make it or not?” founding member Louie Pérez told Rolling Stone in 1989 when the 1984 record was named the thirtieth best of the past decade by the magazine. Los Lobos has made it, and on their own terms, having released more than twenty records and toured relentlessly around the world for more than forty years (they started as a high school group in 1973), led by founding members David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas on guitar and vocals, Pérez on drums and vocals, Conrad Lozano on bass and vocals (since 1974), and newbie Steve Berlin on keyboards and woodwinds; he came on board in 1984. As is their trademark, Los Lobos, who come to the New York Society for Ethical Culture for a show December 14, is once again venturing into new territory with its first Christmas album, Llegó Navidad (Rhino, October 2019), a collection of eleven traditional Latin holiday tunes and one original.

“We’re not doing the typical ‘Silent Night’ and all that, which is fine,” Pérez says in a promotional video, continuing, “I mean, I wouldn’t mind doing that in our own kind of way. But there is such a wealth of traditional songs, songs that have been around for a while from all over Latin America.” The band explored more than 150 tunes before deciding what to record. “It took us a while to find the stuff we felt comfortable with,” Hidalgo said. The album includes such gems as “La Rama,” “Reluciente Sol,” “It’s Christmas Time in Texas,” “Las Mañanitas,” “Regalo De Reyes,” and “Christmas and You,” bringing Los Lobos’ unique flair and flavor to foster a feliz navidad for everyone. “Is this true to our ethos? I’d say absolutely,” Berlin explains. At Ethical Culture, you can expect a generous mix of old favorites (“One Time One Night,” “Will the Wolf Survive?”), cool covers (“Bertha,” “Volver, Volver”), and soon-to-be-classic Latin Christmas songs.



Tuesday Smillie, S.T.A.R., watercolor, collage on board, 2012 (courtesy of the artist / © Tuesday Smillie)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, December 7, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum shows off the best of the borough in the December edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Los Hacheros, Gemma, DJ Laylo, Adrian Daniel, and drag collective Switch n’ Play (featuring Divina GranSparkle, K.James, Miss Malice, Nyx Nocturne, Pearl Harbor, and Vigor Mortis with special guest Heart Crimson); Visual AIDS screenings of short films commemorating the annual Day With(out) Art, followed by a conversation between filmmakers Iman Shervington and Derrick Woods-Morrow, moderated by writer Mathew Rodriguez; a book talk on Elia Alba’s The Supper Club with Sur Rodney (Sur) and Jack Waters, focusing on the conversation from the book that asks “What Would an HIV Doula Do?”; a curator tour of the Arts of Japan galleries with Joan Cummins; teen apprentice pop-up gallery talks in “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”; a night market with handmade artisanal products; and a poetry reading and book signing by Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang from her latest book, Hybrida. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Garry Winogrand: Color,” “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” “yasiin bey: Negus,” “One: Xu Bing,” “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” “JR: Chronicles,” and more.