Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through October 9
Washington-born multimedia artist Terry Adkins died in 2014 in Brooklyn at the age of sixty. MoMA is paying tribute to his legacy with the small but intimate exhibition “Projects 107: Lone Wolf Recital Corps,” consisting of film, sculpture, instrumentation, paraphernalia, and live performances. Adkins founded the Lone Wolf Recital Corps collective in Zurich in 1986, collaborating with a wide range of artists in numerous disciplines while honoring such figures as Matthew Henson, Bessie Smith, John Coltrane, George Washington Carver, Zora Neale Hurston, and John Brown. The exhibit, which continues through October 9, features such works as “Methane Sea,” constructed of rope, steel, wood, and tape and evoking something that could be found aboard a slave ship; “Omohundro,” an unusual brass and copper instrument; “Upperville,” concrete in which African porcupine quills emerge; a banner that reads “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday,” a replica of the flag the NAACP used to hang out their window on Fifth Ave. after such tragedies; “Amulet,” an almost noose/whip-like black wall hanging made of rubber, rope, electrical wire, tape, and steel; four eighteen-feet-long akrhaphones (the “rha” in the middle of the name is an homage to Adkins’s father); “Sus Scrofa (Linnaeus),” a contrabass covered by a boar hide and skull; and a trio of performance videos, The Last Trumpet from Performa 13 in November 2013; Facets: A Recital Compilation from Skidmore College the previous year; and, also from 2012, Atum (Honey from a Flower Named Blue), in which Clifford Owens puts on the wolf skin that is on view under the abovementioned banner. There is also background on Adkins alter ego and Lone Wolf mystery member Blanche Bruce, named after the first elected African American politician and only former slave to serve a full term in the Senate. “My quest has been to find a way to make music as physical as sculpture might be, and sculpture as ethereal as music is,” Adkins said in a 2006 interview with Dana Roc. In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a series of live performances, held in the gallery space, the downstairs theater, and the education center next door; advance tickets are recommended.
Monday, September 18
An Evening with Kamau Amu Patton, featuring restaging of Patton’s Amun (The Unseen Legends) with live electroacoustic improvisation to Patton’s Theory of Colors, screening of Patton’s 2008 performance Proliferation of Concept / Accident Tolerant, and discussion with Patton and Akili Tommasino, Roy and Niuta Titus Theater, $12, 7:00
Wednesday, September 20
A Living Space, with Sanford Biggers, Juini Booth, Demetrius Oliver, Clifford Owens, Kamau Amu Patton, and Dread Scott restaging passages from 2013 recital Postlude (Corpus Specere), exhibition space, $12, 7:00
Sunday, September 24
Envy of the World (A Blues for Terry Adkins), with Blanche Bruce on chordophone, Cavassa Nickens and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, Kamau Amu Patton on banjo, and recitation by Arthur Flowers, Tyehimba Jess, and Rashid Johnson, exhibition space, $12, 7:00
Tuesday, September 26
A Visionary Recital (after Terry Adkins), with Charles Gaines on percussion, Jason Moran on piano, and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, improvising new composition by Gaines based on scrolling projection of Lone Wolf text translated into music, Roy and Niuta Titus Theater, $12, 7:00
Wednesday, September 27
The Legacy of Terry Adkins and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, panel discussion with Charles Gaines, Clifford Owens, and Kamau Amu Patton, moderated by Valerie Cassel Oliver and Akili Tomassino, Education and Research Building, Celeste Bartos Theater, $15, 6:00
Saturday, September 30
PopRally Presents: Twilight Brothers, with Sacred Order members Clifford Owens and Kamau Amu Patton and Da’Niro Elle Brown, Zachary Fabri, LaMont Hamilton, and Kambui Olujimi, followed by lobby reception and DJ set by Patton and Brown, exhibition viewing, and open bar, Roy and Niuta Titus Theater, $25, 9:00
STAIRWAY TO STARDOM
145 Sixth Ave. at Dominick St.
September 12-23, $18-$45, 8:30
Before there was Star Search, American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent there was Stairway to Stardom, a no-budget New York City public access television show in which men, women, and children performed with big dreams in their heads, hoping to make it big. Writer, director, choreographer, performer, and “global paradigm architect” Amanda Szeglowski explores the American dream of reaching for fame and fortune in the vastly entertaining and ridiculously clever multimedia production Stairway to Stardom, which opened at HERE on September 12. The sixty-minute show features Szeglowski and her cakeface company, Ali Castro, Jade Daugherty, Ayesha Jordan, and Nola Sporn Smith, in glittery silver-sequined gowns and high heels singing, dancing, and sharing their successes and failures, their hopes and desires with a dry, wry mechanical delivery deliciously at odds with the spectacular longing for stardom that lies beneath.
The narrative follows the arc of a contemporary U.S. life in the arts, from what creative kids want to be when they grow up and what their parents expect of them to discovering their unique talent and then working odd jobs as they strive for artistic (and maybe even financial) success while also experiencing regrets. The performers are joined by Prism House — Brian Wenner and Matt O’Hare — who provide live video and music mixing, featuring excerpts from the original public access program. Szeglowski, who is also HERE’s marketing director, formed the all-female cakeface in 2008; their previous “linguistic performance art” projects include Don’t Call Me McNeill., Alpha Pups, and Harold, I Hate You. The new show continues through September 23; there will be a talkback following the September 20 performance, and September 15 and 19 are ’80s nights, in which the audience is encouraged to dress with their best retro flair. The show begins at 8:30, but HERE will be projecting clips from the original Stairway to Stardom in the lounge beginning at 7:00 every evening. Shortly after opening night, which kicked off HERE’s twenty-fifth anniversary season, Szeglowski found time to answer some questions about her own career trajectory.
twi-ny: As you were preparing for the opening of Stairway to Stardom, your native Florida — you went to high school in Tampa and college at USF — was being battered by Hurricane Irma. What was that experience like, balancing the two? Are your friends and family safe?
amanda szeglowski: Yes, thank you for asking. My family lives in West Tampa, so we were all watching the storm very closely. It was an incredibly stressful time to be in tech rehearsals all day and night approaching the culmination of a show I’ve been building for three years while this monster of a storm was creeping towards my family. I was checking in on them every chance I got and FaceTiming to see all the prep they were doing to their houses, going over the evacuation plans. . . . Being a part of that process helped me feel like I was with them. But growing up in Florida and having been through many hurricanes actually gave me some comfort as well. We know how to prepare and we take it seriously. That’s not to say that wine isn’t the first thing in the hurricane supply shopping cart — it is. But I felt better knowing this wasn’t my family’s first rodeo; they knew exactly what to do.
twi-ny: Were you ever a fan of such programs as Star Search, American Idol, The Voice, or America’s Got Talent?
as: I loved watching Star Search as a kid. As I got older and the shows got more scripted I lost interest. I think Idol changed the game by making the auditions part of the show, and then it became a gimmick of who could be the most outrageous. But I will occasionally watch clips from these shows when my parents call me and insist that they just saw the greatest thing.
twi-ny: What is it about the public access show that spurred your creative juices? You treat it with respect without getting overly kitschy or mean-spirited.
as: The TV show was so raw — so vulnerable. These weren’t people trying to become a character on a reality show; these were people really trying to make it. I respect that. There wasn’t any competitive aspect to the TV show; they were just performing and hoping to be seen. Sure, when you see clips from the TV show there are moments that you want to laugh, but I spent hours and hours interviewing people about their lives for my script, and a lot of it was pretty damn sad. At least these people were out there trying. I wanted to honor that drive and explore what happens to all of us along the way, because I think that fire is there for almost everyone in the beginning.
twi-ny: What kind of talent does someone have to display to become a member of cakeface? When someone is auditioning for you, are you more like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, or Miley Cyrus?
as: HAHAHA. I think I’m a Simon and Paula hybrid. I’m Simon because I have a crystal-clear vision of what I want, and if you don’t fit, I am not going to beat around the bush. I never want to waste anyone’s time. But Paula has a way of finding a spark in people and being respectful of their contributions, and I try to always do that. I’ve received many post-audition emails over the years from people that I didn’t hire saying the experience was really special. I’m proud of that.
twi-ny: Is anyone associated with the public access show still around? Did you have to go through any kind of permissions process to use some of the original footage?
as: The show was public access. But I did get the tapes directly from someone who was given them by the host of the show, Frank Masi, before he died. [Ed. note: Masi passed away in 2013 at the age of eighty-seven; you can watch a YouTube tribute to him and the show here.]
twi-ny: How amazing was it to perform in such great costumes, as well as high heels?
as: The costumes, which are by Oana Botez, are absolutely fantastic. It’s such a blast being able to sparkle head to toe on a downtown stage — very atypical for the scene. The heels are challenging, but anything else with those costumes would be absurd, right? And the performers are all pros, so they make it work. I wanted an over-the-top glamorous look that I could juxtapose with the stark reality of our words. Oana definitely achieved that.
twi-ny: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
as: The opening text, which I call a monologue (even though it’s delivered by five voices), is basically a run-on sentence ticking off all of my childhood dreams. It includes a mermaid, grocery store checkout clerk, princess, trapeze artist, restaurateur, and movie star. Of course, I always wanted to be a dancer, but that’s obvious, and our unfulfilled dreams are so much more interesting.
twi-ny: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
as: I’ve had a slew of them. The story in the show about working in the housewares department at Burdines was my life at age fifteen. I had no idea how to sell kitchen appliances and would literally walk away from customers and kick back in the stock room. That was pretty awful. There’s another story about a boss with revolting coffee breath; that was my first job in NYC. But another horrific experience was telemarketing. In high school I worked at a call center selling satellite broadcasting to elderly people in rural areas. I had to convince them they needed HBO. It was super sleazy, plus I got sexually harassed by my boss. I’d say fifteen was not a banner year for my career trajectory.
twi-ny: What would you like audiences to take away from the show?
as: I’d like them to be reminded of our often-naive notions of success and talent, reflect on the choices they’ve made, and leave with a glimmer of hope.
EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE (Alan Govenar, 2017)
22 East 12th St. between University Pl. & Fifth Ave.
Opens Friday, September 15
With the future of such government agencies as the National Endowment for the Arts in jeopardy, documentarian and folklorist Alan Govenar celebrates the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowships in Extraordinary Ordinary People. Since 1982, the fellowships have honored “our nation’s master folk and traditional artists . . . recognizing the ways these individuals demonstrate and reflect our nation’s living cultural heritage and the efforts of these artists to share their knowledge with the next generation.” Govenar speaks with the program’s founder and first director, Bess Lomax Hawes, and former director Dan Sheehy, who explain the importance of nurturing a diverse group of artists who often live and work on the margins. New and archival footage feature more than two dozen figures, from such musicians and singers as Koko Taylor, Clifton Chenier, Wanda Jackson, Narciso Martinez, Sheila Kay Adams, “Flaco” Jiménez, John Lee Hooker, Chum Ngek, “Queen” Ida Guillory, Earl Scruggs, and B. B. King to such artisans as quilter Laverne Brackens, lace maker Sonia Domsch, and ceremonial regalia maker Clarissa Rizal. Govenar (The Beat Hotel, Stoney Knows How) previously documented the story of another of the film’s subjects, dancer and drummer Sidiki Conde, in You Don’t Need Feet to Dance. The film opens September 15 at Cinema Village; the 8:00 shows on Friday and Saturday night will be followed by a Q&A and mini-concert with Govenar, Adams, and Conde.
Who: Bill Murray, Jan Vogler, Mira Wang, Vanessa Perez
What: Carnegie Hall concert
Where: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Ave. at Fifty-Seventh St., 212-247-7800
When: Monday, October 16, $40-$250, 8:00
Why: Bill Murray has been singing his whole career, from goofing around as Nick the lounge singer on Saturday Night Live, where he would make up words to the Star Wars theme and annoy Linda Ronstadt, to delivering a rousing rendition of “Let’s Get Physical” on Late Night with David Letterman and a tender karaoke version of Roxy Music’s “More than This” in Lost in Translation. But just as he went from being a comedian to a more serious actor, he will be taking his vocal career to unseen heights on October 16 at Carnegie Hall for “Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends: New Worlds,” an evening of classical music and American literature. Suburban Chicago native Murray and German cellist Jan Vogler, who met on an airplane in 2013, attended a poetry walk across the Brooklyn Bridge together in 2015, and then decided to team up on this project, will be joined by Chinese-born violinist Mira Wang (Vogler’s wife) and Venezuelan-born pianist Vanessa Perez on compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, Astor Piazzola, Stephen Foster, George Gershwin, Henry Mancini, Van Morrison, Leonard Bernstein, and others; Murray will recite text by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Sondheim, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and more alongside Vogler’s Stradivari cello. With its international quartet, the show will also focus on various connections between America and Europe. “I am bathing in this experience, really. I can’t get enough of it,” Murray said in a statement. The New Worlds studio album will be released by Decca Gold on September 9. For a sneak peek at what to expect, check out this promotional video.
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl. between Third & Fourth Sts.
September 8-9, $40 (use code JLS1 for 50% discount), 7:30
Formed in 1967 by Joshua White and others, the Joshua Light Show is celebrating fifty years of adding psychedelic visuals to live music with a pair of shows at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. On September 8, the onetime Fillmore resident artists will be working their image-making magic with punk-blues purveyors Boss Hog and the experimental, progressive Dave Harrington Group, while they will join John Colpitts’s Man Forever and electronic music composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith on September 9. Over the years, JLS has stuck to its analog beginnings, using liquid and light, while incorporating digital elements. The current lineup features Alyson Denny, Curtis Godino, Nick Hallett, Seth Kirby, Ana Matronic, Brock Monroe, Gary Panter, Doug Pope, Nica Ross, Briged Smith, Bec Stupak, Jeff Cook, George Stadnik, and White. We caught them in 2012 at Skirball with John Zorn, Lou Reed, Bill Laswell, and Milford Graves and in 2011 at the Hayden Planetarium and were instantly sucked into their groovy world. Tickets are $40 for each show or $60 for both; use code JLS1 to get them for half price.
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through September 17
“Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends” is almost too much of a good thing, a massive MoMA retrospective of the interdisciplinary artist who died in 2008 at the age of eighty-two. The exhausting exhibition consists of more than 250 works, highlighting his collaborations while celebrating the vast nature of his practice. “Oh, I love collaborating, because art can be a really lonely business, if you’re really just working from your ego,” he says in an old interview on the audio guide. The show follows the Texas native from his Black Mountain College years through his time in Italy and North Africa, from his early combines and classical-influenced pieces to performances, silkscreens, objects, “Experiments in Art and Technology” (E.A.T.), and more. Many of his greatest hits are here, including “Bed,” “Monogram,” “Canyon,” “Gift for Apollo,” and his illustrations for Dante’s Inferno, alongside collaborations with Jasper Johns, John Cage, Jean Tinguely, Willem de Kooning, Susan Weil, Brice Marden, Sturtevant, Alex Hay, and more. Among the most unusual works is the bubbling “Mud Muse” created with Carl Adams, George Carr, Lewis Ellmore, Frank Lahaye, and Jim Wilkinson. And most entertaining is Rauschenberg’s involvement in the dance world, making sets for and even performing in pieces by Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown and Laurie Anderson, Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, and others, some filmed by Charles Atlas. The exhibition is supplemented with works by such Rauschenberg contemporaries as Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Lucinda Childs, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Robert Whitman. Meanwhile, the audio guide includes contributions from Yvonne Rainer, Calvin Tompkins, Weil, Marden, Brown, Virginia Dwan, Atlas, Julie Martin, and Rauschenberg’s son, Christopher. So how does one make sense of it all? MoMA is hosting a series of talks and performances to help sort everything out. The exhibition continues through September 17; the below “gallery experiences” are free with museum admission, with no advance RSVP required. (Only the September 12 “Dante Among Friends” performance requires paid ticketing.)
Wednesday, September 6, 11:30 & 3:30
“Dance among Friends: Robert Rauschenberg’s Collaborations with Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Taylor,” featuring Changeling, Three Epitaphs, Tracer, You Can See Us, and excerpts from other works, Sculpture Garden
“Robert Rauschenberg’s Process,” with Lauren Kaplan
Wednesday, September 6, 11:30
Thursday, September 7, 1:30
Wednesday, September 13, 1:30
Thursday, September 14, 11:30 & 1:30
“No One Is an Island,” with Kerry Downey
Thursday, September 7, 1:30
“Rauschenberg Among Friends,” with Elisabeth Bardt-Pellerin
Saturday, September 9, 11:30
Sunday, September 17, 1:30
“100 Ways to Make a Picture,” with Petra Pankow
Sunday, September 10, 11:30
Monday, September 11, 11:30
“A Bit of This and That: Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines,” with Jane Royal
Tuesday, September 12
“Collaborators, Friends, Lovers,” with Tamara Kostianovsky, 11:30
“Dante among Friends,” with Robin Coste Lewis and Kevin Young responding in music and poetry to Rauschenberg’s Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno, curated and hosted by Terrance McKnight, $5-$15, 7:00
The Brooklyn Hangar
2 52nd St., Sunset Park
Saturday, September 9, $60 (two for $100), 1:00 - 9:00
You can celebrate Octoberfest a little early at the Brooklyn Hangar on September 9, when an excellent lineup of music joins an all-day beer tasting for OctFest. More than forty breweries are participating in the event, including Radeberger, Kona, Oskar Blues, Blue Point, 4 Hands, Rogue, Stony Creek, Braven, Citizen Cider, Shmaltz, ABK, Lord Hobo, and Alphabet City, offering unlimited craft beer. Considering the bands that are scheduled to play, the $60 ticket is one of the best deals in town — and a pair goes for $100. On the impressive bill are Guided by Voices, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Kilo Kish, Okkervil River, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and the Sadies. The event is sponsored by October magazine, which “aims to capture the spirit, ambition, and wort-soaked labor of the gambrinus pursuit — the making and drinking of the good life.”