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


Large crowds will gather to see the blooming cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Large crowds will gather to see the blooming cherry trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, $20-$25 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

In her book The Cherry Blossom Festival: Sakura Celebration, author Ann McClellan writes, “The breathtaking sight of the cherry trees blooming in Japan has inspired princes, poets, artists, and ordinary people for over 1000 years.” However, just as every rose has its thorn, “The sublime beauty of the flowers and their brief life at the beginning of each spring symbolize the essence of a human’s short life well-lived.” This weekend, the beauty, delicateness, and symbolic nature of the cherry blossom will be honored as more than a hundred cherry trees are expected to bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On Saturday and Sunday, the annual Sakura Matsuri will include live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, and much more. The festival will feature Ikebana flower arranging, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, a manga mural, a wall scroll show, rice shaker and origami workshops, garden tours, shopping, a bookstore, Japanese food, and more, taking place all day long. Below are just some of the highlights of other special, more time-specific events.


Children’s Suzuki Recital, with Brooklyn College Preparatory Center, auditorium, 11:00 am

The Battersby Show, with special guest Misako Rocks, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 12:30

Ikebana Flower Arranging Demonstration, with Sogetsu expert Fumiko Allinder, auditorium, 12:30

Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Cherry Esplanade, 1:00

IchiP Dance Party, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 1:15

BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show, featuring J-pop singer Hitomi Himekawa of Rainbow Bubble, Cherry Esplanade, 2:00

Hanagasa Odori Parade, with Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 2:00

Urasenke Tea Ceremony, auditorium, 3:00 & 4:30

Samurai Sword Soul, Cherry Esplanade, 4:00

The Battersby Show, with special guest Jed Henry, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 4:15


Soh Daiko, Cherry Esplanade, 12 noon

“The Art of Bonsai” Lecture, with Julian Velasco, auditorium, 12 noon

Awa Odori Parade, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 1:00 & 4:30

Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Artist Jed Henry, J-Lounge Art Alley at Osborne Garden, 1:30 & 3:00

Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Cherry Esplanade, 2:00

Sohenryu-Style Tea Ceremony, with Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, auditorium, 2:30 & 4:00

Magician Rich Kameda, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 2:00 & 4:00

Hitomi Himekawa and the Rainbow Bubble Girls, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 3:00

Ryukyu Chimdon Band, Cherry Esplanade, 4:00

Cosplay Fashion Show, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15


Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems, “Untitled (Kitchen Table Series),” gelatin silver print and text, 1953 (© Carrie Mae Weems. Photo: © The Art Institute of Chicago)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
April 25-27, most events free with museum admission of $18-$22, evening concerts $15-$35
Exhibition continues through May 14

In her online biography, Carrie Mae Weems writes, “My work has led me to investigate family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism, class, and various political systems. Despite the variety of my explorations, throughout it all it has been my contention that my responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specifics of our historic moment.” All this and more is evident in her current exhibition at the Guggenheim, ”Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video.” The show, which continues through May 14, is centered by her subtly powerful 1990 black-and-white “Kitchen Table Series,” which details the evolution of a woman photographed in the same domestic space, sometimes by herself, sometimes with children, sometimes with a man. In many ways it harkens back to painting series by Jacob Lawrence, capturing the African American experience, in this case with the focus on a woman. The show also includes photos from her “Colored People” grids, “Family Pictures and Stories” (accompanied by a voice-over by Weems), “Dreaming in Cuba,” “Roaming,” “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” “The Louisiana Project,” and “Sea Islands Series” in addition to such short films as Afro-Chic and ceramic commemoration plates, all of which explore elements of black history from an often extremely personal perspective.

Carrie Mae Weems will cohost three days of art and activism at the Guggenheim this weekend (photo by Scott Rudd)

Carrie Mae Weems will cohost three days of art and activism at the Guggenheim this weekend (photo by Scott Rudd)

The Portland, Oregon-born artist will be at the Guggenheim this weekend presenting “Carrie Mae Weems LIVE: Past Tense/Future Perfect,” three days of discussions, live music, processions, readings, and more, cohosted by Weems and multidisciplinary artist Carl Hancock Rux. On Friday, there will be a tribute to conceptual sculptor and saxophonist Terry Adkins, who passed away at the age of sixty in February, with Vijay Iyer, Vincent Chancey, Dick Griffin, Marshall Sealy, and Kiane Zawadi, followed by “The Blue Notes of Blues People,” consisting of four sets of presentations by such visual artists, curators, choreographers, and scholars as Julie Mehretu, Leslie Hewitt, Shinique Smith, Thomas Lax, Michele Wallace, Camille A. Brown, Shahzia Sikander, Mark Anthony Neal, Sanford Biggers, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Xaviera Simmons. Other programs include “Written on Skin: Posing Questions on Beauty,” “Slow Fade to Black: Explorations in the Cinematic,” and “Laughing to Keep from Crying: A Critical Read on Comedy,” with Nelson George. The first two nights will conclude with ticketed concerts and conversations, with Jason Moran and the Bandwagon (Friday, with Weems) and the Geri Allen Trio (Saturday, with Weems and Theaster Gates). on Sunday, visual artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons will lead the procession “Habla Lamadre” before Weems offers closing remarks. Select programs on Friday and Saturday will be streamed live here.


With social media, online digital platforms, and thousands of cable channels, there are more ways than ever for a new band to get noticed. But New York City’s Walking Shapes has found a unique method to share their music. On April 24, guitarists Nathaniel Hoho and Jesse Kotansky, keyboardist Jake Generalli, bassist Dan Krysa, and drummer Christopher Heinz will celebrate the release of their energetic debut album, Taka Come On (No Shame, April 8), by playing at twenty-four different locations in a twenty-four hour period. “A New York Love Letter” opens at 1:00 am at the Manhattan Inn and continues at such venues as the Kent Ale House (1:45 am), Shayz Lounge (2:15), McCarren Park (10:30), El Beit (11:00), MOSCOT eyewear (2:00 pm), Central Park (4:15), Pianos (6:00), Tompkins Square Park (7:30), and Union Square (8:45). They will also be playing in a church, outside on Bedford Ave., on the subway, in a library, and at an art studio. Sleep is included; they’ll be taking a much-needed break from 4:00 to 8:30 am. The whirlwind tour concludes at 10:00 pm with a show at Bowery Electric with Har Mar Superstar. In addition, Walking Shapes has created a video for each tune on the record; you can watch the full stream above and check out some of their previous songs here. Sure, it’s a stunt to get publicity, but it helps that the album kicks some ass, from catchy guitar-heavy tracks (“Woah Tiger,” “In the Wake”) to synth pop (“Winter Fell,” “Feel Good”) to the acoustic ballad “Find Me.” And on April 24, you can find them all over the place. [ed. note: the schedule has changed since this initial post; check the band’s Twitter and Instagram pages for further updates. Walking Shapes will also be playing the No Shame showcase at DROM on April 25 with Pompeya and Seasick Mama.)


Audra McDonald channels Billie Holiday in  LADY DAY (photo by Evgenia Eliseeva)

Audra McDonald channels Billie Holiday in LADY DAY (photo by Evgenia Eliseeva)

Circle in the Square Theatre
1633 Broadway at 50th St.
Tuesday - Sunday through August 10, $97 - $252

Watching — nay, experiencing — the astonishing Audra MacDonald inhabit Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, one might think that the show was created specifically for the five-time Tony winner. In fact, it’s been around since 1986, and earlier off-Broadway and out-of-town versions have featured such stars as Lonette McKee, Eartha Kitt, S. Epatha Merkerson, Loretta Divine, and Jackée Harry. Inspired by one of Holiday’s final performances, at a small club in South Philadelphia a few months before her death in 1959 at the age of forty-four, Lanie Robertson’s (Nasty Little Secrets) ninety-minute show focuses on a brittle but still immensely talented Holiday as she performs classic songs while sharing tales from her difficult life, which was riddled with physical and sexual abuse, failed marriages, rape, prostitution, and drug and alcohol addiction. Backed by Shelton Becton as pianist Jimmy Powers, George Farmer on bass, and Clayton Craddock on drums (get there early, as the trio starts performing well before curtain time), McDonald nails Holiday’s unique phrasing and thrilling voice on such numbers as “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Easy Living” as well as “God Bless the Child,” which she cowrote, “T’aint Nobody’s Business If I Do,” and “Strange Fruit,” giving them added emotional resonance in relation to Lady Day’s tragic downfall. The audience sits around the thrust stage on three sides, with a “Circle Club” section in the middle, where patrons sit at tables and drink during the show and Holiday occasionally stumbles through, slurring her words, needing help just to stay upright. Directed by Lonny Price, who previously worked with McDonald on 110 in the Shade, Lady Day is a poignant, passionate look at one of the greatest singers who ever lived, magnificently portrayed by one of Broadway’s very best.


Sunday is Easter and the sixth day of Passover, and New York City band the Dysorderlies will be celebrating both at a special afternoon show at 2:30 at Otto’s Shrunken Head. An indie group with an engaging sound that boasts roots in the ’60s and ’70s, the Dysorderlies perform socially conscious rock-and-roll that takes on such topics as bullying (“Don’t Mess Around with My Boy”) and homelessness (“Jerry”) without becoming didactic or overwrought. Other highlights include “One Love,” “Puppy,” and “Chance Meetings.” Founded in April 2013 by singer-guitarists Nikki Neretin, MD, and Chip Calcagni, the lineup will also include bassists Artie Greenidge and Peter Archer and guest drummer Matt Crawford, sitting in for Guillermo Garavito. The Dysorderlies will be followed at 4:00 by Yogurt Abusers, featuring a pair of fourteen-year-olds, trumpeter Sam Friedman and guitarist Henry Nelson. Neretin, who works as a director of homeless services in the city, requests that people bring pairs of socks that can be donated to her clients; in addition, she has promised that matzah and Easter eggs will be served.


Angélica Negrón will be telling musical stories at free Super Sabado at El Museo del Barrio

Angélica Negrón will be telling musical stories at El Museo del Barrio for free Super Sabado celebration of books

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Ave. at 104th St.
Saturday, April 19, free, 12 noon – 5:30 pm

For the April edition of its free Super Sabado program, El Museo del Barrio celebrates the written word with “Mad About Libros.” From 12 noon to 3:00 on April 19, you can head over to the educational ArteXplorers Family Corner in the lobby or take part in a Manos a la Obra workshop where you can make your favorite book character. At noon and 2:00, in conjunction with Colorin Colorado, singer and actress Flor Bromley will be in the café, telling the stories of Librito and Juan Bobo and the Magic Book; composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón will share the participatory musical tale of Amigos at 1:00 and 3:00. From noon to 4:00, there will be a book fair outside the museum. And at 4:30, Roger Cabán of Poetas con Café will host poetry readings by Myrna Nieves, Jesus Papoleto Meléndez, and others. In addition, you can check out the special exhibition “Museum Starter Kit: Open with Care” as well as “Presencia: Works from El Museo’s Permanent Collection,” featuring pieces by Luis Mendez, Shaun El C. Leonardo, Oscar Muñoz, Benvenuto Chavajay, Christian Cravo, Roberto Juárez, Fernando Salicrup, Rafael Tufiño, and more.


622 DeGraw St. between Third & Fourth Aves.
Saturday, April 19, $10, 8:00

Brooklyn musician Jeremiah Lockwood has kept his feet wet with a steadily evolving cortege of musical projects over the past decade. Besides leading his acclaimed band the Sway Machinery, he’s embarked on adventures exploring musical forms from Mali and other parts of North Africa while integrating his upbringing, which was steeped in the nigunim of Jewish cantorial music. Lockwood got his start, though, playing in the New York City subways alongside his mentor, the Piedmont blues guitarist Carolina Slim. After meeting the musician as a fourteen-year-old, Lockwood took lessons from him, and what began as an apprenticeship seemingly dreamed up by a jaded screenwriter — the young white teen learning the ropes from the older African American traditionalist — evolved into a vital musical partnership. As Lockwood grew as a musician, the two accompanied each other for more than a decade, playing house parties, street fairs, and throughout the city’s transit system.

Jeremiah Lockwood and Carolina Slim back in 1993; Lockwood will pay tribute to the late blues great at special show at Littlefield on April 19

Jeremiah Lockwood and Carolina Slim back in 1993; Lockwood will pay tribute to the late blues great at special show at Littlefield on April 19

Born Elijah Staley, Slim hailed from South Carolina and made his home in New York for decades, teaching, composing, and performing in the venerable Piedmont style of blues that stretches back to the early twentieth century and counts such artists as Blind Willie McTell and the Rev. Gary Davis among its progenitors. Carolina Slim passed away this February at the age of eighty-seven, and, along with several other local musicians whom the older guitarist befriended and mentored, Lockwood has arranged a concert celebrating his career and life to be held at Brooklyn’s Littlefield venue. Under the banner of the Fraternal Order of Society Blues, the performers, including jazz percussionist Ricky Gordon, Brotherhood of the Jug’s Ernesto Gomez, and Slim friend Chris Cook, will be gathering for “A Tribute to the Late Great Carolina Slim” on April 19. Lockwood is calling the memorial a “séance of the spirits of American music”; the night should be filled with plentiful memories and great music paying respect to a true character in the long blues tradition.