200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, August 4, free, 5:00 - 11:00
The Brooklyn Museum starts preparing for the annual West Indian Day Parade with the August edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Alex Mali, the Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Dance Festival, with Dance Caribbean Collective, the Sabrosura Effect, Project of ContempoCaribe, KaNu Dance Theater, and Bloodline Dance Theatre, followed by a Q&A; a Fiyah Fit movement workshop with choreographer Jessica Phoenix; a caribBEING House mobile art center; a hands-on workshop in which participants can create noisemakers for the West Indian Day Parade, inspired by instruments in “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas”; Drink and Draw sketching of live models from mas camps, with sounds by Rodney Hazard; pop-up gallery talks by teen apprentices on Caribbean art and stylistic influences in the museum collection; pop-up poetry with Rico Frederick, Erica Mapp, and Camille Rankine of Cave Canem; and the community talk “Organizing Caribbean Communities in Brooklyn” with Ernest Skinner, Dr. Waldaba Stewart of the Medgar Evers Caribbean Research Center, Ninaj Raoul of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, and Albert Saint Jean of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “William Trost Richards: Experiments in Watercolor,” “Infinite Blue,” “Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” and more.
209 West Houston St.
August 1 - November 4
For thirty-five years, Bronx-raised actor, singer, conductor, composer, gambler, puzzlemeister, and arranger Steve Sterner has been playing piano accompaniment to silent films at such venues as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the old Thalia, and Film Forum, where he’s been the resident silent film composer/accompanist since 1987. Film Forum is honoring the self-described “bad improviser” with a series of his own, “Steve Sterner Selects . . . ,” running through November 4 and beginning August 1, when the institution reopens after a major renovation and the addition of a fourth theater. The festival consists of a dozen silent works chosen by the longtime Upper West Sider, who’s lived in the same rent-stabilized apartment on West Seventy-First Street since 1979. Among the films chosen by the sixty-seven-year-old Sterner, who will, of course, play piano at every screening — preceded by his traditional cough drop — are King Vidor’s Show People, which will be introduced by FF programmer extraordinaire Bruce Goldstein; Clarence Brown’s Flesh and the Devil, the first silent movie Sterner played music for; William Wellman’s Wings, winner of the first Best Picture Oscar; Edward Sedgwick’s The Cameraman, in which Buster Keaton is let loose on an unsuspecting New York City; and Sam Taylor’s lesser-known Exit Smiling. Sterner, who was also the subject of Paola Ochoa’s short 2014 documentary, The Accompanist, recently answered questions via email for twi-ny about his life and career.
twi-ny: When did you first realize you wanted to play piano accompaniment to silent films? Was there a eureka moment?
steve sterner: I never aspired to accompany silent films. I was thrown into it by Wayne Daigrepont, a cartoon collector on the staff at the Thalia theater.
twi-ny: What do you see as the primary responsibility of playing piano accompaniment?
ss: Be faithful to the film and enhance it as best you can.
twi-ny: In the past, you have said that your playing should not be the focus, that the audience shouldn’t even notice you and instead should get lost in the film while you play. What does it feel like to now be the center of attention, putting together a series at Film Forum with your name in the title?
ss: The film is the star — I’m a supporting player. However, it’s always nice to be recognized when I’m not playing the piano.
twi-ny: On October 16, you will be sitting down with FF programming genius Bruce Goldstein for a discussion and Q&A in conjunction with a screening of William James Craft’s A Hero for a Night. What is it like working with Bruce?
ss: Working with Bruce has always been a joy. I think he’s one of the last great impresarios.
twi-ny: You’ve been doing this professionally since the early 1980s. Over those decades, has the audience changed at all? For example, are they any more or less attentive in this social-media-saturated age? And is the audience itself older, or are the younger generations showing up as well?
ss: I think the audience has gotten younger over the years, but other than that I haven’t paid much attention to the makeup of the audience.
twi-ny: For many years, you and Donald Sosin have been the go-to guys when it comes to this art form. Are you friends? Is there a competition between you for specific films or gigs?
ss: I wish I could play piano as well as Donald Sosin. I met him in the ’90s and have heard him play many times since. If there’s competition between us I’m unaware of it, but I’d never feel slighted to lose a job to him. He’s one of the best.
twi-ny: In addition to Film Forum, you’ve played numerous other New York City venues. Do you have a favorite (other than FF)?
ss: I enjoyed playing at the Thalia in the ’80s.
twi-ny: Is there a specific silent film that you would love to play piano with but for some reason, either rights or the quality or existence of an acceptable print, you’ve been unable to?
ss: Any lost film that’s been unearthed.
twi-ny: Do you have a particular favorite silent film?
ss: The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg.
twi-ny: Favorite silent film director?
ss: Lubitsch, Hitchcock, Seastrom, Murnau, and others.
twi-ny: Favorite silent film composer?
ss: Charles Hoffman and William Perry.
twi-ny: Favorite sound film composer?
ss: Max Steiner.
twi-ny: Favorite silent film star?
ss: Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Lon Chaney, Clara Bow, and Douglas Fairbanks.
twi-ny: When you're not accompanying silent films, what do you like to do for fun in New York City?
ss: I watch baseball and ’50s television shows on YouTube.
The free summer arts & culture season is under way, with dance, theater, music, art, film, and other special outdoor programs all across the city. Every week we will be recommending a handful of events. Keep watching twi-ny for more detailed highlights as well.
Sunday, July 29
SummerStage: Femi Kuti & Positive Force, Jupiter & Okwess, DJ Geko Jones, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, 3:00
Monday, July 30
Movies Under the Stars: The Incredibles (Michael Giacchino, 2004), Lower Highland Playground, Highland Park, Queens, 7:30
Tuesday, July 31
Strictly Tango, free tango lessons, Holley Plaza, Washington Square Park, 6:00
Wednesday, August 1
Carnegie Hall Citywide: Locos por Juana, Bryant Park Upper Terrace, 5:30
Thursday, August 2
New York Euripides Summer Festival Presents Suppliants, American Thymele Theatre, East River Park Amphitheater in John V. Lindsay East River Park, 6:00 (continues August 3, 6-7, and 9-10 at multiple venues)
Friday, August 3
Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Peter Wolf, Super Soul Banned, Damrosch Park Bandshell, 7:30
Sunday, August 5
Saturday, August 4
INSITU Site-Specific Dance Festival, with simultaneous performances by César Brodermann and Sebastian Abarbanell, Alice Gosti, N E 1 4 Dance, Quilan ‘Cue’ Arnold, and Melissa Riker Kinesis Project in Hunters Point South Park, House of Ninja, Renegade Performance Group, Donofrio Dance Company, Sarah Chien, Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow, and Cecilia Fontanesi Parcon NYC in Gantry Plaza State Park, Kate Harpootlian, Douglas Dunn + Dancers, AnA Collaborations, and Christopher Núñez in Queensbridge Park, and Sophie Maguire & Emma Wiseman, Javier Padilla & the Movement Playground, Khalifa Babacar Top, the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival, Fleuve | Espase danse, and JoAnna Mendl Shaw / the Equus Projects in Socrates Sculpture Park, 1:00 - 8:00
U.S. Grant National Memorial Park
Wes 122nd St. & Riverside Dr.
Sunday, July 29, free, 12 noon - 8:30 pm
Festival continues through August 25
More than forty thousand people are expected to converge in U.S. Grant National Memorial Park on July 29 for the annual Great Day in Harlem festival, part of the summer Harlem Week celebration. This year’s theme is “Women Transforming Our World: Past, Present & Future,” with the subtheme “The Community within the Community — Saluting the LGBTQ Community.” A Great Day in Harlem will feature an International Vendors Village from 12 noon to 8:00, the Artz, Rootz, and Rhythm International Cultural Showcase at 1:00, the Gospel Caravan at 3:00 with Hezekiah Walker, the McDonald’s All-Star Gospel Choir, and other gospel greats honoring Mahalia Jackson, a Fashion Fusion Showcase at 4:30, and “A Concert under the Stars” at 6:00, with Peabo Bryson, Harlem Week music director Ray Chew, and the Harlem Music Festival All-Star Band paying tribute to Phyllis Hyman and Minnie Riperton. Harlem Week continues through August 25 with such other events as Summer in the City on August 18, Harlem Day on August 19, and Harlem Restaurant Week on August 21.
Who: Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, Lila Downs, Graham Nash, special guests
What: The Lantern Tour, benefit concert for the Women’s Refugee Commission
Where: The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd St. between Sixth Ave. & Broadway, 212-840-2824
When: Sunday, October 28, $52 - $252, 7:00 — tickets go on sale July 26 at 12 noon
Why: From October 23 to 28, the Lantern Tour: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families will make stops in Nashville, Washington DC, New Jersey, and Boston before finishing up at the Town Hall here in New York City. Tickets go on sale July 26 at 12 noon for the finale, which will feature acoustic performances by Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, Lila Downs, Graham Nash, and special guests, raising money for the Women’s Refugee Commission, which seeks to “improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.” Thus, the main focus of the evening will be on the immigration battle going on in the United States involving President Donald Trump, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and immigrants and refugees fighting to enter or stay in the country and be reunited with their families. “The Women’s Refugee Commission has been on the front lines in advocating for the safety of women and children. Their work is as remarkable as it is critical, especially right now,” Harris said in a statement. Michelle Brané, director of the commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice program, added, “This administration tore children away from parents trying to save their lives by asserting their legal right to asylum with no intention of reunifying them. It is imperative that we all raise our voices against these dystopian policies. Art and music have long been an important part of advancing social change, and we are thrilled to be partnering with such a remarkable group of talented musicians committed to justice.”
Panorama is back for its third year after proving in its first two that it knows what it’s doing, providing an excellent balance of music, art, technology, and food on Randall’s Island. Taking place July 27-29, the 2018 iteration features another diverse, high-powered lineup, including the Weeknd, Migos, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Father John Misty, the Black Madonna, and yaeji on Friday, Lil Wayne, SZA, Janet Jackson, St. Vincent, Gucci Mane, and Bicep on Saturday, and David Byrne, the xx, the Killers, Fleet Foxes, Nora en Pure, Moodymann, and Helena Hauff on Sunday. The performers play at three venues spread across the vast landscape: the Panorama Stage with its huge screen, the partially exposed Parlor, and the tented Point.
The Lab consists of a half dozen interactive, cutting-edge installations: the tranformative gathering space “As Above, So Below” by Kate Raudenbush, the multimedia adaptation “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions,” the audio-reactive “HyperSubtle” by Superbright, the solar-powered “Infinite Wild” by Smooth Technology, the giant mood ring “Pixel Vortex” by the Windmill Factory, and the transmutation tunnel “Portal to Flatland” by Magenta Field. The lines for the Lab can get very long, so go early to check out the fun. The food roster is rather impressive as well; among the more than thirty vendors are Alamo Mexican Kitchen, Bareburger, Emmy Squared, Ice & Vice, Korilla, La Newyorkina, Lolo’s Seafood Shack, Mighty Quinn’s, Roberta’s Pizza, Schaller’s Stube, Spicy Pie, Two Guys Chicken and Fries, and Waffle de Lys. There are water stations throughout the grounds for free fill-ups. And be on the lookout for giveaways and unique experiences from such sponsors as American Express, Bug Light, JBL, Rough Trade, Sephora, bai, and more. Panorama is a must for music and technology fans or anyone who just wants to do something different on a summer weekend.
Two years ago, the subversive DIY aesthetic of longtime collaborators Peter Fischli and David Weiss was on view at the Guggenheim in the engaging retrospective “How to Work Better.” Fischli has now headed to MoMA — Weiss passed away in 2012 — for the “Artist’s Choice” show “If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture?” It’s the thirteenth in the three-decade-old series, which has previously turned over the curatorial reins to Mona Hatoum, Elizabeth Murray, David Hammons, Stephen Sondheim, and others, and is the first one to take place in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, where the Swiss artist has created an intervention that will delight regular visitors to the outdoor space, who will notice subtle and not so subtle changes, while also charming newcomers to the garden. Only one of Katharina Fritsch’s “Figurengruppe (Group of Figures)” stands on the main level, “Yellow Madonna,” the others apparently spending the summer in the Hamptons. Ben Vautier’s word painting on wood, “If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture?,” is a rare example of a painting hanging outside, not concerned about the elements ruining it. Only the first three bronze versions of Henri Matisse’s exquisite “The Back” adorn the north wall, the ghostly outline of the missing fourth clearly visible. Fischli and Wade Guyton’s “Untitled Aspen Wall Nr. 6” is an out-of-place gallery wall with nothing hanging on it. Fischli has left in several mainstays of the garden, including Aristide Maillol’s “The Mediterranean” and “The River,” Hector Guimard’s “Entrance Gate to Paris Subway,” Pablo Picasso’s “She-Goat,” and Isa Genzken’s “Rose II” while adding Tony Smith’s “Moondog 1964,” Herbert Ferber’s “Roof Sculpture with S Curve, II,” and Robert Breer’s “Osaka I” white dome.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is “Snowman,” a human-size, frost-covered copper snowman in a large vitrine with a special coolant system to prevent it from melting in the summer heat. It’s adapted from a 1990 commission Fischli and Weiss made for a thermic power plant in Saarbrücken, Germany, that used its own energy to keep the snowman frozen. It’s a big crowd pleaser while also continuing the artists’ DIY sensitivity — as Fischli has stated, the snowman is a “sculpture that almost anyone can make” — and questioning of just what art is. “The snowman may be a metaphor for our climate crisis, but it’s running on electricity, so it’s a contradiction, because it’s also contributing to global warming,” Fischli told the New Yorker last summer, “but the piece is about taking care of something and protecting it . . . and being dependent on something. Someone else has to take care of him. And the contradiction between artificial and nature, because I’m making snow from a machine.” Oh, and be sure to pick up a brochure in one of Fischli’s specially designed boxes. The snowman and other works selected by Fischli (by Franz West, Mary Callery, Elie Nadelman, and William Tucker) will remain on view in the garden through next spring. You can also visit the garden on Thursday nights when MoMA presents concerts at 6:30 with Combo Chimbita on July 26, OSHUN on August 2, Xenia Rubinos on August 9, Kemba on August 16, Zenizen on August 23, and Mutual Benefit on August 30.