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

FRUIT TRILOGY

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Liz Mikel and Kiersey Clemons play items on a shelf in Eve Ensler’s Pomegranate (photo by Maria Baranova)

Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher St. between Bleecker & Hudson Sts.
Tuesday - Sunday through June 23, $65-$85
212-352-3101
abingdontheatre.org/fruit-trilogy

Activist and writer Eve Ensler follows up her powerful, intimate one-woman show, In the Body of the World, with the New York premiere of Fruit Trilogy, three short experimental pieces that are still in need of some ripening. The Abingdon Theatre Company production, running at the Lucille Lortel through June 23 — coincidentally, Ensler was just given a lifetime achievement honor at last month’s Lucille Lortel Awards — explores major themes from throughout Ensler’s oeuvre, investigating female oppression and empowerment and the body itself, beginning with her 1986 international hit, The Vagina Monologues. Fruit Trilogy opens with the Beckett-like Pomegranate, in which Item 1 (Liz Mikel) and Item 2 (Kiersey Clemons) portray a pair of women on a shelf in a warehouse, only their heads visible in small black boxes. On display for men to purchase and do with what they want, they discuss their situation: “Women? We are items that they want to buy,” Item 1 says. “We are women more willing to be vile receptacles than we are willing to be dead,” Item 2 explains. Discussing hope, Item 1 declares, “My body will not live without possibility.” Item 2 sarcastically replies, “You have a body?”

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Kiersey Clemons is a young sex slave trapped in a cage in Eve Ensler’s Avocado (photo by Maria Baranova)

In Avocado, Clemons plays a sex slave slithering across a raised narrow platform in a container that serves as a cage, though the bars are unseen. She prowls about like a wild animal, speaking directly to the audience. At one point, she says, “Do you see them? Such naughty angels, jokester angels, protecting me, protecting all the girls who lost their bodies.” She goes into graphic detail about her victimization, brutalization, and enslavement, her story lightened only by an unexpected connection in one encounter, with a deaf, nonverbal boy who treats her more like a person, than a prostitute. The woman has sold herself one last time for passage in the container to a place called Asylum, the kind of freedom offered by City of Joy, a securely walled and guarded safe space cofounded by Ensler in Bukavu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where survivors of rape and sexual violence come to get their life back, learning to reclaim their bodies and their minds.

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Liz Mikel treats herself special in Coconut, the conclusion of Fruit Trilogy (photo by Maria Baranova)

And in Coconut, Mikel invites the audience into her bathroom, lit by candles, where she luxuriously and ceremonially rubs coconut oil onto her right foot, taking control of her body in ways that the characters in the previous two tales could not. “Like everything else, this body only existed in relationship to the person who was touching it, as a thing that might be touched,” she says. Now that person is her, rejecting all the ways she previously didn’t “measure up” to others, being a large black woman judged by her size, gender, and race. “We’re engaged in a transformative process of emollient change,” she says as she rubs the pain of memory and shame out of her body. When she disrobes, she takes pride in her naked body, daring the audience to look at her, to experience her, to join her in a happier world. Clemons (Dope, The Only Boy Living in New York) and Mikel (Lysistrata Jones, Friday Night Lights) are engaging, fearless performers, but director Mark Rosenblatt (The Country, Animal Wisdom) can’t get a firm enough grasp of the material or of Mark Wendland’s (Significant Other, Next to Normal) dark, low-budget sets, which are indeed somewhat confusing. Although it takes on some tough, serious topics, the trilogy is too long at eighty minutes, with too much repetition in the overly clever dialogue that continues well after the point has been made. It feels like Fruit Trilogy is still at the workshop stage, requiring additional care and nurturing before being picked and served to the public. Several of the remaining performances will be followed by talkbacks with Ensler (The Good Body, Emotional Creature) and special guests, focusing on not only the play itself but Ensler’s work with V-Day, “a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls” that she cofounded in 1998.

THE MEAT IN MEATBALLS: SOURCING AND CREATING AT THE MEATBALL SHOP

Dan Sharp

Daniel Sharp will talk meatballs and more at MoFad on June 21

Museum of Food and Drink
62 Bayard St., Brooklyn
Thursday, June 21, $25, 6:30
718-387-2845
www.mofad.org

We’ve come a long way since “Mamma mia, that’s a spicy meatball.” On June 21, the Museum of Food and Drink in Brooklyn will host “Sourcing and Creating the Meatball Shop,” a discussion and tasting with executive chef Daniel Sharp of the Meatball Shop Group. Cofounded by childhood best friends Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow downtown in 2010, there are now six city locations for the eatery, which allows diners to create their own bowls or hero sandwiches, choosing among such balls as classic, pork, chicken, veggie, and special and such sauces as tomato, spicy meat, parmesan cream, pesto, and mushroom gravy. The restaurant also serves salads, pasta, ice-cream sandwiches, and banana splits. California native Sharp will discuss with moderator Emily Pearson of Heritage Foods his business model, the concept of nose-to-tail eating, and how he sources his ingredients and comes up with his recipes; the talk will be followed by a cooking demonstration and tasting.

NYC PRIDE 2018

Pride Island packs them in on the pier every year as part of Pride Month

Pride Island packs them in on the pier every year as part of Pride Month

Multiple locations
June 18-24, free - $300 and more
www.nycpride.org

This year’s pride festivities honor the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which set the Gay Pride movement in motion in full force. There are some new parties, while the March itself has changed its route, so pay close attention to the locations listed below. As always, the ticketed events and VIP treatment are selling out fast, so you better act quickly if you want to shake it up at some pretty crazy gatherings.

Monday, June 18
OutCinema, screening of Ideal Home (Andrew Fleming, 2018), followed by a Q&A and open-bar after-party, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $35, 7:30

LGBT Community Center Garden Party: A Taste of Pride, with seasonal bites from North Square, Underwest Donuts, Boqueria, the Standard Grill, Rice & Gold, Quality Eats, Ample Hills Creamery, Ice & Vice, Javelina TexMex, Dinosaur BBQ, Sweet Chili, Café Patoro, Eataly, Breads Bakery, Enlightened Ice Cream, the Wayfarer, Island Oyster, and Hill Country Barbecue Market, Hudson River Park, Pier 84, West Side Highway at Forty-Fourth St., $99-$300, 6:00 - 10:00

Tuesday, June 19
OutCinema, screening of Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco (James Crump, 2017), followed by a Q&A and open-bar reception, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $25, 7:30

Family Movie Night: screening of Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise, 1991), preceded by family-friendly games and activities, hosted by Miss Richfield 1981, Pier 45, Christopher St. Pier, Hudson River Park at Christopher St., free (reserved seating and other amenities $50), film at 8:30

Participants make their voices heard at the Rally and other Gay Pride events

Participants make their voices heard at the Rally and other Gay Pride events

Tuesday, June 19
through
Saturday, June 23

Pride Week at the Joyce, with a mixed program by MADBOOTS DANCE and The Missing Generation by Sean Dorsey Dance, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. at Nineteenth St., $10-$46

Wednesday, June 20
OutCinema, screening of From Selma to Stonewall: Are We There Yet? (Marilyn Bennett, 2016), followed by a special panel conversation moderated by Tiq Milan, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $25, 8:00

Thursday, June 21
Savor Pride, immersive food-driven fundraiser, with barbecue dishes by Amanda Freitag, Michael Anthony, Zac Young, Lazarus Lynch, and Jake Cohen, God’s Love We Deliver, 166 Sixth Ave. at Spring St., $80-$100, 6:00

Friday, June 22
The Rally, with performances by the Resistance Revival Chorus, Taina Asili, Ms. White, and others and speakers Dr. Herukhuti, Jodie Patterson, and more, hosted by Danity Diamond, Stonewall National Monument, Sheridan Square, free, 5:00 - 7:00

CosPlay & Pride, sunset cruise with Phi Phi O’Hara & DJ Cameron Cole, Pier 40, Hudson River Park, West Houston & Clarkson Sts., $35-$50, 6:00

Fantasy, with DJ Eddie Elias, DJ Jared Conner, and special secret performances, Slate, 54 West Twenty-First St., $60-$230, 10:00 pm - 4:00 am

The March brings people together -- and will do so on a new route in 2018

The March brings people together — and will do so on a new route in 2018

Saturday, June 23
Youth Pride, for LGBTQIA+ and ally teens, with DJs Amira & Kayla and a live performance by Bea Miller, 14th Street Park, Fourteenth St. between Tenth Ave. & West Side Highway, free, noon - 6:00 pm

VIP Rooftop Party, with DJs Boris, Dani Toro, J Warren and secret acts all day long, Hudson Terrace, 621 West 46th St., $75-$120, 2:00 - 10:00 pm

Teaze HER, with lap dance classes, a silent disco DJ battle, aphrodisiac oyster-tainment tastes, a spanking booth, electrified viola, curated tastings, specialty drink sipping, intimate burlesque, sexpert educational tips, and more, the DL, 95 Delancey St., $40-$80, 5:00 – midnight

Masterbeat Masterbuilt, construction-site party with casino, game show, university, and more, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th St., $120-$140, 10:00 pm – 6:00 am

PrideFest street fair immediately follows the March

PrideFest street fair moves to University Pl. this year

Saturday, June 23
and
Sunday, June 24

Pride Island, with Tove Lo, Lizzo, DJ Simon Dunmore, Big Freedia, Sasha Velour, and DJ Dawson on Saturday, Kylie Minogue, DJ Grind, DJ Ralphi Rosario, and DJ Corey Craig on Sunday, Pier 97, Hudson River Park at Fifty-Seventh St. & West Side Highway, $60-$95

Sunday, June 24
PrideFest, twenty-fifth annual street fair with music, food, merchandise, and more, featuring live performances by Alex Newell, Parson James, and others, hosted by Ross Mathews, University Pl. between Thirteenth St. & Waverly Pl., free, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

The March, with grand marshals Billie Jean King, Lambda Legal, Tyler Ford, and Kenita Placide, Lavender Line from 16th St. & Seventh Ave. to Eight St. & Fifth Ave. to Twenty-Ninth St. & Fifth Ave., free, 12 noon

Femme Fatale, women’s rooftop party with DJs RosyQ, Mary Mac, and Tatiana, hosted by Madison Paige, Hudson Terrace, 621 West 46th St., $30-$60, 4:00 - 10:00 pm

MOONLIGHT & MOVIES: BRONX GOTHIC

(photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

Okwui Okpokwasili takes viewers behind the scenes of her one-woman show in Bronx Gothic (photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

SMILE, IT’S YOUR CLOSE-UP — NEW YORK’S DOCUMENTARIES: BRONX GOTHIC (Andrew Rossi, 2017)
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.
Tuesday, June 19, $10 (includes museum admission), 8:00
212-534-1672
www.mcny.org/bronxgothic
www.maysles.org
grasshopperfilm.com

“Okwui’s job is to scare people, just to scare them to get them to kind of wake up,” dancer, choreographer, and conceptualist Ralph Lemon says of his frequent collaborator and protégée Okwui Okpokwasili in the powerful documentary Bronx Gothic, which is being shown on the terrace of the Museum of the City of New York on June 19, kicking off the uptown institution’s “Moonlight & Movies” outdoor program, part of the second annual “Smile, It’s Your Close Up: New York’s Documentaries” series, a joint venture with the Maysles Documentary Center. Directed by Okpokwasili’s longtime friend Andrew Rossi, who will introduce the screening, the film follows Okpokwasili during the last three months of her tour for her semiautobiographical one-woman show, Bronx Gothic, a fierce, confrontational, yet heart-wrenching production that hits audiences right in the gut. Rossi cuts between scenes from the show — he attached an extra microphone to Okpokwasili’s body to create a stronger, more immediate effect on film — to Parkchester native Okpokwasili giving backstage insight, visiting her Nigerian-born, Bronx-based parents, and spending time with her husband, Peter Born, who directed and designed the show, and their young daughter, Umechi. The performance itself begins with Okpokwasili already moving at the rear of the stage, shaking and vibrating relentlessly, facing away from people as they filter in and take their seats.

She continues those unnerving movements for nearly a half hour (onstage but not in the film) before finally turning around and approaching a mic stand, where she portrays a pair of eleven-year-old girls exchanging deeply personal notes, talking about dreams, sexuality, violence, and abuse as they seek their own identity. “Bronx Gothic is about two girls sharing secrets. . . . It is about the adolescent body going into a new body, inhabiting the body of a brown girl in a world that privileges whiteness,” Okpokwasili, whose other works include Poor People’s TV Room and the Bessie-winning Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance, explains in the film. National Medal of Arts recipient Lemon adds, “It’s about racism, gender politics — it’s not just about these two little black girls in the Bronx.” Rossi includes clips of Okpokwasili performing at MoMA in Lemon’s “On Line” in 2011, developing Bronx Gothic at residencies at Baryshnikov Arts Center and New York Live Arts, and participating in talkbacks at Alverno College in Milwaukee and the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, where the tour concluded, right next to her childhood church, which brings memories surging back to her.

(photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

Okwui Okpokwasili nuzzles her daughter, Umechi, in poignant and timely documentary (photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

Rossi is keenly aware of the potentially controversial territory he has entered. “As a white man, I was conscious of the complexity and implications of embarking on a project that revolves around the experience of African American females,” he points out in his director’s statement. “But fundamentally, I believe in an artist’s creative ability to explore topics that are foreign to the artist’s own background. I think this takes on even more resonance when the work itself has an explicit objective to ‘grow our empathic capacity,’ as Okwui says of Bronx Gothic, [seeking] an audience that is composed of ‘black women, black men, Asian women, Asian men, white women, white men, Latina women, Latina men. . . .’” Cinematographers Bryan Sarkinen and Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times, The First Monday in May) can’t get enough of Okpokwasili’s mesmerizing face, which commands attention, whether she’s smiling, singing, or crying, as well as her body, which is drenched with sweat in the show. “We have been acculturated to watching brown bodies in pain. I’m asking you to see the brown body. I’m going to be falling, hitting a hardwood floor, and hopefully there is a flood of feeling for a brown body in pain,” Okpokwasili says. Meanwhile, shots of the audience reveal some individuals aghast, some hypnotized, and others looking away.

Editor Andrew Coffman and coeditors Thomas Rivera Montes and Rossi shift from Okpokwasili performing to just being herself, but the film has occasional bumpy transitions; also, Okpokwasili, who wrote the show when she was pregnant, does the vast majority of the talking, echoing her one-woman show but also at times bordering on becoming self-indulgent. (Okpokwasili produced the film with Rossi, while Born serves as one of the executive producers.) But the documentary is a fine introduction to this unique and fearless creative force and a fascinating examination of the development of a timely, brave work. “Smile, It’s Your Close Up: New York’s Documentaries” concludes July 11 with “Under the Influence of the Maysles Brothers,” consisting of several shorts introduced by Sean Price Williams; “Moonlight & Movies” continues August 2 with The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948), introduced by James Sanders and screened in conjunction with the exhibition “Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs.” Also on view at the museum are “Elegance in the Sky,” “Beyond Suffrage,” “Art in the Open,” and “New York at Its Core.”

RUBIN MUSEUM BLOCK PARTY: WE MAKE THE FUTURE

Participants can build a future city at Rubin Museum block party

Participants can build a future city at Rubin Museum block party

Rubin Museum of Art
West 17th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Sunday, June 17, free (including free museum admission all day), 1:00 - 4:00
rubinmuseum.org

We always look forward to the annual Rubin Museum block party, and this year the Rubin is looking forward as well, into the future. The festivities take place on Father’s Day, June 17, from 1:00 to 4:00, with the theme “We Make the Future,” inspired by the Rubin’s yearlong exploration of what lies ahead: “By examining various perspectives — from an eighth-century Buddhist master to Einstein to contemporary artists — we invite you to consider a future that isn’t fixed but fluid,” the institution explains. The party will feature live performances by Falu’s Bazaar and Ajna Dance, a Cham dance and sand mandala by Palyul Monks, and a circle dance by elders from India Home. Visitors can participate in such activities as the “Healing Garden” indoor plant trailer, “Build a Future City,” “Social Timeline,” and “Drone Demo.” Among the organizations with booths are Adhikaar Grassroots Movement in Nepal, India Home, and Yinda Yin Coaching, with food available from Café Serai Outpost, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck, Brooklyn Popcorn Truck, and Wafels & Dinges. In addition, the museum is open for free all day long, so you can check out “Masterworks of Himalayan Art,” the three-part “A Lost Future: Shezad Dawood/the Otolith Group/Matti Braun,” “A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful,” “The Second Buddha,” “Chitra Ganesh,” “Sacred Spaces: The Road to . . . and the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room,” and “Gateway to Himalayan Art.”

RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL 2018

(photo by Victoria Sendra)

Catherine Galasso’s Of Granite and Glass at Winter Garden is part of LMCC River to River Festival (photo by Victoria Sendra)

Multiple downtown locations
June 15-24, free (some events require advance RSVP)
lmcc.net

The seventeenth annual River to River Festival gets under way today, kicking off ten days of free multidisciplinary programs in downtown Manhattan, sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. R2R specializes in presenting hard-to-categorize works in unusual locations, and this year is no different. “The River to River Festival transforms the landscape of Lower Manhattan and works with artists and communities to explore lesser known pasts, presents, and futures of our neighborhoods,” curator Danielle King said in a statement. Among the highlights are silent :: partner, a dance piece about memory and exclusion by enrico d. wey in Federal Hall; MasterVoices’ Naamah’s Ark, an oratorio in Rockefeller Park about Noah’s Ark, preceded by a family-friendly art workshop; Cori Olinghouse’s Grandma, about which Olinghouse says, “While looping through the practice of hoarding, discarding, coveting, and display, I excavate a particular formation of white southern middle classness that is built up in my memories”; and the LES Citizens Parade, consisting of a processional and performances by senior citizens in Seward Park. Below is the full schedule.

Friday, June 15
through
Sunday, June 17

Catherine Galasso: Of Granite and Glass, part of Of Iron and Diamonds, based on Boccaccio’s Decameron, with performers Doug LeCours, Jordan D. Lloyd, Ambika Raina, and Mei Yamanaka and music by Dave Cerf, Winter Garden, Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey St. 6/15-16 at 7:00, 6/17 at 6:00

enrico d. wey: silent :: partner, Federal Hall, advance RSVP required, 8:00

Friday, June 15
through
Sunday, June 24

Elia Alba: The Supper Club, art installation, NYC DOT Art Display Cases on Water St. between Wall St. & Maiden Ln. and Gouverneur Ln. between Water & Front Sts.

Friday, June 16
and
Saturday, June 17

Cori Olinghouse: Grandma, performance installation created and directed by Cori Olinghouse, performed by Martita Abril and Cori Olinghouse, with visual design by Dean Moss and Cori Olinghouse, LMCC Studios at 125 Maiden Ln., 6/16 at 1:00 & 5:00, 6/17 at 1:00

Sunday, June 17
MasterVoices: Naamah’s Ark, oratorio composed by Marisa Michelson, with libretto by Royce Vavrek, performed by MasterVoices with Victoria Clark as Naamah and Sachal Vasandani as Merman, conducted by Ted Sperling, Rockefeller Park, 7:00 (preceded by art workshop 1:00 - 5:00)

(photo by Chloé Mossessian for FIAF)

It’s Showtime NYC! will make a statement on the steps of Federal Hall for R2R Festival (photo by Chloé Mossessian for FIAF)

Monday, June 18
through
Friday, June 22

It’s Showtime NYC!, site-responsive intervention by street dance company, directed by choreographer Marguerite Hemmings, steps of Federal Hall at Broad & Wall Sts. across from New York Stock Exchange, 4:00

Tuesday, June 19
Night at the Museums, free entry to African Burial Ground National Monument, China Institute, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, National Archives at New York City, National Museum of the American Indian — Smithsonian Institution, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, 9/11 Tribute Museum, NYC Municipal Archives, Poets House, the Skyscraper Museum, South Street Seaport Museum, and more, 4:00 - 8:00

Thursday, June 21
Tribeca Art + Culture Night, with fine art galleries, art nonprofits, artists studios & residencies, university galleries, design galleries, museums, creative & crafts spaces, and public parks open late, some with special performances and talks, 6:00 - 9:00

Performance parade will feature senior citizens along the waterfront (photo courtesy of Laura Nova)

Performance parade will feature senior citizens along the waterfront (photo courtesy of Laura Nova)

Friday, June 22, 5:30
and
Sunday, June 24, 4:00

Naomi Goldberg Haas & Laura Nova: LES Citizens Parade, activist processional and performances by senior citizens cocreated by choreographer and Dances for a Variable Population artistic director Naomi Goldberg Haas and visual artist Laura Nova, Seward Park

Saturday, June 23
Engaging LES: Daytime Movement Workshops, movement-based activities including cardio, dance & sweat, Latin, jazz, hip-hop, lindy hop, jazz funk at 10:30 am, Tai Chi workshop at noon, boxing/self-defense at 1:30, and Movement for Life workshop at 3:00, East River Esplanade at Rutgers Slip under the FDR Dr.

FIVE SEASONS: THE GARDENS OF PIET OUDOLF

(photo by Adam Woodruff)

Landscape designer Piet Oudolf and filmmaker Thomas Piper visit lush gardens around the world in gorgeous documentary (photo by Adam Woodruff)

FIVE SEASONS: THE GARDENS OF PIET OUDOLF (Thomas Piper, 2017)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Opens Wednesday, June 13
212-924-7771
www.ifccenter.com
fiveseasonsmovie.com

Thomas Piper’s Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf is a beautifully composed documentary that unfolds much as flowers and plants grow, evolving over fall, winter, spring, summer, and then fall again. In 2014-15, Piper followed innovative Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf as he visited gardens around the world and developed a brand-new one, Durslade Farm, for the Hauser & Wirth Somerset gallery in Bruton, England, which will ultimately be home to fifty-seven thousand plants. For more than thirty years, Oudolf has taken a unique, radical approach to gardens, as demonstrated in the 1999 book Dreamplants: A New Generation of Garden Plants, which he cowrote with garden designer and writer Henk Gerritsen. “I wanted to go away from traditional planting, [using] plants that were not seen in gardens but were very good garden plants. The more difficult thing was to learn what plants do,” Oudolf tells Hermannshof Garden director Cassian Schmidt in the film. “Your work teaches people to see things they were unable to see,” designer and photographer Rick Darke says to Oudolf as they walk through White Clay Creek Preserve in Landenberg, Pennsylvania. In designing his gardens, Oudolf first creates a multicolored blueprint that is a work of art in itself, like abstract drawings and paintings. He combines plants that would never be together in the wild. “It may look wild, but it shouldn’t be wild. This is what you’d like to see in nature,” he explains in his home base, the lovely Oudolf Garden in Hummelo, where he’s lived with his wife, Anja and their children since 1982. For him, it’s not just about color or size but about character. “I put plants onstage and I let them perform,” he says.

Serpentine

Piet Oudolf’s preparatory drawings and paintings are works of art unto themselves, including this rendering for a garden at the Serpentine Gallery pavilion

Piper, who has previously directed, edited, and/or photographed films about artists Eric Fischl, Sol LeWitt, and Milton Glaser, author James Salter, and architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, includes lengthy, poetic shots of many of Oudolf’s creations as they change over the seasons, accompanied by piano and guitar interludes composed and performed by Charles Gansa and Davíð Þór Jónsson. Among the people the soft-spoken Oudolf meets with to talk shop are High Line horticulture director Tom Smarr, Northwind Perennial Farm designer and nurseryman Roy Diblik, Lurie Garden horticulture director Jennifer Davit, High Line lead designer James Corner, and Hauser & Wirth presidents Iwan and Manuela Wirth. Oudolf gets ideas for “landscapes that you would dream of but will never find in the wild” everywhere he goes; while driving along the Willow City Loop in Texas, he continually stops by the side of the road to take pictures of the spectacularly colored meridian.

Oudolf envisions his gardens as communities, consisting of native and nonnative species, just like communities of people welcoming immigrants. Although he doesn’t consider his work political, he does understand that the natural environment is under siege by climate change and other factors. Serpentine Gallery artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist explains, “If you look at the incredible multiplicity of plants Piet Oudolf has been using in his gardens, it’s not only a celebration of the beauty of plants but it is also the sheer diversity of plant species, and I think that is a wonderful statement to protest against this notion of extinctions.” Oudolf also sees the annual evolution of gardens as representative of the birth, life, and death process of humans, with one major difference. “It’s like what we do in our whole life span happens here in one year, and I think that works on your soul,” he philosophizes. “I won’t come back, but they will.” Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf opens at IFC Center on June 13, with Piper and Oudolf participating in Q&As at the 5:30, 7:00, and 7:30 shows that day; the 5:30 screening will be introduced by High Line horticulture director Andi Pettis.