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

RENDEZ-VOUS LIVE: CONVERSATION WITH FRÉDÉRIC FEKKAI

Fekkai

Frédéric Fekkai will share beauty tips with Melissa Ceria at FIAF virtual event

Who: Frédéric Fekkai, Melissa Ceria
What: June edition of Rendez-Vous LIVE
Where: FIAF Facebook and Zoom
When: Tuesday, June 2, free with RSVP, 5:00
Why: One of the biggest issues of the pandemic has been beauty care; when will men, women, and children be allowed to go back to hair and nail salons? Being bald, it’s not one of my main concerns, but I have seen many people sharing on social media the state of their roots, the length of their hair, their thickening eyebrows, and their deep-seated need for a mani-pedi. FIAF’s Rendez-Vous LIVE series is here to help. On June 2 at 5:00, French celebrity hairstylist and beauty entrepreneur Frédéric Fekkai will speak with journalist and communications agency Studio Ceria founder Melissa Ceria, discussing how the Provence-born Fekkai revolutionized the salon experience here in New York City and offering self-care tips to use while sheltering in place so you can look your best for that Zoom meeting with your old high school friends. The talk will be followed by an audience Q&A. Up next for FIAF is Love, Sex & Confinement: Conversation with Maïa Mazaurette on June 4, where you can learn how to put those beauty secrets to good use.

PROJECT PRIDE: VIRTUAL CONCERT AND TIME CAPSULE

project pride

Who: Ari Shapiro, Alex the Astronaut, Big Freedia, Bright Light Bright Light, Cameron Esposito, Courtney Barnett, Claud, Dorian Electra, Girl in Red, Jake Shears, Joy Oladokun, Kat Cunning, Madame Gandhi, mxmtoon, Nakhane, Pabllo Vittar, Pet Shop Boys, Roxane Gay, Indigo Girls, SOKO, Tig Notaro & Stephanie Allynne, Tunde Olaniran, Rufus Wainwright, VINCINT, more
What: Virtual Pride celebration
Where: Smithsonian Pride Alliance YouTube page
When: Sunday, May 31, free with advance RSVP, 8:00
Why: June is Pride Month, and the festivities honoring the LGBTQIA+ community, especially here in New York City, have grown exponentially, particularly over the last few years with the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall and, in 2020, the fiftieth anniversary of the parade itself. Among the parties that will not be held during the pandemic are the Pride Luminaries Brunch, the Rooftop Party, the March, Teaze, Pride Island, and PrideFest, although NYC Pride is planning such virtual gatherings as the Criminal Queerness Festival June 9-29, Savor Pride, a Garden Party on June 22, the Human Rights Conference on June 25, the Rally on June 26, Pride 2020 Dragfest June 19-21, a Runstreet Virtual Pride 5K Art Run June 20-28, and more. Everything kicks off May 31 at 8:00 with the Smithsonian Pride Alliance’s “Project Pride,” a free, livestreamed concert and time capsule, a collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and others. Hosted by NPR’s Ari Shapiro, the event will feature appearances by Courtney Barnett, Jake Shears, Pet Shop Boys, Roxane Gay, Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainwright, Tig Notaro & Stephanie Allynne, and many more, accompanied by art and historical artifacts from the Smithsonian collections.

URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN (with live Q&A)

Von Rydingsvard in her Williamsburg studio on South 5th Street, surrounded by the cedar cast of katul katul, 2002.

The life and career of Ursula Von Rydingsvard are detailed in intimate documentary

URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN (Daniel Traub, 2019)
Opens virtually May 29, $15
Live YouTube Q&A May 31, free, 5:00
filmforum.org
intoherownfilm.com

I have spent many an hour experiencing the unique work of sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard, walking around her dazzling large-scale wood sculptures at Galerie Lelong and art fairs, outside the Barclays Center, and in Madison Square Park. But it wasn’t until watching Daniel Traub’s hourlong documentary, Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own — which opens virtually May 29 on Film Forum’s website — that I have come to understand and appreciate her work that much more.

“She is using her own experiences to think about how abstract forms can be evocative and representative of what the human condition is,” arts writer Patricia C. Phillips says in the film. “It’s indisputable that there’s something about Ursula’s process that makes the work incredibly distinctive. And just continuing to pursue that with more and more depth and persistence over the years, it reveals some answers but always this feeling that there is also something being withheld.”

Von Rydingsvard was born in Germany in 1942 to a Polish mother and a severely abusive Ukrainian father; the large family lived in a displaced persons camp after the war, mired in poverty, struggling to survive in makeshift homes where everything was made from wood. “It was just the board between me and the outside world, and I recall my body being right next to the wall, and I could smell, I could feel,” von Rydingsvard remembers about the camp. “And there was a huge difference between what happened within this wooden structure and what happened outside of it, so that there was a kind of safety the wood gave me.”

The family immigrated to a blue-collar town in Connecticut in 1951, where she learned little about art and suffered severe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her father. She married, moved to California, and had a daughter, Ursie, but left her abusive husband with help from her brother Staś Karoliszyn and moved to SoHo in 1975, determined to become an artist. “Going to New York City woke me up in a way that was jarring and marvelous,” she says. She eventually adopted a labor-intensive process of marking, cutting, and stacking cedar two-by-fours into masterful sculptures with a dedicated team of holders, runners, cutters, and fabricators, forming their own family; they even eat lunch together every day. Traub, who directed, produced, and photographed the film, speaks with such studio personnel as Ted Springer, Vivian Chiu, Morgan Daly, and Sean Weeks-Earp while showing the detailed, grueling yet clearly satisfying work they perform.

Von Rydingsvard drawing cut lines on a 4x4" cedar beam, 2016.

Ursula Von Rydingsvard has built her career primarily working with cedar via a laborious process

“Her process is almost medieval,” says Mary Sabbatino, owner of Galerie Lelong, von Rydingsvard’s longtime New York gallery. Traub traces von Rydingsvard’s career from St. Martin’s Dream in Battery Park and Song of a Saint (St. Eulalia) in Buffalo, both from 1980, through a recent Princeton University outdoor commission for which she would be using copper for the first time. She had seen Traub’s short film Xu Bing: Phoenix and so invited Traub to document her 2015 Venice Bienale installation, Giardino Della Marinaressa. That became a short film, and they then decided to collaborate again, documenting the making of the Princeton commission, which led to Into Her Own.

Such friends and colleagues as artists Elka Krajewska, Sarah Sze, and Judy Pfaff, patrons Agnes Gund and Lore Harp McGovern, and Whitney Museum director Adam Weinberg dig deep into von Rydingsvard’s almost proprietary use of materials, her distinction as a rare woman artist creating monumental sculpture, and the concept of time in her oeuvre. Touch is also key, from the many assistants who handle the wood, bronze, and copper in the construction of the work to the people who approach and feel the final product, something she encourages. There’s a wonderful scene in which von Rydingsvard speaks with her beloved second husband, Nobel Prize winner Paul Greengard, discussing nature, beauty, and her Polish heritage. Her daughter tells stories of growing up surrounded by her mother’s process and art, and Von Rydingsvard and Karoliszyn share intimate, frightening details of their father’s abuse as she explains how she was able to turn that pain around to figure out who she was and what she wanted out of life. “I knew I needed to do my work to live,” she says.

I can’t wait until I get outside and see von Rydingsvard’s work again, in person, with this newfound knowledge and understanding of an extraordinary artist. In the meantime, I’ve already watched the documentary twice, inspired by her continuing story.

Traub, a New York-based photographer who codirected the 2014 film The Barefoot Artist (about his mother, artist, activist, and teacher Lily Yeh), and von Rydingsvard will take part in a free, live Q&A with moderator Molly Donovan of the National Gallery of Art on May 31 at 5:00, hosted by Film Forum.

THE [title of show] SHOW VINEYARD THEATRE VIRTUAL VARIETY SHOW SHOW

title of show

Who: Bill Irwin, Judy Kuhn, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Leslie Odom Jr., Nicolette Robinson, Steven Pasquale, Kelli O’Hara, Phillipa Soo, Zachary Quinto, Brooke Shields, John Kander, Courtney Balan, Laura Benanti, Jeff Blumenkrantz, the Lopez Family Singers (Lindsay Anderson, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Annie Lopez, Bobby Lopez, Katie Lopez), Rick Lyon, Bob Mackie, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joe Morton, David Cale, Victoria Clark, Billy Crudup, Micaela Diamond, Rachel Dratch, Barrett Foa, Ryan J. Haddad, Christopher J. Hanke, Benjamin Howes, Julia Murney, Alex Newell, Nathan Salstone, Douglas Sills, Ryan Spahn, Michael Urie, more
What: Virtual gala variety show
Where: Vineyard Theatre Zoom
When: Saturday, May 30, minimum $25 donation in advance, 8:00
Why: The centerpiece of the Vineyard Theatre’s Campaign for Right Now fundraising initiative is “the [title of show] show Vineyard Theatre Virtual Variety Show show,” the online replacement for the canceled April 20 gala. The party, taking place May 30 at 8:00, features a reunion of the cast and creators of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s Obie-winning musical [title of show], which opened at the Vineyard in February 2006, along with special guests. The online concert and variety show will be hosted by the original cast — Bell, Bowen, Susan Blackwell, and Heidi Blickenstaff — and will include appearances by Bob Mackie, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joe Morton, Bill Irwin, Judy Kuhn, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Benanti, Steven Pasquale, Kelli O’Hara, Billy Crudup, Phillipa Soo, Zachary Quinto, Brooke Shields, Douglas Sills, Rachel Dratch, Michael Urie, and more. In order to receive a link to the benefit, you must donate at least twenty-five dollars by May 30 at noon here. The proceeds go to the nonprofit Vineyard, helping to pay staff and artists during the lockdown.

BROADWAY ON DEMAND: A TOAST TO ALLEGIANCE

Sam Kimura (George Takei) remembers where it all went wrong with his sister (Lea Salonga) (photo by Matthew Murphy)

George Takei and others will discuss Allegiance in a virtual red carpet preceding streaming premiere (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Who: George Takei, Telly Leung, more
What: Online streaming of 2015 Broadway musical Allegiance
Where: Broadway on Demand
When: Friday, May 29, $14.99 with red carpet, $8.99 without, 7:30/8:00
Why: Beginning on May 29, Broadway on Demand will start streaming the 2015 Broadway musical Allegiance, about a Japanese American family that was forcefully removed from its homes and imprisoned in an internment camp. It was inspired by the real-life story of Star Trek veteran George Takei, who appeared in the show as the father. The presentation will stream for ten days, kicking off May 29 at 7:30 with a virtual red carpet featuring Takei, costar Telly Leung, and other members of the cast and creative team discussing the making of Allegiance. In my review, I wrote, “Takei, with his big, welcoming smile, riotous sense of humor, and fearlessness in standing up for what he believes in, is an inspiring American, and it is heartwarming watching him in such an important, if not completely successful, Broadway production, one that will very likely have you teary as you leave the theater.” Among the other events streaming at Broadway on Demand this month are Turn It Out with Tiler Peck, “The Producer’s Perspective with Lisa Kron,” “First Look: New Musicals with Jeanine Tesori, Kirsten Childs, and Ben Wexler,” Bandstand, “Bard & Brew,” and other live and prerecorded events, many of which are free with a basic subscription.

BROADWAY FANTASY CAMP: BROADWAY BANTER SAFE-AT-HOME

Jenn Colella (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Jenn Colella will Zoom in from home for Broadway Fantasy Camp (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Who: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, Corey Cott, more TBA
What: Broadway Fantasy Camp
Where: Broadway Fantasy Camp Zoom room
When: May 30 - July 1, $25
Why: Broadway Fantasy Camp usually takes place at Sardi’s, where fans can get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars. With the Great White Way dark because of the pandemic, one of the cornerstones of the annual event, now rechristened “Broadway Banter: Safe-at-Home,” has moved online, where you can spend an hour on Zoom with a Broadway star, joined by no more than forty-nine other guests. The performers will talk about their career, from their debut to onstage mishaps to how they are coping during the coronavirus crisis, followed by a Q&A, so have your questions ready. The sessions, which cost a mere $25 each, are scheduled for May 30 to July 1 and feature an impressive roster: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, and Corey Cott. For every twenty-five tickets sold, a free ticket will be donated to a hospital worker. “The Broadway community leads the way in being generous and sensitive to the human condition,” Broadway Fantasy Camp founder and producer Lauren Class Schneider said in a statement. “Broadway Fantasy Camp is humbled to include hospital workers in our audience as they continue to serve on the frontlines across the country and around the world.” Tony nominee Colella added, “I’m looking forward to creating a community through ‘Broadway Banter.’ It’s not just a Q&A session. . . . I want to hear my fans express in their own voices how they are feeling during this time and what they are doing to stay creative. I want us to create a dialogue together to lift one another up in this very strange time. The opportunity to ‘hang out’ with my fans and for them to get to know one another makes my heart soar.”

RESCHEDULED: THE PAUL FEIG Z”L TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT: A CONVERSATION WITH UNORTHODOX CREATOR ANNA WINGER

Unorthodox

Unorthodox cocreator and writer Anna Winger will discuss the show during JCC overnight Shavuot celebration

Who: Anna Winger, many more
What: Live Q&A with series creator of Unorthodox
Where: Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
When: Thursday, May 28, free (donations accepted) with advance RSVP, midnight (Shavuot celebration runs May 28 at 9:00 pm to May 29 at 5:00 am)
Why: One of the runaway television hits of the pandemic has been Netflix’s Unorthodox, about a young married Orthodox woman in Brooklyn who runs away to Berlin to escape the suffocating life she is trapped in. The four-part series has led to the breakout success of Israeli actress Shira Haas, who has a smaller but critically significant role in the earlier Israeli series Shtisel, which also involves Orthodox marriage. Unorthodox was inspired by Deborah Feldman’s memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots; while the Brooklyn segments of the show are based on the book, the Berlin sections are fictional. On May 28 at midnight, one of the writers and creators of the show, Anna Winger, who also wrote and created Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86, will participate in a live Q&A during the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Paul Feig z”l Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

The celebration usually occurs overnight at the JCC on Amsterdam and Seventy-Sixth St. but has gone virtual in 2020. Among the dozens of other events, all free, are “Koolulam in Conversation” with Rabbi Joy Levitt at 9:00 pm, “Studying Harry Potter as a Sacred Text” with Casper ter Kuile at 10:00, “Reimaging Life, Loss, and Love during Covid-19: Text, Ritual, and Story to Lift Our Spirit” with Jeannie Blaustein, Rabbi Dr. Jenny Solomon, and Rabbi Sydney Mintz at 11:00, “Idan Raichel: Stories and Songs” at 1:00 am, “Franz Rosenzweig on the Notion of Revelation” with Rabbi Michael Paley at 2:00, “The History of Israeli Fashion: From the Kibbutz to Tel Aviv” with Liraz Cohen Mordechai at 3:00, and “Noa: A Closing Concert for Shavuot” at 4:00.