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


The Braata Folk Singers will help celebrate Caribbean Heritage at Brooklyn Museum on August 1 (photo © copyright Braata Productions)

The Braata Folk Singers will help celebrate Caribbean Heritage at Brooklyn Museum on August 1 (photo © copyright Braata Productions)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, August 1, free, 5:00 - 11:00

After taking last month off because of the July 4 holiday, the Brooklyn Museum’s free First Saturday program is back August 1 with a celebration of Caribbean Heritage in preparation for the annual New York Caribbean Carnival Parade on Labor Day. There will be live performances by BombaYo, the Braata Folk Singers, Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca, and Klash City Sound System and Supa Frendz; a printmaking workshop; a pop-up carnival with poet Arielle John; a book club talk with Naomi Jackson about her new novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill; and screenings of Black Radical Imagination shorts, clips from Taboo Yardies hosted by director Selena Blake, Jonathan David Kane’s Papa Machete, followed by a Q&A with Kane, and Cecile Emeke’s webseries Ackee & Saltfish, followed by a talkback with Emeke. In addition, you can check out such exhibitions as “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” “The Rise of Sneaker Culture,” “Kara Walker: ‘African Boy Attendant Curio (Bananas),’” “KAWS: ALONG THE WAY,” “Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence,” and “FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds.”


The life of Geoffrey Holder will be celebrated at special free program at Lincoln Center

CARMEN & GEOFFREY (Linda Atkinson & Nick Doob, 2006)
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Amsterdam & Columbus Aves.
Saturday, August 1, free, 1:00

Carmen & Geoffrey is an endearing look at Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder’s lifelong love affair with dance — and each other. The New Orleans-born de Lavallade studied with Lester Horton and went to high school with Alvin Ailey, whom she brought to his first dance class. Best known as a pitchman for 7UP (the “uncola”) and playing the intriguing Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die, Trinidadian Holder was a larger-than-life gentle giant who was a dancer, choreographer, composer, costume designer, actor, stage director, writer, photographer, painter, and just about anything else he wanted to be. The two met when they both were cast in Truman Capote and Harold Arlen’s Broadway show House of Flowers in 1954, with Holder instantly falling in love with de Lavallade; they remained together until Holder’s death this past October at the age of eighty-four. Directors Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob combine amazing archival footage — of Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker, Ulysses Dove, de Lavallade dancing with Ailey, and other splendid moments — with contemporary rehearsal scenes, dance performances, and interviews with such stalwarts as dance critic Jennifer Dunning, former Alvin Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison, and choreographer Joe Layton (watch out for his eyebrows), along with family members and Gus Solomons jr, who still works with de Lavallade, and Dudley Williams, who just died last month. The film was made on an extremely low budget, and it shows, but it is filled with such glorious footage that you’ll get over that quickly. Carmen & Geoffrey, along with additional rare archival footage, is screening August 1 as part of the free Lincoln Center Out of Doors program “A Celebration of the Life of Geoffrey Holder” and will be preceded by the panel discussion “The Life and Work of Geoffrey Holder” with Doob and Atkinson, moderated by Leo Holder, Geoffrey and de Lavallade’s son. Fans should also check out the new exhibition “The Genius of Geoffrey Holder,” on view through August 29 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


ZIGGY STARDUST concert film will have a special free screening in Morningside Park on July 27, along with a look-a-like contest

ZIGGY STARDUST concert film will have a special free screening in Morningside Park on July 27, along with a look-a-like contest

Who: D. A. Pennebaker, David Bowie fans and wannabes
What: Outdoor screening of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (D. A. Pennebaker, 1973), introduced by the director, preceded by Night of 1000 Bowies’ Dance Party and Look-a-Like Contest with DJ Cosmo Baker
When: Monday, July 27, free, 6:30
Where: Morningside Park, 113th St. & Morningside Dr.
Why: A few weeks ago, a young woman we work with had no idea who Ziggy Stardust was. Well, she’ll know all about the David Bowie alter ego if she attends what should be a wild night July 27 in Morningside Park, which begins with a dance party and Bowie look-alike contest, followed by a screening of Pennebaker’s 1973 film, with Pennebaker on hand to talk about the work, which documented the July 3, 1973, performance of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Bowie’s record, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, came during a particularly fruitful period, right in between Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane. The soundtrack features such Bowie greats as “Moonage Daydream,” “Space Oddity,” “Cracked Actor,” “Changes,” “Suffragette City,” and “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide” as well as the Bowie-penned Mott the Hoople hit “All the Young Dudes” and covers of the Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat.” The evening is presented by Maysles Cinema and Reel Harlem: The Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival.


(photo by Stan Barouh)

Carpeta (David Barlow) and Galactia (Jan Maxwell) battle over love and art in Howard Barker revival (photo by Stan Barouh)

Potomac Theatre Project
Atlantic Stage 2
330 West 16th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Through August 9, $35

If Jan Maxwell is indeed retiring from the stage, as she recently told Timeout, she has chosen quite an exit. The five-time Tony nominee is revisiting her widely acclaimed role as Venetian painter Galactia in the Potomac Theatre Project’s revival of Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution, which the company first performed at the same venue, Atlantic Stage 2, in 2008, earning Maxwell a Drama Desk nomination. Maxwell gives a swirling, emotional whirlwind of a performance as Galactia, a stubborn, nasty, extremely candid, deeply sensual, and, in her own way, highly virtuous painter (inspired by Artemisia Gentileschi) who has been commissioned by the doge of Venice, Urgentino (Alex Draper), and Cardinal Ostensible (Steven Dykes) to paint a major mural glorifying the city’s victory in the Battle of Lepanto. She uses people to achieve her lofty artistic goals, whether it’s a war veteran with a crossbow bolt stuck in his head (Dykes again) or her lover, married religious painter Carpeta (David Barlow). She does not want to be treated differently because of her gender; “Try not to think of me as a woman,” she says early on. “Think of me as a painter.” Although the doge sees this as a chance for Galactia to gain wealth and fame — “You have not been asked to paint the back wall of the vicarage,” he tells her. “I am saying that a canvas which is one hundred feet long is not a painting, it is a public event” — but she is determined to show the true cost of war, the violence, the brutality, the death. However, Carpeta argues that there is something that will always be lacking in her work. “I don’t think you have pity, so you can’t paint it,” he says to her. “Ah. Now you’re being spiteful,” she responds to her lover, who replies, “No. You are violent, so you can paint violence. You are furious, so you can paint fury. And contempt, you can paint that. Oh, yes, you can paint contempt. But you aren’t great enough for pity.” Galactia rejects that idea, saying, “Pity’s got nothing to do with greatness. It’s surrender, the surrender of passion, or the passion of surrender. It is capitulating to what is.” As she continues the mural, refusing to listen to the doge, who wants his brother, Admiral Suffici (Bill Army), to be portrayed more heroically, she is threatened with severe retribution, which she welcomes with open arms.

(photo by Stan Barouh)

Jan Maxwell states her case in farewell performance (photo by Stan Barouh)

Originally written as a radio play for the BBC in 1984 starring Glenda Jackson as Galactia (Jackson and Fiona Shaw have also played the role onstage), Scenes from an Execution is a powerful story of identity and control told as a fight between an artist and the ruling elite over history and legacy. Maxwell immerses herself so much into the role that it feels like magic; when Galactia defends her right as a woman to do anything and say anything that a man can, and to create art without being judged because of her gender, it’s as if Maxwell is making one last stand for her own career, which will turn to film and television once the show closes on August 9. She huffs around Hallie Zieselman’s spare set, which features scaffolding in the back, ranting about her age, her body, and her looks, but Maxwell infuses Galactia with a youthful beauty and energy that is as intoxicating as it is mesmerizing, no matter how self-deprecating it becomes. Barker, whose Judith is running in repertory with Scenes, manages to avoid clichés and never devolves into self-congratulatory pedantic speechifying, even getting away with such character names as Urgentino, Suffici, Sordo, Lasagna, and Ostensible as well as Supporta and Dementia, Galactia’s daughters (played by Lana Meyer and Melissa MacDonald, respectively). Director Richard Romagnoli occasionally freeze-frames the action, as if the audience is suddenly looking at a painting; however, whenever Galactia or Carpeta are hard at work, sketching or painting, they are only mimicking, pretending to move their brushes over a nonexistent canvas or draw on a sheet of paper that remains blank. “Look, her sketchbook on the floor, hot with smudges and corrections,” Urgentino says to art critic Gina Rivera (Pamela J. Gray), pointing at an empty page. “Look! Touch it!” But there’s nothing to touch. Painting, like theater, is to be experienced with different senses, requiring something else from the viewer. “I believe in observation, but to observation you must lend imagination,” Galactia says. Imagination plays a central role in Scenes from an Execution, which also deserves nods for Mark Evancho’s lighting and Cormac Bluestone’s lighting. It’s quite a grand farewell for Maxwell; without trying to be clichéd or pedantic, it will be difficult to imagine New York theater without her.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Avatar Adam offers insight into the reconstruction of Tullio Lombardo’s Renaissance Adam in interactive performance installation at the Met (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Venetian Sculpture of the Renaissance (Gallery 504)
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
Daily through August 2, free with recommended admission $12-$25
the return slideshow

A museum disaster, a literal “fall of Adam,” has led to one of the Met’s most intriguing new pieces and a surprising venture into both digital and performance art. In October 2002, Tullio Lombardo’s late-fifteenth-century marble statue of Adam collapsed to the ground and shattered into more than two hundred fragments, its pedestal giving way to its half-ton weight. In reconstructing what Met assistant curator calls “the most important sculpture from Renaissance Venice to be found outside that city today,” the museum employed digital technology that new media artist Reid Farrington has transformed into an educational and very entertaining interactive two-part installation. Farrington has previously used multiple screens and live performers in such presentations as Tyson vs. Ali (a fictional bout between the two champions), The Passion Project (reimagining Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film, The Passion of Joan of Arc), and Gin & “It” (a complex behind-the-scenes staging of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope). Now he brings the restoration of “Adam” back to life with the interactive performance installation “The Return.” In the specially designed Gallery 504, “Adam,” which was commissioned for the tomb of Venice doge Andrea Vendramin, stands atop a new base, an apple in his left hand, his right hand clutching a bare branch of the Tree of Knowledge. Also in the room is a large-scale two-sided monitor that is like a supersized iPhone in which an animated Biblical Adam and a digital avatar of the sculpture discuss free will, determinism, God, compression and shearing, and other lofty subjects with an actor-docent (Cara Francis, Catherine Gowl, or Stephanie Regina), who navigates the performance by focusing on the museum’s groundbreaking reconstruction of the sculpture in brief, ever-changing explanations of specific parts of the sculpture, including the elbow, the torso, and the upper tree trunk. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the digital performer and the docent, so every performance is slightly different.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Biblical Adam examines his marble representation in Reid Farrington’s innovative “The Return” (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Adams are sometimes wandering a van Gogh-like field and at other times immersed in a digital realm inhabited by falling 0s and 1s. The movement of the Adams is performed by an actor (Roger Casey, Jack Frederick, or Gavin Price) in a motion-capture suit in the nearby Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, where everyone is invited to watch him in action, surrounded by numerous monitors, including one showing what is being seen on the screen in the gallery, controlled by a pair of technicians. The Adams and the docent also delve into the nature of sin and the meaning behind the fig leaf while relating Adam’s physical fall from its podium to his metaphorical fall from grace in the Bible and comparing God’s creation to that of the artist. (The script was written by Farrington’s wife, playwright Sara Farrington.) Make sure to check out both sides of the monitor, which reveal the two Adams’ front and back. “The Return” is a fascinating way to explore a work of art; in this case, it came about because of an accident, but it could very well be the next wave of how we look at and think about art. An appendage to the recent exhibit “Tullio Lombardo’s Adam: A Masterpiece Restored,” which closed on June 14, the performance, which playfully evokes the 1982 sci-fi classic Tron, takes place daily from 12:45 to 2:15, as well as from 4:30 to 6:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free; you can also follow all the fascinating action online via the Met’s live stream.



Néstor Almendros shot the beautiful LA COLLECTIONNEUSE, both his and director Eric Rohmer’s first feature film in color

Transmitter Park
2 Greenpoint Ave.
Friday, July 31, free, 8:30

“Razor blades are words,” art critic Alain Jouffroy tells painter Daniel Pommereulle (Daniel Pommereulle) in one of the prologues at the start of La Collectionneuse, the fourth film in French master Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales (falling between My Night at Maud’s and Claire’s Knee). Words might have the ability to cut, but they don’t seem to have much impact on the three people at the center of the film, which offers a sort of alternate take on François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim. Needing a break from his supposedly strenuous life, gallerist Adrien (Patrick Bauchau, who also appeared in La Carrière de Suzanne, Rohmer’s second morality tale) decides to vacation at the isolated St. Tropez summer home of the never-seen Rodolphe. Daniel is also at the house, along with Haydée (Haydée Politoff), a beautiful young woman who spends much of the film in a bikini and being taken out by a different guy nearly every night. Adrien decides that she is a “collector” of men, and the three needle one another as they discuss life and love, sex and morality, beauty and ugliness. Adrien might claim to want to have nothing to do with Haydée, but he keeps spending more and more time with her, even though he never stops criticizing her lifestyle. He even uses her as a pawn when trying to get an art collector named Sam (played by former New York Times film critic Eugene Archer under the pseudonym Seymour Hertzberg) to invest in his gallery. While everybody else in the film pretty much knows what they want, Adrien, who purports to understand life better than all of them, is a sad, lost soul, unable to get past his high-and-mighty attitude. Rohmer crafted the roles of Daniel and Haydée specifically for Pommereulle and Politoff, who improvised much of their dialogue; Bauchau opted not to take that route, making for a fascinating relationship among the three very different people. La Collectionneuse is beautifully shot in 35mm by Néstor Almendros, the bright colors of the characters’ clothing mixing splendidly with the countryside and ocean while offering a striking visual counterpoint to the constant ennui dripping off the screen. His camera especially loves Politoff, regularly exploring her body inch by inch. The film is both Rohmer’s and Almendros’s first color feature; Almendros would go on to make more films with the director, as well as with Truffaut, even after coming to Hollywood and shooting such films as Days of Heaven, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Sophie’s Choice. Winner of a Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize at the 1967 Berlinale, La Collectionneuse is screening July 31 in Transmitter Park as part of the annual Films on the Green series, which concludes September 10 with Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux’s The Rabbi’s Cat at Columbia University’s Low Library.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

You can relax with a wide range of poetry at fifth annual festival on Governors Island (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Governors Island
Colonels Row
July 25-26, free (donation suggested), 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
new york city poetry festival slideshow

The fifth annual New York City Poetry Festival, which continues Sunday on Governors Island, honors Gotham’s literary heritage with three stages named after a trio of iconic landmarks, the Algonquin, the White Horse, and Chumley’s. Poets from dozens of publishing houses, university presses, and nonprofit organizations read their works, in addition to the open mic Ring of Daisies and other places where poetry just pops up. There are lots of booths, a food truck, and a beer garden that declares that “the psychiatrist is in.” Walking across the big field, you can listen as one poem from one location morphs into one from another and then one from another in a kind of audio rainbow of words and expression. You can make visible poetry with Rachel Ossip’s interactive “to touch” installation, add your own epitaph to Christine Stoddard’s “Word Graveyard,” get a word as part of Maya Stein and Amy Tingle’s Tandem Poetry Project, and hang out with Karl C. Leone’s “Dionysia: A Bacchic Ode” (featuring art by Alexis Myre, music by Larkin Grimm, and live performances by Daniel Benhamu, Aron Canter, Nettie Chickering, Jochem le Cointre, Eli Condon, Mateo d’Amato, Hailey Kemp, Rafeh Mahmud, Siever O’Connor-Aoki, Olivia Porter, Vanessa Rose, and Michelle Rosen). Be sure to also check out building 407b for the Children’s Poetry Festival, Amy Bassin and Mark Blickley’s “Dream Streams,” the analog participatory “Typewriter Project: The Subconscious of the City,” and the Poetry Brothel, where you can get an extremely private one-on-one reading for a small fee. As an added bonus, stop by LMCC’s “(Counter) Public Art, Intervention & Performance in Lower Manhattan from 1978-1993” exhibition at the Arts Center at Governors Island to see video of John Kelly’s Love of a Poet piece from 1990.