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ART

'FRANKENSTEIN' Subtitled "(or, It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye)," this group show and its title come into sharp focus when you realize what Damien Hirst's spin painting, Angela Bulloch's drawing machine, Roxy Paine's extruded sculpture, Sam Kusack's mechanism slicing into a rotating rock, and Renee Coppola's exploded in-vitro globs have in common. These works and the others are not only machine-made or generated by unnatural processes of creation, but, like the actions recorded in photographs by Roman Signer, Erwin Wurm, and Rivane Neuenschwander, they all come into being in ways that escape from their creators' control. THROUGH AUGUST 22, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 521 West 21st Street, 212-414-4144. (Levin)

TODD KNOPKE It's the height of group-show season, but in his first solo this new artist shows off multiple talents in a group show of his own, which includes molecular paintings, an undersea light box, a few photographs, and an enormous felt patchwork quilt titled Come On! The mini-disco-ball closet, with a bookshelf door, nearly rivals Maurizio Cattelan's tiny elevator. The heart pierced by a starburst of arrows makes a connection between Tom Friedman and Chris Johanson. And Wolfman, a stark tree with white furry animals perched on its branches, is an interpretation of a dream described in one of Freud's first case studies. THROUGH AUGUST 9, I-20, 529 West 20th Street, 212-645-1100. (Levin)

She sits by the seashore: "By the Sea," a group show at Yossi Milo, includes Loretta Lux's haunting Paulin (see Photo).
photo: Loretta Lux/Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery
She sits by the seashore: "By the Sea," a group show at Yossi Milo, includes Loretta Lux's haunting Paulin (see Photo).

DANCE

REGGIE WILSON FIST & HEEL PERFORMANCE GROUP As much anthropologist as choreographer, Wilson assembles dancers, actors, and "shouters" (singers) to render works influenced by a search for the sources of black culture that has taken him to Trinidad, Tobago, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, as well as back to his family's roots in the Mississippi Delta. This free outdoor show also includes a performance by a Canadian ensemble, the Rubberbanddance Group, that promises a merging of hip-hop and ballet. FRIDAY AT 8:30, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Zimmer)

ZENDORA DANCE COMPANY If the word Zen is buried in your name, it's probably no accident that you make delicate, haiku-like dances, and it's a gift that you are going to perform them outdoors, in what resembles a Japanese garden. Three works by Nancy Zendora, with music by Brenda Hutchinson and Sang Won Park, will be danced by a company of five; one's a tribute to the lost objects in the Baghdad Museum; all render stones as symbols. MONDAY AND TUESDAY AT 8 AND AUGUST 6 AND 11 THROUGH 13, La Plaza Cultural, 9th Street and Avenue C, 212-431-5155. (Zimmer)

FILM

'THIRD INTERNATIONAL BLACK PANTHER FILM FESTIVAL' Should there be a hyphen between "Third International" and "Black Panther"? No matter—this old New Left series, alternating between City College and Columbia before winding up at the Studio Museum, features vintage '60s guerrilla newsreels, as well as such varied look-backs as The Weather Underground, Raoul Peck's Lumumba, and Spike Lee's A Huey P. Newton Story, as well as workshops and panels. THURSDAY THROUGH MONDAY, Aaron Davis Hall, 135th Street and Convent Avenue, 212-650-7100; Lerner Hall, 114th Street and Broadway, 212-662-0006. (Hoberman)

'BRIEF CROSSING' The poet laureate of teenage sex, Catherine Breillat revels in the hormone-addled tango of a shipboard romance between a French adolescent and an English woman in early middle age. This gemlike comedy of manners has had its own rough crossing, surfacing here earlier for one screening and going AWOL at the next. THURSDAY AT 4:30, 6:50, AND 9:10, BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-777-FILM. (Hoberman)

'DIRECTED BY DOROTHY ARZNER' The lone woman director of Hollywood's golden age, Arzner worked from the coming of sound into World War II, directing a number of strong female stars (among them the young Katharine Hepburn and the young Lucille Ball), and imbued even her potboilers with a sense of gender solidarity. Six of the films are newly restored, including Hepburn's 1933 vehicle Christopher Strong. OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH AUGUST 17, MOMA at the Gramercy, 127 East 23rd Street, 212-777-4900. (Hoberman).

MUSIC

CAFÉ TACUBA This Mexican alt-rock band kicked off rock en español's distinctly mestizo attitude with original compositions and Mexican themes in tunes like the snarling curses of "Pinche Juan" and "Jaguar Lips," an homage to Indio beauty. Unlike the violently romantic tales of border life told in polka-based norteños, Tacuba's lyrical and instrumental style evolved from a more sophisticated hodgepodge, and their own in-jokes deflect our tendency to trivialize their culture. TUESDAY AT 10, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Oumano)

EELS+MC HONKY The expanded Eels Orchestra arrangements are dearly missed, as is drummer Butch. But Mark Everett has accumulated a song catalog that few of his '90s peers rival (the latest single, "Saturday Morning," is a power-pop explosion waiting to happen), and MC Honky's opening DJ set revels in the fun Everett usually represses in favor of pathos, tunes, and a sincerity that's even mightier than his wit. THURSDAY AT 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800. (Walters)

ELY GUERRA Mexico's half-Brazilian queen of post-Tropicalista rock en español isn't really all that "rock," despite hearty Arto Lindsay-produced guitar parts. She's more art-song, in the Björk or Tori pretentious-poetry sense. But she's warmer than they'll ever be—Lotofire, indeed. Also tougher and sexier, with a way less stilted sense of rhythm. SATURDAY AT 3, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS; SUNDAY AT 9:30, Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212-239-6200. (Eddy)

BETTYE LAVETTE Lavette was one of the dozens of minor soul divas whose voice towered over her recorded legacy until this year, when she hooked up with long-departed Robert Cray cohort Dennis Walker. A roots obsessive with a gift for taking old tropes to the far reaches of emotional possibility, Walker got something like a classic album out of her. So now we get to see why roots obsessives rave about her live shows. FRIDAY AT 7:30, Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212-239-6200. (Christgau)

 

JOHN MELLENCAMP His "brave" new all-covers Trouble No More, despite tossing an obvious bone to ye olde O Brother grannies, is nonetheless the least tired-sounding album he's done since Lonesome Jubilee in 1987—and not just 'cause "Death Letter" and "John the Revelator" register as White Stripes numbers by now. For instance: "To Washington" updates Charlie Poole's "White House Blues" for Dubya's age, just like Coug's 2001 "Peaceful World" did with Nelly! Otherwise, he's got plenty of classics about scarecrows and chili dogs. And he's a real good dancer. THURSDAY AT 8, Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, 212-840-2824. (Eddy)

ERIC REED TRIO He's a soul man, meaning feel is perpetually prominent in the very elaborate and very enchanting spins the pianist puts on his base material. Sometimes that material is overtly soulful itself: His last disc was full-on hymnal. And sometimes it's so redolent of bop's groovy exclamation—check "Roller Coaster" from his new album—its swagger is unmistakable. This cozy club is a great place to catch his rhythm section doing their well-lubed downshift maneuvers. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 9 AND 11 P.M. AND 12:30 A.M., Smoke, 2751 Broadway, 212-864-6662. (Macnie)

SPARKS+JUNIOR SENIOR Trends come and go, but the lyrical, musical, and performance genius of the Mael brothers—art-pop's most idiosyncratic pair—has rarely faltered in a 30-plus-year career that's outlasted most of their haters. Denmark's Junior Senior duo are nearly as dynamic, and their dance/garage-punk hybrid is the closest pop gets to achieving originality without sacrificing a smidgeon of accessibility. More importantly, they totally rock out in the flesh. SUNDAY AT 7, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Walters)

CLARK TERRY QUINTET Clark's rubbery flugelhorn sound has grown breezier and wiser, even more so since he etched himself into Ellington's playbook years ago. There's so much emotional warmth in his solos now, as then—from thick sustain to rounded slur—that it's fair to assume James Moody, the driving saxophonist on the bill, will contribute laughs as well. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 8:30 AND 10:30, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ALSO AT MIDNIGHT, Iridium, 1650 Broadway, 212-582-2121. (King)

 

TINDERSTICKS & STRINGS After their recent soul-man dalliances, the new Waiting for the Moon finds these baroque depressives inching back toward the volatile romanticism of their first two self-titled LPs. Despite the impeccably cultivated air of hangdog melancholy, they've always been an incendiary live act—even if chief 'stick Stuart Staples is in a mumbly funk, violinist Dickon Hinchcliffe can be counted on to sex it up (especially on aptly named set-list fave "Jism"). With an 18-piece string section and an open night sky, expect fireworks. With Flux and David First. THURSDAY AT 7, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Lim)

PHOTO

'BY THE SEA' The least you expect of a group show is a broad array of strong, unfamiliar work in unexpected juxtaposition, but the key test of its success is how much of that work sticks in your mind. "By the Sea" is both immediately satisfying and memorable; virtually every photo clicks (especially those by Richard Misrach, Greg Miller, Rineke Dijkstra, Massimo Vitali, and Bill Jacobson) and many prompt a return visit. Among the latter: Loretta Lux's digitized shot of a strangely alien little beauty posed doll-like on a painted beach and Richard Renaldi's large-scale nude portrait of his boyfriend in a wittier, more soulful version of the iconic Dijkstra bather. THROUGH FRIDAY, Yossi Milo Gallery, 552 West 24th Street, 212-414-0370. (Aletti)

CHARLES SHEELER Since both photographers devised a similar sort of muscular modernism—rigorous, refined, and as elegant as it is tough—it's appropriate that Sheeler and his contemporary, Ansel Adams, have overlapping museum shows now. Sheeler, whose primary focus was painting, has a smaller body of photographic work, and his subjects (with the notable exception of some sculptural nudes of his wife) are mainly from the man-made, rather than the natural, world. But his studies of urban and industrial architecture, especially the Ford plant at River Rouge, are every bit as awe-inspiring as Adams's mountains and are far more in tune with the living spirit of modernism. THROUGH AUGUST 17, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, at 81st Street, 212-535-7710. (Aletti)

THEATER

'THE MYOPIA' Multiple Obie winner David Greenspan must love to travel; this spring he's been to Shakespeare country with She Stoops To Comedy, then zipped off to 13th-century China for The Orphan of Zhao. Next stop: The 1920s, with a play about Warren G. Harding, the most corrupt U.S. President before George W. Bush. But Greenspan wears the layered look when traveling. The hero of this new work is a playwright whose latest opus is about his father, who's writing a musical about Harding. Somehow Carol Channing, 16 U.S. senators, and a grandmother named Yetti get involved. Don't miss Greenspan's rendering of the famous smoke-filled room. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH SATURDAY, Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street, 212-966-4844. (Feingold)

WORDS

ALAN LIGHTMAN Disposed to prove C.P. ("Two Cultures") Snow an intellectual curmudgeon, the physicist-writer took a step back from his scientific leanings in the Kafkaesque The Diagnosis. Now, he subtly revisits the time-theory musings of Einstein's Dreams with Reunion, a Sliding Doors fable in which poet turned professional appreciator Charles recalls an old love affair with increasing uncertainty, haunted by the life he might have lived: "Every possible word is said and not said, every possible thought is thought and not thought, and what is not said is still there." WEDNESDAY AT 7:30, Barnes & Noble, 2289 Broadway, 212-362-8835. (Reidy)

'PARIS REVIEW' 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION George Plimpton's tony journal turns half a century old this year; the title of its recently published compendium is too long to repeat here, but it includes not only God and Sex but (perhaps more importantly) Whimsy and Intoxication. The evergreen literary "It" boy is joined by novelist Paul Auster, actor Josh Hamilton, and the band One Ring Zero, and assorted surprise guests are slated to show. TUESDAY AT 7:30, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (De Krap)

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