The experience of viewing an artist's work can be affected by how the piece is displayed. Encountering the same work on an established gallery's immaculate white walls or the cramped living/studio space of your friend in Red Hook can leave you with vastly different impressions. The Museum of Modern Art's "Experience or Interpretation" (212-708-9400, moma.org) examines the proliferation of various types of exhibition spaces.
What could be better then bending and cutting steel with power tools and acetylene torches? Parsons (212-229-5630, newschool.edu) gives you the chance to learn to weld in "Sculpture Workshop." It could be just like that episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete in Mr. Slurm's shop class, but you probably won't learn a valuable lesson at the end.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art (718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org) holds painting classes for students of all levels, in what is sure to be a decidedly low-pressure setting, with the museum's permanent collection as inspiration. It would be hard to think a more pleasant way of spending a Sunday morningwhile still leaving time for brunch. Kosiya Shalita
Eat like an (ancient) Egyptian, or at least a pretend one, at "Cooking for the Cradles of Civilization," one of many recreational sessions at the Institute of Culinary Education (212-847-0770, iceculinary.com). Pomegranate cocktails and foie gras with fig sauce are a vast improvement over the traditional diet of slaves' sweat. Flatbreads with chickpea and sesame dip will send you packingfor themed dinner parties, that is. Wednesday, January 18, 6-11 p.m.
Cook for your very particular vegan loved one at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School's "Unforgettable Valentine's Day" (212-645-5170, naturalgourmetschool.com). Tofu ricotta-leek tartlettes are almost as tasty as oysters, with none of the slimy implications. And once you know how to bake a mean chickpea strudel, you can save that microwaveable seitan for a less special day. Saturday, February 11, 2-5:30 p.m.
The organic-food movement has so far left out an integral componentthe joy of roasting a whole beast intact, with none of its natural organs missing. Go the whole hog at the New School's "Roast Suckling Pig Workshop" (212-229-5620; nsu.newschool.edu), where you'll hone your skills at full-body immersion. Shock and awe your friends and neighbors with this explosive delicacy, "crackling crisp on the outside and succulently flavorful within." Friday, March 17, 2-5:30 p.m. Carla Blumenkranz
What dancer doesn't want more room? That's what we'll get when Dance New Amsterdam (212-625-8369, dnadance.org) unveils its new facility in the historic Sun Building at 280 Broadway: seven large studios, a 135-seat theater, a café, and an art gallery. A couple of my fave regulars are Diane McCarthy, whose soothing voice and presence lead you through one of the best-feeling Simonson classes you'll ever have, and Ezra Caldwell, who you should definitely trybut only if you're willing to get your ass kicked.
Movement Research (212-539-2611, movementresearch.org) exercises those brain cells. MR features artists who challenge the accepted relationship of the mind to the body and even of the body to its various parts, e.g., K.J. Holmes, whose Saturday contact-improv classes draw from somatic practices such as body-mind centering.
Johannes Wieland's ballet class at Peridance (212-505-0886, peridance.com), weekdays at 4 p.m., is the place to be for consistent technique work. A gentle teacher, he gives specific, mind-bending combinations for a great workout. If ballet's not your thing, Peridance has open-level African on Wednesday and Friday nights, plus capoeira and even samurai sword fighting! Meghan Frederick
So you've always wanted to tell the world what you know about toothpaste. NYU (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) has the class for you: "Business of Voiceover." Learnthe tricks the professionals use for scoring lucrative assignments and get personalized feedback on your brand-new audio persona. Twelve Thursday sessions begin February 2.
No one ever laughs, and that's not the worst of it. But Stephen Rosenfield's five-day intensive stand-up workshop at the American Comedy Institute (212-279-6980, comedyinstitute.com) will teach you how to be funny in public. "All you need," Rosenfield says, "is a pencil and your sense of humor." Starts January 23.
You may not have the heft for Carmen, but you can steal some of her sound at Juilliard's evening opera workshop (212-799-5040, juilliard.edu). Acts, scenes, and arias are practiced on this fast track to DIY culture. Shatter the glasses (and friends' expectations) at your next karaoke party. Workshops start Saturday, January 21. Carla Blumenkranz
Perfect the art of sighing cinematically at department store windowsonly this time you've bought all the clothes. "Window Display Design," at Parsons (212-229-5690, parsons.edu), lets you organize your own merchandise in increasingly showy shrines. Think of it like flower arranging, or artfully fanning magazines. Sign up, and you can do it with mannequins. Twelve Friday sessions begin February 3.
Blocked artists might consider making their very own thinking caps. Those hats, however, are not on the lesson plan for "Foundations in Headwear Design" at the Fashion Institute of Technology (212-217-3334, fitnyc.edu), which focuses on berets, baseball caps, and one-piece "blocked" felt hats. Make head-toppers for your family members in all their various moods and seasons. Starts January 30.
We'd like to see those fickle young knitters haul a loom onto the subway. Get ahead of the portable-crafts set with The Yarn Tree's beginning weaving class (718-384-8030, theyarntree.com) and whip up a scarf wide enough for a llama. Twisted fringes, fiber stalkswarp and woof what? Carla Blumenkranz
Rex Reed might beg to differ, but being a film critic isn't just about good looks and poise. Fortunately, NYU's (212-998-7171, scps.nyu.edu) "How to View and Talk About Movies Like a Critic" lets you in on those other two crucial components: viewing and talking. Not only will you learn how to spot doppelg motifs in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, but you can talk about it at dinner parties . . . like a critic! And since professor Kevin Allison is an alum of MTV's The State, he might impart some tips on cultivating a nostalgic Gen-X swagger, gratis.
So you took a writing workshop. In college. But wasted too much time. Hating on that chick. Who thought short sentences. And affected detachment. Made her Joan Didion. Out of lingering spite, take Makor's (212-601-1000, 92y.org) "Screenwriting" and write a Didion adaptation (maybe A Film of Common Prayer?) with lots of jump cuts. Didion's hot right now. Sell high.
Movies only exist for two reasons, neither of which can be printed in this family paper. But if we still pretend it's all about the Academy Awards, why not study Oscar's history? At the New School's (212-229-5690, nsu.newschool.edu) "The Oscars," you can rehash the Rocky versus Taxi Driver debate, and even become the Zen dude who asks: Wouldn't it be awesome if Billy Crystal were nominated for an award on a night when he's hosting? Akiva Gottlieb
My idea of an investment is purchasing old books and records, but there are some out there who view things a little differently. The 92nd Street Y's "90-Minute Financial Lobotomy" (212-415-5500, 92y.org) offers a "surprisingly simple" approach to money management based on the premise that "becoming wealthy isn't brain surgery." March 29.
For me, the cell phone with a calculator was the invention of the century. The more mathematically inclined might want to sign up for NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies' "Fundamentals of Individual Investing" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu). Learn how to manage a portfolioand be able to definitively answer what, exactly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is. Classes begin February 1.
Perhaps it's because I am half Irish, but my superstitious proclivity has escalated to the point where just the sight of a ladder freaks me out. If you're like me, sign up for the Learning Annex's "Money Magic: Learn How to Attract Riches" (212-371-0280, learningannex.com). In addition to learning how to hypnotize yourself, you'll also learn the "secret to all financial and personal success the spiritual 'law' of contributing." Classes start January 16 and February 13. Jessie Pascoe
Has it been a while since high school civics class? The New School's "Government and Politics in the United States" (212-229-5630, nsu.newschool.edu) reacquaints you with the Constitution, political institutions, media, and interest groups that dominate domestic- and foreign-policy issues. At least with this class you won't become another statistic testifying to American stupidity. Classes begin January 26.
If your New Year's resolution involves moving beyond wine in a box, go one step further and attend the "Romantic Wines of Romania" event (mic-associates.com) at the St. Regis Hotel on February 16. You'll learn the difference between a Murfatlar and a Reh-Kendermann, and sample other bottles from the land of Dracula for free!
So you're stuck at another boring dinner party when the topic turns to politics. Thankfully you attended the World Policy Institute Forum (212-229-5808, worldpolicy.org). Floating flawlessly from the topic of how to redefine our foreign policy post-Bush, you segue into Mexico's perilous presidential election. Before dessert arrives you've single-handedly turned this yawnfest into a dynamic, invigorating soirée. Sessions start February 9 and are $5 each. Jessie Pascoe
Can't deal with another silently awkward cab drive? Transform it into a moment of social eloquence with a class in Punjabi. Offered by Columbia's School of Continuing Education (212-854-9224, ce.columbia.edu), you'll study the Gurmukhi script. Classes for all Continuing Ed courses start January 17.
They say that to be a true New Yorker, you have to live here for 10 years. As an additional prerequisite, I would add the frequent use of Yiddish phrases and expletives. Don't freteven though your grandma didn't come from the Old Country, the 92nd Street Y's "Beginning Yiddish" (212-415-5500, 92y.org) will have you kvetching like you've been kvetching for years. As an added bonus you will become versed in Yiddish songs. Classes begin February 6.
So you're at another lame party. Your friend that you came with is across the room. Thankfully the two of you enrolled in the New School's "Introduction to Sign Language" (212-229-5630, newschool.edu) class and can signal, "Let's roll." Become fluent in the third-most-used language in the U.S. (Spanish is so last year.) Classes begin January 24 and 26. Jessie Pascoe
Tired of watching all your side-swept-bangs-flipping hipster friends who are "teaching themselves guitar" strike the same three chords of "Come As You Are"? Maybe suggest that they put down the ax and march to the beat of a different drumlike a traditional Dumbek. Check out some classes at Tribal Soundz (212-673-5992, tribalsoundz.com), because the last thing the world needs is another amateur guitarist imitating dead rock stars.
If you consider yourself cultured, but can't appreciate opera or musical theater, consider taking a music appreciation class at the Juilliard School of MusicEvening Division (212-799-5040, juilliard.edu). Even if you can't carry a tune, there's still a place for you. Juilliard offers an array of courses ranging from beginners' music classes to those designed to make you a better listener. Non-credit spring semester classes begin January 30; students must register at least 10 days prior to the first class. Juliet Linderman
Is the charm of watching America's Next Top Model reruns wearing thin? Perhaps you need a little culture in your lifea little horti culture. On January 24, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (718-623-7200, bbg.org) hosts Plant-o-Rama, an afternoon-long trade show and symposium featuring wholesale growers of unusual plants and a panel of notable speakers. $25 for symposium.
Are you, like most New York City dwellers, afraid of nature? Does the notion of fresh air and green trees give you the heebie-jeebies? Well, now you can tell your hippie friends out in Oregon that you did something nature-y without stepping foot in a forest or leaving the comfort of the concrete jungle: Check out the New-York Historical Society's lecture series "The American Landscape: Ideals, Influences, Innovations" (212-873-3400, nyhistory.org/programs.html#iii) beginning January 23. Juliet Linderman
Intended more for fans of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans than the men lurking in the shrubs outside Jessica Simpson's house, the New School (212-229-5630, newschool.edu) offers "Photojournalism" for amateurs of a slightly more serious bent, designed to help students create a portfolio while developing a unique eye for telling a story through images.
Speaking of paparazzi, the photos filling the pages of US Weekly and In Touch are not taken by just anyone. It takes craft to snap those images of Kirsten Dunst trying to emerge unnoticed from a club at 2 a.m. NYU's "Beyond the Magic Hour" (scps.nyu.edu, 212-998-7200) will teach you the fundamentals of nighttime photography by taking you on field trips all around the city.
Whether you're planning a trip to Europe or heading to the beach for Spring Break, you should do more with your photos then simply creating an online photo gallery for your friends to see. The International Center for Photography's "Travel Photography: Making it Work" (212-857-0001, icp.org) gives you the chance to learn how to turn those shots of your road trip into a paying gig. Kosiya Shalita
RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY
How many times has someone casually mentioned the Bhagavad Gita and then looked at you mockingly when you revealed your ignorance? (Never? Well, it isn't fun.) Don't give them the opportunity. Sign up to study the sacred texts of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Confucianism in NYU's "Pathfinders: Comparative Religions" (212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu).
The term creationism may have been replaced by "intelligent design," but the recent courtroom drama in Pennsylvania reveals how little of the tension over religion's role in public life has abated. The New School's course "The Wall of Separation and Its Cracks" (212-229-5630, nsu.newschool.edu) explores the debate over the place of religion in public life, beginning with the founding fathers and continuing to the present.
In the midst of holiday shopping, trudging up and down icy sidewalks and being elbowed aside on the way to the cashier, the concept of desire as the root of suffering can seem like the most noble truth there is. Signing up for Columbia's "Buddhism: East Asian" (212-854-9699, ce.columbia.edu) seems like a good opportunity to readjust your priorities in the new year. Kosiya Shalita
As a Canadian, I know that winter means one thing and one thing only: skating. But once you've progressed past childhood, you rarely get the opportunity to polish your skills. This is where Chelsea Piers comes to the rescue. Its Sky Rink offers an "Adult Skating School" (212-336-6100, ext. 6152, chelseapiers.com) with beginners' classes, "Black Diamond" figure skating, and "Adult Hockey Prep." Go on weeknights to avoid snotty-nosed, cranky, and out-of-control kids. Classes start every four weeks.
Although some would say the urge to throw yourself off of a building stems from other causes, the New York Trapeze School (917-797-1872, newyork.trapezeschool.com) finds it to be "because some part of you is yearning to be more alive, to fly." If any part of you identifies with this statement, hop in a cab and get yourself over to the West Side, where your inner carny can flourish with a "Flying Trapeze" class.
New Year's resolutions revolve around the promise of self-improvement. But let's be honest: Getting from A to B is hard! Here's where rock climbing comes in. This sport distills the abstract notion of progress down to its raw basics: moving up a jagged vertical with the possibility of falling probable. In "Climbing 101" (914-633-ROCK, climbrockclub.com) you will learn the basics in New York's premier indoor rock-climbing center, The Rock Club. A "Family Climbing" program is also offered because, let's face it: The family that climbs together, stays together. Jessie Pascoe
Forget the visa, the backpack, and the Berlitz, and travel those rocky internal terrains at Study Abroad on the Bowery (212-334-6414, boweryartsandscience.org), from February 6 to April 3. Being a poet doesn't mean being out of it: This series of workshops and seminars "umbilically links poetry to the world" and creates a world safe for poetry. With a cultural activism component and visiting writers like Anne Waldman and Paul Auster, it's a good reason to poke your nose halfway out of that book.
Are all your friends trying to publish that first novel or memoir, and you've been feeling a little bit left out? With a little help from the Gotham Writers' Workshop (212-WRITERS, writingclasses.com), you can be an aspiring New York City neo-bohemian writer too! You can choose from an array of 10-week-long courses, including fiction writing, poetry writing, and playwriting, all starting January 16.
It's easy to sit in the stands at a baseball game with a couple of chums and a handful of peanuts and raucously taunt the players with a bit of the old "sa-wing, battabattabatta!" On the other hand, capturing the game on papernow that takes a little something extra. If sports is your thing, consider a five-session "Sports Writing" course in the Writing and Speech department of NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies (212-988-7200, scps.nyu.edu). Juliet Linderman
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