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ART

AIDAS BAREIKIS “The greater the toxicity of the medium, the more intense its color and surface,” says this Lithuanian-born artist, who describes his work as “a spectacle without the expectation of entertainment.” His morbidly festive clump of grotty skull-head monsters and oozing mutants in tatters may borrow its ironically sweet title, La Charme de la Vie, from Watteau, and its figurative energy from Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais. But it has more in common with Tibetan demons, Ensor’s processional masks, post-Star Wars sleaze, and Day of the Dead kitsch. Catapulting Watteau into 21st-century hell, it’s grotesque, hallucinatory, visually toxic, and hideously marvelous. THROUGH MAY 31, Leo Koenig, 249 Centre Street, 334-9255. (Levin)

FRANK STELLA What you see is still what you see, but what you get in this formalist’s new maximal work is more elaborately convoluted than ever. And this time Stella gets it really right. Mercifully free of color, the sculptural forms in this show, titled “Bamboo,” are huge, expertly choreographed metal scribbles, made of bent tubing and found aluminum and steel. They coil, loop, twist, and whiplash in arabesques as dazzlingly spatial as Balinese dance or Laocoön’s serpent, exuding fiberglass membranes, spiky petals, ragged edges, and capricious chunks of pure ornamental pleasure. Just don’t demand content, and don’t impale yourself. THROUGH JUNE 28, Paul Kasmin, 293 Tenth Avenue, 212-563-4474. (Levin)

DANCE

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL Cirque’s director, Dominic Champagne, and artistic director, Andrew Watson, cull experimental performers and creators from around the globe. For Varekai, they asked Brooklyn’s Crutchmaster (Bill Shannon) to perform. “I couldn’t commit to so many shows,” Shannon says. “I offered to choreograph my crutch style on somebody else.” Shannon also asked if he could work with the aerialists. That act—”the choreography’s all mine bar the hug”—is performed by twins. “It’s a great opportunity for my work to be seen,” says Shannon. WEDNESDAY AT 8, THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 4 AND 8, SUNDAY AT 1 AND 5, TUESDAY AT 8, THROUGH JUNE 22, Randalls Island, 800-678-5440. (Mattingly)

NEW YORK CITY BALLET This Thursday is the last performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals, set to the score by Camille Saint-Saëns. As a teenager, Wheeldon wrote an essay about the Museum of Natural History, in which the ossified creatures come to life. Now that he’s a world-famous choreographer, Wheeldon made that story a ballet, with narration written and performed by John Lithgow. If your taste is more classical, there’s an “All Robbins Program” this Friday and Coppélia on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY AT 8, SATURDAY AT 2 AND 8, SUNDAY AT 3, TUESDAY AT 7:30, THROUGH JUNE 29. New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue and 63rd Street, 212- 870-5570. (Mattingly)

FILM

‘JOAN OF ARC IN FILM’ Don’t look for new Hollywood movies on the martial maid. The series opens with culminating masterpieces of European silent cinema, Carl Th. Dreyer’s ecstatically claustrophobic 1928 feature—showing with Jean-Luc Godard’s homage, Vivre Sa Vie. Other Joans include Cecil B. DeMille’s and Jacques Rivette’s, as well as impersonations by Ingrid Bergman and a teenage Jean Seberg. OPENS TUESDAY, THROUGH JUNE 24, Alliance Française, 55 East 59th Street, 212-355-6160. (Hoberman)

‘MOVIE LOVE IN THE FIFTIES’ Romantic melodramas elbow noirs in this tribute to the age of Douglas Sirk. Opening with a suitably overwrought Paddy Chayefsky double bill—The Goddess and Middle of the Night—the series continues with a Preminger, a Tourneur, an Ophuls, and two Sirks to end with Touch of Evil, a love story between Orson Welles and his medium. OPENS MONDAY, THROUGH JUNE 2, MOMA Film at the Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street, 212-777-4900. (Hoberman)

‘TIE XI QU: WEST OF THE TRACKS’ MOMA’s superb tribute to the Hubert Bals Fund (a key source of financing for films from developing countries) concludes with the local premiere of Wang Bing’s nine-hour documentary saga—shot over three years and screening over two days. Hanging out in factories, freight yards, and neighborhoods awaiting demolition, this momentous work recounts the industrial decline of the Tie Xi district in northeast China—it’s a crucial verité supplement to Jia Zhangke’s ethnographic neorealism. SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, MOMA Film at the Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street, 212-777-4900. (Lim)

‘WITHOUT FEAR’ First-rate and uncannily timely, albeit 30 years old and set in Soviet Uzbekistan circa 1922, Ali Khamraev’s crisp, engrossing feature charts the tragic unfolding of events triggered by a fiery young Communist’s decision to throw off her veil. One of the discoveries of the Walter Reade’s “Silk Road” series, this remarkable, nearly unknown film anticipates much current Iranian cinema, but it’s both blunter and more subtle. SUNDAY AT 3, MONDAY AT 1, AND TUESDAY AT 1:30, Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 212-875-5600. (Hoberman)

MUSIC

FRANK BLACK It’s been a long time since he was Black Francis, and no one was more upset when the Pixies broke up than I was, but he changed his name for a reason. He’s put out 14 albums in the past 10 years, and although he’s taken a few sharp corners and shaken off some Pixies fans along the way, his songs reveal so much depth of soul, reflecting the life of a man who has lived more than most—and actually learned a thing or two. TUESDAY AT 8, Time Café, Fez, 380 Lafayette Street, 212-533-7000. (Switzer)

URI CAINE The respected arranger earns so many kudos for his imaginative reworking of the classical canon that we sometimes forget about the full-throttle freebop of his piano combos. Caine’s splashy way of respinning melodies has a masterful control at its core (think Don Pullen), and the ideas he feeds his accomplices (bassist Drew Gress and drummer Ben Perowsky this time out) are both provocative and entertaining. Check the ever impressive Blue Wail for a primer, and step aside when this hard-swinging outfit starts to rock the Vanguard bandstand. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 9 AND 11, SATURDAY ALSO AT 12:30 A.M., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, 212-255-4037. (Macnie)

COBRA VERDE Since his mid ’80s in the great Death of Samantha, Ohio renaissance man John Petkovic (Plain Dealer columnist, aide to Yugoslav royalty, dandy dresser) has been our nation’s trustiest defender of ’70s glam in its most artsy and Roxy guises. More impressive than CV’s links to Guided by Voices and Dinosaur Jr. (whose J. Mascis helps out tonight) is their own increasingly accessible oeuvre, peaking with the Pet Shop Boys-trouncing ’99 Nightlife and lately enduring via the near-pop Easy Listening, where tear gas rioters, nine-to-five Frankensteins, terrorists, and whores succumb to the queen-bitch power of regal riff and hosanna harmony alike. Friday with Tiger Mountain, Need New Body, and All City Affairs. FRIDAY AT 8:30, Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street, 212-260-4700; SATURDAY AT 8:30, Southpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-0236. (Eddy)

‘8TH ANNUAL VISION FESTIVAL’ You can quibble about CMJ, Verizon, or JVC but the most exciting, adventurous music gathering that New York has to offer is this one. It’s a bellwether of where modern jazz is going, a history lesson gathering old masters with young bucks, and an experimental lab where new concepts are worked out. If names like Joseph Jarman, Patty Waters, David S. Ware, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Andrew Cyrille, Amiri Baraka, Milford Graves, Peter Brotzmann, Roscoe Mitchell, Daniel Carter, and Joe Morris ring a bell, you should be salivating. If you don’t know ’em, you need to find out and fix that hole in your soul. WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY AT 7:30, the Center, 268 Mulberry Street, 212-226-0513. (Gross)

JUAN GABRIEL+MARCO ANTONIO SOLIS New York’s Mexican community has been ardently supporting local tours by their own pop heroes for years, but this week their dynamic scene gets yet another boost in profile as Mexican megastars Juan Gabriel and Marco Antonio Solis co-headline at Madison Square Garden. Between them, each of these singer-songwriters has sold tens of millions of records worldwide, not only for themselves but for the many other acts who continue to cover their material. Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony are just two of the younger performers who’ve borrowed a hit or two. With Gabriel considered a marvelously versatile balladeer and Solis best known as a seminal innovator within the norteño and Tejano traditions, this evening is guaranteed to showcase the protean diversity of popular Mexican songcraft over the past 20 years. SATURDAY AT 7:30, Madison Square Garden, 2 Penn Plaza, 212-307-7171. (Cooper)

ISIS+THE MELVINS+TOMAHAWK The Ipecac Records “Geek Show” rolls through town for three days of extreme über-rock—making good to NYC for the canceled CMJ showcase. Isis ups the ante with their futuristic doom metal, which is totally innovative, beyond heavy and inspired. The Melvins, who haven’t delivered an Ozma or Stoner Witch for quite some time, still are one of the finest touring heavy bands. And Ipecac’s brainchild Mike Patton headlines with Tomahawk, featuring Duane Denison of Jesus Lizard fame on guitar—the by-product is twisted, epic Lizard-esque rock, just a bit slicker. Also: Trevor Dunn’s Trio, Convulsant. Tomahawk, and the Melvins also play on Wednesday and Thursday. FRIDAY AT 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800. (Bosler)

ETTA JAMES A tiny torch was passed when Billie Holiday and Etta James met toward the end of the elder singer’s career. “Don’t let this happen to you,” a fragile, visibly drug-damaged Billie is said to have warned the fresh, teenage beauty about the dark and dangerous side of living the cabaret-jazz lifestyle. And while Etta had her own battles with drugs, depression, and drink, Billie’s benediction helped inspire her to survive over 44 years of touring and recording with far more of her original health and youthful vocal abilities intact than were left to our late lamented Lady Day. This year no fewer than three different labels celebrate Etta’s stylistic range and continued vitality with classic reissues for instructive comparison with her newest Private Music release, Let’s Roll. FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 8, B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, 237 West 42nd Street, 212-307-7171. (Cooper)

LACUNA COIL Once upon a time, in a forested continent far away, an ugly music called black metal enabled the burning of churches. But when its musicians started listening to Kate Bush, Enigma, and parts of Heart songs that sound like Fairport Convention, black metal changed its name to dark metal and became the most beautiful music on earth. In Italy was born a troupe named Lacuna Coil, whose Cristina Scabbia was perhaps the fairest lady of them all. Sad minstrel-men behind her in flowing wizard-and-monk robes growled monstrously, but it mattered not. Personal to Evanescence fans: This is the real deal. Also: Into Eternity, Daylight Dies. SUNDAY AT 7, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3006. (Eddy)

LUCINDA WILLIAMS In 2001, Essence propelled her studiocraft toward a pop subtlety that failed to materialize onstage, where instead she’d finally evolved into something like the roadhouse mama she’d long romanticized. On her new album, she sounds something like said mama. Contrary troublemaker that she is, does this mean her boys will shade perversely back toward subtlety? Nah. They’ll just try and play the blues. TUESDAY AT 9, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Christgau)

ZION I+DIVERSE+ODDJOBS+LIFESAVAS+LYRICS BORN Just when indie rap was getting parochial and clichéd, here it comes again with a range of new styles. Oakland’s Zion I have consistently pushed the bar musically and lyrically, rapping about social awareness over drum’n’bass beats if that’s what it took to stand out. Diverse is a Chicago MC with a keen tongue and mind. Oddjobs moved from Minneapolis to Brooklyn to set up backpack shop here. And Lifesavas are the latest Quannum signees, though they’re no Blackalicious. By comparison, Lyrics Born is a vet. A teacher at the Solesides/Quannum school, he’s still miles beyond the MCs he usurped, as well as those who followed. WEDNESDAY AT 9, S.O.B.’s, 204 Varick Street, 212-243-4940. (Caramanica)

PHOTO

LARRY CLARK It may be too early to call it the photo show of the year, but Clark’s massive, sprawling autobiography is definitely the one to beat right now. Called, with self-mocking immodesty, “Punk Picasso,” and built around framed layouts from a much anticipated book of the same name, the show includes vintage 45s, press clippings, drawings, letters, diary-like texts, and nearly 200 previously unexhibited photos from his childhood and adolescence in Tulsa to his current peripatetic life as a filmmaker. It’s an engrossing, contradictory portrait of the artist as speed freak, soccer dad, and inimitable soul survivor. THROUGH JUNE 28, Luhring Augustine, 531 West 24th Street, 212-206-9100. (Aletti)

‘THE PAINTED PHOTOGRAPH’ Although this terrific show of Indian studio portraits from the 1850s to the 1950s includes some examples that are merely handcolored in the kitsch Western mode, many of them are so thoroughly and meticulously overpainted that only trace elements of the original photo remain. Typically, a stern face peers out from under riotous, brilliantly colored layers of pure artifice: dappled expressionist foliage, patterned rugs, elaborate drapery, vases of flowers, entire imaginary rooms. Even when the sitters aren’t transported into another world, they’re invariably adorned with jeweled necklaces, feathered turbans, rings, and earrings—fantasy and flattery in a paintbrush. THROUGH JULY 12, SEPIA International, 148 West 24th Street, 212-645-9444. (Aletti)

THEATER

‘INTRIGUE WITH FAYE’ Kate Robin, a provocative writer, is the author of Manhattan Class Company’s new play, about a married couple trying to discover intimacy via videotape surveillance; its director is that congenial troublemaker Jim Simpson, mastermind of Lower Manhattan’s Flea Theater. But the aspect of the production that will probably catch the public eye first is its cast, a pair of stagewise actors with extensive screen credibility, Julianna Margulies and Benjamin Bratt, the latter in his New York stage debut (give or take a few benefit occasions). PREVIEWS BEGIN WEDNESDAY, OPENS JUNE 11, Acorn/Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, 212-279-4200. (Feingold)

‘LABAPALOOZA!’ Since New York’s human actors are all exhausted from attending awards ceremonies, it’s time for the puppets to take over again. This year’s mini-festival of new works for manipulated players will include, on its two alternating programs, a dark musical about a Hollywood nurse, a dream play exploring Einstein’s ideas of time, and The Hoplite Diary: Part II, a retelling of The Iliad from a foot soldier’s perspective. Sounds like we should all hoplite to it. OPENS THURSDAY, THROUGH JUNE 1, St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street, Brooklyn, 718-858-2424. (Feingold)

‘LADY BE GOOD!’ Oh, for the great days of the American musical theater, when people were only evicted from their apartments for refusing to marry heiresses. It happened to the siblings originally played by Fred and Adele Astaire in this 1924 musical by George and Ira Gershwin. The title song and “Fascinating Rhythm” were the show’s hit tunes, but if you think that’s where the score ends, you don’t know the half of it, dearie. Musicals Tonight!’s concert staging features Jeffrey Denman and Nancy Lemenager as the briefly homeless siblings. Let’s hope the Rent Stabilization Board doesn’t darken the evening. THROUGH JUNE 1, 14th Street YMHA, 344 East 14th Street, 212-206-1515. (Feingold)

WORDS

‘STAYING ALIVE: REAL POEMS FOR UNREAL TIMES’ Name the film in which Meryl Streep, Claire Danes, and Liev Schreiber co-starred. (Close: You’re thinking of Jeff Daniels.) If you bring a camcorder, you can instantly rectify this cinematic never-was, as the three thespians join poets Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Philip Levine, Charles Simic, and recent Pulitzer-winner Paul Muldoon to read from the stateside release of Staying Alive. WEDNESDAY AT 7:30, Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, 212-254-9628. (De Krap)

MONIQUE TRUONG Truong adds more than a dash of sensual prose to her debut novel, The Book of Salt, written in the voice of Binh, the fictionalized Vietnamese cook who worked for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris. Truong filters the expat couple’s cryptic communication through their now grateful, now resentful servant. WEDNESDAY AT 7, Barnes & Noble, 675 Sixth Avenue, 212-727-1227. (Meyer)

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