Get Your Read On
Harlem’s literary extravaganza goes into its eighth year
One of the best outdoor fairs of the summer returns when authors, publishers, soul-food vendors, DJs, and performers take over West 135th Street at the Harlem Book Fair, a day-long celebration of African American literature and culture. Eight years ago Max Rodriguez founded the fair to provide a platform for African American authors who lacked national exposure. What began as a smallish event with 800 attendees has grown into the largest African American book fair in the country: A crowd of 55,000 and more than 400 exhibitors participated last year. Continuing to expand, the literary event has a few new additions this year, such as the Financial Pavilion (offering information for would-be publishing entrepreneurs) and the International Pavilion (featuring authors from Africa and elsewhere). Free panel discussions will be held throughout the day with fireworks likely to be provided by Al Sharpton at “Black Media: Dispelling Persistent Perceptions,” a panel on the stereotypes of African American political leadership. For event schedule see qbr.com. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., West 135th Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues, 212-348-1681, free ANGELA ASHMAN
And you won’t be overdressed
OK, so a naked sword fighter, a naked leprechaun, and a naked bride walk into a bar, or no, rather an artist’s studio, and there they meet up with a naked Satan and a naked contortionist and a roomful of artists. If you think you’ve heard this one before, then maybe you’ve already been to Michael Alan’s Draw-a-Thon Extravaganza, a monthly event where artists come to sketch outrageously costumed models varying in shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. Described as “an artist’s dream!!!!!!!!” (that’s eight exclamation points), the Draw-a-Thon was founded by artist Alan as a way to bring together a community of artists. It also offers a rare chance to draw models staged in some unusual “theatrical” poses (remember we mentioned contortionists?). This month’s event features models dressed up as a monk, a bodybuilder, and a showgirl, among others. There will be live music, drinks, and food, as well as giveaways including Blick art store gift certificates, camera bags, and art supplies. From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., Victoria Keen, 357 Lafayette Street, michaelalanart.com/drawathon.html, $16 ANGELA ASHMAN
Slam, bam, no thank you ma’am!
Popular in the 1950s, roller derby, a mix of sport, camp, and theater, is making a comeback. Gotham Girls Roller Derby is New York’s only all-female roller league (it’s also player owned and operated). With referees named Hambone, Mr. Pink, and Ben D. Rules, and an announcer who goes by Margaret Thrasher, you know these people take this game very seriously. Imagine a live version of Rock’em Sock’em robots with 10 ladies on skates and you might get an idea about the bruising involved. Two teams composed of five players each skate around a rink in an attempt to have the jammer (sort of like a human puck) pass through the opposing team and thus collect points. But it’s not that simple, for each team also has three blockers, who are on the defense and waiting to bring her down. Tonight offers the third match of the season, a whirling war between the Brooklyn Bombshells and their archenemy, the Bronx Gridlock. Expect plenty of slamming and women falling all over the place. If you sit way up front, be prepared to catch a fallen player in your lap. At 7:30, Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, Schwartz Athletic Center, 1 University Plaza, 646-405-9803, $13–$25 ANDREW ABER
Activist group pulls the race card during national tour
Few people are comfortable talking about racism; it’s the pink elephant skulking in the room. Educator and installation performance artist William Pope.L, a Guggenheim fellow, opens the discussion up to the public with his group the Black Factory. Pope.L and his cast of “factory workers” travel across the country in a truck, setting up shop in different locations. They ask audience members to bring objects that represent blackness to them. The workers then use the items to strike up a conversation that provides an opportunity for people to address stereotypes and misconceptions, whether it’s through disagreement or common understanding. It’s a chance to laugh and speak freely about the controversial issue while possibly dispelling any negative sentiments, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Behold the power of words. At noon and 5, Union Square Greenmarket, 17th Street and Broadway, 212-229-5353, theblackfactory.com, free KEISHA FRANKLIN
Testing 1, 2, 3: Doug Henderson creates sound sculpture at BAPLab.
‘Bushwick feels alive. There’s just an energy in the air and a real sense ofcommunity among artists here,” explains R.J. Valeo, an executive director of the Bushwick Art Project (BAP). Having received funding from the New York State Council for the Arts after forming just over a year ago, the thriving nonprofit organization is committed to “exposing audiences and artists alike to the wide variety of digital culture,” says Valeo. Judging from the success of their BAP Fall Festival last year, which drew over 4,000 people, today’s BAPLab is sure to be a blowout. This 16-hour event gathers over 80 musicians, visual artists, performers, DJs, and new-media installations under the roof of 3rd Ward, a 30,000-square-foot artist production facility. Highlights include a performance by Jake Klotz’s paintbrush-wielding robot, a demonstration of Josh Ott’s SuperDraw computer program, Leah Beeferman and Michelle Higa’s interactive video installation, and a sound sculpture by Doug Henderson. Plus, music by Landau Orchestra (Merck Records), Benoit Pioulard (Kranky), Calmer (Polyvibe), and many others. As for the spirit of BAP, Valeo makes it clear: “We really encourage people to experiment and not play it safe—because safe is boring.” At 4, 195 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, bushwickartproject.org, $10