Mon

9/25

Tue

9/26

Wed

9/27

Thu

9/28

Fri

9/29

Sat

9/30

Sun

10/1

Today

Mon

9/25

Film

Kelly Reichardt: Powerfully Observant

Photo: Meek's Cutoff / Courtesy MoMA

The closest thing that resembles a Kelly Reichardt instruction manual occurs not long into her latest, Certain Women (2016), when Gina (Michelle Williams) sits down with her husband and their elderly neighbor to discuss the acquisition of some sandstone. Polite yet circumspect words hover, but the air is heavy with nameless antagonism. Reichardt’s silently investigative eye permits the viewer to dissect the scene along socioeconomic, gender, or generational lines, but we’re with Gina, and we mean to get that sandstone. Here lies the crux of Reichardt’s elusive style, rife with spaces and silences: She paints and looks, and paints, and looks, her canvas filling with detail as a fog evaporates. Most of her films, presented here by MoMA under the title “Kelly Reichardt: Powerfully Observant,” rate as unmissable; only the eco-thriller/scowl-a-thon Night Moves (2013) seems to stumble as it chases ill-defined genre kicks. Reichardt’s infrequently screened debut, the buzzy, Wanda-esque River of Grass (1994), is a plum for fans, glowing with the DNA of what was to come.

Jaime NChristley

Art

Dave Hardy: Public Setting

Tightly sandwiched between ceiling and floor, vertical slabs of glass elegantly stand among pieces of foam, cement, and wood inside an abandoned mini-bank, where the erstwhile haste of money-making has left the room with a ghostly ambiance. Titled That a Dead Man Sings (2014), this and other brilliantly stacked and congregated sculptures by Dave Hardy occupy the Bulova Corporate Center, an unabashedly Art Deco building located on Astoria Boulevard. With its granite floors and dwarfing columns, the historic property absorbs visitors into a surreal corporate environment, reminiscent of the heyday of Mad Men. This offsite Queens Museum exhibition celebrates the New York–based artist’s kinetic sculptures of equal doses tension and harmony, containing such salvaged materials as metal, cement, polyurethane foam, and even pretzels. Both Untitled (2013) and Destiny (2014) poignantly evoke the human form, long cuts of glass substituting for legs and sinuous piles of foam imitating arms and torsos.

Osman Can Yerebakan

Art

Cristóbal de Villalpando: Mexican Painter of the Baroque

Art historians have tended to give little prominence to painters from New Spain, as much of Central and North America was known between 1521 and 1821. These artists, Cristóbal de Villalpando among them, have largely been considered provincial copyists of the grand European manner. But the tide is turning. This show, which is centered on Cristóbal’s monumental 1683 depiction of Moses and the Transfiguration (it’s 28 feet tall), makes the case that he was not only a technically accomplished artisan, but also an innovator working in a noble tradition. The painting has recently been conserved and is shown here for the first time outside the Puebla Cathedral in Mexico. Ten additional works by the artist provide further context, but this exhibition is only a taste. A larger show of around one hundred pieces of seventeenth-century Mexican painting, titled “Pinxit Mexici,” comes to the museum next April.

—Pac Pobric

Literature

I Write Banned Books

September 24–30 is “Banned Books Week,” the American Library Association’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. To mark the occasion, PEN America has partnered with Strand Books to invite authors of banned or challenged books to speak out against censorship. The event is as timely as ever: Last year witnessed a 17 percent uptick in complaints of book-banning. The discussion will include David Levithan, whose 2013 Two Boys Kissing was removed from shelves because its cover features, well, two boys kissing; Coe Booth, whose young-adult novels Tyrell and Bronxwood faced censorship challenges in Virginia; and Ariel Schrag, whose comics anthology Stuck in the Middle was challenged by an Oklahoma school library. Moderated by Jason Low, publisher and a co-owner of Lee & Low Books, the conversation will highlight the value of reading books by authors of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

—Amy Brady

Theater

The Peculiar Patriot

Spoken-word artist Liza Jessie Peterson brings attention to the injustice of mass incarceration in this solo show. A Def Poetry alum, Peterson has been developing and expanding her narrative piece since 2003; during that time, she has toured the in-progress work to various prisons, and become a teacher and counselor at Rikers Island. She knows firsthand the untold stories of those behind bars and the families impacted by the prison system. In the show — which takes its title from the term the peculiar institution, a euphemism for slavery — Peterson’s character, Betsy LaQuanda Ross, links the history of slavery to the contemporary privatized prison system, where white people profit off the confinement of people of color. Betsy visits incarcerated friends and family, and though she tries to entertain them with gossip and humor, she also forces the audience to reckon with the racial inequities perpetuated by the system.

Nicole Serratore

Tue

9/26

Film

Jamaa Fanaka: L.A. Rebel

Photo: Penitentiary / Wizard Video / Photofest

Never was there a more fiercely independent spirit than that of Walter “Jamaa Fanaka” Gordon, who accomplished something most filmmakers would never dare attempt: While still a student at UCLA, he completed three feature-length films, one of which — Penitentiary (1979), the first in a trilogy of manic, progressively weirder prison boxing epics — went on to be the highest-grossing independent film of that year. Because of the comparative commercial appeal of his work, Fanaka was a rebel even among the rebels, an outcast among his classmates in the UCLA-birthed L.A. Rebellion movement. But there was more to Fanaka than outsize ambition: He subverted the blaxploitation template to tell stories with an uncommon tenderness, ones that he knew would appeal to a wide audience. His masterpiece, Emma Mae (1976), uses its disreputable genre trappings (a revenge story is the selling point) to tell an outsider’s coming-of-age story as she moves from the Deep South to the Southern California of the late Seventies. Fanaka has now been gone for five years, but he and his films persist through a philosophy that he described as “secular immortality.” Through his cinema, people departed and places forgotten live on as if in the present day — they are alive to the viewer.

Samuel BPrime

Film

P. Adams Sitney: Filmmaker as Film Theorist

Few artists possess the talent and audacity to repeatedly challenge their audience in the manner of Stan Brakhage, who stands as perhaps the single most important director of the American avant-garde. Even fewer have written or spoken so articulately about their own work. That writing, concentrated in Metaphors on Vision, provides theoretical insights and introductions to some of Brakhage’s best films, but has been unavailable for some forty years — until now. Anthology Film Archives and LightIndustry are republishing Metaphors, and the latter institution will commemorate the re-release with a lecture by P. Adams Sitney, the foremost scholar of American avant-garde cinema. Sitney will discuss and screen the work of Brakhage as well as that of Maya Deren and Hollis Frampton, two contemporaries equally determined to redefine the medium’s possibilities. Neither lifelong fans nor those seeking to dip their toes into one of the art’s most fecund minds for the first time should miss it.

Forrest Cardamenis

Wed

9/27

Art

Fellow Travelers

Photo: Halil Altindere, "Muhammed Ahmed Faris With Friends #1" (detail), 2016 / apexart

“You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore. This city will always pursue you,” wrote the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy in his eminent poem The City. Displacement has remained through the centuries an inherent component of the transformation of mankind, though its impetus has changed from famine to genocide. The group exhibition “Fellow Travelers” weaves various contemporary migration narratives into a depiction of the global landscape, with sharp doses of humor, social commentary, and science fiction. The poet and jazz musician Sun Ra, who famously claimed the identity of an alien from Saturn, moved from Louisiana to Chicago during the Second Great Migration; “It takes a motion to notion and it takes a notion to motion,” he declares in his 1972 poem Tomorrow Is Never, a copy of which the gallery exhibits. Turkish artist Halil Altindere chronicles the extraterrestrial journey of the first Syrian cosmonaut, Muhammed Ahmed Faris, who is currently a refugee in Turkey. Altindere’s multimedia piece Space Refugee proposes Mars as the next dwelling for displaced peoples — yet another frontier in the ongoing and multitudinous saga of human migration.

Thu

9/28

Art

Bronx Calling: The Fourth AIM Biennial

Photo: Maya Ciarrocchi's "Site" / courtesy the artist

Like so many recent group exhibitions of its kind, this year’s Bronx Biennial deals with widespread political problems. Climate change, racism, glaring economic disparity — these are our perennial issues, and therefore our perennial curatorial themes. It can become a bit monotonous, to say the least, but “Bronx Calling: The Fourth AIM Biennial” largely avoids that pitfall by not being overly didactic. This show is less about adhering to an overarching idea than it is about presenting works by artists most people have never heard of, which is always an admirable goal. Seventy-two painters, sculptors, and installation artists are included, all of them New York–based but many of them foreign-born. The exhibition is tied to the Bronx Museum’s Artists in the Marketplace program, now in its thirty-seventh year, for which thirty-six artists are chosen to participate in fifteen practical seminars on how to make a career in the arts.

—Pac Pobric

Fri

9/29

Art

AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism

Photo: ACT UP Rally at City Hall Park (detail), Lee Snider, 1988 / Lee Snider Photograph Collection, Fales Library & Special Collections

Pride month may be over, but there’s still plenty of time to catch the Museum of the City of New York’s current show, “AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism,” which takes a new look at the disease and its politics through a domestic lens. AIDS activism often involves spectacular forms of protest, but MCNY’s exhibition explores the relatively less visible role of queer homes and support networks during the Eighties and on through the present day. Three rooms divide the show into broad themes — caretaking, housing, and family — mapping out a novel history of New York’s LGBTQ community in documents and artworks across an array of mediums, including works in yarn, embroidery, wallpaper, textiles (think: the AIDS quilt), and other household materials. Arriving during a period of great discontent in Washington — six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS recently resigned to protest the White House’s lack of a strategy for addressing the ongoing epidemic — the show couldn’t feel more urgent.

Joseph Cermatori

Food & Drink

Mad. Sq. Eats

The fall version of this twice-a-year event from UrbanSpace and the Madison Square Park Conservancy runs daily from September 2–29, and it’s your chance to try food from two dozen vendors who converge on the park from all corners of the city. It’ll be hard to go wrong with any of it, but we recommend the po’boys from the Gumbo Brothers and whatever sweet concoction that Renegade Lemonade, Ice & Vice, and Macaron Parlour have teamed up to create. (Hint: It’s called “Renegade Vice Parlour.”) Or, if you look at a plate of chicken and waffles and think, “Wish I didn’t have to sit at a table and bother with utensils to enjoy this,” Chick’nCone is your food trend du jour.

Mary Bakija

Sat

9/30

Art

Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. and Philip Johnson

Photo: Nicholas Papananias / Courtesy Grey Art Gallery

Theirs was a friendship with a lasting influence on the way Americans regarded everyday objects. Alfred Barr and Philip Johnson — together credited with, according to a release from the Grey Art Gallery, “[introducing] modern design to North America” — worked closely together at the Museum of Modern Art in the Thirties and Forties to cultivate their vision of beauty inspired by the Bauhaus school: Barr, as MoMA’s first director, and Johnson, as its first curator of architecture. This small exhibition is the very first to examine their partnership, which, through pivotal exhibitions they organized, made MoMA a testing ground for design that was functional as well as attractive. On view are industrial objects from these shows (tubular chairs, a graceful sink) and also sleek furniture and prints from the men’s homes that offer a glimpse into the personal palates of these young pioneers.

Claire Voon

Dance

New York City Ballet

The local team’s schizophrenic fall season opens with a clutch of performances of Peter Martins’s somber Scandinavian Swan Lake, then switches gears to launch four new ballets, including the first of two new pieces by resident choreographer Justin Peck (this one to Stravinsky); one by company principal Lauren Lovette; a work by eighteen-year-old School of American Ballet alum Gianna Reisen; and the third contribution to the repertory by soloist Troy Schumacher. (All of these offerings are dressed by hot fashion designers.) Then we lurch back to Swan Lake before toggling between a program of Balanchine dances; another of enduring works by Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, and Peck; and a whole bill of works to twentieth-century violin concertos.

—Elizabeth Zimmer

Sun

10/1

Theater

The Peculiar Patriot

Photo: Christine Jean Chambers

Spoken-word artist Liza Jessie Peterson brings attention to the injustice of mass incarceration in this solo show. A Def Poetry alum, Peterson has been developing and expanding her narrative piece since 2003; during that time, she has toured the in-progress work to various prisons, and become a teacher and counselor at Rikers Island. She knows firsthand the untold stories of those behind bars and the families impacted by the prison system. In the show — which takes its title from the term the peculiar institution, a euphemism for slavery — Peterson’s character, Betsy LaQuanda Ross, links the history of slavery to the contemporary privatized prison system, where white people profit off the confinement of people of color. Betsy visits incarcerated friends and family, and though she tries to entertain them with gossip and humor, she also forces the audience to reckon with the racial inequities perpetuated by the system.

Nicole Serratore