Despite the suffocating amount of luxury stores, there are still some small pockets of Soho that retain the neighborhood’s old gritty art spirit. As you pass The Performing Garage, where experimental troupe The Wooster Group and others still rehearse and perform, you’ll now encounter an new and improved iteration of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. After lengthy renovations, the museum has reopened and nearly doubled in size with Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting, an exhibition rich in the history and scope of queerness and the artistic expression surrounding it.
Posts by Cassidy Dawn Graves:
Opening Wednesday March 22 at Foley Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through April 30.
Photography is said to be a significant documentation tactic due to its ability to capture reality in its truest form. Particle Paradise, Joseph Desler Costa’s solo show at Foley Gallery, seeks to lay bare the ways one can manipulate the medium of photography to turn it into something sleeker, or even a total rejection of reality. This can happen through tactics like double exposures, cut paper constructions, in-camera editing, or even snapshots of the equipment used to create the photo in the first place.
The show is named for a video game mod that allows players to customize their experience through hacking and tweaking the existing code, allowing the gameplay experience to change oh-so-slightly or immensely. I don’t know about you, but I associate mods with either sneakily downloading sexy clothes for my Sims or that time I bought a Gameshark to use with my Pokemon and it glitched in a way it was not supposed to and I felt fear deep in my heart. Maybe this show will be something like that?
Maude Night #4
Wednesday, March 15 at Muchmore’s, 9 pm: $5-7 suggested donation
This is decidedly not the UCB showcase, but a queer/femme/POC space for variety performance and expression helmed by witchy, culty performance-art band Maude Gun. The lineup includes “Mountain Moving Witch of the West Coast” Carissa Matsushima, “Ritualistic Serotonin Poem Witch” Tara Jayakar, “Nose Bleeding Drama Queen Healer” Holly Simple, and a closing piece by Maude Gun themselves. Though it is the name of their band, they seem to be rather generous with the term “maude,” referring to their booked performers and potentially everyone in the room by the moniker. In the event description is a reminder: “let’s mind our pronouns! (call everyone a MAUDE if you’re lost)” Keep Reading »
It could take something as simple as a step-touch to unite the generations. At least that’s the impression you might get in a room with the company of experimental hip-hop and dance group Yackez. Most contemporary dance projects are rife with young and lithe bodies, but the cast of the latest and largest Yackez production, Give It To You Stage, ranges from ages 25 to 87. Keep Reading »
Of Ghosts and Girls
Opening Tuesday March 14 at The Living Gallery, 6 pm to 10 pm. One night only.
This one-night-only exhibition (as is the norm for The Living Gallery) showcases the work of Üriel Shlüsh-Reyna, a Bushwick-based artist who creates paintings, drawings, and sculptures. She also appeared as a cast member in immersive show Houseworld in 2015, which took place in the various rooms of a Greenpoint church. Her work zeroes in on matters of mysticism, fantasy, and magic. Also, she draws and paints a lot of women, some busty, some doe-eyed, some even tied-up and split in two. Of Ghosts and Girls will show a mix of old and new works in various mediums. She also indicates on her website that she’s inspired by both sleep paralysis and ice cream, which if anything is an interesting combo. The opening reception will also feature musical performances by Mike Campbell, Ben Pagano, and Charles Mansfield. Keep Reading »
Thursday, March 9 at Superchief Gallery, 8 pm: $10
Tonight, witness this fine-tuned evening of powerhouse performance, live music, and installations from an array of artists working in movement, visual, and sound mediums. Curated by multidisciplinary gal Ariele Max (who will also be performing), the evening is comprised of hyper-sexual “inverted gospel” musician/performer Cole, choreographer and installation artist steeped in dystopian imagery Kathleen Dycaico, research and ritual-based artist Autumn Ahn, and musician/choreographer/etc Richard Kennedy.
It’ll cost you $10 to get in, but the price includes a full day of exploring Superchief Gallery, plus wine and the mysterious notion of “edible art.” Why touch the art when you can eat it? Keep Reading »
BYO Art for International Women’s Day
Opening Wednesday March 8 at The Living Gallery, 9 pm. One night only.
If you’re a woman creator, walk yourself over to The Living Gallery this Wednesday for the International Women’s Day edition of their recurring BYO Art exhibition. The idea behind BYO Art is simple: just bring your art to the gallery and set it up. If there are any interested buyers present, you’ll get the full amount without the gallery taking a percentage. Since the art present will be contingent on who arrives with stuff they’ve made, there’s really no telling of what you’ll see. It could be something amazing.
This BYO Art is for women artists only in honor of Women’s Day, and will also host a variety of live music and poetry performances starting at 10 pm, including a short set by my band Squidssidy, so come say hi. Anyone can come, of course, despite the creators being only women. The event requests a $5 suggested donation that will go toward the Bushwick Exchange Zine, a publication dedicated to sharing free resources in and around Bushwick.
March 1-April 1 at Wild Project, 7:30 pm: $35 general admission, $15 advance student tickets, $10 rush
The Wild Project will be hosting The Play Company’s English-language premiere of Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón’s play Villa. It’s a piece for three actors that places us in a room with three women, who just so happen to be charged with determining the fate of the Villa Grimaldi. The Villa Grimaldi was a significant complex that DINA (the Chilean secret police) used during the Pinochet government to torture and interrogate political prisoners, and was in operation from approximately 1974-1978. What do you do with land that has previously been used for cruelty? The play originally premiered at the actual site of the now-demolished Villa Grimaldi outside the city of Santiago, which will be an interesting thought to keep in mind when you’re sitting in a comfortable East Village theater watching it now. Keep Reading »
Opening Wednesday March 1 at Pier 90, 7 pm to 10 pm. On view through March 5.
Now is the time for art fairs aplenty, and Volta NY is just one of many. Volta stands out singularly (ha) because they focus on solo artist projects only. Though they’re all about solo stuff, by no means are they taking a minimalist route. At Pier 90 you can catch not only the water, but the work of artists from 38 nations shown by 96 galleries and art spaces across 5 continents and 36 cities. You needn’t be a math whiz to figure out that is a lot of art to place your eyes on. Only not literally, that could cause vision issues and probably a lot of side-eyeing. If you stop by on the first night, it’s free to enter, but any other day it’ll cost you $25.
This is Volta’s tenth year of existence, so you can expect they’re pulling out all the stops this time. This week you can also catch The Armory Show (ticket bundles are available, which get you into Volta and Armory) and SPRING/BREAK, in a new location in Times Square. If you wish, you can pop around the piers all weekend for a veritable art adventure. The art doesn’t stop there: the Architectural Digest Design Show will be from March 16-19, also on the pier. And we can only wonder: will The Mars Volta be at Volta NY?
This Is How You Talk To People
Wednesday, February 22 at The Silent Barn, 7 pm: $5
Tonight, Bushwick mainstay The Silent Barn will welcome a “communal reading” of a play by Rachel Davies, who has written for outlets such as Rookie, Complex, Nylon, and The Le Sigh. This Is How You Talk To People is Davies’s first play, and chronicles a variety of women from a talk show host to a student who are collectively trying to navigate shifting friendships and relationships. The reading will be done communally in “an attempt to make the performance more accessible,” and profits from the evening will be donated to the ACLU.
Slide To Expose
Opening Thursday February 23 at Babycastles, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through March 9.
This “collaborative augmented reality installation” is created by Molly Soda, Nicole Ruggiero, and an augmented reality app called Refrakt. If you’re confused about what augmented reality is, recall Pokemon Go. Two creators known for their “net art” collaborating with a literal app sounds like a match made in heaven. And it seems to be: Slide To Expose plays on themes of digital intimacy and privacy, but does so by asking viewers to scan objects in the gallery to reveal hidden pieces of a life online, like emails or text messages.
On the one hand, art all about online expression and how technology affects our lives can seem like old hat. On the other hand, if you’re getting another chance to take a peek into how an individual person expresses themselves online specifically, you’re going to be getting a unique and different experience every time. Plus, you’re doing so through scanning stuff. When any object could contain a secret, why not give it a whirl? Keep Reading »
A ghostly woman covered in white moves slowly, shaking. A man with long hair wails and plucks a guitar. A harmonium drones. Puppets emerge to the tunes of a flute and the beat of a drum, and a whimsical world is created that feels like a fairytale set to song, sometimes melancholy and sometimes full of life.
This is just a typical performance from the Brooklyn band Cookie Tongue, a “freaky folky family” currently in the throes of raising funds to record their latest album, Orphan Arms.
Cookie Tongue sprang from the brain of musician and visual artist Omer Gal in 2011. Upon their East Coast rebirth about a year ago, the band is now additionally comprised of Jacquelyn Marie Shannon, Chris Carlone, Brandon Perdomo, and Liza Pavlovna. Similar to Omer, all the other members also make their own art, from Butoh dance and theater to textile art and videography.
“My first band was with an ex-girlfriend in Israel. She was really into theater and fantastical worlds,” explains Omer. “When I moved to San Francisco, I moved alone, so that mixed with being in a new place created new songs. I was doing my MFA, there was a bunch of other artists there. Through jamming with them, I started writing songs that I felt were good enough to call Cookie Tongue.”
He adds that the first Cookie Tongue included yet another ex-girlfriend, who was the group’s violinist. “I can’t play music with someone who isn’t family,” he explains.
Upon his move to New York, Omer left the woman and the former iteration of the group behind yet again, but had already met his next partner in art and life.
“I met Omer at a Cookie Tongue show in San Francisco,” said Jacquelyn. “I went to a couple of shows and [it was] a super blown-away, I can’t believe this exists kind of thing. I just remember how transportive it was. I felt like I was in a book or another world.”
Jacquelyn, who initially joined the band as a Butoh dancer and now also plays an assortment of instruments, moved to New York from San Francisco around the time Omer did to study Butoh under the instructor Vangeline. There, she met Chris Carlone and Brandon Perdomo, other core members of the band.
Omer met the band’s newest member Liza on the street selling what he calls “Shithead shirts,” hand-painted t-shirts he makes bearing grotesque (yet somehow endearing) faces. These shirts are also available as rewards for donating to the band’s Kickstarter.
The uniquely fantastical nature of Cookie Tongue allows the members, especially Omer, to bring more than just interesting instruments and surreal sounds to the project. The focus is never just on music, but creating an entire world through their performances, whether this be through puppets, storytelling, dance, animation, or something else entirely.
“When I thought the music wasn’t good enough in the beginning, I added the art to it to make it feel like even though I’m not completely sure about this, I have the art, which I know is good,” Omer explains.
“We were talking about the theatrics of our shows, but how does that translate to an album? And so that’s one of the fun challenges, how we capture that theatrical experience in a soundscape,” adds Jacquelyn. “This is what we look like, this is what we feel like, and the challenge of translating that into sound. There’s a lot going on besides the music.”
Orphan Arms isn’t Cookie Tongue’s first album– that was 2014’s Biotic Rituals, a selection of songs sporting similar vibes but more indie-rock peppiness. But that was recorded with the San Francisco iteration, and they are starting fresh. Well, maybe not so fresh, per se.
“I think this album is gonna be a little more, sort of soggy dust. Gravelly, brownish, grayish texture,” Omer says when I inquire about it. “Grainy. And kind of a little bit desaturated.”
Omer and Jacquelyn explain that the “witchiness” of their surrounding community (they consider Bushwick’s Tarot Society a “home base”) has also impacted the band’s sound and image.
“I think what we’re seeing especially right now is this kind of renaissance in the idea of magic,” says Jacquelyn. “Looking for magic, looking to a fairy tale and figuring out what that means to us.”
As many bands do, they’re using Kickstarter to raise funds for their album, with a reach goal of $5,000 to record the songs and press them onto vinyl. They saw the video pitch element of crowdfunding as an opportunity to make what is essentially a short film that manifests the spirit of Cookie Tongue, feeling more like a piece of art than the familiar “here’s why you should donate” spiel.
And even that’s a bit different. Omer and Jacquelyn talk at length to me about the importance of family and community, whether in the band or beyond. Cookie Tongue’s previous iterations were more casual, Omer says, but this one truly feels like a family. He recounts seeing Devendra Banhart play a show in Tel Aviv and being affected by the band, how each member got to be in the spotlight and even the audience was invited to be a part of it.
“When I saw them walk out of the club I thought, I want a band like that,” he recalls. “I want a band that’s like a family.”
“We are really into knowing who wants to be a part of the community,” says Jacquelyn. “It’s not just donate because it’s a good thing to do, but because we want you to be part of this thing that we’re building.”
Cookie Tongue will be having a fundraiser dinner and performance at a secret location this Sunday, February 19. Find out more by contacting them through their Facebook page. Their Kickstarter concludes on February 22.