Over 300 residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown gathered in a Bowery gym for Mayor de Blasio’s 27th town hall Wednesday, and we probably don’t have to tell you what the theme of the evening was. You guessed it: gentrification, particularly with regard to the 60-plus-story towers rising over Two Bridges.
Chinatown – “one of the lone neighborhoods in Manhattan to preserve its heritage and verve,” we noted earlier this year – takes center stage in two new documentaries.
A new bill meant to hold New York landlords criminally accountable for harassing tenants was introduced today by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
It’s no secret that some landlords are less than easy to deal with. Because of high population and demand, New York City is a landlord’s playground. As a result, tenants are sometimes taken advantage of and suffer in shoddy living conditions.
Subtext II: Meditations
Opening Wednesday, May 17 at Foley Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through June 25.
I would remark on the humor inherent in exhibiting artist Wyatt Gallery’s name, who is indeed showing artwork in a gallery, but it seems he’s already got that covered. As soon as you visit his website, the very large and very green phrase “a person, not a place” is followed, literally, by a trademark symbol. So, guys… he gets it.
For this show, Gallery is displaying a series of works using foundational material quite truly ripped off of the city streets, in that they are portions of the endlessly-stacked-and-glued mountains that are NYC street advertising and flyering. He transformed these found object compilations into “UV cured photographic plates,” making them even more abstract in the process. Interestingly, Gallery sees these dirty, aged poster creations as relevant to his practice of mindfulness and meditation. So next time you’re saddled with a 20-minute train wait, maybe you should try deep breathing while staring at the many advertisements on the walls. Perhaps inner peace will crawl out from in between the pages.
ROFL3: The Slumber Party
Wednesday, May 3 at Our Wicked Lady, 8 pm: FREE
“Comedy shows” sounds a lot like “comedy shoes.” What are comedy shoes? Maybe they’re big ol’ clown shoes, or super squeaky slippers, but it doesn’t matter what you think they are. The dynamic duo of Edy Modica and Eliza Hurwitz have declared their comedic footwear of choice to be roller skates, proclaiming (and skating) this loud and clear in their monthly show on wheels, ROFL. Bet you never knew that age-old internet acronym was actually referring to roller skates.
This month, a fine bunch of funny folk will be rolling in to tell jokes and make merry, including Marcia Belsky, Dan Licata, Jaboukie Young-White, Charles Gould, and Aparna Nancherla. I once tried to perform as a character wearing roller skates and when I tried to stand in one place for a duration of time I slowly and endlessly rolled forward and did not know how to stop. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
Ghost in the Shell (1996)
Thursday April 13, Saturday April 15, and Sunday April 16 at The Metrograph: $15
No better time to see the original Ghost in the Shell, now that the anime classic has been remade and lost a good chunk of its futuristic/cyborg ambiguity in the process via the casting of a decidedly blonde, white bombshell in the lead. In the remake, Scarlett Johansson plays Major, i.e. an Anglicized version of the already Anglized Cyborg Major Kusanagi from the anime version.
The year is 2029, and this “perfect specimen of human-brained computer engineering” has been tasked with tracking down the elusive and amorphous villain known as The Puppet Master, whose precise plan for overthrowing the world– a Blade Runner-like super-city megalopolis where the human race has become so consumed by technology, that they are now inseparable and, at times, difficult to distinguish. The film deftly navigates the ethical and existential quandaries that are dramatically more real than they were in 1996 when the animated film was made.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Thursday April 13 through Thursday April 20 at Nitehawk: $12
Panteha Abareshi specializes in cutthroat portraits that pair the rawness of ecstatic creation with the realness of first-hand experience. As a young woman of Jamaican and Iranian descent, it seems only natural that she paints other women who look like her. But according to Abareshi, there’s much more at stake than the physical appearance of her subjects.
“I draw women of color only,” she has said of her effort to bring greater visibility to women who are so often left out of, or invisible, in the art world (not to mention under- and misrepresented everywhere else, too). But there are no smiling models or perfect angels in any of the paintings on view at The Girl Who Loves Roses, a show of Abareshi’s work at the new downtown gallery Larrie, NYC (“It’s a women’s space,” founder Emily Spitale told me). Instead, the women you meet are brooding, suffering, and embattled. Often they are splattered in blood, wearing a vacant expression, and seemingly staring at a target point that hovers right between your eyebrows.
The Girl Who Loves Roses
Thursday March 30, 6 pm to 9 pm at Larrie, NY: free
Kelsey and Remy Bennett, granddaughters of Tony Bennett, are working artists, outspoken feminists, and curators of various exhibitions and art happenings. You might be saying to yourself, “Of course they are.” But that would be a jerk move, since the Bennett sisters take after their family patriarch, who is widely known as one of the nicest dudes in showbiz (the Daily Beast called him “one of the greatest living Americans” for his long history of service to just causes including “Nazi hunting” and participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches of the Civil Rights movement). Their approach to curating is ultra-inclusive and social justice-oriented, but it’s not motivated by self-congratulatory horn tootin’ and seems instead to come from an easy, natural inclination to do good work.
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?
Despite the chilly, grey weather, masses of people lined the streets of Chinatown yesterday as the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade wound its way down Mott, under the Manhattan Bridge and up Eldridge to eventually land outside of Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
One of Chinatown’s oldest businesses, Fong Inn Too, shuttered over the weekend after 82 years in business. It was thought to be the oldest family-run tofu shop in the country. Opened in 1933 by a Guangzhou immigrant, Geu Yee Eng, the Mott Street shop grew into a factory churning out about 10,000 squares of tofu per day. Still, in 2011, third-generation owner David Eng told WNYC that business was “terribly slow,” and lamented that the family’s fourth generation had no interest in taking it over.
The last time I saw a bunch of RAE BK‘s work all in one place was in 2015, just after the street artist and Brooklyn-native had opened his guerrilla-style solo exhibition in Chinatown. But the show wasn’t held at a gallery, instead RAE’s site-specific installation was housed inside a dingy old basement, accessible only by way of an unmarked, totally unassuming rust-red metal door adjacent to a bustling produce market. Even then, I was so jaded that I couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was a real basement with real dirt and dust everywhere. But actually it wasn’t just a fancy pop-up rental space with a stage-grit makeover, nor was it an attempt by some developer to “activate” a particular corner before the building was torn down. As RAE told me, the basement was simply on loan from a recently-retired butcher with whom he had a “tentative relationship,” and the show, called Trunk Work, was one of those rare art happenings that was both real and strange.