Behind These Prison Walls Opening Monday, May 22 at The Living Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. One night only.
This one-night-only exhibition will be showcasing the work of Lorenzo Steele Jr., a visual artist who formerly served as a corrections officer at Rikers Island. As we’ve outlined in the past, conditions at Rikers could be described as “dismal,” if you’re into understatements. This holds particularly true for its younger residents, as New York state still charges 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, one of only two states to do so. This will soon change due to the recent passing of the Raise the Age initiative; individuals under 17 will no longer be held in county jails as of October 2018 (18-year-olds, too, starting a year later) and the “majority” of defendants aged 16 and 17 will be dealt with in Family Court rather than tried as adults.
Lorenzo Steele Jr. knows this particular plight all-too well, as the majority of his photographic documentation (taken from 1987-1999) chronicles the grim conditions to which inmates at Rikers have been subjected. Specifically, his work zeroes in on the adolescent jail and its solitary confinement unit. These images will be displayed alongside found weapons and other prison-sourced artifacts. Even as we spend our days lamenting the state of politics and Russia and the world, it is important to remind ourselves that there are also local travesties still happening around us, and it wasn’t the new administration that put them there. Keep Reading »
“As the hour grew late and working people around Tompkins Square Park began turning out the lights on Memorial Day 1967, police asked several hundred music lovers to turn down the volume of a guitar-and-bongo concert in the park,” reported the New York Daily News. “The crowd’s reply … was a barrage of bottles, bricks and fists that left seven officers injured.
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.
Vulture Fest: Cat Power, Frankie Cosmos Saturday May 20, 7 pm at Webster Hall: $40 to $45
This one’s at the top of our list because, well, Cat Power.
Lucky for you, Vulture Festival managed to do the impossible and book a last-minute gig with the ever elusive, certifiably brilliant Chan Marshall– which is just kind of how things go with her. In case you have lost track: she hasn’t appeared on stage in five years.
It kinda goes without saying, but Marshall has had a stellar career releasing albums as Cat Power. Our sister site, Vulture, writes that “Marshall is still one of our most vital songwriters, and each time she gets onstage is a unique, unexpected, and moving experience.”
But, for a time at least, she was notorious for lashing out at the audience (often justifiably– sorry, not sorry), walking off in the middle of her set, and generally having what the music media machine love to characterize as “breakdowns.” Mind you, the term seems to be reserved especially for women artists when they get particularly emotional, or even just confrontational on stage. (I guess rock star dude bros can have “breakdowns” too, but they usually involve rehab, or perhaps a reality TV show that documents a clinical inability to remove one’s headscarf.) When musicians of the male variety have tizzies on stage we just call it “shredding” or “Kanye.”
Cat Power’s last official tour–to promote Sun, which dropped way back in 2012–was predictably bumpy. Still, if it was easy to frame the drama as a result of “instability” or as a sign of burnout, it was impossible to square her recorded music with such a narrative. Pitchfork pointed out that Sun– Cat Power’s first to “feature synthesizers, Auto-Tune, and Iggy Pop” released nearly two decades after her debut– was the work of an artist at her creative peak, and “[existed] completely and defiantly outside of any larger musical trends.” What’s more, it was Marshall’s mercurial sensibilities that made Sun so magnetic and addictive in the first place.
So why would we expect anything other than an emotional hurricane from Cat Power’s live performances? (Personally, I’m gonna stick this one in the ol’ virgin/slut file, along with all the other contradictory roles we expect women to fulfill simultaneously.)
Let’s be clear: Marshall is older and wiser now, and it’s been years since she has relied on her potent stage juice (Xanax, cigarettes, and “a minibar’s worth of Jack Daniel’s, Glenlivet and Crown Royal”) to get things going. But (while we hope to see a full set from her) we fully encourage her to let it all out– and if that means starting a fire and burning the whole stage down with her, then we trust that she knows what she’s doing.
(Flyer via Trans-Pecos/Facebook)
Weed, Bugg, RIPS, Silk Sign Friday May 12, 8 pm at Trans-Pecos: $8 in advance, $10 at the door
If you’re a cynical jerk like me, then you might also be immediately suspicious of a band named Weed(in town from Vancouver, BC)– like, if Urban Outfitters had the keys to the record label castle and were given full reign to manufacture some Frankenstein-like on-brand band, it would most certainly be called “Weed.” I can see it now, an album cover adorned with pizza slices, alien faces, ying-yangs, and of course pot leaves, all sloppy-like as if sketched by a fifth grader hopped up on Hi-Chew and Mountain-Dew Slurpees. This “band” would sound like an aughts-does-the-’90s version of Sum-41 and would play shows at the (now-defunct) rooftop restaurant at the UO “concept store” in Williamsburg. In short, total barf fest.
Thankfully, Weed are not at all as I feared them to be. Instead they embody ganja in its realest, unmarketable form– as skater fuel, spiritual inspiration, and the stuff you ingest to make you slow down and, like, wonder about the universe for a moment. Sonically, that translates as sorta shoegazey (but not in any serious sense) stoner rock with a whole lotta reverb.
(Flyer via Silent Barn/ Facebook)
Street Eaters, HVAC, Boys Online, Salty Tuesday May 9, 8 pm at The Silent Barn: $8
You know that rumor that’s been going around for a while now? Something about how “punk is dead.” Come to think of it, seems like this has kinda always been the case. Prepare to have your mind blown, but consider the possibility that maybe this debate has been on the table since the dawn of friggin’ time. Hear me out: clearly “punk”–as a state of mind–existed long before The Velvet Underground and The Stooges and all that, even since the dawn of time. Shakespeare was kind of a punk (in fact, he was waaaay ahead of the curve when he used the term way back in 1602). And Sappho, well she was about as punk as anyone could hope to be when she was writing poetry circa 570 BC.
Given that punk (ideally, anyway) is youthful, rebellious, and against the status-quo, it’s only natural that questions about its continuing relevance are about as common as punk manifestos. It’s hard to admit, but in a lot of ways– looking around the NYC scene especially– punk, when considering its most visible forms and “successful” bands (lol whatever that means), still suffers from hyper-masculine, misogynist tendencies. Yes, still. Which, needless to say, has not only gotten old, but has been old– like, forever.
You might think that’s sort of sad, since right now especially (given the awfully depressing circumstances of our most horrifying present) we should all be going to more punk shows. It is, if you’re going to the same old shows, headlined by the same old bands. But there’s an easy fix: support the bands that are not zombie relics of another era– bands that include women, queer and trans musicians, people of color, Muslims, Jews, everyone, everyone. If you even need reason, you will be rewarded not only with a fresh-feeling scene, but excellent sounds that remind you why you started listening to punk in the first place.
The war in Syria has gone on for so long that many of us here in the West have grown numb to it– which might sound callous, but it’s difficult to avoid mainly because the narrative has been dominated by chaotic battlefield reports and gruesome images of the violence inflicted by Assad on his own people, including children and civilians in general. The only way to avoid going completely insane over such horror is to keep a safe distance.
But this can’t go on forever– and slowly, we’re starting to receive dispatches that are more human: personal accounts by the people who have actually been there. Art is an especially useful way to reach people, and more importantly move them.
Enter OmarSouleyman, an unlikely rock star who “began his career as a prolific wedding singer” in Syria, “releasing nearly 500 live albums before civil war broke out” in 2011. His life, like many more, was upended in profound ways, but he continued making music even after leaving his home in Al-Jazira (a region in Syria’s northwest) for Turkey, which took on a whole new depth. Now, the West is listening to Souleyman, whose sounds and heartfelt lyrics give listeners no choice but to reckon with reality.
On To Syria, With Love, the album Omar will release on June 2, he sings: “It’s been six years I’ve been away, and I’m tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it’s like having dust in my eyes. We are in exile, and our nights are long. Our homeland is our only comfort. Life caused us so much pain—our wounds are too many and every wound calls out, ‘We miss Al-Jazira.’”
Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the release date of “To Syria, With Love.”
Foofaraw & Spleen Opening Wednesday, May 10 at The Lodge Gallery, 7 pm to 9 pm. On view through June 11.
This exhibition brings together two artists whose work is lighthearted, literary, and warmly familiar. The Lodge Gallery and DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary, whose Ayakamay exhibition we recently covered, will be pairing up paintings by Heather Morgan and watercolor works on paper by Paul D’Agostino for the jauntily-named exhibition “Foofaraw & Spleen.”
Morgan, who normally deals in self-portraits, has created an array of portraits of familiar faces that are not her own. Looking back at you will be a selection of figures that Morgan considers inspirational: writers, musicians and the like, ranging from esteemed literary fellows to plain old rock stars. D’Agostino, on the other hand, will be showing a portion of the 140 works on paper he’s created for a book project. As they are titled The Produce Chronicles, With Flowers, it seems he is taking a leafier approach than Morgan’s human renderings. Together, their work creates a harmony of quaint depictions, from the natural realm to the human species.
The State Attorney General has reached a settlement with Sassan “Sami” Mahfar, the embattled landlord accused of illegally harassing tenants of his Lower East Side buildings in an effort to displace them. As part of the $225,000 settlement, companies owned by Sassan “Sami” Mahfar and Sina Mahfar will pay $175,000 to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and its efforts to combat lead poisoning.
If short n’ sweet shows are your preferred method of entertainment, this could be quite the change of pace. The Obie-winning company Target Margin Theater will be commemorating their 25th anniversary of making work by taking on Eugene O’Neill’s 1931 work Mourning Becomes Electra, and they’re doing it in a big, big way. Or rather, a long, long way. The production runs around six hours long, but don’t expect to sit for that entire time. Mourning Becomes Electra is technically a play cycle, consisting of three plays that serve as a modern retelling of Greek tragedy The Oresteia, turned into a Freudian family melodrama set at the end of the Civil War. So, the company is dividing Abrons’s Playhouse into different sections, guiding audiences between different portions of the performance space as the play cycle progresses.
If you’re still hesitant about committing to this behemoth endeavor, know that it also includes two intermissions and “a light meal.” Everyone loves a nice meal.
Paris-based contemporary clothing label 13 Bonaparte is bringing its unique collection of apparel to America for the first time. Its pop-up shop opened yesterday, in response to a heightened demand from American customers. The pop-up will sell the brand’s midseason wardrobe and premiere its expanded le denim collection, which includes pieces designed specifically for women. Keep Reading »
The electro post-rock band Collapsing Scenery has been hailed as “the voice of LA’s new underground,” so it only makes sense that their tripped-out, abstract videos are essential to their music. Cool, but doesn’t every synth-dominated band these days sorta need visuals to make what is by and large a cold-blooded genre cluster feel even remotely emotive? And what’s so special about swiping a bunch of “found footage” from YouTube, throwing on a glitchy distortion filter, and calling it a “short film”? If you answered “yes” and “nothing,” in that order, then you’re exactly right– only, not about Collapsing Scenery.
The Sunshine Laundromat in Greenpoint has a lot to offer. You can wash your clothes. You can play plenty of pinball. You can sip beer or wine while doing all of this. And tonight, you can experience something a little bit artsier. The vending machine at Sunshine has been host to many trinkets and miscellany, even catching media attention last year when they restocked it with Plan B and pregnancy tests alongside bite-sized candies. While you could argue that is a much more practical move, tonight this little machine sandwiched between a photobooth and Jurassic Park pinball machine will be filled with art of all shapes and sizes.
Well, not quite all shapes and sizes, seeing as there is only so much space in that thing. The exhibition’s Facebook event has even outlined parameters for interested artists: any submissions “can range in size from a personal bag of Cheetos to a Snickers bar or a can of Axe body spray.” If you’re on your last pair of underwear and have been putting off laundry for an undisclosed amount of time, this little art show could be the motivation you needed to get ‘er done. And you could leave with a souvenir—since the art will be in a literal vending machine, the pieces will indeed be available for purchase. Keep Reading »
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 classichas 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
Work by Panteha Abareshi (Image courtesy of Larrie, NYC and the artist)
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.