Arts+ Culture

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Art This Week: Beach Bodies, Paintings, and Who Gets To Play

Nate Lewis (image via Fridman Gallery / Facebook)

Strange Beach
Opening Tuesday, July 24 at Fridman Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through August 31.

Summertime is a time for going to the beach, but that’s not what this group exhibition at Fridman Gallery is about, despite the name. Rather, it’s a “metaphor for the body,” framing one’s physical form as a vessel of sorts that can advance, retreat, swallow up others, be intruded upon, amass debris and valuable items alike over time. Three artists comprise Strange Beach: Arghavan Khosravi, Nate Lewis, and Tajh Rust, who incorporate themes of race, social history, portraiture, and the marginalized retaking their own narratives, whether this be through drawing on photographs to create something celestial or painting portraits of people using their own skin tones to inform the color palette. More →

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Guerilla Toss Brings Experimental Dance-Rock To Union Pool This Month

(image via @guerillatoss / Instagram)

Union Pool was the name on everybody’s lips when The Cut published a feature chock-full of tales framing the Williamsburg bar and venue as a notorious (and often beloved) hookup bar, even going as far as calling it a “boyfriend store.” While all this is surely true (I wasn’t a Williamsburg frequenter during the bar’s sexual heyday, so I can only rely on hearsay), heavy petting isn’t the only reason people go to Union Pool. There’s also music. Specifically, dance-noise-art-rock-punk-etc band Guerilla Toss will be playing a weekly show there each Tuesday for the month of June, starting tonight. More →

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And Lucky’s Dreamy New Video Takes You Underwater

While it’s not exactly a trip to the beach, the premiere music video from Brooklyn-based indie dream pop band And Lucky serves up a quaint DIY aquatic scene filled with painted fish, cardboard waves, and raining clouds made from those glittery foil fringe curtains you can get at party stores. And, to be clear, I love those curtain things. More →

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Eleven Excuses to Stay in New York for the Memorial Day Weekend

(Photo via Elsewhere)

Stuck in town this Memorial Day weekend? You’re better off avoiding the mile-long airport lines anyway, so consider yourself lucky. But just in case you’re tired of hitting up to Smorgasburg for the third weekend in a row or staring at your computer screen as you Netflix your life away, Bedford + Bowery has put together plenty of options to keep you entertained over the long weekend.

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Watch Harvey Weinstein’s Paper-Thin Apology, Sung By a Cut-Out Doll

Image courtesy of Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

In the past year, numerous men in the entertainment industry and beyond have come under fire for their sexually abusive behavior. In attempts to save face or mitigate their impending PR crises, many of the accused have issued public apologies for their wrongdoings. Lauren Maul, a New York-based comedian and performer, was struck by the tone of the mea culpas, which range from ridiculous to horribly misguided. Inspired to create an album of musical interpretations of these statements, Maul constructed songs around the public apologies issued by men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. With accompanying music videos for the catchy songs featuring the apologizers as singing paper dolls, Maul hopes to bring a little bit of levity to what has otherwise been a sobering time.

Maul’s album “Apologies for Men” is now available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon, and more, with 100% of the proceeds going to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The album features the apologies of Weinstein, Spacey, Louis CK, Matt Lauer and others, with a special instrumental piece for the men who’ve been accused but haven’t yet apologized. Check out her video of Weinstein’s apology, fittingly called “The Culture Then,” below our conversation.

Image via Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

BB_Q(1)
I’ve seen some of your videos, from your Apologies from Men album, and they’re very DIY. They’re hands on, obviously, but they’re also really unique in their approach to this pretty serious subject matter. Why did you choose to make an album and videos with singing paper dolls? Did you immediately know that was something you wanted to do when you heard about these allegations and subsequent apologies?

BB_A(1)
When I was reading the Louis C.K. apology, I was like, “Ugh, this is so gross. But it’s also good that it’s coming out.” So then, I decided– I was at a concert– that I wanted to do a concert like this. Like a fun concert, with my friends onstage, singing and playing music. And I wanted to do it to this Louis C.K. apology. And then all of these other apologies came out, and I was like, “Oh, my god, it has to be a whole album. What did I get myself into?”

And then when it came to videos, I had just come off of making a web series [Amazon Reviews: The Musical!] that took a lot of people and a lot of crew, and just a lot of scheduling work, and it was just something I didn’t want to do again for a while. And so I decided I’d just make [the videos] all by myself in my office, and have them be paper dolls. So I can make them do basically whatever I want. And I thought it was fun to actually belittle these men, because they had so much power that they abused and took advantage of so many people. It was just a fun way for me to turn the tables. And I just wanted the men to really be the butt of the joke. I never want the survivors to feel like I’m making fun of them, I don’t take jokes about assault or rape lightly. People– like comedians and artists– have a big responsibility, that if you are going to talk about rape culture, you’d better do it in a non-triggering way. Because I don’t want to cause them any more pain. They’ve been through enough.

BB_Q(1) How can a more comedic approach to these pretty serious issues affect our discussion of them? Do you think that comedy can help us take a different look?

BB_A(1) Yeah. I love that art is like the mirror you hold up to society– and comedy is the funhouse mirror that you hold up. It’s just that if you’re able to talk about it and laugh about it, then you can learn from it and heal. And also, it helps people talk about rape culture. For instance, my mom showed my grandma the Matt Lauer [apology] video. It’s like, would they even be talking about sexual harassment [otherwise]?

BB_Q(1) I’m assuming that’s kind of what you’re hoping people can take away from your videos, right? This idea of entering into a conversation about sexual assault, because it’s being portrayed in a different light than what we’ve seen in the media previously. Is there anything else you’re hoping people will take away from your approach to this?

BB_A(1) Yeah, I just wanted it to be very accessible. And that’s why I did it very handmade, to show that you can also do this at home, too. It’s not rocket science. I want people to feel like they can make their own art in response to difficult situations. And also I want this project to sprinkle a little joy in an area where there was formerly no joy.

BB_Q(1) The album and the videos definitely take a pretty unorthodox approach to all of this. What would you say to someone who– maybe they’re a sexual assault victim, maybe they’re not– thinks that maybe this isn’t the right avenue for comedy? That maybe these crimes are so heinous that they shouldn’t be treated in such a lighthearted way?

BB_A(1) I would just say that, first of all, I never want to offend someone who is a survivor. I would never make them the butt of the joke. So far, the only people who have been offended are like, straight white dudes. And that’s fine. If I’m offending them– they’re not my target demographic. I would say that’s the role of comedy– to turn shit into glitter. And I’m trying to do a service by turning a terrible situation into something that we can talk about, and even laugh about, but laugh at these men. Because they did something wrong. But yeah, it is touchy. And that’s why I try to be very thoughtful with what I do. Of course I can’t not offend everybody, but there’s this great Ricky Nelson song that’s like, “You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.”

BB_Q(1) So what are your boundaries? What is something you feel like, it’s not my place to make jokes about this, or include this in a bit?

BB_A(1) Well, one of the apologies that I did not include was the Olympics doctor [Larry Nassar], just because the magnitude and the sheer number of children he assaulted. Maybe someday someone will be able to make a funny musical about what a creep he was. But right now, his victims are still kids. And so, it’s like, I can’t– someone else may be able to go there, but I personally could not. It’s like, oh boy, this is too much. And plus, I have to really dig in to write these songs– I have to read the apology a lot, and do a lot of research on these men. And they all gross me out. But some of them, I’m just like– nope, can’t even touch, don’t want to go there. Too gross, too scary.

BB_Q(1) I watched the Harvey video earlier, and I think the contrast between his “apology,” if you could even call it that, and the DIY, eye-catching visuals is great.

BB_A(1) Thank you! It’s so funny how he just goes off the rails [in his apology]. Like, it makes no sense at the end. Each time, with each video I edited, I’d get to a point where I was like, “Yeah, this is done,” but with the Harvey one there was never a point where I was like “This is done,” because it was just always like, “This is too weird. Is it done? I think it’s done enough.” It’s just so off the rails.

The fun part was making his little childhood bedroom. Because [for the video] I just pictured him moving back into his childhood bedroom after all this– his wife left him, he’s just moving back. And I put these posters of infamous creeps on his wall– like Phil Specter, O.J., Jimmy Page. Like, yikes! So it’s kind of like, here’s his heroes. And here’s how well that worked out for him.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Pie an Artist in the Face and Then Eat the World’s Biggest Bagel and Lox

Imagine this bagel sandwich, but 50 times bigger. Photo courtesy of Acme Smoked Fish

If you’ve ever wanted to throw a pie in someone’s face, now’s your chance. Jennifer Rubell, the conceptual artist who built a giant cookie jar resembling Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit, is inviting you to fling pies at her during a performance at the new Meredith Rosen Gallery, opening next week. Or maybe you’d rather stuff your own face with bagels? Head over to Brooklyn’s Acme Smoked Fish next Friday, where they’re building a super-sized (we’re talking a few hundred pounds here) bagel sandwich in honor of National Bagel and Lox Day.

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How Pepe the Frog Tried to Get His Groove Back: The Musical!

When Pepe the Frog was coopted by the alt-right last year, the cartoon amphibian’s creator didn’t exactly think, “Feels good, man.” Instead, he set out on a quest to reclaim Pepe. That effort has now inspired a “meme musical experience” titled Passion of the Frogin which the internet’s favorite hate symbol goes looking for love.

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Streetball Letterman Jackets, Art & AIDS, and More Exhibitions This Week

(image via Fort Gansevoort)

I’ve Been Heard
Opening Thursday, November 30 at Fort Gansevoort, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through

“Public Parks to this day exist as one of the very few remaining spaces that are designed to be democratic: free and open to all,” proclaims a statement for artist and boxing teacher Cheryl Pope’s latest installation at Fort Gansevoort. While the intent for a location isn’t always put into practice by all, it does remain true that public parks provide, or attempt to provide, such a freedom. Pope’s installation focuses on NYC youth, who often flock to parks and the street basketball courts that accompany them. After speaking with an array of young people, she created banner flags and “All-American Varsity Letterman Jackets” displaying some of their statements, elevating the words of youths who may be often ignored into literal fine art. More →

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Don’t Rat Out the Mice-Size ‘Squeakeasies’ Hidden Around Town

New Bartender? (Photo by Diego Lynch)

Rats are no longer happy suckling at the rim of a cast-off PBR can. Like all discerning New Yorkers, today’s vermin demand a boutique experience. Hence the “squeakeasies” that Hunter Fine has placed around Manhattan and Brooklyn. The tiny tippling spots are strategically located near the city’s “rat reservoirs.” If you want in, wear earth tones and be about six inches long.

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Sifting Through City Reliquary’s ‘NYC Trash!’ Exhibit

Photo of the exhibit (All photos are from inside the exhibit by Diego Lynch, unless otherwise indicated)

One man’s trash is another man’s… museum show?

Through April 29, the City Reliquary, in Williamsburg, is hosting an exhibit that serves as a history of New York City’s waste management (or lack thereof) as well as a show of works by artists and nonprofits whose medium is garbage. Also featured are some of the unusual items Nelson Molina collectedduring his 30 years with the NYC Department of Sanitation.

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