CRITICS PICKS Classical Piano-palooza: The International Keyboard Institute and Festival offers dozens of pianists and, equally important, a vast amount of piano repertoire. Piano lovers can indulge for two full weeks. July 15-29; all concerts $20. Mannes College, The New School for Music, 150 W. 85th St., 212-580-0210 ext. 4858, www.ikif.org. [Jay Nordlinger]
Edited by Armond White
New York’s Review of Culture • CityArtsNYC.com
Jazz Drummer Returns: Ronnie Burrage, a wellknown, upbeat rhythm maker on the scene in the ’80s and ’90s, has been teaching at Penn State but is re-entering the fray with his Band Burrage, featuring Rick Tate on alto sax and electric wind instrument, Michael Stark, guitars, and Nimrod Speaks, basses. July 20, 8 p.m.; $15. ShapeShifter Lab, 1811 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, www.shapeshifterlab.com. [Howard Mandel]
Niki de Saint Phalle transforms Park Avenue
Latin Jazz Extraordinaire: Arturo Sandoval, Cuban emigré contender for heavyweight trumpet championship, meets Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, a piquant and polished ensemble that lays down solid clavé for Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell. July 21, 6:30 p.m. Prospect Park West and 9th Street, Brooklyn, www.bricartsmedia.org. [HM]
By Marsha McCreadie
hen the Oracle asked Niki de Saint Phalle which it would be, “perfection of the life or perfection of the art,” she said, “Screw Yeats. I’ll take both.” For the most part, this is what artistsculptor Saint Phalle did and what she got. An installation of nine of her sculptures, mainly representing her fanciful gigantisms phase and the final colorful chapter of her work, is on public display on Park Avenue in the 50s this summer and much of the upcoming fall. The occasion—really the celebration—is the 10th anniversary of Saint Phalle’s death. For New Yorkers, whether sticky in the city or in and out of town, the outdoors season is right, the colors bright, the spirits high. The generously sized figures, thighs and bosoms to rival Botero’s, include some of her most well-known works (no, not “Hon,” or “She,” the huge prone pregnant body into whose cavernous vagina the public can walk—that one is permanently on display in Sweden and would take up half a subway stop) that include “Les Baigneurs” (“The Bathers”) from 1983, made of polyester resin, and the highly comic “Les Trois Graces Fontaine” from 1999, poly ceramic, stained, mirrored glass figures in pop art bathing suits, camping it up. Probably not what Greek classicists had in mind, but joyful as all get-out. These represent her signature Nana
Mimi in Manhattan: Hugo de Ana’s new production of “La Traviata” at the Arena di Verona, featuring Ermonela Jaho and Francesco Demuro, comes to Manhattan via Opera in Cinema’s live HD capture of Verdi’s masterwork. July 22, 11 a.m.; $20. Big Cinemas Manhattan, 239 E. 59th St., 212-371-6682, www. operaincinema.com. [Judy Gelman Myers]
Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Les Trois Graces Fontaine” (“The Three Graces”), 1999.
(French slang for “broad” or “chick”) series, originally inspired by the pregnant Clarice Rivers, wife of Larry. Also on display is “Nana on a Dolphin,” as described, making nearby office buildings look very dull indeed. To Saint Phalle’s credit, she was exploring female archetypes and imagery a few years before it became de rigeur. From a wealthy FrancoAmerican family, she once was a model for French Vogue but became interested in art, even getting kicked out of the exclusive Brearley School for painting fig leaves red, she said, and subsequently becoming an artistic autodidact. Seemingly always part of the movement du jour, it didn’t hurt that she had a talent for getting with the right people, the emerging influences—in the very early 1960s, for instance, hanging with pals like Christo and Jean Tinguely (eventually one of her husbands) when they were practicing the Dada-influenced movement of conceptual art. She first achieved notoriety for her “shooting paintings,” hidden paint containers shot by pistol to finish the work. You get the idea: random, violence, what is art? How we miss the ’60s! But she truly hit her stride with the
fanciful large sculptures that became her trademark, often used in public gardens such as her Tarot Garden in Tuscany, an enterprise 20 years in the making financed in part by her self-named perfume. Especially appealing to kids, the playful aspects of her surrealistic amusement park-like spaces were seemingly at odds with a temperament that once led to a nervous breakdown. For New Yorkers right now, the installations are in tune with our temper and taste: Women, sports figures, people of color. If you’re on Park Avenue at 59th Street North, check out Louis Armstrong (polyurethane foam, resin and steel) and Miles Davis at 58th Street North (similar materials), both from Saint Phalle’s Black Heroes series, as well as an homage to Michael Jordan and “Baseball Player” (nod to Tony Wynn). Nine sculptures by Saint Phalle are on view on Park Avenue from 52nd to 60th Street, July 12-Nov. 15. For more information, contact the Nohra Haime Gallery, the gallery responsible for the full Saint Phalle retrospective last fall, at 730 5th Ave., 212-888-3550, gallery@nohrahaime. gallery.com.
GALLERIES Alluring Concoctions: Combine Frank Stella’s handsome, crisp color with Sean Scully’s brushy geometries—along with a dash of old-world materials like gold leaf and egg tempera—and you might come up with something as seductively knowing as Mary Obering’s paintings. Through mid-August. Barbara Mathes Gallery, 22 E. 80th St., 212-570-4190, www.barbaramathesgallery.com. [John Goodrich] Tidy Turbulence: A greenish-black line eyes a barely bluer one. An off-white plane quivers against white. Lines just meet or sidestep each other. In Leif Kath’s small, austere abstractions, the stillness continuously sings. Well worth a look. Through July 27. Elizabeth Harris Gallery, 529 W. 20th St., 212-463-9666, www.eharrisgallery.com. [JG] Nature Boys & Girls: “Into the Woods” is a group show of photography that evokes, in one way or another, the mystery of the forest. Some of these photos—notably those of Corey Arnold and Nan Goldin—use pure naturalism to make you think of your dreams; others use special effects. All are well worth seeing. Through Aug. 17. ClampArt Gallery 521-531 W. 25th St., 646-230-0020, clampart. com. [Kate Prengel] The Long View: The evocative exhibit “Real Estate” features photographers Harry Callahan’s images of Chicago and Providence; William Christenberry’s of Hale County, Ala.; Michal Rovner’s views of an abandoned Bedouin shack in the Israeli desert; and many others, all offering a view of history through photographs of buildings, structures and dwellings. Through Aug. 22. Pace/MacGill Gallery, 32 E. 57th St., 212-789-7999, www.pacemacgill.com. [Valerie Gladstone]
Art or Prank? Joe Deutch blows himself up By Valerie Gladstone
os Angeles artist Joe Deutch has caused quite a stir. He was reprimanded at UCLA as a grad student for going before his class and playing Russian roulette, actually loading a gun and shooting himself in the head. Unhurt, he left the room and set off a firecracker, which sounded like a shot. (His professors dubbed him a “domestic terrorist.”) Since then, he has attached a boot to a police car in broad daylight so it couldn’t be moved, incurring the considerable wrath of the police, and taunted a poisonous rattlesnake into biting him—he lived. Fortunately for those of us who couldn’t be there, videos of these feats, plus Deutch’s luminous photographs of gridlocked Los Angeles freeways under gorgeous setting suns with ambiguous slogans placed on the railings, are now on view at Marlborough gallery in Chelsea. Everything the 32-year-old Deutch does has a reason. “I like to bring an aspect of mortality into my work,” he says. “I want to
take art out of its artificial shell. I feel there’s a duality in art—that it’s trapped intellectually. On some level, my job is not to make art. I want to focus less on what’s in the art world and more on what’s outside the art world. “I liked that those works ended up in the media so people could deal with them directly, rather than when art works are in a show. I like the conversation taking place in public,” he says. In part, Deutch is rebelling against what he perceived as the dominant view when he was in art school 10 years ago, where it was decreed that everything is art. He doesn’t believe that’s true, and thinks it limits the concept of art. For his photographs, he didn’t have to look further than the classic Los Angeles traffic jams for his subject. What caught his imagination was that when the drivers sit there struck, they also probably notice the beautiful sunsets—caused by the fog, he adds—and say, “How pretty.” This inspired him to put up signs, or at least a few words, on the overpasses for people to read. “Messages,” he explains, “that would be silhouetted against the sky. I choose incredibly cheap and/or incomprehensible messages, and mixed up the letters.” Phrases he used include “Just Kill
Joe Deutch’s “Grow Up.”
Her,” “Fuck Iraq, Save Yourself,” “Grow Up,” “Flight or Fight,” “I Have a Gun” and “Go Somewhere Else,” mostly with their letters a jumble. They’re all just about as aggressive and provocative as the scenes he stages. What’s in the future? “I go back and forth with studio projects,” Deutch says. “When there’s risk, there’s trouble involved and I want to avoid that, so I don’t give my plan-
ning away. But I’m not finished with Eli Broad’s construction site, where’s he’s building his gigantic museum”; like many Angelenos and artists, he couldn’t be more against it. Who knows? Maybe he’ll blow it up. Joe Deutch Through July 27, Marlborough Gallery, 545 W. 25th St., 212-463-8634, marlboroughgallery.com.
Live, On Record Jazz CD roundup By Howard Mandel
here’s no guarantee that jazzers performing live in New York City in the next couple of weeks are going to evoke their recent records. So much the better. Live, expect surprises. On their albums, here’s what some artists with gigs coming right up are doing: Nate Radley, a punctilious guitarist, is at Barbes in Brooklyn July 18 with four-fifths of the quintet from The Big Eyes (Fresh Sound New Talent 395). It comprises nine of his original songs, measured in tone and tempo, with amorphous melodies that his capable band (Loren Stillman, alto sax; Pete Rende, Fender Rhodes piano, who won’t be at the performance; Matt Pavolka, bass; Ted Poor, drums) flesh out in various combinations. Though too ruminative by half for my taste, Radley and company make the most of dynamics and interplay to build tension and arrive at release. Barbes is tiny; it will get hot. Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen brings The Third Incarnation, a septet plus four guest sitters-in, to S.O.B.’s July 19, and
that group will obviously sound bigger, if not necessarily better, than The Matador and the Bull (Savant), his new trio album. Commanding in the honorable though prescribed post-Coltrane style,
Allen is offset by bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston as he has been on three other records since 2008. Their balance is impeccable, though they expand on Allen’s launching motifs and stream-of-consciousness improvs by each operating in their own fields, connected mostly by mood. On the sixth track of 12, “Paseillo,” the trio suddenly syncs in an
upbeat, swinging abstraction over “Sweet Georgia Brown” chords—up till then, they’ve been somber if not sorrowful, and that major mode does not reappear. The format has its limitations and on CD grows repetitious, though live it’s probably compelling. Rez Abbasi, a guitarist/composer appearing in quartet at Cornelia Street Café on July 20, was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in California. On ENJA Records’ Suno Suno (“listen listen” in Urdu) he convenes an ensemble called Invocation with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who’s of South Asian ancestry but grew up in Colorado; pianist Vijay Iyer, who’s of South Asian ancestry but grew up in Buffalo (and whose own trio is at the MOMA sculpture garden on July 29); bassist Johannes Weidenmueller (from Germany, steeped in Spanish and New Orleans idioms); and drummer Dan Weiss (born in the USA, listened to rock, played metal, attended Berklee, studies tabla with Samir Chatterjee). They make music reflecting Abbasi’s interest in Qawwali religious repertoire of the Indian subcontinent. Rather than appropriating that tradition’s melodic content or imitating its repetitive phraseology, Abbasi constructs
multilayered compositions with lots of detailed moving parts, inspired, so he writes in liner notes, by “feeling.” Though the instrumental work is excellent, the program requires repeated listening to absorb and won’t satisfy anyone looking for a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tribute or a recognizable hybrid. The cross-culturalization results in something essentially without precedent, though its creators obviously know a lot about a lot of music. This is new. So let’s call it jazz. email@example.com
Park Perks james Burke wants art for all of the people all of the time By Elena Oumano
he pockets of lustrous green that are our parks these days put the lie to the notion of summer drudgery in the city, especially when we can visit Central Park or stroll to a neighborhood patch where the City Parks Foundation (CPF) has distilled a season’s worth of international music and other arts performances for our entertainment, almost all for free. There are no culture clashes, just delicious mash-ups that mirror and enhance New York City’s globe-spanning identity through festivals like SummerStage and SummerStage Kids, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and youth puppet programs produced at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre and its touring component, the CityParks PuppetMobile. Since January 2008, when James Burke, former bassist for post-punk band Idle, took over as CPF’s director of arts and cultural programs, the organization’s reach has stretched even further—to 18 parks and all five boroughs—increased indie rock and comedy presentations and even commissioned original dance and theater pieces. In a talk with CityArts just before a raucous night of stand-up by The Daily Show comics on the main stage attended by over 4,000 fans (with about 650 perched on the boulders outside the venue), Burke discussed how the largest promoter of free entertainment in the city (as well as sports, education and outreach programs) operates, along with the little-known fact that CPF is not funded by New York City’s Parks Department. “That’s the biggest misconception about SummerStage,” explains Burke. “Using the parks is a great perk, but we’re totally independent, a not-forprofit. In a good year, we’ll get a contribution from the City Council, which we appreciate, and individual council members help us fund programs. Our relationship with the Parks Department is a great example of a progressive publicnonprofit partnership, but we raise all our own funds.”
CPF’s mission, Burke says, is “to program for all the different constituents of New York City. We meet with representatives from the communities so we get grassroots action. That comes with expectations. But we want feedback, in case we’re not up to speed on a new community moving into the neighborhood. Our goal is to please all of the people all of the time.” In that collaborative spirit, Burke has co-founded the New York Music Presenters & Festivals forum. “Obviously
there are other great festivals performing works in New York City,” he says, “and we’re in constant contact with our colleagues. Every quarter, the producers and programmers for all the big festivals and smaller venues get together to share information and practices. There’s always friendly competition, but we go to the same conferences and we want to make sure we’re not programming West African music on the same day. “Then there are other issues of programming—visas, taxes and fundraising—that are a lot of work, so guest speakers address the latest developments in those areas. It’s all in service of bringing people together in a spirit of celebration, connecting them to their parks and, hopefully, exposing them to music or another art they love but can’t afford to see or may not know but will come to love.” Check www.summerstage.org for performance schedules. Donate to CPF by texting the word “nuts” to 52000.
Their Own Private 9/11 Margaret’s DVD and dust bunnies rescue the elite By Armond White
dvance word on the DVD release of Kenneth Lonergan’s film Margaret hailed it as a “masterpiece,” yet no one calls it a good movie because it isn’t even that— it’s the latest event from our era’s perverse herd mentality. A group of media cronies with similar interests and goals have rallied around Margaret, which Lonergan filmed in 2005 but was shelved for legal reasons. Lonergan failed to meet the distributor’s established running time (he refused to alter his three-hour-plus director’s cut), eventually enlisting Martin Scorsese’s help in re-editing the excessive footage to a contractual length. That remedy is ironic, since Scorsese has been unable to deliver a good or brief film of his own for more than a decade now (at least since he hired Lonergan to do rewrites on the overweening Gangs of New York). And Margaret suffers many of the same excesses as recent Scorsese, primarily its
unfocused story of Upper West Side New York private school student Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) who witnesses a fatal bus accident then laboriously seeks to have the driver (Mark Ruffalo) sued, fired, penalized or punished. This plot suggests ethical conflict, as in the recent Iranian tug-of-war A Separation, but Lonergan structures Margaret like HBO miniseries episodes; a scandal and monologue every 15 minutes. He neglects Lisa’s moral sense while stumbling over the very issues and situations he devised. He turns Margaret (the title is from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Spring and Fall to a Young Child,” the first of several high-toned references) into a presumptuous allegory for 9/11 fear and guilt. In one sense, the movie never recovers from its early symbolic image of bloody public disaster. The clumsily staged gore is not as damaging as Lonergan’s calamitous concept; he inexpertly combines Lisa’s naiveté and arrogance with on-the-street happenstance and theatrical overstatement. The avid Paquin is like Jean Simmons reborn but she’s set opposite broad, hysterical deathbed acting by Allison Janney—Actors Studio terrorism. Lonergan’s gang of New York media
friends indulge Margaret’s self-aggrandizing dramatization of a simple urban event without a perspective that supplies moral accounting— the triumph of Todd Solondz’s underappreciated, more authentic 9/11 film Life During Anna Paquin as an UWS brat in Margaret. Wartime. Lisa is as selfish, proscenium blocking of the opening pupilneurotic and vengeful as the people she teacher seduction or the inexplicably “big” annoys in her quest: her distant divorced moments given to each actor (only Berlin’s father (played by Lonergan); self-involved first appearance, a comic/ironic eulogy at a actress-mother (J. Smith-Cameron), who memorial service, has successful subtext). teases an anti-Jewish European bigotPlus, Lonergan breaks my one cinematic lothario (Jean Reno); an inveigled instructor rule: No movie over two hours should use (Matt Damon); and a vindictive Manhattan slow-motion. Margaret has many pointmatron (Jeannie Berlin). Margaret’s crusadlessly palsied shots of New Yorkers trudging ers recognize themselves in these denizens, along crowded sidewalks. (Trudging? In which makes the movie no different from Manhattan? Cliché!) other solipsistic indie movie conceits. One could read Lonergan’s vain, mawkish Lonergan lacks the cinematic skill to ending, which omits the bus driver’s agony, convey a credible feeling of New York living as the ultimate dismissal of the working (the richest element of Oliver Stone’s great class by the liberal, opera-going middle 9/11 epic World Trade Center). His playclass. Margaret should have been re-titled wright’s habits restrict every scene to an It’s All About Me. actor’s showcase, whether in his obvious