By Lora Kolodny and Amanda Hannigan
New York City is the cultural capitol of the United States if not the universe. What’s upholding that status this winter is a bevy of heavy-hitting exhibitions, long awaited performances, and mind-bending experimental sounds. From the Upper West Side to Alphabet City, this guide highlights the finest winter arts and entertainment.
While the jazz establishment of the Blue Note may keep tourists and old-timers in tunes, emerging musicians are playing great — and cheaper — gigs in hip, downtown venues. And hit singer songwriters are cropping up — where else, in book stores.
The dive bar slash music room Grassroots Tavern (20 St. Marks Pl.) has a no-cover jazz series on Sunday nights featuring the likes of guitarist Will Sellenraad, and bassist Jeremy Stratton, who have also recorded and toured with hard-bop drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Charlie Haden, respectively.
La Lanterna Di Vittorio
Across town in Greenwich Village, La Lanterna Di Vittorio (129 Macdougal St.) hosts live music every night, with jazz trios on Wednesdays and Thursdays ($8 cover, two drink minimum, sets start at 8:30). Artists who play there regularly include fusion guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, and Bill McHenry (saxe).
Slept too late to make an 11:00 movie matinee? The prize-winning Jupiter String Quartet will play a Tuesday matinee series throughout the month of December – shows start at 2:00 p.m. The group will perform works by Beethoven, Bartok and Brahms at Merkin Concert Hall in the Kaufman Center
(129 West 67th St.) -- a perfect primer on the three B’s, and classical’s fab four.
Housing Works Bookstore Café (126 Crosby St.) sells used books, yes. But recently, the spacious store launched a monthly music series called Live from Home. This winter, they’ve booked some incredible voices, including:
Corrinne Bailey Rae, a soft and sexy pop chanteuse whose eponymous debut hit number one in the U.K. this year performs Dec. 15. Judith Owen, a Welsh singer-songwriter who keeps company (and records with) everyone from Cassandra Wilson to Richard Thompson, performs Jan. 19.
The MoMA and The Whitney remain must-visit museums this winter. Meanwhile, in Chelsea, two of the greatest abstract painters—Andy Warhol and Ellsworth Kelley—are in comprehensive exhibitions at the Gagosian Gallery and Matthew Marks Gallery, and up and comers join art scene cognoscenti in a group show at Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts.
The MoMA (11 W. 53rd St.) will feature art on its external walls starting Jan. 16, a first in the museum’s history. The works, filmed images shot in New York by Doug Aitken, will be projected between 5:00 and 10:00 each night, onto seven facades, including those on West Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth streets and those overlooking The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
The Whitney Museum of American Arts (945 Madison Ave.) is hosting, through Feb. 11, a retrospective on works (mostly about the human body) by proto-feminist sculptor Kiki Smith. The show was organized by The Walker museum in Minneapolis, in collaboration with the artist herself, drawing on pieces from the early 80s through today.
The Gagosian Gallery (522 W. 21st St. and 555 W. 24th St.) draws together many of Warhol's most iconic paintings from series executed during the 70s and 80s, such as Mao, the Last Supper, Self-Portraits and others rarely or never before seen in New York—open through Dec. 22.
Matthew Marks Gallery
Ellsworth Kelly, who was born in New York in 1923, reveals his new minimalist works in a comprehensive exhibition in The Matthew Marks Gallery
(522 W. 22nd St., 523 W. 24th St.)—open through January 27. The collection is characterized by Kelly’s signature smooth, saturated surfaces, bold color choices, tricky shapes and shaped canvases. At a neighboring Matthew Marks Gallery space (526 W. 22nd) Kelly’s black and white ink drawings from a formative, 1954 sketchbook are also on display.
Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts
On Nov. 30, the group show “When the Revolution Comes” curated by painter and sculptor Michael St. John opens at Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts (508 W. 28th St.). Leaning into pop and informal territory, St. John says the show is “a mixture of protest, criticism and nihilism that is not necessarily tied together by one school of art.” Spanning three generations, “When the Revolution Comes” will include paintings by Nancy Grossman, Holt Quentel, newcomers Nate Lowman and Josh Smith, paintings and sculptures by Michael St. John, and a giant CBGB-stage photograph by Ofer Wolberger.
While the New York City Ballet continues its tradition of kid-friendly Ballanchine, a French company returns to the Joyce to perform free from narrative constructs.
The New York City Ballet
Marching toy soldiers, a one-ton Christmas, and an onstage snowstorm are almost as beautiful as the dancers moving on-point through the Land of Sweets in the Nutcracker Ballet. The New York City Ballet upholds the traditional Ballanchine show at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, starting the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 24). Ticket prices vary.
Known for his stimulating, and technically rigorous choreography, Angelin Preljocaj and his company will return to The Joyce Theater (175 8th Ave.) where they first performed in 1997, from Nov. 28 through Dec. 3rd. Ballet Preljocaj will perform Noces, set to the music of Stravinsky, which re-imagines the wedding ritual as a consensual battle between the sexes, and Empty Moves (Part 1) set to a sound performance by John Cage from 1977, which celebrates the pure beauty of movement, free from narrative. Tickets are $40, or volunteer as an usher to see the show for free.
Buster Brown’s Sunday Tap Jam
Come and be a part of the longest-running tap jam in New York City at Swing 46. Founded by Original Copesetic Dr. James "Buster" Brown, the weekly tap jam has been hosted by such tap greats as Omar Edwards, Savion Glover, Mable Lee, Harold "Stumpy" Cromer, Andrew Nemr, Baakari Wilder, and Jason Samuels Smith to name a few. Don't miss this family events
Dr. Seuss “How the Grinch stole Christmas”
Special Limited Engagement! Now through January 7th, you can catch the Grinch on Broadway as Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! makes its Broadway debut in musical form! This holiday favorite springs to life through the work of two-time Tony award-winning director Jack O'Brien (Hairspray, Henry IV, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). And for the first time in Broadway history, the production will be offering 12 performances a week, providing families with even more opportunities to catch The Grinch!
“The Coast of Utopia Part Two: Shipwreck”
“The Coast of Utopia” features 70 roles played by 46 actors, covering three decades of Russian life and history. Part two of the trilogy, 'Shipwreck,' centers on the visionary Russian leader Alexander Herzen who finds inspiration as well as frustration in exile in Paris and London. As the revolution of 1848 unfolds outside his door, Herzen's circle and his family are profoundly affected.
Cannoli and Cabbage: Irish/Italian/ Catholic Comedy
This is a warm, humourous and honest look at being Catholic, from the mouths of standup comedians from New York City, who are Irish-Catholic and Italian-Catholic. Comedians will share stories about Mass, Catholic schools, the Pope and religous Mom's, whether they are Irish or Italian.