Welcome to another installment in the weekly New York State of Mind Amoeblog report with an overview of a diverse mix of fun things from music and film to art happening in the Big Apple in the week ahead. Included in this latest Amoeblog report from New York City are such things as the music-inspired Blues for Smoke exhibit at the Whitney, the inspiring documentary You Don't Need Feet To Dance, the photo exhibit celebrating the centennial of the 1913 Armory Exhibition, concerts such as Sigur Rós at MSG, and the slightly confusing tale of two Nick Caves (one horsesuit related and one Bad Seeds related) happening at Grand Central and the Beacon Theater next week.
The fact that two high profile artists in different contemporary art fields with the exact same spelling of the name Nick Cave are performing in the same city on overlapping days is bound to cause confusion to some, so lets clear it up now and distinguish between the two Nicks. Think of it as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds vs. Nick Cave and the Herd of Soundsuit Horses. One is the well-known Australian musician/sometime actor Nick Cave we all know/love from the Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, Grinderman, etc. (more on him in NYC a little down further) while the other Nick Cave is the visual artist whose installation/performance piece entitled HEARD•NY (see above & left) will take up residency for a week starting Monday, March 25th inside Grand Central Terminal's main space as part of the historic New York transit hub's big 100 year anniversary celebration.
For the ambitious piece, which is part art installation and part interpretive dance performance, Nick Cave has created 30 of his signature Soundsuits in the shape of horses. There they will "peacefully 'graze' and periodically break into choreographed movement—or 'crossings'— accompanied by live music," say co-presenters CreativeTime - the arts group who are behind some amazing innovative art pieces around NYC over the years. Together with MTA Arts for Transit they invited Nick Cave to the Big Apple for what will be the artist's first public artwork in New York City. HEARD•NY will feature the colorful horses in two modes depending on the time of day: they will either be standing idle on display in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall or alternately doing a spell-binding rhythmic movements with two dancers inside each of the horsesuit costumes. Reportedly the horsesuit performers' musical accompaniment will be two harpists although a YouTube video I saw from a 2012 performance of the housesits in Texas had them move to large group of drummers which was really excellent so hopefully they might incorporate some percussion too into their NYC performances. The installation/ performances, billed as "daily crossings," are free to the public and happen at 11am and 2pm every day next week (March 25th - 31st) inside Grand Central's main Vanderbilt Hall. More info here.
Meanwhile uptown at the Beacon Theater located at 2124 Broadway near 75th Street in the Upper West Side Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - fresh from rave reviews at SxSW (South By Southwest) - are doing a three day series of NYC concerts: Thursday to Saturday, March 28th - 30th. Now in their 30th year since forming in London in 1983 the ever edgy Australian rockers show no signs of slowing down as witnessed by their latest fifteenth studio album Push The Sky Away that arrived in arrived in Amoeba a month ago and features such tracks as the subdued, low-key "We No Who U R" (see video below). The Beacon shows are reportedly sold out - according to the venue website as of today - but you can always find tickets if you really want. More general info here.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds "We No Who U R" (2013)
LA readers may already be familiar with the current exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art Blues for Smoke which was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (aka MOCA) and curated by Bennett Simpson and is on exhibit in the Upper East Side Manhattan museum through the end of April. Blues for Smoke is described by its curator as "an interdisciplinary exhibition that explores a wide range of contemporary art through the lens of the blues and blues aesthetics" and stressed that blues transcends simply being music but rather "a field of artistic sensibilities and cultural idioms."
Accurately billed as "the blues and art, from Coltrane to Basquiat" the exhibit, which draws its title from the 1960 solo album Blues for Smoke by virtuoso jazz pianist Jaki Byard, encompasses works by over 40 (visual) artists spanning six decades. Also on display in this unique exhibition (one that sets out to bring "artists and art worlds together that are often kept apart, within and across lines of race, generation, and canon") are a variety of materials culled from music and popular entertainment. Rounding out Blues for Smoke are various performances, events, screenings, and readings that will accompany the exhibition during its NYC run through April 28th. The Whitney is located in the Upper East Side district at 945 Madison Ave. near 78th Street. More info here.
This is the final week to check out "100 Years in the Underground: Steichen to Sherman To Infinity: The History of Photography Six Feet Under" at the East Village's Peanut Underground Art Projects space. This historic survey exhibition is in celebration of the Centennial of the 1913 Armory Exhibition that presents "art as objects, to be consumed, digested, and enjoyed." The exhibit includes work for approx 30 artists and its curators goal of the exhibition, "attempts to pull us away from our natural limits and common understanding by closely juxtaposing the photographs of modern masters (Steichen, Kline, Horst), alongside contemporary art stars (Sherman, Serrano, Woodman) and young emerging photographers (Spirit, Kliner and de la Haba)." The exhibit is open until Monday March 25th at 215 East 5th St. More info on the Peanut Underground website and also on Facebook
Director Alan Govenar's latest film You Don't Need Feet to Dance opens this Friday (March 22nd) at the Quad Cinema in New York City - the city in which the inspiring new documentary was filmed and, as such, offers an alternate view of the Big Apple; one from a disabled person's perspective in which dealing with the New York City subway or the bus, or getting in and out of a fifth-floor walk up apartment can be quite challenging - to put it mildly.
In the film we are introduced to African immigrant Sidiki Conde who lost the use of his legs to polio while barely into his teens but yet still manages to conduct his career as a performing artist, all the while making a living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Below is a trailer for this empowering film. More film info here and screening info here.
Trailer for "You Don't Need Feet To Dance" (2013)
As usual there are ample quality shows to chose from in the week ahead round New York City starting with the killer double bill with hip-hop icons Rakim and Raekwon at Stage 48 on Thursday, March 21st. Add to that DJ sets by Pete Rock, Stretch Armstrong, and DJ Enuff and you have one perfect hip-hop show. All ages event. $45. 10pm concert time with 8pm doors and 11:30 party - at the West 48th Street venue at 11th Avenue. Tickets and more info here. On Saturday, March 23rd, Fredericks Brown and Jean Grae both perform up in Harlem along with DJ Mr. Len playing the after party. 7:30pm to 11pm show that is 21+ and costs $20 admission and takes place at Harlem Stage located at 150 Convent Ave (at West 135th) More info here.
Also on Saturday March 23rd legendary hip-hop DJ Jazzy Jay will be spinning two late sets (the first at midnight and the second at 3am) at a big party titled Uplifted (rebirth of the band) at Brooklyn Stable were others performing will be DJ Francis, Eman & Bradford James. Doors 10pm and goes till 4am. 21+. $10 general. Brooklyn Stable is at 486 Metropolitan Ave. between Rodney and Union. More info here. Icelandic ethereal ambient rock masters Sigur Rós will be headlining the expansive midtown Madison Square Garden arena on Monday, March 25th for what will be their biggest North American tour to date. More concert info here and below is a video trailer for the big MSG concert that promises to be a stunning sensory overload.
Sigur Rós Spring Trailer (March 25 - Madison Square Garden)