New York Live Arts, a contemporary dance and theater venue, opened in 2011, but has already become internationally recognized as an exciting cultural destination. The space, with its 184-seat theater and two massive studios, serves as a home base for the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company. This space is used for the company’s rehearsals and performances, and also serves as a home for workshop programs that engage adults and young people in the arts. The performances at NY Live Arts are global in scope and political in theme, lending the space a fresh and intellectually engaging feel.
“Most of my dolls I find in the streets. ”Sound is the first thing I notice upon entering Mikel Glass’s new installation on the second floor of The Cell, a performance theater and experimental exhibition space on West 23rd Street. The dense murmur of whirs, whizzes, and running water that comes from mechanical contrivances made of dolls, toys, garbage, and hardwiring gives the impression that I have wandered into a mad tinkerer’s workshop. The dolls gyrate, jump, wave, urinate; in one, a glowing read heart pumps blood through rubber arteries. And that’s to say nothing of the second room of the installation. Glass lurches around the room, shutting off the automatons one by one with crude switches. “I grew up in a small town where if you needed something done, you kind of had to do it yourself, ” he says, a modest explanation for the array of technical skills on display in his installation at The Cell: painting, graphic design, sculpture, carpentry, circuitry. An art-world dissident with decades of academic study behind him, Glass prizes free creativity in contrast to what he sees as a calcified Chelsea art-market machine. As a place for an experiment in what he calls “non-commercialism, ” The Cell is more than a gracious host - for Glass, it is “a little utopian entity on [Chelsea’s] doorstep, in direct opposition to it. ”Having spent decades in the New York art world, he seems only to have gained momentum in the fourth decade of his career, putting on three solo shows in the city in the past eight years, and appearing in a number of other exhibitions around the world. Glass’s easy manner, as well as his choice of materials and relatable themes, conceal to an unsuspecting eye the hours of arduous effort he spends constructing the objects on display. A painted wooden pizza box in one corner of the second room of the installation bears, for example, in faux grease-stain silhouette, a subtle billowy Renaissance head - a reference to Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini, perhaps - and a greasy “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”; On the mantel, a fabricated exhibition catalogue describes bogus art historical lineages of each object in the room, such as the supposed link between a box of aluminum foil and the scene of Kurt Cobain’s death - a falsified link as, in this case, the object is not the original but was, in fact, constructed by Glass. On the surface The Cardboard Project is self-consciously Warholian, even Dadaist, in its commentary on materialism and the art world as a whole, and it is no coincidence that direct references to Warhol feature prominently in this section of the installation. Everything Glass does seems to beg the same response from his audiences: one has to look three times, and then again, to start to construct a personal understanding of the work. It is exactly such individual interrogation and reflection that Glass wishes to encourage with his work. He wants people to think for themselves: “I want people to look at [the work], and then have this reckoning. ”These days, Glass throws himself at his work with as much energy as ever, but as for Chelsea, it seems familiarity has bred increasing contempt. “That whole [Chelsea] gallery experience has become very antiseptic, ” he says, “The edges of the New York art world are starting to get very soft. There used to be a lot of grit, a lot of things you could see and do that were very experimental. With fee structures being the way they are, and […] the general appetite for culture going in the way it is, those places are starting to dry up. The idea of a place dedicated to culture is becoming outdated. The most pure artists who are making the most intrepid work are being pushed out. ”Glass defiantly positions himself, and his work at The Cell, in contrast to the sanitized galleries and mercenary tastemakers. “It’s a fashion show, it’s a popularity contest. Me, I’d rather die in obscurity than compromise, ” he says. Forays into the lucrative curatorial world - namely, a stint at a Basel art fair that he said felt like being “a vegan at a sausage festival” - have convinced Glass of the need to promote the “liberalism and open-mindedness” which he believes to be the highest virtue of art. Along those lines, the installation will feature “expeditors, or emcees, I don’t even know what to call it, ” says Glass, who will both lead guests and reinterpret the experience. Guests are likely in for a wild evening: “We’ve talked to witches and mediums and psychiatrists, and a child and woman who is like a human doll. ” Although the installation will remain largely unchanged over the course of Glass’s residency, the different "expeditors" will offer guests fresh, ephemeral takes on the artwork. Indeed, Glass seems to have entered the most ambitious phase of his career: the exhibit at The Cell will combine his artworks with augmented reality and live performance. Aiming at nothing less than a gesamkunstwerk with this experiment, Glass nonetheless has a sense of humor about the reckless abandon of his endeavors. “An artist is a portal to the zeitgeist, ” he says, then quickly: “Oh my God, that sounds so ridiculous. We’re trying to be as experimental as possible, with the risk of failing. We might fail; I just don’t give a shit. ”
As of March 2022, Eataly's rooftop bar Birreria has been turned into the pop-up SERRA. The rooftop of Eataly changes its concept each season. In 2016, for example, the sky-high spot transitioned from the beer-centric Birreria to a sea-side-themed rooftop bar called Sabbia. Each reincarnation of the bar is equally impressive, which comes as no surprise after visiting Eataly downstairs. Birreria was a sky-high brewery where Fred Avila, the head brewer, created beer in-house for three or four days out of every week. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Fred and talking to him about his experience brewing above Eataly’s impressive food palace. Fred has been working for Eataly since 2011, but he started home-brewing in 2007. He has become a master at blending different flavors together and was proud to tell me about Birreria’s two seasonal beers. Vera is a summery beer with hints of lavender and blood orange, whereas the Wanda is a dark, mild beer for the fall and winter, with a lightly roasted flavor. Fred is very attuned to the weather when he drinks beer. When I asked if he has a favorite, he said that it changes with the seasons and the forecast, though he did admit, “I love to drink Oktoberfest beers. ” He featured obscure sours and saisons (pale ales specifically brewed for warm weather) in the summertime and interesting stouts in the fall. “People used to just drink IPAs or Pilsners, ” he explained to me. It is clear that working in the beer world has become considerably more exciting. Birreria collaborated with a collection of external breweries, including Dogfish Head, a microbrewery based out of Delaware. Because Birreria was part of Eataly, the list of collaborators also included two Italian companies, Birra del Borgo and Baladin. The founder of Baladin, Teo Musso, is considered the “godfather of the Italian brewing movement, ” Fred informed me. He also let me know that he always liked to have one or two New York beers available. The food menu was no less impressive, especially since it was made entirely using produce from downstairs. Unlike other parts of Eataly, however, Birreria often strayed from Italian cuisine. For example, Fred told me about a mozzarella-stuffed quail, which sounds more Northern European than Italian. Everything on the menu was designed to pair well with the bar’s unique selection of beers, creating a perfect culinary balance. I visited Sabbia shortly after it opened in 2016. It was like a taste of the tropical seaside in the middle of Manhattan: Imagine listening to the Beach Boys and sipping on one of their signature summer cocktails while lounging on a beach chair in the cabanas. The menu is filled with seafood specials that continue the seaside resort theme. It is the perfect summer spot for those who cannot leave town, and there is a retractable roof for rainy nights.
Stepping out of the culinary carnival in the main Eataly building through the side street entrance of the calm, cool wine shop next door was a soothing experience. The space is primarily filled with Italian wines, though there is a selection of local New York varieties upstairs. Also on the second floor is the “Riserva Room, ” a temperature-controlled chamber with rare wines, mainly acquired through auctions. What surprised me about the Riserva Room, however, is that the bottles are not very expensive. Despite feeling the need to whisper inside the elegant space, I noticed that many tags quoted prices under $100. We learned from Brianna Buford, the PR Assistant, that this is so that customers do not feel intimidated to try new wines. As with the rest of Eataly, Vino is dedicated to educating the public about the quality, origin, and uses of its products. There are helpful signs in the area and tastings every week. “Staff Pick” signs give shoppers individual recommendations and there are often fun promotions whose goal is to introduce customers to new labels. For example, in 2015, the wine store hid golden corks all over Eataly, offering anyone who found one a special bottle of Vino Libero. “Vino Libero” means “free the wine, ” a motto which seems to ring true throughout the store, where wine is freed from any pretension or intimidation and presented in a playful, educational way.
Many months ago, I gathered a group of friends and family to celebrate my husband's birthday. No one had ever been to Spin, so it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to have a terrific night taking turns playing a sport most of us adore, and sharing in conversation, drinks and appetizers. As we walked down the steps into the dimly lit lobby we were greeted by a friendly hostess in a chic black outfit, and it felt as though we had entered any other swanky Manhattan club. And yet, as we turned the corner we saw immediately that this was not the case. Instead of the usual dance-filled floor, at this club we were presented with rows of ping-pong tables and couples in heated competition. The diversity of the crowd was vast and only became more so as the night went on. Businessmen off from work, their white collared shirts glowing in the black light, rallied next to serious athletes there for a workout in gym shorts and sweatbands. Young couples looking for a quirky date played next to groups of older friends there to enjoy the nostalgia of this classic game. Everyone is welcome at Spin. Serious ping pong players make the circuits, challenging worthy opponents to games while casual paddlers compete in a more leisurely game. It has never been easier to enjoy ping pong, as Spin has eliminated the frustrating need for constantly picking up stray balls - staff with fascinating contraptions collect all the balls and reload the buckets regularly. Perhaps even more exciting, servers come by to the tables with what could be described as high-class bar food - some of our favorites were the alcoholic mango slushies, the fried rice balls, and the truffle mac and cheese. The delicious food and drink are honestly worth a visit on their own, and as the club often hosts championship ping pong games, even those who do not want to grab a paddle themselves can fill up a plate and watch the action. Originally opened by ping pong enthusiasts Franck Raharinosy, Andrew Gordon, Jonathan Bricklin and Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, Spin has quickly become a hot spot both in other parts of the US and abroad.
Visions provides services for the blind and visually impaired; it is located in Selis Manor, a twelve-story apartment building dedicated to housing and assisting blind and otherwise handicapped New Yorkers of all types. Visions holds braille courses, exercise and rehabilitation classes, music programs, and various events and lectures.