Free in NYC


by Erin O'Hara, 05/11/2011

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

May 11–17

Wednesday, May 11
A Conversation About Design and the New York City Subway System
Although Helvetica is regarded as the official typeface of the New York City subway system, it was not actually the one specified by Unimark International, the company that created the subway's unified signage system in the 1960s. In his new book, Helvetica and the New York City Subway System, design historian Paul Shaw explores the transition from Unimark's original intentions to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's adoption of Helvetica, while also dipping into the subway's fascinating design backstory, in which the transit system's three original lines—the IRT, BMT and IND—presented a hodgepodge of design styles, many of which are still evident today. Join Shaw and Jan Conradi, the author of Unimark: The Design of Business and the Business of Design, at Strand Book Store at 7pm for a discussion about the design elements of the subway system, modern design and more.

Thursday, May 12
The Kate Moss Portfolio and Other Stories
"Even though I wasn't that naive at the time, I really look it," Kate Moss told The New York Times of her favorite image in the career-spanning portfolio she's created with Danziger Projects. The black-and-white photograph, shot by her then-boyfriend, fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti, in 1993, features a 19-year-old, nude and doe-eyed Moss. "I'd left London and went to New York and everything started to happen," she said of the time the photo was taken. Working runways and gracing magazine covers at "just" 5 feet, 7 inches, and well into her 30s, the English supermodel has defied (and defined) industry standards. This series reflects the coalescence of fashion and art, with images by Mert & Marcus, Chuck Close, Annie Leibovitz and more.

Friday, May 13
The Emerging Landscape
The work featured in the group exhibition The Emerging Landscape: Photographs and Drawings Exploring Real and Imaginary Landscapes attempts to blur the line between reality and fantasy, and between existing and dream worlds. Photos of fires raging on lakes at dusk; pathways through the woods; figures obscured by shadow, light and fog; and myriad images that act as optical illusions due to perspective, reflection and double exposure enable viewers to craft multiple interpretations of individual pieces and to question the true nature of perception. The opening reception begins at 6pm at Society contemporary art gallery.

Saturday, May 14
The Big Swim
Asphalt Green, a not-for-profit sports complex on Manhattan's Upper East Side, helps both children and adults become healthy through exercise and athletic activity. On May 14, its annual Big Swim invites children ages 6 to 12 who are not on a swim team to come out and compete in a real swim meet. Kids will swim a 25-yard freestyle in deep water against others in their age group for a chance to win the title of Big Swim Champion in their division. As a bonus, Olympic swimmers from around the world—including Mark Ruiz and Glenn Mills (USA); Margi Pedder (England); Carlos Arena (Mexico); Konstantin Petrov (Russia); Adam Sioui (Canada); as well as US National Swim Team members Bryan Gillooly and Chris Mantilla—will be on hand to offer encouragement. In addition, three-time Olympian Rowdy Gaines, the event host, will be appearing at a fundraiser for the complex being held that day as well.

Sunday, May 15
Meditation and Yoga Classes at the Yoga Journal Conference
Yoga Journal, a premier yoga lifestyle magazine covering everything from yoga poses and meditation to healthy eating and eco-friendly topics, is holding a large conference in Midtown's Hilton New York hotel. The conference is for advanced yogis and teachers as well as beginners who want an intensive weekend to take their yoga practice to the next level. But you don't have to be a guru or even a conference attendee to get a piece of the relaxation. At 7am, join Narayani Nichols for a soothing meditation. A few easy poses help relax your muscles, after which a 20-minute silent meditation allows you to release all tension. Then, at 1pm, Nichols leads a yoga class through asanas and guided meditation, designed to give you both exercise and a sense of spiritual peace. Both classes are free and open to the public.

Monday, May 16
Sherlock's Daughter, ZAZA and A Place to Bury Strangers
Australia's Sherlock's Daughter and local bands ZAZA and A Place to Bury Strangers—the latter of whom will be spinning a DJ set—appear at Knitting Factory in a free show as part of the venue's Monday Night Lights residency. Sherlock's Daughter plays soft folky indie with delicate female vocals and harmonies—and if you get hooked, you can check them out every following Monday in May (doors open at 7pm; the show starts at 8pm). ZAZA has been making an impression in Brooklyn and beyond in recent years with their dreamy percussive tunes with distinct shoegaze influences. Almost painfully noisy rockers A Place to Bury Strangers takes a break from their guitars and custom-built pedals (courtesy of front man Oliver Ackermann's own company and music venue, Death by Audio) and takes their turn on the turntables. It's anyone's guess as to what they'll play, but we're thinking it'll be loud.

Tuesday, May 17
Scott Weiland: Not Dead & Not for Sale
Scott Weiland, outlandish lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots, discusses his memoir, Not Dead & Not for Sale, at 7pm at the Union Square location of Barnes & Noble. The book, being released the same day by Simon & Schuster, explores his childhood, his relationships with his parents and stepfather, his career during the era-defining music scene of the '90s, his ongoing struggles with drugs and alcohol, his marriage to model Mary Forsberg Weiland and what he considers to be his most important job, as a father to his two children.

related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    Strand Book Store
    828 Broadway
    Manhattan – Union Square
    NY 10003
  2. 2
    Danziger Projects
    527 W. 23rd St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  3. 3
    Society Contemporary Art
    595 Madison Ave., 7th fl.
    Manhattan – Midtown East
    NY 10022
  1. 4
    New York Hilton Midtown
    1335 Sixth Avenue
    Manhattan – Times Square
    NY 10019

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