Free in NYC


by Christina Parrella, 09/12/2012

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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.

September 12–18

Wednesday, September 12
Stephen Powers: A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures
In the '80s and '90s, Stephen Powers roamed the streets of Philadelphia and New York City, repainting storefront grates during broad daylight and adding his ESPO tag in large letters, eluding suspicion by claiming to be with the Exterior Surface Painting Outreach. During the decade that followed, he expanded into sign painting and then transitioned into the mainstream art world, with shows at galleries, museums and festivals around the world, from Deitch Projects in New York City to the Venice Biennale and Liverpool Biennial. His Love Letter public installations, in six cities on three continents, consist of text and graphics on the sides of buildings, parking garages and other public places. A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures, at the Joshua Liner Gallery, is Powers' first solo NYC show in seven years and consists of a number of enamel-on-aluminum word paintings Powers has created in his studio, including his "Metaltations," a sort of "daily diary" recording his thoughts and observations. But whether working on the streets or in the studio, "It's all words and emotion," Powers recently told i-D magazine. "I strive for sincerity and verity in everything I do."

Thursday, September 13
High Line Movies: '80s New York: Wild Style
In 1983, the loosely knit underground world of graffiti writers, breakers and hip-hop artists were celebrated in Wild Style, a film named for the fluid interlocking lettering and shapes of graffiti art that so embodied the free-spirited outlaw style of that culture. Regarded as one of the first hip-hop films and now considered a cult classic, Wild Style features a number of well-known local scenesters of the day—including Lee Quinones, Fab Five Freddy, Grandmaster Flash, Lady Pink and the Rock Steady Crew—MC'ing, break-dancing and writing graffiti. A Q&A with Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn will take place after the film screening, at the High Line's 14th Street Passage. The movie starts at 7pm; All Aboard!, a compilation of train scenes in cinematic history, will be shown beforehand, beginning at 6:30pm.

Friday, September 14
Feast of San Gennaro
For many New Yorkers, fall's arrival is officially announced not by the crunch of leaves underfoot but by the seductive aroma of grilled peppers and onions wafting from Mulberry Street. Now in its 86th year, the Feast of San Gennaro salutes the patron saint of Naples, with no shortage of celebratory activities throughout its 11 days (beginning on September 13). A highlight of the feast is the traditional Italian-American street-fair food, including cannoli, fried dough, torrone (a vanilla and almond nougat candy) and, of course, the sausage-and-pepper sandwiches. (There are even pizza- and cannoli-eating contests.) At 7pm, Gianni Russo, better known as Don Corleone's troublemaking son-in-law, Carlo Rizzi, in The Godfather film series, will provide a cabaret-style performance for festivalgoers. The commemorative parade—featuring floats, marching bands and the statue of San Gennaro—takes place on September 15, and a celebratory mass and religious procession with the statue take place on September 19.

Saturday, September 15
Lit Crawl NYC
Where writers go, drinking establishments follow—or perhaps vice versa—and the East Village and Lower East Side have never claimed to have a dearth of either. So it only makes sense that those neighborhoods are playing host to the fifth-annual Lit Crawl NYC, a bar-hopping salute to writing. From 6 to 9pm and beyond, lit lovers can flit from spot to spot listening to short story, book, magazine and poetry readings, and playing literary Mad Libs, trivia and games—all while enjoying their favorite beverage. Members of the National Book Critics Circle will also be on hand to make public apologies for their criticisms in publications including The Washington Post, The Brooklyn Rail, The Wall Street Journal and Paper magazine.

Sunday, September 16
Big Movies for Little Kids Student Film Festival
Head to Governors Island with the little ones for screenings of short films and you just might discover the City's next Martin Scorsese. The event, co-presented with the Children's Museum of the Arts, features a range of film styles, from live action to documentary to stop-motion animation—each work only four minutes or less, all made by NYC students. Budding artists can also express their creativity during video-making activities and art sessions. The fun starts at 11am.

Monday, September 17
Ann and Nancy Wilson: Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll
Join sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson of hard-rock band Heart as they read from their new book Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll. With mega-hits like "Magic Man," "Barracuda," "These Dreams" and "Alone," Heart shook up the rock-music landscape. The group has the longest-ever span of Top 10 albums by a female-fronted band, with the first being released in 1976 (Dreamboat Annie) and the most recent out in 2010 (Red Velvet Car). In the memoir, they recount this long history, as well as their intimate feelings on rock 'n' roll, from a female perspective. The event begins at 7pm at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square.

Tuesday, September 18
Floating Echo
Decompress from the frantic and feverish events of daily life with a visit to Socrates Sculpture Park, where you'll see a giant inflatable transparent statue of Buddha gently bobbing on a lotus flower in the water. Chang-Jin Lee's Floating Echo, one of the park's newest installations, evokes contemplation and reflection on the environment. It is on display through March 3, 2013, and is part of the Locating the Sacred Festival—an event meant to reconnect people with what's sacred and bring communities closer together.

related venues/(3)

  1. 1
    The High Line
    Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street
    Manhattan – Meatpacking District
    NY 10011
  2. 2
    Governors Island
    New York Harbor
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  3. 3
    Socrates Sculpture Park
    32-01 Sculpture Park at Broadway
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11106

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