Free This Week


by Erin O'Hara, 04/17/2013

« »
  • print

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.

April 17–23

Wednesday, April 17
Jon Kessler: The Web
Where: Swiss Institute
When: noon–6pm
It's a rare phenomenon to walk down the street without seeing any number of people looking down, seemingly transfixed by the smartphone in their hands. Artist Jon Kessler has taken that aspect of modern life and made it a part of his art. His installation, The Web, is composed of real-time images recorded by viewers who are in the gallery experiencing the artwork. Visitors are invited to download a custom iPhone app that allows them to create the visuals that are projected on the installation's many monitors. Inspired by a subway ride during which the artist observed many people around him who were completely absorbed in their phones, The Web is both a commentary on our new screen-centered reality and a manifestation of it. 

Thursday, April 18
Reel Lives Documentaries
Where: American Folk Art Museum
When: 6pm
Reel Lives, a nonprofit filmmaking organization dedicated to giving marginalized youths the opportunity to tell their stories, is screening original documentaries by three budding filmmakers. In Segundo Hogar, which translates to "second home," Hosbel Hernandez relates his story as a teenage Dominican immigrant living in New York City and pursuing dance while struggling to gain understanding from his family about his passion. A girl named Etty invites viewers into her life growing up in the Lubavitcher Jewish community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and rebelling against the lifestyle's rules and traditions in Off the Derech, which translates to "off the path." Burning Tibet depicts the Asian region's struggle for independence from Chinese rule through the eyes of a young Tibetan, Jampal Tsering. Each film is about 12 minutes long and will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling Rachel Rosen at 212-265-1040, ext. 381, or emailing her at

Friday, April 19
Wires Under Tension
Where: BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
When: 9:30pm
BAM has long committed to showcasing up-and-coming and avant-garde musicians in its ongoing free BAMcafé Live series. Check out Wires Under Tension, a South Bronx duo whose experimental and energetic sound features synthesizers, drums, violins, loop pedals, electronic samples and more. The result is buoyant, charming and likely to appeal to fans of a variety of genres. Catch the pair in the Peter Jay Sharp Building at the BAMcafé, where you can also purchase a cocktail and a snack to kick off the weekend.

Saturday, April 20
Hand-made Crafternoon with Amy Azzarito
Where: New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
When: 2–4pm
Librarian Jessica Pigza and author Maura Madden host the New York Public Library's monthly Hand-made Crafternoon, where attendees are invited to make a new craft. This time, they're joined by Amy Azzarito, Design*Sponge blog managing editor and author of the new book Past and Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them. Azzarito has been writing for Design*Sponge for years, and she'll be leading the group in creating something from her book, which is full of modern and exciting projects paired with thoughtful essays about the historical decor that inspired them.

Sunday, April 21
Earth Day
Where: citywide
When: various times
Given the Earth's rapidly changing climate and the dramatic increase in the frequency of catastrophic natural disasters, there is more urgency than ever to be focused on the environment. Show some love for our home planet and learn how to help the cause at NYC's annual Earth Day celebrations. This year, Earth Day New York is presenting performances and activities for kids, sustainability talks and more in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall from 10am to 6pm, April 20–22. The main outdoor event takes place in Union Square on April 21, 11am to 6pm, featuring live performances, a sneak peek at some innovative new earth-friendly vehicles and exhibitions and displays from environmental organizations and businesses. For a really hands-on Earth Day commemoration, help clean up one of the City's many beaches and parks. Head to Staten Island's Fort Wadsworth at 10am on April 20 or Great Kills Park at 1pm on April 21 to volunteer your time and help restore the beauty of a borough that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy just a few months ago. Check out for more information about Earth Day events around the five boroughs.

Monday, April 22
"Waking Up the Farm" Earth Day Celebration
Where: Hattie Carthan Herban Farm
When: 11am–6pm
Farm life might seem worlds away from a city-dwelling existence, but the two worlds are growing ever more entwined with the rise of urban farming on rooftops and in parks and patches of soil citywide. To learn more about the practice, start with a morning grounding exercise at 11am, then prepare to dig in. Farmer Yon leads the Seed Starting Workshop, where farmers-for-the-day will learn about seeds; make their own germination mix; label, package and prepare last year's seeds for the 2013 planting season; and receive their own heirloom seeds and planting calendar. Afterward, enjoy a mid-afternoon snack—healthy and vegetarian, of course. At 1pm, learn how to make a wild weed salad using fresh herbs and weeds from the garden, and at 1:30, the real old-fashioned farm dirty work begins. Add fresh compost to the rows of plants, repaint farm signs and re-thatch the roof of the herbal apothecary. The day ends with a vision circle, for which each farmhand is asked to bring a symbol of Earth that is special to them. 

Tuesday, April 23
Michael Pollan: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Where: Barnes & Noble – Union Square
When: 7pm
New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan—known for beloved books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto—will be at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square to read from and discuss his newest effort, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. The book explores new territory for Pollan, who has written extensively about food but hasn't really gotten into preparing it himself in his work. Studying with culinary experts from around the world, he learns how to make basic staples like bread and cheese and in so doing explores the relationship of cooks to food, nature and culture.

related venues/(3)

  1. 1
    American Folk Art Museum
    2 Lincoln Square
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10023
  2. 2
    BAM - Brooklyn Academy of Music
    30 Lafayette Ave.
    Brooklyn – Downtown Brooklyn
    NY 11217
  3. 3
    Union Square
    14th St to 17th St
    Manhattan – Union Square
    NY 10003

check-in date

check-out date