Free This Week


by Jeremy Lehrer, 03/19/2014

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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 deals section for more free events.

March 19–25

Wednesday, March 19
Central Park: Southern Welcome Tour
Where: Grand Army Plaza, Central Park
When: noon–12:45pm
Central Park is the sort of place that you could never know in its entirety. Each visit leads to some new nook or discovery, and the different seasons bring out revelations of flora and fauna. An ideal way to learn more about the park's landscapes and subtleties is this free tour, which covers the southern section. The tour begins at William Tecumseh Sherman Statue in Grand Army Plaza (Fifth Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets), and covers such highlights as the Pond, Gapstow Bridge and the Dairy. The walk takes place rain or shine. 

Thursday, March 20
Susan Minot, Thirty Girls
Where: McNally Jackson
When: 8pm
Author Susan Minot will be reading from her new book, Thirty Girls, which blends fiction and nonfiction: it's a story about children in Uganda who are abducted by a rebel group led by Joseph Kony, the real-life warlord who elicited international outrage after a video about him was posted to YouTube in 2012. The narrative focuses on the experiences of Esther, one of the girls who is kidnapped and tormented, and Jane, an American journalist who travels to Uganda to write about what happened to the children. With humanitarian crises continually unfolding throughout the world, the book explores themes—wartime lawlessness, the psychological impact of terror and the privilege of expats in foreign lands—that are relevant today. It may be fiction, but it addresses the very real impact of these human rights abuses. 

Friday, March 21
Free Friday Evenings
Where: Museum of the Moving Image
When: 4–8pm
The Museum of the Moving Image owns an extraordinary collection of ephemera relating to film, television and media. In addition to checking that out, museumgoers can explore the exhibition Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception. Campbell is an artist known for his low-resolution projections, and the show collects more than 20 of his large-scale sculptural installations. He turns computers and custom electronics into sensual, visual pieces: included here are low-resolution projections, grids of LEDs, suspended lightbulbs and a digital self-portrait.

Saturday, March 22
Talib Kweli
Where: Rough Trade
When: 2pm (doors open at 1:30pm)
Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli combines a social activist bent with a preternatural ability to freestyle, stringing impromptu thoughts into rhymes, lyrical observations and political manifestos. He has cred both with the street and with big-name stars (among them, Kanye West and 50 Cent). Gravitas is Kweli's latest album, released first only as a download and as a CD and album in February. The musician will celebrate the release with a free show at Rough Trade. Kweli's mix of skillful wordcraft and irresistible beats make for compelling performances; the fact that he often brings out well-known musician friends for his performances adds to the anticipation. 

Sunday, March 23
Target Free Sundays
Where: The Studio Museum of Harlem
When: noon–6pm
The Studio Museum of Harlem, a showcase of work by artists of African descent, allows visitors to enter at no charge on Sundays. The permanent collection has a wealth of revelatory artists both well known and less so, and the current exhibition, Carrie Mae Weems: The Museum Series, offers a satisfying provocation. In this collection of photographs, Weems ruminates on the exclusionary politics of art institutions—the pictures show her outside of a number of high-profile museums and cultural collections, her back to the camera. 

Monday, March 24
Black Dress
Where: Pratt Manhattan Gallery
When: 11am–6pm
The exhibition Black Dress highlights the work of 10 black fashion designers based in New York City. Featuring clothing made by up-and-comers as well as established members of the field, the collection is organized in the form of window displays, à la Madison Avenue. For the show, curators Adrienne Jones, a fashion design professor at Pratt Institute, and Paula Coleman, an art dealer, chose Tracy Reese (designer of the dress Michelle Obama famously wore at the 2012 Democratic National Convention), Stephen Burrows (a fashion veteran who began designing in the late 1960s) and Omar Salam (of the label Sukeina), among others. Artist Carrie Mae Weems (whose work can be seen at the Studio Museum and Guggenheim) created a video specifically for the exhibition. Part of the exhibition's intent is to highlight the entrepreneurial dimensions of working in the fashion industry.

Tuesday, March 25
The Jesus Lizard, The Jesus Lizard Book
Where: Barnes & Noble Union Square
When: 7pm
Indie band the Jesus Lizard, known for propulsive, aggressive noise rock, gained a huge following in the 1990s before splitting up in 1999. The group's members—vocalist David Yow, guitarist Duane Denison, bassist David Wm. Sims and drummer Mac McNeilly—reunited in 2008 and again last year. Their latest project takes the form of a coffee table book, inventively named The Jesus Lizard Book, that documents the group's history from its genesis to the end of its first run. The tome includes photographs, art, concert histories and biographies of band members, as well as writing by the quartet and close associates (among them, producer Steve Albini). The venue has limited space and the band has a legion of fans, so it's best to come early.

related venues/(7)

  1. 1
    Central Park
    Between Fifth Ave. and Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    McNally Jackson
    52 Prince St.
    Manhattan – NoLIta
    NY 10012
  3. 3
    Museum of the Moving Image
    35th Ave. at 37th St.
    Queens – Astoria
    NY 11106
  1. 4
    Rough Trade
    64 N. 9th St.
    Brooklyn – Williamsburg
    NY 11249
  2. 5
    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    144 W. 125th St.
    Manhattan – Harlem
    NY 10027
  3. 6
    Pratt Manhattan Gallery
    144 W 14th St
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
  1. 7
    Barnes & Noble Union Square
    33 E. 17th St.
    Manhattan – Union Square
    NY 10003

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