In 2011, the New Museum of Contemporary Art—an institution dedicated to fresh concepts—took its forward-thinking philosophy to the streets with a Festival of Ideas for the New City. The four-day smorgasbord of events posited what New York might look like in the years to come. The biennial event returns this year with a truncated name and a full lineup, running from Wednesday 1 through May 4 on the Lower East Side. The blowout of exhibits, workshops, performances, screenings and food is programmed around the theme of “untapped capital” and exploring NYC’s underutilized resources. At the heart of Ideas City is StreetFest, an outdoor celebration taking place May 4 around the Bowery and Sara D. Roosevelt Park, during which artists, activists, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens come together to brainstorm our city’s future possibilities. Of the 200-plus items on the menu, here are our top picks.
If you want to enjoy art alfresco…
“After Hours 2: Murals on the Bowery”
When the shops close up, the art comes out: As at the 2011 festival, the roller shutters of several Bowery storefronts become canvases for 14 emerging and established artists. Nonprofit Art Production Fund and high school students in the New Museum’s G:Class youth program chose the participants, including L.A.-based mixed-media artist Laura Owens and Dublin-born conceptualist Michael Craig-Martin. Next to each piece is a phone number that visitors can call to hear an audio description of the work; to locate the murals, grab a map from the New Museum lobby. Bowery between E Houston and Grand Sts. Thu 25–Sept 29; free.
“Tap the Trash”
One man’s trash is another man’s sculpture at this exhibit. Artists Maria Luisa Tamara and Gregory VandeHey, of Materials for the Arts, use detritus from creative companies (such as fabric, props and promo materials from Sony, Prada and Google) to create engaging works of art. Gawkers can get in on the sculpting with the help of on-site facilitators and a full supply of ready-to-use recycled materials. Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St between E Houston and Rivington Sts. May 4 1am–6pm; free.
Nuit Blanche New York: Change of State
The New Museum’s seven-story exterior is thrust into the spotlight in this evening display. Around a dozen works in a range of mediums—from text to video—will be projected onto the building’s facade as a reminder of the power public spaces have to communicate a message, even if tourists are the only ones who ever look up to appreciate it. New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery at Prince St. May 4 8pm–midnight; free.
If you want to master a new skill…
Time’s Up Energy Bikes!
Watch as the bicyclists, mechanics and electrical engineers of environmental nonprofit Time’s Up! build belt- and friction-driven generators that create electrical energy while you pedal. Afterward, you’ll learn these same tricks—just make sure you’re paying close attention if you want to replicate these modifications at home. The Old School, 233 Mott St between Prince and Spring Sts. May 3 10–11:30am; free.
COMMON SPACE: SOCIAL MIRRORING
Drinking isn’t the only way to become the life of the party: Social mirroring—interacting through mimicry (but not in a creepy way)—can work too, plus it doesn’t cause a hangover. Participants in this multisensory workshop will explore the ways in which laughter yoga, choreographed movement and other artistic techniques can reinforce your sense of self, and ease social anxiety. The Old School, 233 Mott St between Prince and Spring Sts. May 3 noon–1:30pm; free.
Space Dance Workshop
Stretchy fabrics have a way of making us far too aware of our bodies; just try on a pair of spandex shorts and you’ll see what we mean. But dancer-choreographer Tetsuro Fukuhara is turning this oft-dreaded mind-body connection into a positive experience with a performance-workshop dedicated to New Butoh, an avant-garde movement style. Climb inside a transparent fabric tube and discover a new awareness of your body through interacting with the structure—and watching others do the same. La MaMa Rehearsal Studios, 47 Great Jones St between Bowery and Lafayette St, fourth floor. May 2 6–9pm; $35.
If you want to wander through StreetFest…
Trailer Park: Mobile Public Park
Green spaces become portable, thanks to interdisciplinary artist Kim Holleman, who recently showcased her unique mix of art and architecture at TEDxCooperUnion. She’s created a small-scale park—filled with native New York plants, mosses, grasses, trees, shrubs and wildflowers—in a movable, 14-foot trailer. While it may not be as physically taxing to cross as Central Park, there are concrete and wooden benches for explorers to rest their weary gams. Bowery at Stanton St. May 4 11am–6pm; free.
If you’ve seen Casino Royale and still remember James Bond’s fancy footwork in the opening scene, you know how transfixing this urban art form can be. Local practitioners the Movement Creative will sprint, spring, scale and swing their way through this display, which teaches wanna-bes how to experience their built environments in new and pulse-pounding ways. Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie St between E Houston and Rivington Sts. May 4 11am–6pm; free.
Six months after Hurricane Sandy hit, the storm’s impact is still being felt by many New York and New Jersey residents. Affected citizens share their tales and recollections in this evolving, participatory documentary project, intended to both capture a historical moment and promote healing through storytelling. An exhibit will showcase a selection of the already-collected narratives, some of which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Find out how to submit your own story by visiting sandystoryline.com. Stanton St between Bowery and Chrystie St. May 4 11am–6pm, free.