Let spring sweep you up in its lovely embrace by partaking in some of the best NYC events in April. Celebrate Easter in New York by enjoying a meal at one of the best brunch spots followed by picking up some sweets at one of the city’s most mouth-watering chocolate shops. Take advantage of checking out the best NYC parks, while all the flowers and trees are blooming. Speaking of greenery, there’s even something for outdoorsy Earth-lovers—Earth Day, duh!
RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar in 2017
Featured events in April 2017
Easter Sunday: The day of pastels, egg rolling, and rabbity propaganda doesn’t seem very “cool New York” at first blush, but as with all things to do in spring, they’re as entertaining as you make them. You can gawk at the Easter Parade, seek out the best brunch NYC serves or use this as an excuse for some leisurely day-drinking at an outdoor bar.
Robert De Niro and co.’s Tribeca Film Festival has long shown a spotlight on local indie features, documentaries, foreign films, the latest from big-name talent and the greatest from up-and-coming filmmakers. We’ve got your complete one-stop-shopping guide to this year’s festival: our personal must-see picks, showtimes, ticket info, a list of nearby bars and restaurants and oh-so-much more.
Not to be confused with the season’s other stupendous garden party, the Macy’s Flower Show, the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show NYC exhibits thousands of species of beautiful blossoming orchids. Learn about the “Orchid Delirium” of the 19th century and view movie screenings and performances while enjoying the lush scents and sights of one of the best gardens in NYC.
The Brooklyn Folk Festival, which has inhabited Kings County live-music venues like the Jalopy Theater and the Bell House in past years, returns to St. Ann’s Church for its ninth-annual iteration. With its cavernous ceilings, the capacious church nave of the historic Brooklyn Heights venue is a great place to hear acoustic music of any genre. Don’t be fooled by the fest’s name: The gathering brings together acts that deal in Americana and blues as well as global sounds from places like the Middle East and Guinea.
Free NYC events in April 2017
Jeffrey Emerson, Jill Weiner and Brian Moran host this weekly night of stellar stand-up featuring a diverse range of comedians, including known names like Matteo Lane and Farah Brook and newcomers like Menuhin Hart and Melissa Diaz. The April 3 edition features Megan Walsh, Colin Lewis, Ja-Ron Young and Haley Sacks.
At this massive grub hub, there’s only one rule: Come hungry. The Brooklyn Flea spin-off draws more than 10,000 visitors per day with a slew of 75 to 100 incredible food vendors. Our pro tip? Make sure you peruse the lineup before you go—those mouthwatering scents and the bevy of choices can make you dizzy (and the dense crowds can make you hangry).
After spending nearly a year getting sequins and glitter out of their bedsheets, NYC’s mermaids and seamen are ready to undo all their hard work. Join a packed crowd on Coney Island’s streets for an epic procession of wild floats, barely clad revelers and beachside celebrating. Now in its 35th year, the world’s largest arts parade welcomes partyers of all ages to rejoice in kitsch, camp and craft, but those who are serious about their scales can register to win iconic titles, including best sea creature, best motorized float, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.
This city tradition feels fresh every spring when artists following in the footsteps of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning set up shop in the park. Hundreds of exhibitors, from NYU students to artists who remember the Village as a creative enclave, display their paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry and woodcraft.
This Lower East Side flea hosts one of the best collections of food vendors in Manhattan, with more upstarts joining the fray each week. Standouts from recent years include Adirondack Creamery, an upstate outfit that makes ice cream using local dairy, and Wonder City Coffee & Donut Bar stand—a spin-off of the Brindle Room’s morning java service.
One and One hosts this local talent showcase every Friday, with Phil Stamato, Daniel Raderstrong and Fume Abe wrangling acts from across town to headline the bill. Past guests have included Myq Kaplan, Shane Torres and Aparna Nancherla. After the show, performers get the weekend started by joining the audience for a lively afterparty. This week features Brooklyn fan-favorites Alingon Mitra, Anna Drezen, Sonia Denis and Nick Vatterott.
Music events in April 2017
What hasn't Clarke played over the course of his four-decade career? He's proficient in mainstream jazz, of course, but has also taken on chamber-scaled projects of genuine delicacy and electric fusion of arena-rock proportions. This two week residency at the Blue Note features the veteran bassist in two settings: first, he turns up with the iconic Ron Carter for a jazz bass duet of legendary proportions (March 28 through April 2); the week after, the maestro brings his Stanley Clarke Band to the stage to celebrate the release of a new CD (April 4 to April 9). He hasn't released much info on the record, but we expect an extension of his funky 2014 effort, Up, which skewed toward fusion while plumbing a range of genre impulses.
“Tam bo li de say de moi ya!” Do you know what that means? Of course not! (Because it is actually gibberish.) Will that stop you from singing along and following up with a joyous “Hey, Jambo Jumbo!” in the middle-eight section of "All Night Long"? Oh, hell no! The Commodores singer with the voice as smooth as an eel in oil comes to town for a stadium gig with megawatt singer Carey.
Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac's gold-dust woman herself, plays a massive arena gig in support of her 2014 solo album, 24 Karat Gold. (Not to fear, Mac fans; recent gigs haven't been stingy with the hits.) Formative punk–new-wave crossovers, The Pretenders, warm things up in the opening slot.
You don’t have to listen to much more than a minute of a Xiu Xiu song to understand that Jamie Stewart is upset. Indeed, nearly everything in the Durham, NC, singer’s catalog represents a shot across the bow of calmness: his vocal histrionics, the ping-ponging of intense imagery and emo straightforwardness and the wailing electronics that cut through otherwise pleasant melodies. Luwayne Glass peddles simiarly erratic mayhem in the opening set as Dreamcrusher, doling out glitchy synth anarchy, blown-out speaker textures and sinister screeches behind pupil-debilitating strobes.
Here's a treat: New Order, the seminal English postpunk outfit spawned from Joy Division, plays Radio City in support of its latest album, Music Complete. Ranging from wistful airs to thumping disco, the record's polished songcraft proves that despite the unceremonious departure of bassist Peter Hook—he called frontman Bernard Sumner a "twatto" and sued the band for millions—the guys have still got it. Fingers crossed that they'll offer up some classics like "Ceremony" alongside the new material.
Portland, Oregon's Decemberists attract a nerdily passionate following thanks to their knowing (and, to some, pretentious) indie antiquarianism. There's no certain plans on new material this time around, though the band did just release a tenth-anniversary edition of its ambitious concept album, The Crane Wife, an expansive five-record set that includes outtakes, demos and bonus tracks. The band will, however, be ringing in the opening of Williamsburg's brand-spanking new venue Brooklyn Steel over the course of three nights.
Alt-rock icon PJ Harvey’s latest release, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is another singular statement. The record balances weighty tone and musical simplicity, as when Harvey builds tracks like “The Ministry of Defence” and “The Words That Maketh Murder” around ominously bellowing horns and eerie chanting. As ever, it’s unclear just what makes Harvey tick creatively, The Hope Six Demolition Project being just the latest example of her penchant for dark, compelling songwriting rooted in odd moods. Nevertheless, her output is always arresting. Her gig is one of the best excuses to check out Williamsburg’s new, long-awaited cavernous concert digs, Brooklyn Steel, a 20,000-square-foot, 1,800-person-capacity converted warehouse run by Bowery Presents, the folks behind venues such as Terminal 5 and Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Arts events in April 2017
“Museum-quality” exhibitions at larger galleries have become the norm, but the private sector can still make bolder and nimbler moves than most of our public institutions. A case in point: This miniretrospective of the great Alice Neel, curated by the writer Hilton Als, focuses almost entirely on the white painter’s portraits of people of color. Painted between 1943 and 1978 in Neel’s inimitable style—half social realist, half wonky Expressionist—the paintings and drawings of her uptown friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow travelers form a remarkable montage of the artist’s life in a vibrant, multicultural 20th-century New York. Everyone in her pictures, from unnamed local children with big eyes to prominent artists and intellectuals of the era, seem keenly, if awkwardly, alive. In a painting dated circa 1950, for example, the African-American writer Harold Cruse—forehead aglow, somber gray suit punctuated by a vivid blue scarf—thoughtfully touches his cheek with his long fingers. In the early 1960s, Neel’s paintings became brighter and more electrically hued, but she continued to delight in portraying the “other,” including recent immigrants, stoned teenagers, pregnant women and queers. Neel’s sitters, unlike those of, say, Diane Arbus, never seem freakish but rather appear companionable. Ron Kajiwara (1971) shows the graphic designer for Vogue, full-length and seated. His long black hair and coat, crossed legs with jeans tucked into knee-high boots and hand resting ar
Luxembourg-born painter Michel Majerus died in a plane crash in 2002, at just 35 years old, but his influence continues to resonate through the practices of artists who acknowledge the critical role that digital technology plays in our lives. Majerus was among the first painters to make extensive use of Adobe Photoshop in preparing his work, using the program to layer and combine iconography sampled from video games and commercial graphic design in a way that has since become de rigueur. He borrowed from art history, too, dropping references to a range of abstract subgenres—as well as to Pop Art master Andy Warhol. This show of compositions on aluminum sheets features a striking series of five panels from 1996. Monochromatically lathered in a distinct acid-colored enamel, each is silk-screened with the identical image of the plucky Italian plumber Mario, protagonist of the seminal Donkey Kong game and its numerous spin-offs. Other works in the show feature Buzz Lightyear and Woody from the Toy Story movies, as well as abstract and typographic elements. The visual impact of Majerus’s works against the white interior of the gallery is undeniably vibrant, and like Warhol’s painting–screen-print hybrids before them, they seem to flit restlessly from one aesthetic realm to another. They make the act of looking as fun as playing a Game Boy.
Paul Chan calls the figures of his latest body of work “breathers,” and as the name suggests, they possess an uncanny organic quality that makes them hard to write off as harmless sculptures. Most of this difficulty is due to the alarming ways in which they move: Stretched over electric fans like those inflatable dancers familiar from roadside advertising, each piece consists of a nylon shell that flails and billows like a captive ghost, its range of movement determined by its internal structure. Conceived by Chan as a way to produce animation without resorting to the usual methods, the breathers represent a striking co-option of a contemporary pop-cultural object. Inspired by Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul), Chan’s exhibition is pitched as an exploration of the relationship between movement, life and consciousness. Referencing philosophy and art history, he’s interspersed his breathers with cryptic drawings of overwritten letters and numbers, suggesting glitchy computer code. Hinting at our always-incomplete understanding of the connection between mind and body, Chan once again demonstrates his rare ability to infuse familiar images, forms and situations with a sense of mystery expressed in works both visceral and bold.
The American painter R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) spent most of his career in London, making his name in the early 1960s, along with his friend David Hockney, as a key figure of British Pop Art. He has far less of a reputation here, a situation that will not be helped by this uneven survey. The offerings range from a tiny 1957 portrait of a woman done competently in the style of Henri Matisse to canvases painted in Los Angeles late in the artist’s life. The latter feature renderings in jejunely bright colors of naked ladies sporting with the older bearded artist. In between those time periods came portentously symbolic Neo-Expressionist paintings such as Germania (The Tunnel), from 1985, in which the eponymous Freudian motif is flanked by a small nude woman with a baby and a large clothed male figure—the artist again—exhibiting a cane and an exposed wiener. A blond toddler holding an open book prances in front of them. Only Kitaj’s works from the 1960s and ’70s, of which there are far too few, demonstrate why he was once seen as a major player of British painting. In Pacific Coast Highway (Across the Pacific), from 1973, a number of stylish figures melt into each other and into a vaporous, glowing seaside setting. The effect is elegant, dreamlike and slightly sinister.
Minter had already been working in New York for 30 years before her career breakout in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and in the ensuing decade, she’s dialed up her exploration of how women are objectified by fashion and the media to a Nigel Tufnel–worthy 11. Focusing on various details of the female anatomy, her photos and hyper-realist paintings demolish cultural conventions of beauty and femininity with increasingly garish élan. As the title of Minter’s first-ever career retrospective suggests, her work draws a connection between "sexy" and "filthy."
Somewhat unusually, this Frick exhibit involves a contemporary artist: Arlene Shechet, a noted ceramics sculptor whose year-long installation pairs 18th-century Royal Meissen porcelain from the collection with her own porcelain made at the Meissen factory during residencies in 2012 and 2013. A historical meditation on our fascination with the material’s delicate beauty, the show overlooks the museum’s Fifth Avenue Garden from the Portico Gallery.
As this New Museum survey shows, Raymond Pettibon has been a chronicler of America’s dark side for more than three decades, first as the in-house designer for the L.A. punk band Black Flag, then as a zine publisher and finally as an art star. Completely self-taught, Petition channels comic books, pulp fiction and film noir into text heavy drawings bristling with cynicism and spleen. The visual profusion on display here also speaks to his prodigious output of pieces, one that numbers in the ten of thousands at this point.