Just Do Art!



A few weeks ago, we wrote about accompanying a paranormal investigator sleuthing his way through the Merchant’s House Museum (see “My Night in a Haunted (Merchant’s) House” at www.downtownexpress.com).

It turns out their annual late October Ghost Tours, which we recommended, did not disappoint (several visitors swore they were tapped on the shoulder by impatient, hopefully playful spirits). And why not? Unexplained things have been happening here for decades. That’s because MHM (built in 1832) is NYC’s only family home preserved intact — inside and out — from the 19th century.

Now, the residence-turned museum is hosting Two Turns Theatre Company’s production of “The Turn of the Screw” — a Jeffery Hatcher-penned adaptation of the Henry James 1898 ghost story. There’s no guaranteeing MHM’s well-documented resident spirits will make a cameo, but the sober historians who lovingly oversee MHM have many well-vetted stories to tell involving paranormal happenings taking place during a multitude of public events.

As for the story, “The Turn of The Screw” is the told-in-flashback tale concerning a young governess who ventures to a secluded English country estate to care for an orphaned brother and sister haunted by more than just memories. Director Ken Cerniglia sets the action within a narrow strip between audience members — who are situated on two long rows of chairs spanning the considerable length of MHM’s front and rear parlors (which are bookended by two spectacularly tall mirrors framed by red silk damask curtains).

The two-person cast uses this uniquely-constructed performance space to milk every last drop of claustrophobia and dread from the tale — which is headed for no good from word one. As the governess, Christina LaFortune projects determination, righteousness and an inner strength she draws on to navigate the increasingly bizarre events. Vince Gatton plays the distant uncle, the young brother and the stonewalling female housekeeper with none of the showboating that a lesser actor might have instinctively wrung from the occasionally humorous script.

Throughout 70 intermissionless minutes, the two actors pace, mutter, scream and cry their way through the strange tale. Their emotional outbursts and hushed revelations make it seem as if we’re eavesdropping on an 1890s domestic drama unfolding in a stranger’s living room — which, of course, is exactly what we’re doing. Historical lighting by Vincent Plescia and an original pre-show suite composed by Bryan Louiselle further contribute to this unique site-specific experience.

Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. At the Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St. btw. Lafayette & Bowery). 70 minutes, no intermission, no late seating. For tickets, call 212-868-4444 or visit www.twoturns.com. For all things Merchant’s House, visit www.merchantshouse.org.


J&R continues its relentless series of in-store events featuring big names. On Dec. 3 at 6 p.m., Indigo Girls will perform songs from (and autograph copies of) their new album “Holly Happy Days.” At J&R Music World, 23 Park Row. For more info, visit www.jr.com.


This walking tour lets it be known that 100 years after his death, (figurative) footprints remain in Manhattan made by Samuel L. Clemens (better known as Mark Twain). “Mark Twain’s New York” reveals the specifics of the famed Missouri-born, Mississippi-bred author’s decades-long relationship with our decidedly northern town. Writer Peter Salwen leads this tour of little-known Twain-related sites peppered throughout Lower Manhattan. Tickets are $20. The walk starts at Bdway and Spring St., on the southeast corner (in front of the Gap store). Walks take place at 1 p.m., Sats. and Suns., through Nov. 28. The “Mark Twain’s New York” birthday tour happens at 1 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 30 (Mark Twain’s 175th birthday!). For details, call 917-620-5371 or visit www.salwen.com/twain.pdf.


Whether you’re a centuries-old painter or a modern photographer, the voyeuristic dynamic shared by artist, audience and subject continues to fascinate. Need proof? You probably stared at the accompanying photo on this page before you dug into this descriptive text. “The Naiads” is Tony Gonzalez’s new photographic series of 20 contemporary images inspired by Neoclassical and Realist paintings. These contemporary photos with a watercolor look put the distinctive stamp of the photographer on the classic painterly nude. The result, as the sponsoring gallery and the artist assert, is an exhibit extolling the virtues of “a 19th century sensibility working in a 21st century world.” Far from idealizing his nudes, Gonzalez asserts that his work “empowers women, offering balance and an intimate connection with nature that still exists outside of today’s techno-global bubble.” See for yourself if the artist ponies up some money where his mouth is — but do it before December 31. At Cheryl McGinnis Gallery (555 8th Ave., Suite 710). For info, visit www.tonygonzalezartist.com and www.cherylmcginnisgallery.com.


Los Angeles-based street artist Alec Monopoly has been welcomed, indoors, by NYC. His current exhibition — “Alec Pass Go” — is currently showing in a 3,800-square-foot pop-up gallery space. On that other coast, Monopoly has gained some notoriety (according to the press release) for his wheat pasting and graffiti campaigns depicting Monopoly men and other iconic pop figures. Those figures include Johnny Knoxville (of “Jackass” infamy), Michael Jackson and Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in full-on mohawk psycho mode. It’s difficult to tell if Mr. Monopoly is fetishizing or mocking his chosen icons — or, for that matter, whether his renderings shamelessly pillage or slyly reinvent the Warhol references that cast a long 5 o’clock shadow over the proceedings. Through Nov. 22, at 300 W. 22nd St (at Eighth Ave.) To purchase prints, visit www.AlecArtShow.com. For examples of Monopoly’s street art and canvas work, www.flickr.com/alecmonopoly.


The Educational Alliance hosts this Boutique Flea Market — featuring a bounty of Lower East Side booty that’s yours for the reasonably priced taking. Hand-made knitted wear (hats, sweaters, blankets & afghans), toys, purses, jewelry under $5 and used books under $1 are among the promised treasures. The proceeds will benefit the Educational Alliance’s Co-op Village NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) — a unique program for older adults living in the Lower East Side co-ops, providing support and community through arts and culture, health and wellness, social events and more. The bargain madness starts at 11 a.m. on Sun., Nov. 21 and continues until 3 p.m. that very same day. At The Educational Alliance’s Co-op Village NORC (477 FDR Drive at Grand St.), in Community Room M. For more info, visit www.edalliance.org or phone 646-395-4510.


Every Sunday, the Klezmer Brunch Series pairs top tier musicians with top tier lox and bagels. At 155 Varick St. at Vandam. Call 212-608-0555 or, for a full schedule of upcoming events, visit www.citywinery.com.


Proceeds pay for Housing Works’ services for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. Housing Works Bookstore Café is located at 126 Crosby St. For info, call 212-966-0466, x1104 or visit www.housingworksbookstore.org.  


Their Battery Park City home has a 50,000-volume poetry library, a children’s room, a multimedia archive, a programming hall and a reading room. Most events are $10, $7 for students/seniors and free to Poets House members. At 10 River Terrace, at Murray St. Call 212-431-7920 or visit www.poetshouse.org.


Naima Rauam’s depiction of the Fulton Fish Market hammers home the loss of that longtime Downtown destination with images rendered in the melancholy mediums of watercolor and charcol. Her visual recollections depict a time when the streets of the Seaport came alive every night with the buying and selling of fish. Through Nov. 28, at 210 Front St. (corner of Beekman, South St. Seaport). Exhibit Hours:  Tues.-Sun., 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day). For more info, call 212-964-8465 or visit www.artpm.com/shows.htm. Rauam’s limited edition prints are now available at the South St. Seaport Museum Shop (12 Fulton St.). Notecards of her watercolors are available at Bowne & Company (211 Water St., South St. Seaport).

Would you like to see your event listed? Listing requests may be sent to scott@downtownexpress.com. Please provide the date, time, location, price and a description of the event. Information may also be mailed to 145 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013. Requests must be received three weeks before the event is to be published. Questions? Call 646-452-2497.