Expert Picks

Here’s What Our Culture Experts Are Doing in January—And You Should, Too!

Marching bands! Hip hop meets jazz! Matzo balls and okra stew! Here’s what our experts are excited about this month.

Photo by Toan Vu-Huu/Courtesy of Daiga Grantina Studio

Kick off the new decade sampling a few provocative, transformative, and groundbreaking cultural events, something New York City has been offering every month of every year since 1624.

Immersive

The Woman in Black at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, begins January 8

Now entering its 30th year in London’s West End, this adaptation of Susan Hill’s ghost tale comes to the venue where Sleep No More has been dazzling crowds for years. The Woman in Black tells the story of a young lawyer who stumbles upon a small town with a grave secret. Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation was first shown in a theater bar, and so it comes back to its boozy roots at the McKittrick. —David Cote, theater expert

Find more NYC immersive theater classics!

Photo by Robert Day/Courtesy of McKittrick Hotel
The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker at La MaMa in the East Village, begins January 23

This multidisciplinary play, celebrating the life of the self-taught African-American astronomer and mathematician living in 18th-century America, features almost too many things to fit on a single stage: a marching band, puppets, projection screens, and real high school students contributing autobiographical material. Somehow the team at La MaMa pulls it off without a hitch. Ross Tipograph, performance expert

Art

Kim Gordon at 303 Gallery in Chelsea, begins January 10

This vanguard rock legend is more than just her music. The former Sonic Youth member has moonlighted across different cultural fields throughout the past three decades but most predominantly in the art realm. Inspired by insidious forces interrupting our familiar worlds, Gordon brings her multidisciplinary works to this Chelsea gallery for a limited run. —Sayaka Ueno, photo editor

Pieter Hugo at Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea, begins January 10

A string of trips to central Mexico prompted this South African photographer to focus his next portrait collection, “La Cucaracha,” on the country’s candid perspectives on sex and death. Despite the raw subject matter, Hugo’s photography showcases the culture in a vibrant manner. —Sayaka Ueno, photo editor

Pieter Hugo, Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Daiga Grantina at the New Museum on the Lower East Side, begins January 21

Grantina makes large-scale sculptural assemblages that emulate the natural world, often resembling terrariums and vegetation. Employing industrial and synthetic materials, her configurations incorporate conflicting physical qualities: soft and hard, transparent and opaque, mobile and static. Molly Surno, art expert 

Music

Don Slepian: Sea of Bliss at Bushwick Methodist Church, January 11

This unconventional venue evolves into an ambient wonderland with architecturally mapped projections and synth sounds from the piano pioneer. Accompanying Slepian inside the church is Cali-based lo-fi artist Ana Roxanne and local composer-flautist JAB. —Sayaka Ueno, photo editor

Get drinks afterward at a nearby Bushwick bar.

Photo courtesy of Ambient Church
Never Records at BAM in Fort Greene, begins January 15

I love everything about this project, a conceptual interactive piece by artist Todd Riederer that is a mix between a record store, community hub, and recording studio. Molly Surno, art expert 

Here’s where to eat and drink before and after your BAM visit!

Photo courtesy of Never Records | Ted Riederer/Facebook

Dining

From Seed to Supper at the Staten Island Museum in Snug Harbor, January 16

You may not know much about Gullah culture and cuisine just yet, but BJ Dennis is changing the conversation. The renowned chef heads up north for an interactive exploration of the Low Country’s culinary roots stemming all the way to West Africa. —Jess Bender, dining and drinking expert

Photo by Keely Laughlin/Courtesy of Charleston City Paper
Let the Right One In at Prospect Park Nitehawk Cinema in Park Slope, January 21

Leave it to Nitehawk Cinema to concoct a bloody five-course feast inspired by a Swedish vampire movie. Each dish comes with a paired cocktail, compliments of Absolut, so you might want to draft your sick-day email beforehand. —Jess Bender, dining and drinking expert

Photo courtesy of Absolut/Facebook
Unexpected Pairings at the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem, January 30

Comfort food is defined by its sentimentality to a particular eater, so almost any dish can fall into this category. Katz’s Delicatessan’s Jake Dell and Teranga’s Pierre Thiam divulge what comfort food means to them in a conversation with Julie Moskin from The New York Times. And yes, they’ll be serving some of their favorite nostalgic bites along with it. —Jess Bender, dining and drinking expert

Nightlife

Bowltrane at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, January 16

Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli first made his mark on the hip-hop scene with partner Mos Def as the duo Black Star. The pair’s first and only album heralded the start of the late-’90s “conscious rap” scene and cemented Kweli as a major talent with a subsequent solo career. Tonight he’ll play the role of DJ as part of Winter Jazzfest at the combination concert hall/bowling alley Brooklyn Bowl to spin a late-night set of classics and rarities by saxophonist John Coltrane. —John Seroff, music expert

Check out this interview with the owner of Brooklyn Bowl, Peter Shapiro!

Leon Vynehall at Elsewhere in Bushwick, January 17

Deep house experimentalist Vynehall’s music is by turns beguiling, exhilarating, and blissfully uplifting. He’ll be headlining a collective that includes DJs Moxie, Physical Therapy, and Alejandra Sabillón for the first show of the year at Elsewhere Hall’s monthly late-night dance party, Elseworld. —John Seroff, music expert

Photo by Luis Nieto Dickens/Courtesy of Elsewhere

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