The New Museum's Ideas City, a Four-Day Festival of Art, Education, & Community Activism, Takes Over Downtown Starting May 1st 

SSPNY Heads Downtown for New Museum's Ideas City, A Four-Day Festival of Art, Education & Activism Starting May 1st

SSPNY caught its first Festival of Ideas for a New City put on by The New Museum just two years ago as dozens of workshops and performances filled the streets with nighttime projections all around Nolita, and inside the New Museum itself.

Two years ago The New Museum organized the great Festival of Ideas For a New City, which included nighttime projections all over Nolita (and all over the New Museum itself), dozens of workshops and performances, and a huge street fair that sprawled throughout the Lower East Side. It was probably my favorite thing that happened in this town that spring. All pictures in this post are from then. I was so disappointed when it didn't materialize last year.

SSPNY was disappointed the show and street fair wasn't out again last year, but beginning May 1st, The New Museum is coming back and having it renamed Ideas City, to welcome back 4 more days of overwhelming things to do and try, at what was conceived as a bi-annual springtime festival.

But now, excellent news, the whole spectacle is back, slightly reconfigured, maybe bigger than before, and renamed Ideas City! Turns out it was conceived as a bi-annual festival in the first place, so it arrives next month exactly on time, starting on Wednesday evening, May 1, and running almost continuously through late Saturday night, May 4. There's no way to see and do it all, and even planning my weekend at Ideas City feels overwhelming--there's SO much going on--so I'm probably going to just show up and wing it. There do seem to be a few must-do, however...

SSPNY will check out the Untapped Capital theme at this years Ideas City, based around under-recognized and utilized resources, and surpluses that must be harnessed as the catalysts for change, introducing Joi Ito, the Director of MIT Media Lab to give the keynote at this years' festival on Wednesday night at Cooper Union's Great Hall. To guarantee access to all workshops and panels, make sure to buy a $50 Festival Pass.

The theme at Ideas City will be Untapped Capital, which the organizers describe as  “under-recognized and underutilized resources and surpluses that can be harnessed as catalysts for change.” It'll be interesting to hear what Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab, has to say about that in his keynote address, on Wednesday night at Cooper Union's Great Hall. Though to ensure attendance there you'll probably need to buy a $50 Festival Pass, which guarantees access to all the workshops and panels.

Most of the Ideas City festival is totally free, including the Saturday night festival-capper, Change of State, where Nuit Blanche New York is going to throw a series of projections onto the New Museum's facade. The Ideas City festival runs from May 1st to the 4th, both organized and anchored by the New Museum on Bowery Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets.

The majority of Ideas City festival is readily accessible, however, with or without a pass, and totally free. Such as the Saturday night festival-capper, Change of State, for which the folks at Nuit Blanche New York are going to once again throw a series of projections onto the New Museum's Bowery facade. The Ideas City biggest draw, Street Fest, goes on all day Saturday, with some 125 “artists, architects, poets, technologists, historians, community activists, entrepreneurs, and ecologists” setting up booths and painting murals and staging all kinds of wild performances along Bowery and its environs. And on Friday night 14 different artists will be re-muralizing those store gates on Bowery, so stop by and say hi on your way home.  

SSPNY lastly checks out by far the biggest draw to Ideas City, the Street Fest, that goes on all day Saturday with 125 different artists, architects, poets, technologist, historians, community activists, entrepreneurs, and ecologists, setting up booths, murals, and stages of all kinds to give you a wild performance along Bowery Street, while on Friday night 14 different artists will be re-muralizing those store gates on Bowery.

The Ideas City festival runs from May 1 to May 4, and is organized and anchored by The New Museum, on Bowery between Stanton and Rivington Streets. For a complete list of Ideas City locations and calender of events, see the massive website, here.   
SSPNY also caught the Idea City's workshops and performances that lined their huge street fair sprawled out across the Lower East Side, which is hands down the coolest thing in the city to check in the Spring.

SSPNY Dines at Pearl and Ash, a Real Beauty on Bowery, with Food That Lives Up to its Looks 

SSPNY Dines at the Lovely and Delicious Pearl and Ash in Nolita, For a Real Beauty on Bowery

SSPNY dines at the always packed, beautifully designed, superbly delicious and brand spanking new restaurant on Bowery, Pearl and Ash, located on the ground floor of the Bowery House in Nolita and replacing the short-lived Bowery Kitchen to bring a deftly executed menu and reasonable prices.

How many times have I walked in all excited to a good-looking new restaurant, the place packed with good-looking people, only to leave 90 minutes later feeling like a sucker, having dropped too much cash on some prettily-plated but drearily mediocre food? Too many times. Too. Many. Times. Much more rare is the thing that happened to me the other night at the spanking-new stunner on Bowery, Pearl and Ash. Here, on the ground floor of the Bowery House, replacing the short-lived Bowery Kitchen, is a fun, beautifully-designed space, with an interesting, appealing menu, deftly executed by a seriously talented crew. AND the reasonable prices at Pearl and Ash allow you to try a bunch of things without racking up an enormous bill.

SSPNY tries out multiple things on the menu from world renowned Executive Chef Richard Kuo, who previously worked at Corton, wd-50, and Williamsburg's Frej, and now serves unique and complex dishes such as this trio of dense Pork Meatballs with shitakes, a wine sauce, and bonito flakes to give it a hearty and satisfying taste to die for and a wine list to match.

The kitchen at Nolita's Pearl and Ash is run by Chef Richard Kuo, whose last gig was co-owning and cooking at the Williamsburg pop-up Frej, acclaimed for its inventive Scandavian fare. Also on Kuo's CV are stints at Corton and wd-50. Basically: the man can cook, and he's not likely to send out anything you've already seen a million times. The design of Pearl and Ash, by Brooklyn's Sway/Parts + Labor, is warm and lovely, with most of the restaurant's wall space given over to Joseph Cornell-ish wooden boxes, housing still lifes and oddities and what seems like a thousand flickering candles. There's a long bar to your right, an open kitchen window in the back, a couple of nice nooks and a homey communal table which, yes, is a bit of a cliche, but it really helps getting people quickly seated. The only misfire is the music, a mix of '70s radio rock and '50s doo-wop that would seem out of place pretty much anywhere (except a Bay Ridge slice joint?) but seems particularly discordant here.

SSPNY next tried out the Mackerel, with a slab of oily full-flavored fish paired with warm potato salad and  pickled Israeli cucumbers and then the star of the entire meal the Quail dish with boned ovals of tender, gamey meat with almonds, pomegranate, and chewy chicken skin, all of which can be offered in half sizes so you can double the amount of dishes you can try.

Anyway, if it's the pretty space the lures you in to Pearl and Ash, it's the food (and, I hear, the wine list) that will keep you coming back. Pretty much everything here sounds appealing, so I was happy that Chef Kuo offers all of his entrees in half sizes as well, so I could double up on my dishes. I started with a trio of dense Pork Meatballs, served with shitakes, a wine-y sauce, and an still-undulating topping of bonito flakes. These were hearty, complex, and satisfying. There are plenty of swimmers on the Pearl and Ash menu, including a terrific Mackerel, the slab of oily, full-flavored fish paired with a warm potato salad and chunks of pickled Israeli cucumbers. But the star of the night was my Quail dish, the boned ovals of tender, gamey meat complemented nicely by almonds, tart pomegranate, and some chewy chicken skin. Seems like Kuo and company have a certified winner on their hands.

Pearl and Ash is located on Bowery just between Prince and Spring Streets in Nolita, open for drinks and dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 12 midnight, open Friday and Saturday until 2am, and closed on Sunday.

Pearl and Ash is located on Bowery between Prince and Spring Streets, and is open for drinks and dinner on Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Friday and Saturday until 2:00 a.m. Closed Sunday. More info, and the complete Pearl and Ash menu, can be found here.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita


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