5 Things to Do on Labor Day Weekend

Our critics and writers have selected noteworthy cultural events to experience virtually and in person in New York City.

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Art & Museums

MoMA PS1’s Engaging Courtyard

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Niki de Saint Phalle’s “La femme et L’oiseau fontaine” (1967) will be on view in MoMA PS1’s courtyard until Monday.Credit…Niki Charitable Art Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris; MoMA PS1; Marissa Alper

In 1997, the courtyard at MoMA PS1 became the main venue for “Warm Up,” a summer event that mingled art, music and design in order to draw new audiences. But things change. “Warm Up” certainly hasn’t gone away, but last fall, the institution began “PS1 Courtyard: an experiment in creative ecologies,” a program testing out ways to use the outdoor space that encourage community engagement.

The initiative’s projects include a fountain from Niki de Saint Phalle, part of a larger exhibition at PS1 that closes on Monday, and Rashid Johnson’s “Stage.” Visitors are welcome to get up on his installation’s large yellow platform and freely use its five live microphones of varying heights. By showing a microphone as a dynamic social tool, Johnson’s piece, which will be on view through the fall, indicates the many things a stage can represent: a site of protest, music making, solidarity and, most important, amplification of your voice.
MELISSA SMITH

Film Series

Scenes From Every Season

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A scene from “A Summer’s Tale,” one of four features in Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons, all of which Film Forum will screen through Sept. 9.Credit…Janus Films

The maximalist moviegoing event of Labor Day weekend is “Lawrence of Arabia,” screening on Saturday and Sunday on 70-millimeter film at the Museum of the Moving Image. But for a minimalist alternative, try Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons — four features, each set at a different time of year, that Rohmer, the most conversation-oriented French New Wave director, turned out from the late 1980s through the late 1990s. (Together, the running times total roughly two showings of “Lawrence of Arabia.”) With the changing of the seasons, Film Forum is showing all the titles separately from Friday through Sept. 9.

Watching them in tandem illustrates how Rohmer — superficially so consistent and serene — subtly toys with structure and variation, recombining types of characters in friendships and romances that rarely develop as expected. The most summery is, naturally, “A Summer’s Tale.” Melvil Poupaud plays a commitment-phobe vacationing in Brittany who somehow winds up juggling a surfeit of commitments to women.
BEN KENIGSBERG

Jazz

Celebrating a Visionary Record Label

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Charles Tolliver at the 50th anniversary of Another Earth in 2019. Through Saturday, he will be celebrating another 50th anniversary at Birdland — that of the record label he started with Stanley Cowell, Strata-East.Credit…Lev Radin/Pacific Press, via Getty Images

In 1971, seeking refuge from an exploitive, increasingly commercialized jazz industry, the trumpeter Charles Tolliver and the pianist Stanley Cowell founded Strata-East, a record label offering artists creative freedom and relative commercial control. Though short-lived, Strata-East inspired Black musicians in other cities to undertake similar efforts. And it captured a moment in time: Nearly every Strata-East album simmers with the heat and tension of the Black Power era, delivering terse, syncopated rhythms and pushing jazz linguistics into a more spare, confrontational zone.

Cowell died last year after a prolific career, but Tolliver, 79, continues to perform. At Birdland through Saturday, he is celebrating the label’s 50th anniversary with an ensemble of all-stars, including some who recorded on Strata-East in the 1970s: the tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, the pianist George Cables, the bassist Buster Williams and the drummer Lenny White. Sets are at 7 and 9:30 p.m. The late show on Saturday, which will also be livestreamed at dreamstage.live, will feature a guest appearance by the storied bassist Cecil McBee and will be hosted by the actor Danny Glover.
GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Comedy

No Labor for These Laughs

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Erik Griffin in his Showtime special “AmeERIKan Warrior.” He is headlining at Carolines on Broadway through Saturday.Credit…Showtime

Even workaholics know they should take it easy this weekend, and fans of “Workaholics” will recognize the headliner at Carolines on Broadway through Saturday: Erik Griffin, who played Montez Walker on that Comedy Central sitcom. Griffin also portrayed a stand-up in “I’m Dying Up Here,” a dramedy about comedy in the 1970s on Showtime, where you can find two of Griffin’s comedy specials. At Carolines, he will perform one set at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and two sets at 7 and 9:30 on Saturday. Tickets start at $31.25.

On Sunday at 7 and 9:30, Carolines will welcome Rosebud Baker, who released her debut special, “Whiskey Fists,” in August on the Comedy Central Stand-Up YouTube channel. Tickets are $27.25 and up.

There will be a two-drink minimum at each show.
SEAN McCARTHY

KIDS

This Is How They Roll

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A child at an NYC Unicycle Festival event in 2019. The 12th edition of the annual celebration takes place throughout the boroughs this weekend.Credit…Kenneth Springle

In New York, casual basketball games are about as common as strutting pigeons. But the contest scheduled on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Bronx should result in a lot of head-turning, not to mention wheel-turning.

That’s when the King Charles Unicycle Troupe will play — while riding its favorite vehicles — at the basketball court in Clinton Playground in Crotona Park. (Enter at Clinton Avenue and Crotona Park South.) A beloved local circus act, these guys can double-Dutch jump rope on one wheel, too.

Their show is a highlight of the 12th annual NYC Unicycle Festival, a free outdoor celebration presented by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. The festivities also include long-distance group rides on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which proficient young unicyclists can join if they’re accompanied by an adult. (Details are on the festival’s website.) Experienced riders can participate in a post-performance pickup game with the King Charles players on Saturday, too, along with a free-throw basketball contest and a unicycle obstacle course.

Neophytes, however, can do more than watch. On Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., at Grant’s tomb in Morningside Heights, the festival’s conclusion will offer instruction and youth-size equipment for children who want to give unicycling a whirl.
LAUREL GRAEBER

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