Hit the books. There’s a great art theorist in town on Monday, a party at the library for Fat Tuesday, an award-winning essayist on Wednesday, scholarly memories of a major international arts festival of yore on Thursday, classical music in a planetarium on Friday, tributes to two great lyricists on Saturday, and a bunch of singing, songwriting high school students rocking out on Sunday. There’s lots to learn.
Monday, March 3
New York artist Mickalene Thomas, known for her flashy, shimmering, rhinestone-studded paintings of African American women is at Yale this afternoon to present her 23-minute movie Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman. The woman in question is Thomas’ mother. The screening is 12:30 p.m. at 353 Crown St., Room C220, and is sponsored by the Yale School of Art.
Later today, the selfsame Yale School of Art is presenting a talk by Charles Gaines, a pioneer of conceptual art from an African-American perspective. His recent works have included “Manifestos” and “Notes on Social Justice.” The Georgia-born, L.A.-residing Gaines speaks at 6:30 p.m. in the new Art School building at 36 Edgewood Ave.
Tuesday, March 4
The annual Mardi Gras Gala and Silent Auction benefitting New Haven Free Public Library is held at the main Ives building (133 Elm St.). This is the big social event of the season for the literarily astute. The party includes live music and other performances, refreshments catered by great local restaurants, cocktails, as well as the event-in-itself silent auction. Of course, if somehow none of this interests you, there’s no better place in town for you to just sit in the corner and read. (203) 387-7454. Tickets range from $75 to $500.
Wednesday, March 5
Yes To The Essay
Writer Anne Fadiman, whose non-fiction work The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1997, shares the work of her writing students, with a special focus on “The Essay,” 6 p.m. at the main (Ives) New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.). (203) 946-8835
One day before the 2014 edition of the major South by Southwest music festival about to kick off in their home state, two Texas-based indie rock bands—Ringo Deathstarr (from Austin) and Purple (Beaumont)—find themselves in New Haven, where they play for free 9 p.m. at BAR (254 Crown St.). The Danbury quartet Spectral Fangs rounds out the bill. All three bands evince a love for recent rock history: Ringo Deathstarr opened for a recent reunion tour of Smashing Pumpkins and gets compared to ‘80s/‘90s acts such as Fugazi, The Cure and The Smiths, while Spectral Fangs mentions The dBs, Dinosaur Jr. and Pixies as influences.
Punk Pioneers Go Acoustic
Glen Matlock (original bassist of the Sex Pistols and key contributor to Iggy Pop’s underrated Soldier album) and Sylvain Sylvain (original guitarist for the New York Dolls, who has soldiered on in a slew of New York rock acts) were nearly in a band together back in the late 1970s, when the Dolls were dying and the Pistols were forming. Matlock and Sylvain unite tonight with separate acoustic sets and a few duets, 9 p.m. at Café Nine (250 State St.).
Thursday, March 6
Reminiscing About Shiraz
An historic international gathering of provocative artists is fondly recalled by speaker Vali Mahlouji with a discussion of “The Shiraz Arts Festival, 1967-77—When Iran Hosted the International Avant-Garde.” Everyone from Arthur Rubinstein to Max Roach, from Peter Schumann to Peter Brook, performed at the summer fest, which ended amid the Iranian civil unrest of the late ‘70s. 5:30 p.m. at the Yale University Art Gallery, co-presented by the gallery and the Yale School of Drama. (203) 432-0600.
A Decent Burial
Nabil Ayouch’s 2000 drama Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets, about a group of children who seek to give their gang-slain friend a final resting place on a small island near Casablanca. The film, in Arabic with English subtitles, is part of a “North African Mini Series” jointly sponsored by the Yale Council on African Studies and the Yale Council on Middle East Studies, and is followed by a discussion led by Youness Elbousty. 6:30 in Luce Hall, Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave. (203) 436-2553
Friday, March 7
Music of the Spheres
The sky’s the limit at this Music Haven fundraiser, with two separate benefit performances tonight at Yale’s Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium. Haven String Quartet plays at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., and there’s also a 7:15 p.m. reception (with refreshments) and a silent auction.
Hearn’s New Haven
Tom Hearn is an accomplished photographer who palled around with some of the pioneers of punk rock back in the day. His photos of the Ramones and other seminal ‘70s rockers are well known around town—an imposing portrait of Joey Ramone hangs permanently at Café Nine. Tonight, Hearn displays his photos of important bands, those from the local music scene and those who were just passing through. The exhibit, The Early Years of Punk in New Haven, opening 5 p.m. at Café Nine (250 State St.) in conjunction with tonight On9 festivities in the Ninth Square. The exhibit remains up at the club through April 7.
On9—the monthly Ninth Square amalgam of special events, opening receptions, ribbon-cuttings, refreshments and other local small-business come-ons—returns after a winter hiatus. The theme for March is “Arts On9,” and highlights include “Surrealist Game Night” at Reynolds Fine Art (71 Orange St.), a “Kale vs. Broccoli” showdown sponsored by Elm City Market (777 Chapel St.), art displays at both the present and former locations of The Grove (with Gordon Skinner, Raheem Nelson and Kwadwo Adae showing at 760 Chapel St. and Silas Finch’s work in the windows of 71 Orange), “the rebirth” of the Palmeria Brasil restaurant, and much more. 6 to 8 p.m. throughout the Ninth Square.
Saturday, March 8
There’ve been several sing-along events in town to mark the recent passing of Pete Seeger. Today’s is in a most appropriate place: 1 p.m. at New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.), where countless people have shared the music, scholarship and activism of Pete Seeger simply by borrowing his many books from the NHFPL’s prodigious music section on the lower level. (203) 946-8130.
More iconic chat at the Knights of Columbus Museum (1 State St.), whose exhibit of Russian religious icons has been up for over seven months now. At 2 p.m., Marek Czarnecki speaks on “Iconography: Holy Tradition, Holy History,” using various fields of study to show how such icons developed and gained value over the centuries. (203) 865-0400.
Over the past few years, lucky clubgoers have gotten a chance to see Joe Flood (the Guilford-based singer-songwriter who’s collaborated with several members of The Band and written for Joan Osborne, Jono Manson and Artie Traum) develop his appreciation for Georges Brassens. Brassens, who died in 1981, wrote songs that have touched millions around the world but are famously hard to translate. Flood has worked diligently, and is finally unveiling his long-awaited album Joe Flood Translates and Sings Georges Brassens with a special CD release party 7 p.m. tonight at Lyric Hall (827 Whalley Ave., 20-3-389-8885). Here’s hoping Flood does for Brassens what Mort Shuman and Eric Blau did for Jacques Brel in the 1970s, bringing his work to a much wider audience through skillful and heartfelt translations. The live show, titled Busker Stories, Blues and Brassens, is preceded by a 7 p.m. reception and features Joe Flood alongside special guests Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (who produced the CD and plays guitar), Skip Ward, Danny Fitzgerald and the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band. $30.
Sunday, March 9
Wilson of Wales
Yale Center for British Art (1080 Chapel St.) opened a major retrospective of works by 18th century Welsh painter Richard Wilson on March 6, and also has an “Art in Focus” exhibit focusing on visions of the Welsh countryside opening in early April. To soundtrack these visual delights, internationally renowned folk harp player Andrew Lawrence-King (of the Harp Consort) is giving a 2 p.m. concert today in the YCBA’s Library Court where he promises to “explore early Welsh folk music traditions.” Free. (203) 432-2800.
The Amity Teen Center Benefit has been a Toad’s Place tradition for nearly two decades, and gives young suburban bands a chance to rock out for a good cause—themselves, via the invaluable Woodbridge-based youth center where they usually play. Performers at the benefit this year include Set Sail at Sunrise, Those Guys, Bepo and the Like 12 Experience, Henry Sidle, Keegan Jay, Speed, Attack Memphis, Limitless and The Foresters. Technically, this event is also a battle of the bands, but it’s really about community. $12, $10 in advance. 300 York St.