Through the years, Rockaway Beach has earned the distinction of being a site synonymous with resilience. Knowing that, Ivan Forde recently painted “Seascape With the Fabulous Plant of Rejuvenation in the Abzu,” an 18-foot-by-90-foot mural at the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 108th Street on the facade of Rockaway Hotel. The work symbolizes “rejuvenation for N.Y.C. after the storm of the pandemic,” he said in a personal statement on his website.
Forde centered the cyanotype on the Mesopotamian poem “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” and included visual references to traditional healing elements associated with his own Guyanese heritage and those of the Lenape, the Indigenous people who inhabited the Rockaways centuries ago.
Created in collaboration with Baxter Street CCNY and supported by 7G Foundation and Facebook Open Arts, Forde’s mural, which is on view through the fall of 2022, is part of a series of public art initiatives Rockaway Hotel intends to present to honor the sense of renewal tied to the area’s storied past.
Japan Cuts, Japan Society’s annual survey of mostly contemporary Japanese cinema, will bring back in-person screenings this year — at least for a handful of titles. Eight features will show at the theater from Friday through Sept. 2. Some will be at the society’s virtual cinema, film.japansociety.org, where additional titles are also available to stream.
A potential opening-weekend discovery is Yukiko Sode’s “Aristocrats” (screening on Saturday and Aug. 26), a structurally surprising examination of class stratification in Tokyo. After a failed engagement, Hanako (Mugi Kadowaki) rushes toward marrying into a political family.
The centerpiece of Japan Cuts is a sneak preview of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s handsome World War II drama “Wife of a Spy” (screening on Aug. 27 and available online starting on Friday). The film, which opens in September and won the directing prize at Venice last year, centers on a woman in Kobe (Yu Aoi) who harbors suspicions about her secretive husband (Issey Takahashi) and his business trip to Manchuria.
Theatrical showings will require those in attendance to wear masks and show proof of vaccination.
All the Zoo’s a Stage
Some of the animals at the Bronx Zoo this summer are creatures you’d be more likely to find at the local library, including a blue horse and a very famous — and very hungry — caterpillar.
They’re the creations of Eric Carle, the beloved children’s book author and illustrator who died in May. “Eric Carle’s World of Wildlife,” playing at the zoo Fridays through Sundays through Aug. 29, stars many of the same huge, mesmerizing puppets that Rockefeller Productions previously featured in its anthology “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show.”
Now, however, the company is presenting four tales separately, all free with zoo admission (tickets must be reserved in advance): “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” at Giraffe Corner; “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse” at Grizzly Corner; and the American premiere of “The Very Busy Spider” at Astor Court. The 15-minute performances, which begin at 11 a.m. and run at different times throughout the day — the last one starts at 4 p.m. — are followed by opportunities to meet the cast.
Visiting on other days of the week? Be sure to catch the zoo’s own Wildlife Theater troupe in shows about butterflies, bears and bugs.
New Name, Same High Jinks
This newly named troupe is reviving ASSSSCAT’s format of improvisation inspired by a celebrity’s anecdotes (when Raaaatscraps kicked off its residency at Caveat on Aug. 1, Janeane Garofalo was its guest storyteller). Hosted by Shannon O’Neill and presented by the Squirrel Theater, the show features a rotating cast that includes two of the Squirrel’s board members — Michael Hartney and Corin Wells — and actors you may recognize from their scene-stealing TV roles, such as Zach Cherry, Connor Ratliff and Peter Grosz.
This week’s star monologuist is being kept a surprise, but you can find out at Caveat or through a livestream of the performance, recorded in multicam HD, on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Available on Eventbrite, tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door and $8 for access to the stream. Those attending in person must show proof of vaccination.
An Oasis of Sound
Little Island, the human-made park and amphitheater off Manhattan’s Pier 55, has been pumping some fresh life into the pandemic-addled arts scene, thanks especially to its monthlong festival of public concerts, titled NYC Free. While the music programming ranges widely, this weekend’s performances are loaded with world-class jazz talent. On Friday, highlights include a performance at 9:15 p.m. by Magos Herrera, a Mexican American singer who toggles between jazz, experimental classical and Latin-American folklore.
On Saturday, star power is provided at 7:30 p.m. by Miguel Zenón, the MacArthur-winning saxophonist, whose quartet performs selections from its tribute to the storied Puerto Rican vocalist Ismael Rivera, and by the virtuoso vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and the pianist Sullivan Fortner, both Grammy winners, who play in duet at 9:15.
Sunday’s program includes a 6:30 p.m. show from the versatile pianist Miki Hayama and a series of student performances, starting at 8:45, presented by the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance. The reservation lists for certain shows are full, but there are vantages throughout the park from which to see the stage. More information is available at littleisland.org.