Just Do Art!

TWO NEW YORK DOCUMENTARIES  |  Tribeca Grand Cinema screens two documentaries — both of which ask, “Are the things that make New York unique vanishing forever?” Exploring the luxurification of Gotham at the expense of neighborhood identity, “The Vanishing City” (directed by Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa) digs into the policies and philosophies behind a finance-dominated economy. Then, “A Home in the Theatre” charts the battle fought by 93-year-old Edith O’Hara to protect her 13th Street Repertory Company from an unscrupulous real estate developer. Founded in 1972, the Greenwich Village theatrical venue (still going strong at 50 West 13th Street) is one of the lucky ones. While making the 2010 documentary, director Melodie Bryant notes, “Nearly 40 indie theatres in New York were lost or destroyed.”

Sat., Aug. 18, 7pm. At the Tribeca Grand Hotel Cinema (2 Sixth Ave., btw. Church & White Sts.). For tickets ($10), visit brownpapertickets.com. Also visit tribecagrand.com.

ART: “A CITY SORROW BUILT”  |  From clever Facebook postings to initials drawn in wet cement to that granite depiction of four great American presidents: Nothing lasts forever. The pleasant illusion of permanence — and our delusion that the things we construct afford us some level of power or immortality — is one of the contemplative messages that hover over “A City Sorrow Built.” Curated by Todd Masters, the group exhibition takes its inspiration from the final work in “The Course of Empire.”

Painted by Thomas Cole from 1833-1836, the series concludes with “Desolation” — the final straw in his romanticized depiction of an imaginary city’s rise and fall. Informed by Cole’s image of a man-made landscape being reclaimed by nature, “A City Sorrow Built” invites a group of artists from around the globe to use their own artistic processes and aesthetic traditions to explore topics such as subjective versus objective truth, the power of objects to embody cultural memory and…the humbling fact that our greatest achievements are, at best, tenuous and temporary things.

Representing China, Jin Shan’s “Retired Pillar” is a silicon device that continuously inflates and deflates, at a rate similar to a breath. “So,” explains Masters, “the pillar looks like it’s on a death bed struggling to breathe, hence the title. It’s pretty funny in person.” Hey, laughing at an empire crumbling beats fiddling while Rome burns.

“A City Sorrow Built” is on view through Aug. 31 at Masters & Pelavin (13 Jay St., btw. Greenwich & Staple Sts.). Hours: Tues.-Fri., 11am-6pm. For more info, visit masterspelavin.com.

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