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Arts + Culture

14 Coolest Things to Do in September

The temperatures may be cooling, but when it comes to all things arts and culture-related, there's no hotter time of the year than fall. From must-see theater to Oscar-worthy films, here are 14 not-to-miss events in September. Mark your calendars, people!

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Photo by Ben Gibbs



The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC

When it opens on September 24 in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will occupy the last vacant lot on the National Mall. British architect David Adjaye is behind the 400,000 square-foot museum's striking bronze zigzag facade — an homage to Yoruba tribal motifs— which will house 35,000 objects dating back some 400 years . There will be a sweeping collection of historical artifacts from the slave trade to the culture achievements of African Americans in decades past— plus an exhibit called “Taking the Stage," which will highlight performers in film, theater, television, and comedy.

Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Cuban-born Carmen Herrera (b. 1915) is renowned for her colorful, geometric abstract paintings, and her innovative output in the years following World War II, during which time her work was largely overlooked. Now, the 101-year old artist is getting some long overdue recognition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, where more than fifty of her compositions (including paintings, three-dimensional works and works on paper) will be shown as part of her solo exhibition, “Lines of Sight.”

Cindy Sherman at The Broad Museum, LA

It may have opened in June, but Cindy Sherman’s Broad Museum exhibit is still the hottest art show in LA right now. A retrospective of Sherman’s four-decade career, “Imitation of Life,” is a loosely chronological survey of more than 120 of her photographs, including her famous Untitled Film Stills and centerfold series, originally commissioned in the ‘80s by Artforum. Also on view: Sherman’s latest body of work, a series of aging 1920s-style starlets evoking Norma Desmond from “Sunset Boulevard."

Doug Aitken at MOCA, LA

Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken is best known for creating hauntingly beautiful multimedia projects that explore themes of motion, digital consciousness and displacement. On September 10th, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles will premier the first North American survey of Aitken’s career, spanning nearly two decades. There will be seven large-scale video installations, photographs and sculptural constructions. If it’s anything like Aitken’s previous work, expect to be thoroughly creeped out (in the best way possible).

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

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Photo by Silvia Saponaro



54th New York Film Festival

What to expect at this year’s New York Film Festival? A stellar lineup including the top prize winners from the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, plus the world premiere of Ang Lee’s new film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, starring Annette Bening. Also on view: a selection of panel discussions and special events, ranging from a Q&A with Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch to conversations with Kristen Stewart and Adam Driver.

Telluride Film Festival, Colorado

Having premiered Academy Award-winning films like Birdman and Spotlight in years past, Telluride Film Festival has earned a reputation as an early awards-season indicator. And judging by this year’s premiere-studded lineup, the mountain festival is poised to score big once again this Oscar season. Some of the festival’s hottest tickets? Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, an original musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling; Denis Villeneuve sci-fi drama Arrival; and Clint Eastwood’s Sully, about the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

RELATED: 7 Film Festivals You Can Actually Afford

Andy Warhol Sunset Screening at The Menil Collection, Houston

Most people associate Andy Warhol with his pop art and silk-screens. Many are not aware that the inimitable artist was also a prolific filmmaker, creating nearly 650 of them during 1963-1968. Now, fans can see one of the rarest of his films, Sunset, at The Menil Collection in Houston, where it will be screening through the new year. An unfinished, color-saturated masterpiece, Sunset captures the slow burn of a California Sunset over the Pacific Ocean, as the singer Nico (who was then working working with the Velvet Underground) reads poetry off-screen.

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The Cherry Orchard, NYC

Nearly forty years after appearing on Broadway as a child in Joseph Papp’s production of Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard", Diane Lane is set to return back to the stage, in the same show, as the lead character. Playwright Stephen Karam will adapt the 1904 original, which tells the story of a family on the verge of ruin and in a country on the brink of revolution. Previews start September 15th at Roundabout Theatre Company.

All the Ways to Say I Love You, NYC

Two-time Tony winner (and Transparent star) Judith Light plays a high school teacher reflecting on her relationship to a former student in Neil LaBute’s "All the Ways to Say I Love You." Opening September 20th at Lucille Lortel Theatre, the one-woman show bills itself as a story “about love, hard choices, and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire.”

Where to Stay in New York City

In the Heights, Chicago

So you can’t afford to drop hundreds of dollars to see the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton." Welcome to the club. But there is a silver lining, and it’s called "In the Heights," the Lin-Manuel Miranda Tony Award-winning musical coming to Chicago’s Porchlight Music Theatre on September 9th. It’s set in a Latin community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, “a community on the brink of change, full of hopes and dreams, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.” Get your tickets now, before the Hamilton phenomenon goes into effect.

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Photos of Nightbird by Marija Vidal

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Photo of Smyth & The Loyalist by Galdones Photography



Fowler & Wells, NYC

At the bottom of the multi-story atrium of The Beekman Hotel, Tom Colicchio’s hotly-anticipated Fowler & Wells restaurant takes the landmarked property’s history as its inspiration. It’s named after the phrenologists who used to work in the building, and has a swinging, throwback style captured in details like stained glass windows, vintage tintype wall portraits, and timber floors. The menu, too, is inspired by the past, and features classic New York dishes like lobster Thermidor and beef Wellington.

Smyth + The Loyalist, Chicago

Combining two different concepts under one roof, Smyth + The Loyalist is both a fine-dining establishment and casual restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop. The Loyalist will feature comfort dishes (think: bone marrow burgers) and beer from local breweries, while the upstairs Smyth is a fancier, tasting-menu-only experience. We have our eye on the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with kelp marmite and the Dungeness crab and foie gras with scrambled kani miso.

Nightbird, San Francisco

Kim Alter’s Nightbird is one of San Francisco’s splashiest new restaurants. The tasting menu-only spot will offer a $125 five-course menu featuring seasonally-driven fare that will change weekly. Shareable plates might include oysters poached in dashi broth with shallots, citrus and fresh herbs, or a fermented corn pudding topped with a roasted corn gel made from charred husks. At the adjoining Linden Room, a supremely intimate (read: 6-seat) 1930s-inspired bar, cocktails will similarly be seasonally-inspired, and will source fresh ingredients like kale, turmeric and peach.

RELATED: 9 Awesome Places to Be in San Francisco Now

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New York Fashion Week

This New York Fashion Week, all eyes are on—yup, you guessed it, the Kardashians. Kanye West is kicking off the nine-day sprint on Roosevelt Island during his Yeezy Season 4 collection —the same day that the Jenner sisters will debut their Kendall +Kylie pop-up shop across the city in the Meatpacking District. Other names grabbing big headlines? Misha Nonoo, who is foregoing a runway show for a “live lookbook” on Snapchat via Refinery29’s account, and Tom Ford, whose show you will be able to instantly shop via a live stream of the event on his website. Personally, we’re most excited to see what Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have in store for Opening Ceremony’s showcase, which promises to be the event of the season with guests like Carrie Brownstein, Diane Guerrero and Whoopi Goldberg already confirmed on the guest list.

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