TIO NYC: Irish Arts Center & Good Eats!

Located at 51st Street and 11th Avenue, the Irish Arts Center (IAC)  is well worth checking out the next time you are in New York City. No blarney. And our pre-show dinner at Sesamo also deserved a round of applause.

Read on for details..

Go here for more about TIO in NYC.

According to its website:

“…founded in 1972 and based in Hell’s Kitchen…(IAC) is a home for artists and audiences of all backgrounds who share a passion or appreciation for the evolving arts and culture of contemporary Ireland and Irish America.

“We present, develop, and celebrate work from established and emerging artists and cultural practitioners, providing audiences with emotionally and intellectually engaging experiences in an environment of Irish hospitality… In an historic partnership of the people of Ireland and New York, Irish Arts Center recently completed construction on a fully-funded $60MM state-of-the-art new facility to support this mission for the 21st century.”

Like the Irish culture itself, the program we saw was sharp-witted and adventurous, wacky, wild. and woderful.

Muldoon’s Circus, (next iustallment, November 13):

“Okay, it’s not actually a picnic, but a music-and-literature extravaganza”Time Out New York.

Translation: Muldoon’s Picnic, a rotating roster of world-class poets, writers, and musicians, convenes as a deliciously unpredictable artistic banquet curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and songwriter Paul Muldoon.

The evening features house band Rogue Oliphant with Chris Harford (guitar and vocals); Ray Kubian (drums and vocals); David Mansfield (guitar); Simón Willson (bass); and Warren Zanes (guitar and vocals).

Otherwise the lineup varies.

The evening we attended The Picnic featured Bill Irwin, an extraordinary American actor, clown, and comedian, best known for his vaudeville-style stage performances full of quick, sparkling dialog and some of the best physical comedy we’ve ever seen. Think a post-modern Charlie Chaplin – with Irwin just as incisive in his observations of the human condition.

Singer-songwriter Amy Rigby has been writing, performing and recording transcendent songs about everyday life for over 30 years. A teenage denizen of the celebrated New York club CBGB, Rigby fell in love with country songwriting, and started bands in NYC’s East Village before launching a solo career with her album Diary Of A Mod Housewife.

The New York Times has described Rigby as “‘whimsical’…her often autobiographical songs are masterful. Funny and enticing. She is up there with the likes of Paul Simon and Randy Newman.”

We second that WOW!

James Richardson is a poet, aphorist, and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at Princeton. His aphorisms turn and twist to reveal old wisdom in new light. What’s an aphorism? Think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or any pithy observation that exposes and underlines a general truth.

Richardson’s poetry is full of conjecture — scientific, cultural, personal. His infectious tone showcased an immense curiosity and willingness to seek, surprise, and explore – delivered in a tone that at once displayed an immense curiosity, tremendous insight, and desire to surprise and delight.

Which Richardson did with aplomb, while reminding us of poet Ogden Nash:

“Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.”


“Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”

Both Nash.

“Writing is like washing windows in the sun. With every attempt to perfect clarity you make a new smear.”

“All work is the avoidance of harder work.”

Both Richardson.

Altogether Muldoon’s Picnic rolled up into a smorgasbord of pure delight.

And left us all wanting more…

Sesamo, 764 10th Avenue:

Located in Hell’s Kitchen, with its brick-lined walls, beamed ceilings, polished wooden tables, welcoming host, warm and knowledgable wait staff, Sesamo is a relatively new Italian restaurant with Asian accents. And the place brings the best of both worlds to the plate.

When you go, try the mushroom lasagna. One of the best red sauces we’ve ever tasted. And our dinner partners loved the homemade ravioli too.

We leaned heavy on the pastas and salad combos, in other words, we ate simple, light and quick, because we had to make tracks to the Irish Arts Center. Next time – and there will be a next time – we will make dinner the main event and sample much more from the imaginative menu, executed with artistry and evident skill.

Sesamo. Well worth a schlepp to the way West Side of town.

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