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July 30, 2019

Leandro’s Don’t Miss List: August 2019

WNET’s very own Leandro Mejia, a self-proclaimed public media superfan, writes a monthly column of his must-see recommendations on THIRTEEN. Check out his suggestions for new and encore programs you won’t want to miss. And if you want to expand your vocabulary, click on the hyperlinked words for a definition.

THIRTEEN’s cool shows will get you even through August’s most caloric days!

American Masters: Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (August 2 at 9pm). Learn about the multi-award-winning author of the Earthsea and Hainish series of books, who influenced speculative fictional writers from Neil Gaiman to Margaret Atwood, and made sci-fi literature mainstream in America.

NOVA: The Planets (Wednesdays at 9pm). This five-parter concludes with a look at Saturn (August 7), it’s rings and moons; the Icy Planets (August 14) of Uranus and Neptune and their own annular and selenological bodies; and, finally, to infinity and…er, rather, Pluto and Beyond (also August 14).

American Experience — Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (August 6 at 9pm). With a host of impedimenta, ranging from inclement weather to food shortages, the now famous Upstate, New York music festival tested the counterculture’s resolve. But testimony ranging from concertgoers to local residents show that the small dairy farm’s fields yielded the crops of peace and love, that helped feed minds and souls starved by war and hate.

Family Pictures USA (August 12 & 13 at 8pm). From rural North Carolina, to urban Detroit and to the tropical Southwest Florida, the personal medium of the family picture, shows the history and human struggles that Americans share as a nation, be they black, white, Native American, or other.

Theater Close-Up: Uncle Vanya (August 23 at 9pm). Hunter Theater Production’s inaugural production gives an powerfully poignant treatment to Chekhov’s play about amorous intrigue and the culture clash of country life vs big city pomp, at the Frederick Lowe Theater at Hunter College.

Great Museums: The Art of Islam at The Met and the Louvre (August 26 at 10pm). As with this month’s Woodstock and Family Pictures programs, there is more that unites us than separates us. Join Phillipe De Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and familiar face to NYC-ARTS viewers) as he narrates this fascinating exploration of the ways Western and Islamic art intersect.

NYC-ARTS: American Folk Art Museum: Phrenological Head (August 29 at 8pm). German neuroanatomist, Dr. Franz Joseph Gall, had a particular theory: the human brain can be reduced to 37 faculties, each accounting for some aspect of human behavior. Dr. Johann Spurzheim, a student of Gall, went one step further and assigned these abstract internal faculties to correspond with external tangible “bumps” on a given person’s head. These cranial zones are colorfully represented in a beautiful carving by American sculptor Asa Ames. The Erie County (New York) artist’s carving, Phrenological Head, was hewn from solid wood. The folds representing the subject’s (a young girl) upper dress are carefully carved, painted over, and rounded out with a gracefully serene face. Her scalp is crowned, so to speak, with a mosaic of colors, standing for such faculties as “Secretiveness” — the zone thought to be responsible for concealing behavior in cunning persons. Though phrenology was ultimately dismissed as pseudoscience, this beautiful sculpture shows how de rigueur the discipline was to 19th century Americans.

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