Queens International Art Exhibit At The Queens Museum Of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park / Queens on January 24th, 2009. The fourth biennial Queens International Art Exhibit at the Queens Museum of Art hit a home run with its new exhibit featuring forty two local artists. The exhibit mixes 'construction art', video installations, performance art, film screenings and modern art into one wonderful exciting exhibit.
The opening night provided visitors with a highly vibrant, exciting evening which lasted from 6 pm to 12 midnight [and admission was free]. There was Latin music by DJ's and rock music by 'The Unstoppable Death Machines'. The exhibit was well received by a thousand plus visitors attracted to it, as we spoke to many of them who provided overwhelmingly positive responses. For a full report on the Queens International Art Exhibit at the Queens Museum Of Art and its opening night, read on below.
Queens Museum Of Art - International Exhibit Hits Home Run
Queens Museum Of Art
Queens International Art Exhibit / Flushing Queens / January 24, 2009. I just returned from one of the most exciting art exhibit openings I’ve been to since arriving in Queens seven years ago. Exciting because the art was eclectic, vibrant, full of life and oh, so refreshingly youthful in its energy. The account that follows is of the opening night as well as some glimpses into events yet to come as part of this exhibit which runs through April 26th.
Queens International - QMA Background
The bi-annual Queens International Art Exhibit is the brainchild of Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of QMA. Tom started with the museum early in the decade and he set out to include some of the multi-cultural ethnic flavor of the Queens, which the museum serves. The Queens International was designed to include the works of people who either work or live in the borough of Queens.
The international aspect of the exhibit is that many of these artists are either immigrants and hence come from another country, or they are the children of immigrants and hence are very much influenced and aware of ‘the old country’. It’s worth noting that in the last census fully half of all Queens residents were born in another country. In fact Queens is the most integrated community in the country and, very possibly, the world.
Queens International Art Exhibit Curators – Jose Ruiz and Erin Sickler
Fast forward to the year 2008 when Tom choose two junior curators, Jose Ruiz and Erin Sickler, to set up the Queens International for 2009. They were given the assignment in August of 2008 leaving them somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five months to conceive and execute the entire event. I had the opportunity to speak to Erin who gave me a brief summary of the effort.
Supported by the Queens Museum name and infrastructure, Erin and Jose started with an open call to Queens artists, to which more than a couple of hundred responded. These registrants were added to about 200 more artists with whom the museum had had a prior relationship. Erin and Jose reviewed the work / submissions of the artists and narrowed the field of artists to include in the show. They then started working with each artist separately to develop their work for the show and to find the space within the gallery with which to place the work of each.
In the ensuing months of fall and early winter, the show came together. Forty-two Queens artists are currently on display in the museum. One of the thrusts this years exhibit was to provide the community with art they could understand or to which they could relate. Hence the materials and themes chosen were intended to connect with a wide swath of the Queens audience, but also to be provocative enough, as one source told me, “to satisfy the art nerds”.
Queens International Art Exhibits At The Queens Museum Of Art
When entering into the main gallery, you will see the bicycle exhibit where countless bicycles hang from the wall. At the foot of the wall there are a number of wooden ramps. On opening night the artist and his friends performed road bike cycling feats in the gallery on the wooden ramps that stood at the foot of the exhibit. Bright colorful flags hang from the lofty ceiling which echo today’s youthful commentary “like wait yeah whatever”.
There was a stack of T-shirts folded, reaching up some 12 or more feet. And a video installation of people lined up, on various screens shown horizontally, vertically, from the left, from the right … and so on. There is a large ice Buddha in a refrigerator with a glass door. And oil paintings that one could muse about for a long while.
In another gallery boxes with the Magic 8 Ball answers, overlooking the cycle exhibit. There’s some sort of modern metallic sculpture, which I unfortunately didn’t find time to study. There were beautiful oil paintings with modern themes. A very large stack of folded T-shirts [see photo above] and an ice Buddha.
There were other performances throughout the evening, including one courageous performance artist who braved the cold, wearing old aluminum cans, to make a statement about the environment. Short films looped in the Large Theater. There was Latin music pumped in via DJ’s and toward the end of the evening the ‘Unstoppable Death Machines’ played to the audience. All in all it was quite a show. We headlined the event on the front page, and rightly so. There’s still time to see the event and further down you’ll see that there are upcoming events related to the exhibit.
Queens Museum Of Art - Art Exhibit Event Observations
This wasn’t an exhibit or an event that drew me in like a lot of great works, but rather one that knocked me over. Some events display their wisdom through perceptive insights, while this event showed its beauty through its vibrant, energetic youth. To learn from the old, you have to listen carefully. To learn from the young, you have to watch patiently.
What struck me was the feeling of the energy from the crowd. There were easily over a thousand visitors to the museum on a very, very cold January night. Most of the visitors were from Queens, although the event also drew from the Hudson Valley, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Everyone I spoke to had something good to say about the exhibits, the museum and the event.
Community Response To Queens Museum Of Art Exhibit
I mingled with and conversed with several of the ‘artistas’ (similar to fasionistas, but categorically different – aka art nerds). I asked them what they thought of the show. One told me that generally the art world had come to the conclusion that the “construction theme had been overdone”, but she thought that the Queens International exhibit seemed to provide a nice balance between the constructionist style and and performance, classical and modern art.
As I walked through the galleries shooting photos, some of which are shown throughout this story, I was touched by the energy of the whole event. I saw people talking to complete strangers about the work, many smiles, excitement about the performance art and a general level of excitement and enthusiasm that is rarely found in the art world. I strongly recommend going to visit this exhibit, including taking the children with you, because the visual kaleidoscope can hold their attention longer than most things you could take them to. Note that the show closes near April 26th.
Upcoming Queens International Events At QMA
Note that many of these events have limited space and require rsvps [718.592.9700] and the dinners naturally include a fee.
Queens Museum Of Art - Queens International March Events
On March 3rd at 6 pm dinner date with artist Nicole Tschampel at The Turkish Grill in Sunnyside. March 7 in the Large Theater continuous loops of short films by Queens film makers. In Long Island City on March 7 at 3 pm, studio tour by the co-curators followed by opening / performance at Gregory de la Haba’s LIC studio. March 25 at 6.30 pm, dinner date with Omar Chacon at Hahm Ji Bach Korean BBQ in Flushing.
Queens International Art Exhibit April Events
On April 4th and 26th there are short films being shown in QMA’s Large Theater. April 4 at 2 pm video installation about the environment followed by a ride into Flushing Meadows Corona Park to watch Douglas Paulson launch his packing tape boat on the lake. April 23rd at 7 pm dinner date with Darren Jones at La Portena in Jackson Heights. April 26 at 3 pm QMA and Transportation Alternatives sponsor a number of bike related events.
Many thanks to Tom Finkelpearl, David Strauss, Hitomi Iwasaki and Erin Sickler for providing information used in this story.
Queens International Art Exhibit At The Queens Museum Of Art In Flushing Queens NY - Related Stories
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