Click the heading above to view art events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.
Grand Central Atelier: Artists in our Midst
Classical Drawing, Painting & Sculpture Studios Participate in LICAO
The 6th Annual LIC Arts Open [LICAO] ended yesterday evening. While the weather on Saturday was mixed, Sunday seemed to make up for it. The mission of the LICAO program is to provide a venue for local artists to showcase their studios and works.
A local writer and playwright, Joy Tomasko, has been involved with the Grand Central Atelier for a number of years. I first met her while attending a performance of a theatrical production of hers at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, where she was the Playwright in Residence at the time.
I found the play, entitled Surrender, to be deeply philosophical. It was an audience interactive production, which took us on a multi-dimensional journey - so when Joy announced she was doing an interactive art exhibit at Grand Central Atelier during the LIC Arts Open Weekend - I decided to check it out.
In the photo at right are sculptors at Grand Central Atelier creating a bust of an unknown man, who thousands of years from now, will become famous by virtue of the plentitude of busts depicting his personage.
We'll have more on this event later this summer.
Queens Museum Winter Exhibits
An Artistic Mix of Media & Subjects
February 15, 2016 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Art Museums / Queens Buzz. The Queens Museum has several exhibits that will end this month. I went to see them because I had heard about how interesting they were. One is the music of the cosmos, some time after the Big Bang, being played on a Steinway piano. Another links into the map of the city of New York made for the 1964 World's Fair, by using rendering video images to connect the artist's real video of her apartment to the real video of the map in the Queens Museum. And there's a moving work by an African American artist who spent some time in her childhood living in a homeless shelter. She did a mixed media installation that includes video, newspaper clippings and replicas of the limited possessions one in that situation can hold onto.
The last one I toured through was by a Chinese born American artist who captures the iconic force of Mao Zedong [1893 - 1976]. Mao led an insurgency against the ruling class in China around the time of WWII. He eventually succeeded in taking power from them and ruled China from 1945 until he died in 1976. In 1972 Mao welcomed Richard Nixon to China is what was the beginning of a long transition from Communism to the mix of capitalism and Communism we see today.
Anyhow the artist found Mao's presence to be ubiquitous and he creatively emblazoned the feeling of Mao's presence on a number of artistic works in his installation which ranged from a ping pong table [part of the Mao / Nixon diplomatic outreach], to a video installation of a fashion show, to everyday items. We hope to follow up at a later date with a longer report about these exhibits at the Queens Museum - ending on February 28th.
Astoria Music Now
Astoria Arts & Music Hosts 7th Annual Astoria Musical Festival
On Saturday, August 29th I headed over to Astoria Park to attend the 7th Annual Astoria Music Now music festival. It was a near perfect day with the temperatures in the 80's, plenty of sun and not too much humidity.
There were three stages on the Great Lawn - one at the top of the hill, a second one near the foot of one of the towers of Hell Gate Bridge and the third along the East River along the western perimter of the Great Lawn. In this manner one could choose from three performances, and once chosen, listen out of earshot of the other two stages.
Before I settled in to listen to the music I decided to take a walk along the waterfront there were a number of art galleries / exhibits in tents lining the waterfront.
Click here to read the rest of the story, view photos and a video of Astoria Music Now.
Sunnyside Artists: Queen of Angels Art Fair
Local Artists In Sunnyside Area Show & Sell
It was a beautiful sunny day as I made my way down to the Queen of Angels Fine Art Fair in Sunnyside. The Queen of Angels Fine Art Fair is in its eighth year, the first of which started in 2008.
The fair showcases local artists in a festive atmosphere where neighborhood folks are welcome to browse and buy at their option.
A number of donations were made by local businesses in support of Sunnyside Artists and the Queen of Angels Art Fair. Some were used as raffle prizes, including the famous purse & slippers cake created by the Sugar Room pastry chef Juan Arache who is an artisan and artist too, using sweet edibles as his medium.
It's a communal gathering of sorts as there's food each year accompanied by wine provided by Lowerys Wine & Liquors.
And this year Manny Gomez and company served the food & wine.
In the photo above is Ms. Hetzel at the Queen of Angels Art Fair.
The Dorsky Gallery
New Ways of Seeing: Beyond Culture
I met Cui Fei at the Queens Museum in 2008 at an art show entitled Reasons Clue [use the search box above to find it]. Cui is an artist who was born in Shandong province in mainland China, and she moved here nearly two decades ago. Shandong province is located along the East China Sea and, for those who drink beer, it's worth noting that Shandong is home to Tsingtao beer. Cui is one of twenty artists who have work on exhibit at the Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Long Island City.
And so it was, with Cui Fei's invitation in hand, that I headed to the Dorsky Gallery on a hot sunny afternoon in May. As I arrived at the gallery there were folks milling about outside, discussing the artwork inside. The show was the brain child of two NYC metro curators, Jan Castro and Eileen Jeng. Eileen said the two curators had met at an art event in Brooklyn within the past couple years, and that they hit it off right from the start. There was an immediate connection and the two had agreed to find some way to collaborate on a project.
Inside the gallery things were buzzing. Some measure of the art world was there, engaged in creative conversation. It was nice to see Cui again, and in only a few minutes we were able to pick up a conversation we'd vacated many years ago. In Reasons Clue Cui had found and presented a number of grape vines that had grown into interesting shapes that in some manner resembled the characters of the Chinese alphabet. At the time she was working on a theme entitled Manuscript of Nature. She had told me that the grapevines she had selected carried messages from nature. It was Mother's Day, and as I began writing this piece, I began to think about Mother Nature and how tired she must be fending off those who don't respect her. Cui Fei's work was intended to help us listen.
Cui went on to say that she is now working on a theme is entitled Tracing The Origins. She told me that the Chinese characters were once representations of things in nature. Pictograms. Cui went on to say that the symbols which once looked like what they represented, became detached from what they first represented, and over time they became abstracted to carry meanings which were completely different than what they first represented. Today one cannot determine the origins of the Chinese characters.
As Cui was telling me this I thought about how the same process had happened in western art beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The French impressionists began to abstract what they saw, and by capturing and depicting light in a certain way, they conveyed a feeling that left an impression. Claude Monet, one of the first and finest impressionist painters, was followed by Dutch painter Van Gogh who continued in the impressionist tradition, but took the art a step further by infusing his works with thick vivid paint that conveyed great emotion. A few decades later Spanish artist Pablo Picasso painted his most celebrated work, Guernica, which continued the abstraction by providing what one might compare to an abstract pictogram of the Nazi bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in modern day Spain. And following World War II, all hell broke loose in America, where the abstraction became complete. American artists such as Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and a personal favorite of mine which still hangs at MoMA, Vir Heroicus Sublimas, was painted by Barnett Newman.
I bent down to take a closer look at Cui Fei's sand paintings on the floor ...
We'll continue reporting on the Dorsky at a later date, including a bit of background on the Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in LIC.
In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation
February 9, 2015 / Long Island City / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.
I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.
I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from Jordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.
I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.
But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.
Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.
It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.
I thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?
And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?
This seems generally not to have been done.
And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.
I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].
Click here to learn more about the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor entitled Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity.
'Damn I Look Good'
Art Exhibit At Topaz Arts In Woodside
November 17, 2014 / Woodside Neighborhood / Art In Queens / Queens Buzz. On Wednesday I attended a performance of the Theater of the Oppressed NYC at Topaz Arts in Woodside. The performance is one of a number of artistic and theatrical programs organized in conjunction with a year long effort entitled, Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity, by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
On exhibit at Topaz Arts was a related art exhibit entitled Beauty, created by Qinza Najm of Manhattan. Qinza's work included a couple of oil on canvas paintings and a video, a photo still of which, you can see in the photo to your right. The intent of the art project was to challenge people's perceptions about Islam and Islamic garb.
The 911 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center killed 2,977 people and irreversibly changed the lives of the countless more who loved them. It also created a negative perception of all Muslims in the public eye, and hence also changed the lives for many millions of Muslims living in America who had nothing at all to do with 911. It's estimated that between five and ten million Muslims live in the U.S. - of which a third are believed to be from Africa, another third from southern and eastern Asia, and the remaining third from the Middle East. Is it estimated that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, representing nearly a quarter of the world population.
Qinza's video has her wearing a black burqa in public places in New York City taking selfies [photos of herself as shown in the photo above]. The burqa has enscribed on it a Twitter hash tag followed by the art project name '#DamnILookGood'. The video includes Qinza's artistic statement that this is America and people of all cultures are free to wear what they want. In her video Qinza approaches people to try to get them to wear Islamic clothing for just a few minutes in public places in order to sensitize them to the current prejudicial feelings against them which is manifested through people's reaction to them while wearing traditional Islamic clothing. The burqa is the most conservative Muslim garb worn by Muslim women and is part of the ancient Islamic tradition of women completely covering their entire bodies when out in public.
We'll have more on this art exhibit and the Theater of the Oppressed at a later time.
Caught In The Act - The 13 Most Wanted
Queens Museum Opens Incredible Art Exhibit Grounded In History
I visited the Queens Museum [they dropped 'of Art' from the name] this past weekend to view their new exhibit - The 13 Most Wanted Men.
The exhibit is a tie into the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World's Fair and the preservation of the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Andy Warhol was one of several celebrity artists of the day, invited to create an artwork to post on the wall of the Theaterama [now Queens Theatre In The Park] which was one of the structures of the New York State Pavilion. It was a real honor as the work would be seen by tens and likely hundreds of thousands who would pass by it during the 1964 World's Fair.
Warhol decided to post the mug shots of the 13 Most Wanted Men in America. One can never know exactly what he was thinking, but it was an artwork designed to get people's attention, shock them and get them to think, perhaps a bit differently, about some of the things going on at the time.
The powers-that-be decided having 13 large mug shots of thirteen criminals in the midst of a fun family fair wasn't a good idea. So they whitewashed it off the building [sound familiar? - see our story about the Whitewash art exhibit in LIC]. This is the quick and dirty report of what happened, which the Queens Museum in a collaboration with the Warhol Museum of Pittsburgh, did an incredible job of presenting in an exhibit which is both art and history.
In the photo above is Curator, Larissa Harris, and Director of External Affairs, David Strauss. David is also one of the troika managing the Queens Museum while they search for a replacement for former Executive Director, Tom Finkelpearl. Tom was recently appointed New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner.
We'll post our full report at a later date.
Click to quick scroll down to:
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Astoria / LIC
Museum Of The Moving Image - Performance Art / post renovations
Museum of the Moving Image - Short Description / pre-renovations
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Flushing & Corona
Indian Diaspora At The Queens Museum Of Art
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Jamaica NY
Y Gallery - gone
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Jamaica NY
Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning - Early Report
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Long Island City LIC
Housebroken At Flux Factory
Leopards In The Temple At Sculpture Center
Art Exhibits & Galleries In Sunnyside & Woodside
Queen of Angels Art Fair - 2010
Queen Of Angels Art Fair - 2009
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