RESOBOX (GMAP) is a Japanese art gallery and cultural center located one block from the Queensboro Plaza station. Run by Fumio Tashiro and Takashi Ikezawa, the space – which takes its name from the words “resonate” and “box” – showcases Japanese-inspired art, hosts classes, and serves beverages and desserts in its cafe.
Ikezawa says RESOBOX is deliberately different from the existing Japanese galleries and cultural centers in Manhattan; the space in Queens is meant to cater to a more diverse audience, to have a broader interpretation of Japanese culture, and to be more accessible in general. This unique vision is realized in several ways: visitors can choose to spend $3 on tea, $20 on a class, or $2000 on work of art; they can learn about traditional Japanese arts (ink painting, stick fighting) or pop culture (anime, manga); they can see works by Japanese or non-Japanese artists with a range of styles and influences; they can participate in classes as children or adults; and they can try something new (matcha jelly, yuzu juice) or stick with an old favorite (hot chocolate, coffee) at the cafe. Visitors can get there via multiple train and bus lines that go through Queens Plaza.
We stopped by this past Sunday to attend the opening reception for the joint exhibition of Carla Lobmier and Mary Burton Wheeler. Both artists are American born, with no direct connections to Japan, but their work reflects a Japanese influence that fits in with RESOBOX’s mission.
Mary Burton Wheeler has her new ceramics on display for the first time, along with her older monoprints. The black-and-white landscapes, featuring birds, plants, clouds, and light, are scenes from her imagination. Her subtly detailed brushwork and balanced use of positive and negative space calls to mind Japanese scroll paintings. In fact, she has long admired Japanese art, and is currently taking a traditional ink painting class at RESOBOX.
Carla Lobmier‘s works are watercolors and graphite drawings on translucent vellum, revealing layers of colors, patterns, and symbols. Originally from a small town in Illinois, she is now living in Jackson Heights, and draws inspiration from elements of nature in the Midwest and in Queens – such as the magnolia tree outside her apartment building depicted in the Saybrook series. Some of her larger paintings are on long scrolls reminiscent of the traditional Japanese format.
The joint exhibition runs through Sunday, December 30.
RESOBOX, 41-26 27th Street Long Island City, NY 11101; (718) 784-3680; resobox.com