Socrates Sculpture Park is preparing for its spring exhibition, which will open on May 11th. Last week they broke ground on the largest installation in the park’s 28-year history — according to Socrates, it’s “a 250-foot-long, thirteen-foot-high kinetic pathway composed of 200 stainless steel, mirrored poles connecting energetic slopes of silver Mylar ribbon overhead.” The work, titled Scarecrow, is by the LIC-based, Lithuanian-born artist Zilvinas Kempinas. This is the artist’s first outdoor installation in the United States. You can read more details about the sculpture here, and also see photos of the installation process happening now at the park at the Socrates Facebook page. Also beginning in May, the park will provide a free weekend shuttle service to and from nearby cultural attractions.
The Wall Street Journal has a story on how Kaufman Astoria Studios helped bring bars, restaurants, and young residents into the neighborhood. It has, as the WSJ says, “helped catalyze a new wave of economic activity in Astoria.” The WSJ profiles new restaurants like Snowdonia and Maizal and points out the growing rent and demand for the area. As the owner of Maizal said, “I’m now paying $2,450 for a two-bedroom apartment and I used to pay $700 for another two-bedroom apartment.”
There’s plenty more growth to expect from Kaufman Studios. This spring, Kaufman will host LIC Flea & Food inside the studio for eight consecutive weekends. Kafuman Studios are even building out a 33-unit development on 35th Street and believe that the studio’s presence can act as a catalyst for more real estate development. The studio is also expanding itself, and will turn a parking lot and gas station into a new sound stage within the next two years.
Here’s a scene from the press conference at the Queens Museum yesterday in which Mayor de Blasio announced his appointment of the new Cultural Affairs Commissioner. His pick was Tom Finkelpearl, the director of the Queens Museum for the past 12 years. Finkelpearl oversaw the massive, $69 million renovation at the Queens Museum which doubled the art museum’s exhibition space. As Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Finkelpearl will run the city’s arts programming as well as support non-profit institutions based in New York.
Beautify Earth, a nonprofit that began in California, is taking on the Rockaways. The group uses public art to uplift communities, and they’ll head to Rockaway Beach Boulevard to beautify over a dozen buildings with murals and street cleanups. They’ve also got a proposal for a community garden and sculpture park in the neighborhood. The list of artists signed on to the project include some world-renowned street artists as well as NYC-based artists. One mural is up, another is coming this month. A group of artists also plan to work with local kids to complete another piece of street art. The Rockaway Artists Alliance is helping engage local artists and leverage resources for this big project.
Beautify Earth also organized a fundraiser for this endeavor, which will take place on Saturday, April 12th from 8 pm to 12am at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. There will be a live jazz band, a DJ and a raffle throughout the night. Donations at the door will be accepted. Check out all the event details right here. And if you’d like to directly contribute to the project, you can go here.
Neighborhood Slice is a mini documentary series for NYC TV that profiles New York neighborhoods through the eyes of people that have lived there the longest. This week Neighborhood Slice chats with Spike from Long Island City, who reminisces about swimming in the East River, dancing at the Pepsi Cola club, and starting trouble on the railroad yard of LIC. He also visits the dramatically changed LIC waterfront and notes: “They destroyed an area to make another area.” Trust us, this one is worth a watch. To keep up with Neighborhood Slice videos, you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
The Long Island City clock tower has sold, and so the Center for the Holographic Arts must say goodbye to its LIC home. The Holocenter announced plans for a farewell party on Friday April 11th, from 8 pm to 2 am at the Clock Tower, 29-27 41st Avenue. There will be music, holograms, projections, performers, interactive installations, food, and drinks. You can purchase tickets to the event here. As for the Clock Tower building, it’s unclear who bought it and what’ll move into the building down the road.
Astoria Stand Up, a coalition of artists, residents, and businesses based in the area, is hosting a series of events this month to support a film by two Astoria residents, Paras Chaudhari and Chrysovalantis Stamelos. The film, Astoria Park, follows two enemies who clash over rights to their local basketball court. Chaudhari and Stamelos made a short film in 2005; now they hope to produce a feature-length film with the help of Kickstarter. On Saturday, April 5th, the filmmakers will shoot footage for their Kickstarter commercial as they lead a march through Astoria Park, all the way to the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. At the conclusion of the march, a showcase of local musicians and poets will perform at Bohemian. Then there will be a screening of the Kickstarter campaign on April 13th at the Strand Smokehouse.
For details on the coming events, check out the Astoria Standup website. And check out this video talking more about the showcase at Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. UPDATE: The schedule for the day has slightly changed. The plan is to meet at the Bohemian (& get a t-shirt!) at 12:30 pm, then film & march through the Gates at 1:15 pm. The performance showcase is at the Bohemian from 1:45 to 5 pm.
Check out this great shot from the LIC Partnership of students from the Frank Sinatra High School singing at today’s celebration of the Kaufman Arts District! Today the city, neighborhood organizations and local pols declared the area — which spans from 31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east and 37th Avenue to the south — an official arts district. The district encompasses Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image, Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the United Artists Kaufman Astoria movie theater.
As if the press conference wasn’t official enough, as of today the Kaufman Arts District also has its own Twitter account! Check out a few more photos from today’s event after the jump.
Looks like Queens is getting its very own children’s book! Last week Queens resident and blogger Amol Sarva launched a Kickstarter to fund an illustrated children’s book titled Q is for Queens. Since the launch, the project received tons of attention. And as of this morning the Kickstarter boasts more than $9,300 in funding, surpassing its $8,000 goal. (There are still 50 days of funding to go!) The premise of the book is to use to alphabet to talk about all things Queens: “A is for Arthur Ashe, B is for Bayside, C is for Cyndi Lauper… R is for Ramones or maybe Rockaway or maybe both!” Donors get an early copy of the hardcover book if they give $30 or more.
An enclave of Astoria known for its concentration of cultural amenities is getting a new name: the Kaufman Arts District. The city will designate the area on Friday which covers, according to the New York Times, “31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east and 37th Avenue to the south.” The new name, of course, comes from the Kaufman Astoria Studios, a major cultural force in the neighborhood. The area also includes the Museum of the Moving Image, Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the United Artists Kaufman Astoria movie theater. The arts institutions in the area presented the idea of a cultural district to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped push it forward. Unlike creating a Business Improvement District, which comes with many city approvals and hurdles, the Kaufman Arts District will become a reality with the Council Member’s proclamation.
The area will be similar to the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, which is supported by millions in city money to foster more local arts-related businesses. For right now, the Kaufman Arts District isn’t getting any money or amenities. The Times reports that the special street signs haven’t even been ordered yet.