01/16/15 11:00am

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On Park Lane, at the east end of the vast Forest Park, which includes the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Glendale, a lone lamenting figure stands on a rise between the basketball courts and the tony homes spread out before it. His garments are ripped and his eyes look heavenward in a  supplicating manner. Passersby would be puzzled about what this figure symbolizes, were there not a NYC Parks sign positioned perhaps a bit too close to it.

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First of all, the definition. Amigurumi is a traditional Japanese art form that involves knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals or other cuddly creatures. Second, the relevance. Resobox is currently displaying more than 4,000 amigurumi that were made by more than 140 artists from 32 different countries. In fact, the Long Island City gallery has turned its space into an “amigurumi room,” filled with a wide array of these handmade objects. Third, the pitch. These crafts are on sale… and Valentine’s Day is coming up.

Details: World Amigurumi Exhibition, Resobox, 41-26 27th Street, Long Island City, show runs until February 28th, admission is free, but pieces mostly cost between $20 and $50. Gallery is open on all weekdays, except Tuesday, 11 am to 5 pm, and weekends, noon to 5 pm.

Photo: Resobox

01/14/15 4:00pm

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Art Connects New York, a group that curates free, permanent art exhibits for social service organizations in NYC, has partnered with the Markus Gardens development in Jamaica for its next project. (Check out some of the artwork Art Connects New York brought to the Queens Community House here.) The Queens-based artist and curator Karen Fitzgerald is organizing this next exhibit, which will be permanently installed in the Markus Gardens supportive housing development at 90-26 171st Street. To be called “In a Sheltering Place,” it will feature 15 artists exploring the ideas of shelter and home through various media. All of the artists donated their artwork in the exhibition to the Markus Gardens community.

The grand opening is scheduled for February, so stay tuned for images and details on the exhibit to come.

Image by Mary Pinto, “House by the Sea”

01/14/15 10:00am

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Yesterday the Sunnyside Shines BID announced a new public art piece installed on a billboard in the neighborhood. The artist Margeaux Walter designed the piece, entitled “Keep Calm,” and you can see it at the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and 46th Street. The work is part of 14×48, an organization that repurposes vacant billboards as public art space.

The “Keep Calm” piece is meant to, according to the website, “create a dialogue that addresses the overlap between individuality and commerce as well as the various guises of advertising and propaganda.” (There are messages like “Keep Calm and Kiss On,” “Keep Calm and Play Basketball.”) Viewers are also invited to tweet their own “keep calm” messages with the hashtag #keepcalm14x48. The artist plans to turn the tweets into postcards and hand them out along Greenpoint Avenue and at Ave Coffee House, 45-01 Greenpoint Avenue. The billboard will be up in the neighborhood for at least four weeks.

Photo via Sunnyside Shines’ Twitter

01/12/15 11:00am

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Saturday last, I headed over to the newly renovated Queens Museum at the former World’s Fair Grounds in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. The trip was a true bit of joy, given that I don’t own a car and the 7 train was undergoing one of its periodic spasms of maintenance work, so I had to get there from Astoria via a train ride to Forest Hills whereupon I was meant to catch a bus. The bus was leaving when I got out of the station, so I hailed a cab. Neither the cab driver nor his GPS seemed to have ever heard of the Queens Museum or Flushing Meadow Corona Park, but somehow I got there in time for a NYC H2O event celebrating the massive Watershed Relief Map which has been given a place of pride and honor at the institution.

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The map was prepared in the 1930s by the Work Projects Administration for the institutional ancestors of our modern Department of Environmental Protection – the Department of Water Supply, Gas, and Electricity and the Board of Water Supply. All city agencies were tasked with producing displays that depicted their functions for the World’s Fair of 1939, and the water people decided to go big.

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From January 11th to February 8th at the Queens Museum, 596 Acres is presenting “Reviewing Renewal on the Queens Museum Panorama.” The organization plans to display all 155 urban renewal plans adopted by the city in conjunction with the Panorama. Urban renewal plans, which New York City adopted in 1949, were used to get federal funding to acquire land, relocate residents living there, and demolish the structures to make way for development. According to 596 Acres, “The legacy of these neighborhood master plans remains active across the city.”

The exhibit also includes a number of events like a walking tour of the Willets Point Urban Renewal Area with Dr. Jack Eichenbaum, a screening of the documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, and a reading by the author DW Gibson. Everything is free but in some cases, RSVPs are required. For all the event details and to RSVP, go here.

01/02/15 3:00pm

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The Louis Armstrong House Museum has filed permits with the Department of Buildings to begin construction on its $20,000,000 annex. Queens Courier reports that the project was majorly stalled — design work began back in 2007 — due to variance and zoning issues. The 8,737-square-foot educational visitors center, which will rise two stories, is going to hold more exhibit space as well as a store. It’s being built on vacant land next door to the house museum, which is visited by 12,000 people every year. No word on how long construction will last on the annex.

Jennifer Walden, director of marketing at the museum, told the Courier that this new center will “create a wonderful cultural campus in Corona that allows us to expand our programming for the community and our visitors from around the world.”

Construction Finally Set for $20M Louis Armstrong Museum Annex [Queens Courier] GMAP

Rendering via Louis Armstrong House Museum

12/15/14 10:00am

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A Festivistmas Kwanzaannukah holiday tradition, the MTA runs vintage Subway cars on the M line on Sundays in the month of December. The rolling stock is maintained by the MTA’s Transit Museum, and I make it a point of attending the event every year. This Q’stoner post from last year goes into some detail on what to expect onboard these relics of NYC’s golden age, but I wasn’t too happy with the quality of the photos from 2013, and have been practicing my subway shooting skills in the intervening interval.

Yesterday, I put myself to the test, and rode the Shoppers Special with my camera. Lots of shots from what I saw onboard follow, after the jump. (more…)

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Long Island City residents erected a protest sculpture along Jackson Avenue, in response to the city’s plan to install its own pink sculpture at the cost of $450,000. The Department of Cultural Affairs revealed a rendering for a bright pink, eight-and-a-half-foot-tall sculpture last month as part of a Jackson Avenue streetscape improvement project. Residents protested the color and the cost, as well as the lack of public inclusion. And as DNAinfo has shown, the protest has taken the form of another sculpture. The colorful and angular piece includes a sign that says: “This is not against the artist. It is against the misuse of our tax dollars. It cost $350 dollars to make this sculpture which we are donating to Long Island City and there are many local artists that would do the same so this money could be spent on something constructive like education.” It’s unclear who the artist of the protest sculpture is.

The proposal for the pink sculpture is still in development and needs to be reviewed by the Public Design Commission. It wouldn’t be installed for another 18 months.

Sculpture Erected on Jackson Avenue to Protest Another Sculpture [DNAinfo]

Photo by Jeanmarie Evelly for DNAinfo

To mark the one year anniversary of the whitewash of 5Pointz, the independent filmmaker P.J. Monsanto released an 18-minute documentary about the infamous graffiti warehouse. Titled “We Don’t Need More Rats Here,” it chronicles the artists’ efforts to save the building after the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, announced plans for a new residential development, and their reaction after all their work was painted over in the dead of night. There are also plenty of amazing shots of the building during its glory days, covered in artwork. Now, of course, the warehouse is under demolition.

We Don’t Need More Rats Here [Vimeo]
All 5Pointz coverage [Q'Stoner]