Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
It’s time to hit the pavement. On July 6th, the 2014 Tour de Queens by Jamis will take bicyclists on a fun-filled, family-friendly trek through the borough. An estimated 20 miles, the route will begin in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and take participants through Flushing, East Flushing, Murray Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bayside Terrace, Beechurst and Whitestone with a rest stop in Little Bay Park. It’s not a competitive race–riders will pedal en masse at about 10 mph as a rolling parade with an NYPD escort. There are no street closures, but volunteer marshals will block (or “cork”) traffic intersections for safe passage. Details after the jump.
It’s time to learn about the World’s Fair and sample the world’s fare. This Sunday at the Queens Historical Society’s Kingsland Homestead (below), Pierre Montiel will present a lecture and slideshow on the 1939 World’s Fair, which took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The event will informally launch Remembering Yesterday: Queens and Its NY World’s Fairs, an on-site exhibition on the two Queens World Fairs (1939 and 1964) featuring artifacts and photographs drawn from attendees’ collections. Over the next two months, the Flushing landmark will host four afternoon tasting-and-cultural events with live music, food and literature from Germany (above), Italy, Poland and Ireland, all of which participated in at least one Queens World’s Fair.
Immediate details: History and Highlights of a World’s Fair with Pierre Montiel, Queens Historical Society, Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, June 22nd, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, $8.
Ongoing details: Remembering Yesterday: Queens and Its NY World’s Fairs, open Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, runs through May 31, 2015, free with admission ($5 adults, $3 students/seniors).
Bacon! Okay, if that didn’t grab your attention: Beer! On July 26th, Citi Field will host the Bacon and Beer Classic, a pork-and-suds celebration that will bring thousands of consumers and dozens of vendors, including Oliver’s Astoria, to the Flushing ballpark. Part of a first-ever moving feast hosted inside Major League baseball stadiums throughout the U.S., this two-session extravaganza will feature bacon-inspired cuisine and libation as well as craft brews, live music, cooking demonstrations, interactive games and the chance to hang out in a bullpen. Though roughly a month away, it’s not too late to buy tickets or sign up as a vendor. (The inaugural Bacon and Beer Classic took place at Safeco Field in Seattle on May 17. After Queens, the pigs fly to Houston.)
Details: Bacon and Beer Classic, Citi Field, 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, July 26th, brunch session is noon to 3 pm, evening session is 7 pm to 10 pm, VIP sessions begin one hour before, $39-$129.
It only happens once a year, but there are three chances to celebrate it in Queens this weekend. This Saturday, Socrates Sculpture Park will welcome the new season with a Summer Solstice Celebration featuring various art workshops, face-painting, a nature-inspired ritual performed by urban shaman Mama Donna, a picnic, and of course, a wonderful Manhattan skyline. Plus, Norte Maar will present site-specific sound performances encompassing the entire park. These artists will create unique sound platforms through traditional instrumentation, amplification of objects, juxtaposition of voices, and experimental electronic sound. The same day but over in Jamaica, King Manor Museum will host ice-cream making, huge bubble creating, sun-inspired art and crafts, and historic games for children. Then on Sunday, the Queens Botanical Gardens will host its Festival de las Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration with purveyors of the beautiful Colombian craft of creating silletos or large medallions composed of flowers. Attendees can also enjoy live music and dance, craft and food vendors, bilingual story reading, face painting, botanical crafts, a petting zoo, and old-fashioned games for the children.
Details: Summer Solstice Celebration, Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, June 21st, 5 pm to dusk, free.
Bonus details: Summer Solstice Festival, King Manor Museum, 150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, June 22nd, noon to 4 pm, free.
More bonus details: Festival de la Flores/Summer Solstice Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, June 22nd, noon to 5 pm, free with admission.
Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.
Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via email@example.com.
On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.
Spend some time on the right side of the tracks! A model train system and a local musician who has enjoyed huge hits with his big band are pulling into the Queens Botanical Garden. Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Long Island Garden Railway Society will create a working “G-scale” exhibit with model trains traveling a track around a scaled-down Unisphere and other iconic features from the 1964 World’s Fair. On May 24th, festivities will include food-and-craft vendors, a trackless train for rides through selected sections of the Flushing green space, and a concert by John Yao’s Big Band, a 17-piece ensemble. A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Yao is a composer, trombonist, and arranger specializing in jazz fusion.
Details: World’s Fair Train Show, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, May 24th through May 26th, 10 am to 5 pm, free with admission.
Food for thought, sounds for the spirit, and dancing for soul are part of a jam-packed weekend of entertainment at Flushing Town Hall. The fun starts on Friday night, when the Queens Jazz Orchestra (below) honors the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, who were known for their innovative contributions to the genre’s improvisation and vernacular. QJO Conductor Jimmy Heath will lead a discussion on these Jazz icons before the show. On Sunday afternoon, the group Ologunde will perform a mix of music, dance and martial arts inspired by the rich African-Brazilian culture of Salvador, a city in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The show will include rituals associated with candomblé, a synthesis of the Yoruba and Catholic religions; breathtaking capoeira martial arts dances; maculelê, a warrior dance with sticks and machetes created in the sugar cane fields by slaves; and the exhilarating samba de roda, which can be traced back to Angola. Later in the afternoon, Queens College Adjunct Professor Anahí Viladrich will deliver a paper on her work with Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights botánicas, which provide religious articles to practitioners of Santería, an African-Caribbean religion.
Basically, she arrived on Broadway in the 1950s and never left. After being the ingénue in Flahooley in 1951 and then starring in the original musicals Plain and Fancy (1955), Candide (1956) and The Music Man (1957), Barbara Cook has gone on to win two Grammys, one Tony, a Kennedy Center lifetime achievement award and countless other accolades, including White House performances in front of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton. A silvery soprano, Cook is known for her purity of tone and warm-but-strong stage presence. On Saturday night, this Atlanta native will perform selections from her newly developed repertoire of jazz and swing while also reprising her classics from Broadway and the great American songbook at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts.
Details: Broadway Legend Barbara Cook, Colden Auditorium, Queens College, Kissena Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway, Flushing, May 10th, 8 pm, $45/$55/$69 (save 20% off four tickets by using code barbara20, www.kupferbergcenter.org/events/barbara-cook).
They call him the “Martin Luther King of Brazil.” Abdias Nascimento was an author, playwright, senator and artist who was also a founding force in his South American country’s Black Pride movement. On April 28th, Queens College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum will open an exhibition of 40 large-scale, brilliantly colored digital prints of Nascimento’s art which are deeply influenced by the African-Brazilian religion Candomblé, its sister religion, Santería, that originated in the Caribbean, and Haitian Vodou. There will be an opening reception on April 30th that will include a roundtable discussion on “Abdias Nascimento and Candomblé, Santería and Afro-Latino Politics in Brazil and Cuba.” This program is part of Queens College’s Year of Brazil celebration, which encompasses everything student and faculty exchanges to student-sponsored activities on culture, sports, and daily life to exhibitions, film screenings, and performances.