A few years ago, local controversy in LIC and Astoria was centered around a pair of Dutch era artifacts known colloquially as “The Queens Plaza Mill Stones.” The mill stones date back to the 1640s and were originally part of Burger Jorrisen’s homestead. For most of the 20th century, the artifacts were embedded in a sidewalk in Queens Plaza. When the “Queens Plaza Improvement Project” began, the mill stones were uprooted and stored in a decidedly dangerous manner. The Greater Astoria Historical Society led the charge on protesting this, and there was quite a hullaballoo about the matter, one which ended up being fairly divisive.
In the end, Jimmy Van Bramer stepped in, calmed the warring parties, and arranged for the stones to be moved from the construction zone and stored at the Queens Library until the construction was done. The ultimate home for the things was always meant to be the new Dutch Kills Greens Park, the creation of which was the whole point of the ”Queens Plaza Improvement Project.” I was wandering around Queens Plaza last week and decided to check in on the Mill Stones, which ended up being a disturbing visit.
Why did the chicken cross the road? Well, it was probably to attend a Queens comedy spectacular hosted at a community art space in honor of an urban farm. This Friday, Sunnyside Comedy will present Funny By Nature, a jokefest with an all-star lineup, at Flux Factory, an artist collective/performance venue in Long Island City. The event’s goal is to raise money and awareness for the Smiling Hogshead Ranch (above), a budding, volunteer-led farm near LaGuardia Community College. More details on the jump page.
A few things to get out of the way at the start of this post are that a) the intersection of 23rd Street and 45th Avenue in the Hunters Point section used to be part of the Van Alst family’s farming empire, b) the Van Alst land was purchased by Eliaphas Nott on behalf of Union College in 1861, and that c) it was purchased and developed by two fellows named Root and Rust in 1870. The predominance of buildings in the historic district are actually from the 1890s, and even in the 19th century this area was considered special – it was “White Collar Row” and home to LIC’s bankers and elected officialdom.
It’s known as the “beggars’ opera,” but it’s more of a boisterous musical. It was written in Berlin in the 1920s, but it takes place in Victorian England. It offers a socialist critique, but is defined by capitalist norms. And it features acid harmonies that mock traditional opera, but its opening number is one of the most recognizable, most sweet-sounding songs of all time, “Mac the Knife.” More information on jump page.
Roxanne is a lonely transgender sex worker whose life changes drastically after she takes in an abandoned 11-year-old girl. Alifa is an optimistic shepherdess in Somali who is positive that her life is going to change for the better. Hannah has a hard time juggling being six years old and a “big girl” at the same time. These three stories will play at various times in the borough during the fifth annual Queens World Film Festival, which starts on March 17th. At venues in Jackson Heights, the Kaufman Arts District, and Long Island City, the six-day celebration will present 117 films with diverse lengths, topics, and national origins. Details on the movies, venues, blocks, and themes are on the jump page along with another photo.
Valerie Green is about to take off one of her hats…and she’s going to do it in grand style. This weekend, the artistic director and choreographer for Long Island City-based Dance Entropy and founder of Green Space studio will end the dancing aspect of her career after about two decades on the New York City scene. More information and another photo on the jump page.
If the snow leaves you stranded in Long Island City, don’t fret. Your entertainment plans are set for the next 22 days. On Saturday, you’ll attend a concert by Das Audit, an NYC-based instrumental ensemble with alto sax, flute, bass, guitar, and percussion, at SculptureCenter at 4 pm. About four hours later and just down the road, Dublin resident Susan McKeown, a singer/songwriter who specializes in traditional Irish music, will perform at the New York Irish Center. Take a few skips to the north and the west, and on Sunday the Dorsky Gallery will host a conversation between Chris Freeman and Jeannie Simms at part of a greater exhibit, The Body: Disruptions of the Intimate. Both artists explore the body as a site of memories and desires. Freeman will discuss how his awareness of the body and mortality affect his choice of art material, among other topics. Simms will describe her collaborations with Indonesian lesbian domestic workers to create portraits of their personal lives. Another photo and information from March 10th through March 28th are on the jump page.
Yesterday’s storm was officially the moment at which I, for one, have had it with this never ending winter. As my ennui is tantamount to becoming that proverbial monkey shaking a fist at the moon, the only reaction I can offer is that I need to see some bright, saturated color right now or I just might bury myself in the snow and disappear. Accordingly, in today’s post, “Scenes from Queens,” all of which were captured during warmer times.
It’s time for a change. Since last December, various community advisors have been meeting periodically to discuss improvements to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Part of The World’s Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with Its Neighbors project done in partnership with the NYC Parks Department, the Queens Museum, and Design Trust for Public Space, the focus is on the planning, design, and stewardship of the 1,225-acre public space. This Sunday, the public gets to provide input at the World’s Park Community Forum at Queens Museum. All are invited, plus there will be simultaneous Spanish and Mandarin translation and activities for non-speakers. More information on jump page.
At first glance, calligraphy is a visual art. But upon further investigation, its characters and images also express philosophy, culture, and inspiration. Chao-Lin Ting (above) has been engaging in this practice for roughly nine decades. The Chiangsu Province native is world renowned for his seal and semi-cursive scripts. This Sunday, the 102-year-old will co-present an afternoon dedicated to calligraphy at Flushing Town Hall. At 1 pm, Ting and James Shau will teach the basics of the Chinese genre, while Seoul native Yoo Sung Lee, a professional with over 30 years of practice who wrote a chapter in the World Encyclopedia of Calligraphy will inform on the Korean styles at 3 pm. Plus, the town hall’s walls are currently covered with Ting and Lee’s work as part of the Dynamic Writing: A Century of Calligraphy exhibit, which runs until March 22nd. (Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 pm.)
More details, another photo, and bonus details on jump page.