01/28/15 1:00pm

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Two writers with intimate knowledge of Queens will participate in separate, upcoming enrichment events at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. On Saturday, Adrienne Onofri, who just published the guidebook Walking Queens, will lead a roundtable discussion on two of the borough’s hottest neighborhoods, Astoria and Long Island City. This licensed NYC tour guide, who also writes about theater for the Broadway World blog, will then sell and sign copies of her new book, which describes 30 routes to discover Queens on foot.

On Monday, Q’Stoner writer Kevin Walsh, a historian who also runs the Forgotten NY blog, will take attendees on an indoor tour of classic New York City storefront signs — with the help of slides. They come in all shapes and sizes and contain words in countless colors and fonts. Plus, some storefront signs have wacky and/or fascinating stories.

Saturday details: Discussion on Hot Neighborhoods and Book Signing, Greater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, Fourth Floor, Astoria/Long Island City, January 31st, 1 pm, free.

Monday details: Kevin Walsh on Storefronts, GAHS, February 2nd, 7 pm, $5.
Photo: Kevin Walsh
01/27/15 1:00pm

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Food, more food, and books on food. What’s not to like? The Entrepreneur Space is a kitchen-and-business incubator that has about 175 clients who make everything from Finnish bread to designer marshmallows to catered finger food. On February 3rd, this Long Island City-based venue will celebrate its fourth birthday  with about 30 clients providing samples of their artisan products to attendees. Plus, authors of recent books about the borough — Andrea Lynn of Queens: A Culinary Passport; Adrienne Onofri of Walking Queens: 30 Tours for Discovering the Diverse Communities, Historic Places, and Natural Treasures of New York City’s Largest Borough; and Meg Cotner of the Food Lover’s Guide to Queens will be on hand to sell and sign copies of their tomes. To add to the fun, SquareWine & Spirits will provide alcoholic beverages, while caffeinated drinks will come from Coffeed, a specialty roaster/café less than a block from the E-Space. The event’s lead sponsor, Oscar, will be offering a new kind of health insurance plan before ObamaCare’s open enrollment deadline on February 15th.

Details: Cooks & Books Bash, Entrepreneur Space, 36-46 37th Street, Astoria/Long Island City, February 3rd, 6 pm to 8 pm, free.

Photo: Queens Economic Development Corporation

01/16/15 1:00pm

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Modern day Long Island City is a whirlwind of construction, traffic, and well-dressed professionals hurrying to the subway. However, a local art space is about to change the pace. An Aesthetics of Slowness opens this Sunday at Dorsky Gallery. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures that contemplate the uncertainty of physical experiences and perceptions, inviting viewers to look, wait, and look again. Many works are not clearly legible at first glance; they emerge only as the viewer moves from side to side, checking various angles. For example, Ashley Billingsley’s pencil drawing Fire in Woods I-IV, 2013, (above) reflects on anxious villagers awaiting invasion by hostile forces in a scene from Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, Seven Samurai. Another exhibitor, Brian Wills, uses thread to destabilize the perception of foreground and background in his portraits.

Details: An Aesthetics of Slowness, Dorsky Gallery, 11-03 45th Avenue, Long Island City, opening reception is January 18th, 2 pm to 5 pm, free, show runs until March 29, www.dorsky.org.

Photo: Dorsky Gallery

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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

01/07/15 1:00pm

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There’s certainly a lot of variety in this variety show. Eleanor Bauer — a performer, choreographer, artist-in-residence, raconteur, and impressive improviser — is ready to crank out the Bauer Hour at MoMA PS1 this Sunday. It’s a talk show that often seems like a talent show that sometimes looks like an avant-garde tutorial where anything — or nothing — goes. The hostess (with the mostess, of course) invites guests to tell a story. Or dance. Or cry. Or whatever. Small talk, trash talk, pillow talk, straight talk, and even talking shop are allowed. No talk is an option, too, if a guest wants to pantomime.

Details: Bauer Hour, MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, January 11th, 5 pm, $10/$5 for students and seniors/Free for children under age 16. The Bauer Hour is part of MoMA PS1′s Sunday Sessions, a weekly presentation that invites artists to share their latest projects and ideas.

Photo via MoMA PS1

01/05/15 11:00am

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As you may have noticed, I have a bit of a “thing” for cool cars. Remember that 1957 Pontiac Star Chief in Astoria I told you about, or the 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe spotted nearby Mt. Zion Cemetery at the border of Woodside and Maspeth? Most recently, I pointed out a 1947 Dodge which was innocuously parked in industrial Maspeth.

Sometimes, I barely have to leave the house to spot one of these vintage or classic rides, as is the case with this 1980 Pontiac Trans Am, which is a regular visitor to my own block in Astoria.

More after the jump… (more…)

12/11/14 11:00am

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The Loose Wiles “thousand windows” Bakery on Thomson Avenue, which serves modernity as Building C of the LaGuardia Community College campus, is about to receive a face lift. It’s an important structure, and not just because it was the largest factory building under one roof in the entire United States when it was built in 1913 as the centerpiece of the Degnon Terminal. The erection of the building at the start of the 20th century signaled the beginning of an age of large scale manufacturing in Western Queens, and when the Loose Wiles “Sunshine Biscuits” signage came down in the 1980′s – it heralded the end of that era. The IDCNY signage which replaced it in the 1980′s represents the moment when LIC began to transform into its current incarnation – carefully guided by Urban Planners – a process which saw the Citi building rise in the early 1990′s, followed by the residential towers which continue to propagate between the East River and Queens Plaza.

LaGuardia Community College is in the early stages of a facelift for the century old building, which will alter its appearance and once again change the signage adorning it. It’s the end of the fourth age of LIC, and the beginning of something new.

More after the jump… (more…)

12/10/14 4:00pm

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Come and visit. You’ll like it. Lonely Planet named Queens the best tourism destination for 2015 this morning. The travel media company commended the borough “for topicality and buzz-worthiness,” while praising the food, diversity, hotels, events, and unique neighborhoods.

“Nowhere is the image of New York as the global melting pot truer than Queens,” reads Lonely Planet’s editorial in its Best in the US list for 2015. “Browse New York’s biggest Chinatown in Flushing, shop for brilliantly colored saris in Jackson Heights, and inhale the heady aromas of coffee and hookahs in Astoria.”

The editorial continues: “The incomparable array of world cuisines makes Queens a destination for food lovers from all parts of New York City. For your art fix, ogle the new upgrades to the Queens Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image, look for the new Emerging Artists Festival in Long Island City, and stroll Astoria’s new 24-block Kaufman Arts District. If you prefer sand and surf to paint and canvas, head to Rockaway.”

Western South Dakota came in second on the list. The other members of the top 10 were, in order, New Orleans (LA), the Colorado River, North Conway (NH), Indianapolis (IN), Greenville (SC), Oakland (CA), Duluth (MN), and the Mount Shasta Region (CA).

12/08/14 1:00pm

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They call it the “Holocenter,” and it’s dedicated to producing, exhibiting, researching, and educating the public on holographic artwork. Until April 2014, it operated out of The Clock Tower, but now it manages an office at Flux Factory in Long Island City and the Holocenter House gallery on Governors Island. On December 19th, it will offer a tantalizing, end-of-the-year showcase with projections, 3-D films, and light art. More on jump page.

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12/04/14 1:00pm

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What came first: the dance or the sphere of bamboo? This question is about to take major billing at Noguchi Museum, as the Long Island City sculpture center presents Maria Blaisse‘s Breathing Sphere, a month-long exhibition of a computer-controlled, motorized sphere of woven bamboo. The display creates a spatial and formal dialogue with Noguchi’s existing pieces, and Blaisse’s structures, which are presented by slowLab at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The Dutch artist will be on site this Saturday for a dance that will place two bamboo structures in their proper display spots. She will also participate in a Q&A on the topic of “Slow Ecology.” On Sunday, Blaisse will run an open studio from 11 am to 1 pm when, she’ll do some dance improvisation with a bamboo sphere.

Details: Maria Blaisse: Performance and Conversation, Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, December 6th, 1 pm, free.

Bonus details: Maria Blaisse’s Maria Blaisse: Breathing Sphere, on exhibit from now until January 4th, 2015.

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Photos: Noguchi Museum