The term “pumpkin smashing” often conjures up images of vandals roaming residential streets, taking gourds from front lawns, and breaking them on driveways and sidewalks. Usually the result is nothing more than a seedy, squishy mess. However in Sunnyside this Saturday, individuals will be able to perform similar acts of aggression and destruction in a productive, dignified manner, thanks to the NYC Compost Project. Bring unwanted pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns to Torsney Playground, and the city will use the wrecked results to rebuild soil in parks around the five boroughs.
Details: Pumpkin Smash 2014, Sunnyside Greenmarket, Tornsey Playground, vicinity of 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, November 1st, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, free and refreshments will be served while supplies last.
It’s time for some enrichment, and the Greater Astoria Historical Society is ready to offer three distinct options for self-improvement on three consecutive days. This Saturday, licensed guide Tony Rohling will lead a walking tour of Sunnyside Gardens (below), a planned community which is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Participants will examine the architecture and landscaping in this historic district and check out Phipps Garden Apartments, a model residential complex for working-class families that a philanthropic organization belonging to the Henry Phipps family built in 1931. It features stylish brick work and curved steel fire escapes.
On Sunday, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will launch its first Chautauqua in Astoria workshop. Chautauqua is a lakeside village in upstate New York where summer visitors enjoy fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship, and recreational activities. Plus, the term “Chautauqua” can mean an informational lecture, and modern Chautauquas (above) focus on re-creating famous figures related to a specific theme. Sally Ann Drucker, an experienced Chautauquan, will lead a series of workshops on legendary New Yorkers from the 19th Century. Participants choose and research a legendary figure, write a 20-minute script, and learn how to present their material to live audiences. After four workshops, Chautauqua in Astoria culminates in live performances.
Then on September 8th, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will team up with the New York Nineteenth Century Society to present a lecture on the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, which was held in Philadelphia. Attendees will learn about the celebration of America’s 100th birthday, the inventions that debuted then, and the lasting impact the event had on the United States. (For example, the Statue of Liberty’s torch-bearing hand was on display at the exhibition before the completed monument was installed in New York Harbor.)
Without a doubt, Louis Armstrong is the most famous jazz musician who ever lived in Queens. However, Satchmo often cited a much lesser-known borough resident, Bix Beiderbecke, as one of his biggest inspirations. Known affectionately as “Bix,” this self-taught coronet player had his own, distinctive sound described as “bullets hitting a bell.” He had his heyday during the Roaring Twenties Jazz Era before dying at age 28 in his apartment at 43-30 46th Street in Sunnyside, thanks largely to Prohibition-era alcohol. This Saturday with some help from Sunnyside Shines, Bix’s music and the Roaring Twenties will come to life at the 14th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert.
Check out the full schedule and event details after the jump. (more…)
The Deal: Murphy’s Lobster Grill opened last October, an extension of the owner’s next-door namesake bar. Murphy’s Bar has been a Skillman Avenue staple for the last 10 years.
“When the space next door became available I decided to expand and run a seafood restaurant. There’s none in this part of Queens, and I have experience from my other restaurant in Mineola, Long Island,” says owner Mike Murphy.
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.
Sunnyside shopping has a new bright spot. Last week, the Apollonia Gallery NY opened at 48-14 Skillman Avenue. The venue, where Comic Book Heaven was located for 26 years, sells handmade furnishings, paintings, prints, photos, records, antiques, and other home décor items with an emphasis on promoting local artisans. The owner, Garry O’Callaghan, also indicated that he plans to host salon-like gatherings for musicians, poetry readings and artist talks. A carpenter by trade, O’Callaghan will also display his own furniture, which he’ll make in a downstairs workshop. The store’s title honors Apollo, the Greek god of music and art, but Apollo was also the name of O’Callaghan’s beloved pet dog, which passed away a few years ago.
O’Callaghan’s statement: ”I wanted to create a mythological and magical place like the shop in the Gremlins that gives guests the feeling of being in a secret place where they can find one-of-a-kind treasures. This is also a wonderful way to meet interesting people and celebrate the vibrant local arts scene.” You can visit the gallery Tuesday through Friday, 3 pm to 8 pm, and weekends, 9 am to 8 pm.
There will be dancing in the streets. Many, many streets…bars, cemeteries, gardens, historic houses, malls, parks, nonprofits, restaurants, stoops and triangles, too. On June 21st (aka the longest day of the year), Make Music New York will host a Summer Solstice festival consisting of more than 1,000 free concerts throughout the five boroughs. From 10 am to 10 pm, musicians of all persuasions — hip hop to opera, jazz to punk, high school bands to pop stars — will do their things. Queens, of course, will be in the center of the action. For example, South African artist Toya DeLazy will perform her unique blend of hip hop, jazz and electronica at LIC Landing (52-10 Center Boulevard, Long Island City) at 1 pm. Meanwhile from noon to 4 pm, the Queens Council on the Arts (37-11 35th Avenue, Astoria) will present Reggae artist Desmond followed by Instrumental Jazz Fusion by Mind Open. Six hours of music and dance are scheduled at the Spaceworks LIC Block Party (33-02 Skillman Avenue, LIC). All told, Astoria, Corona, Elmhurst, Glendale, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, LIC, Ridgewood and Sunnyside will host events.
Imagine a large room full of potential Father’s Day gifts, and not one of them is a tie. This Sunday, about 35 local artists will fill the Queen of Angels parish hall in Sunnyside with everything from paintings to postcards to trinkets made from beads, buttons and felt. Organized by the nonprofit Sunnyside Artists, this seventh-annual, all-volunteer event draws about 1,000 patrons and can lead to artists showing their works at local establishments. This year, participants will include regulars, such as Mihai Stancescu, who specializes in frescoes and board paintings with egg tempera and gilding, and Ellen Mandelbaum, a stained glass expert. But there will be some new faces and pieces, such as work by Trevor Sparks and Emily O’Leary, employees at the new Queens Boulevard store Artists & Craftsman Supply. In addition, Murphy’s Lobster Grill, which won Best Entrée at Queens Taste 2014, will provide food.
Details: Queen of Angles Art Fair VII, Queen of Angels Parish Hall, 44th Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, noon to 5 pm, free.
The title is rather general: We Women Do It Better!or¡Nosotras Lo Hacemos Mejor! But the play’s entertaining monologue is rather specific, delving into what, exactly, females do better than males. An attractive psychologist has prepared a workshop on professional growth. As she discusses it, she takes the audience on a tour of a woman’s reality by reminiscing on her own life experiences: childhood, first love, marriage, maternity, infidelity and divorce. With a sharp-tongued, unconventional wit, she analyzes the myths of marriage and divorce, exposes the schemes of seducers, and discovers love at age 50. The Thalía Spanish Theatre will host this Puerto Rican gem, written by Mayagüez native Roberto Ramos-Perea, for almost two months with performances in English and Español.
Details: We Women Do It Better (¡Nosotras Lo Hacemos Mejor!), Thalía Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, May 30th to June 29th, performances in English star Kathy Tejada on Fridays at 8 pm and Saturdays at 3 pm. Performances in Spanish star Soledad Lopez on Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm. $27/$20 students and seniors, special group rates.
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.