Tag Archives: art

Queens students look at the horrors of genocide


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

They vowed to never forget — and never again allow another Holocaust.

Students, faculty members and survivors of the genocide gathered at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA) of Queensborough Community College (QCC) for the opening night of “Testimony Across the Disciplines: Queensborough Community College Students Respond to Genocide through Art and Writing.”

Over 300 students and 20 faculty members from five colleges, working in 10 academic disciplines, were involved with creating this capstone exhibit, presented by the 2014-2015 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant Colloquia.

“Testimony Across the Disciplines” features a wide variety of works by students who conducted research and studied cultural and artistic responses to genocide and organized hate. For one year, the students worked closely with faculty members, Holocaust survivors, victims and offenders of incarceration, and genocide scholars to create the exhibit.

“I wanted to immerse students across several disciplines in the study of genocide and then capture their creative responses,” said Cary Lane, from QCC’s department of academic literacy and co-project investigator. “Tonight, the students’ creative responses are on display as both an art exhibit and performance of music, dance and poetry.”

“Profiles of Survival: Holocaust Survivors of the KHRCA,” was a collaborative effort between academic literacy ESL students and art and design photography students to document, both visually and verbally, the experiences of the KHRCA Holocaust survivors.

The students who wrote the biographies conducted group and personal interviews with the survivors to learn about their stories. One of those survivors, Elena Berkovits, lectured the students on her experiences during the Holocaust for the project.

According to her profile, written by student Haeun Kim, Berkovits was born in Transylvania in 1928, and by 1944 the Nazis took control of her country. She and her family, along with hundreds of other Jews, were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She remembered the Nazis sending the children, the elderly and the infirmed directly to the gas chambers.

“When I lived in Transylvania, it belonged to Hungary,” Berkovits explained to visitors at the event. “I was taken to Auschwitz. It was just horrible.”

Berkovits survived the ordeal and, in 1945, married her husband and had a daughter. She now has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Another pieces focused on the Holocaust, “Graphic Narratives and Objects Reflections,” consists of stories that combine visual and textual elements to form a unique reading experience. Students were tasked with creating their own graphic narratives exploring the themes of genocide, war, identity and ethnicity.

The “Poetry: Resisting Silence, Giving Voice” exhibit gave students the opportunity to express their feelings toward genocide, racism, war, trauma and oppression, through poetry.

On a much more current topic, the exhibit “Restorative Justice and Community Healing” focuses on healing not only the victim, but also the offender and the community, of the damage caused by violent crimes.

“Restorative justice looks at the goal of repairing the harm that was caused by crime in non-traditional ways,” said Rose Marie Äikäs, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice. “We wanted to teach through process.”

Äikäs’ students visited Hour Children in Astoria, an organization dedicated to helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children rebuild relationships with their families, rejoin the community and create healthy lives.

The series of interviews conducted by the students were documented and displayed as part of the exhibit.

“Testimony Across the Disciplines,” is open from April 16 to May 21 at the KHRCA.

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First Ridgewood Artists Coalition exhibit opens Sunday at Glendale brewery


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Ridgewood Artists Coalition (RAC) will hold its first exhibit, titled “The Ridgewood Artists Spring Showcase,” at Glendale’s Finback Brewery from this Sunday through April 26.

The opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. at the brewery, located at 78-01 77th Ave. Donations collected at the reception will help support the Ridgewood Youth Market, a program that teaches teens and young adults small business lessons through operating farm stands in their neighborhoods.

The Ridgewood Youth Market is part of Grow NYC and is run in partnership with the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District and the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation.

The exhibit, described by its creators as “part survey and part dialogue,” is co-curated by RAC founder Emily Heinz and Finback manager Leah Blair and features local artists who live and work in Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale.

“The artists involved emerge from a myriad of different backgrounds, spanning the spectrum of age, ethnicity, formal training and relationship to the area,” Heinz and Blair said in a joint statement. “This diversity is intrinsic to a New York neighborhood, and the spirit of this condition is reflected in the variation of the works, which simultaneously form a single yet multifarious voice informed by the specific perspective of a cross-section of urban life.”

The showcase is just one of many community-oriented events hosted and sponsored by Finback Brewery.

“This collaboration between the Ridgewood Artists Coalition and Finback Brewery is indicative of an emerging art practice that is inclined towards social awareness and local identity, and uses both to organically form a presence of contemporary art and artists who are critically engaged with art making and socially engaged with the community as a whole,” the statement said.

For more information about the Ridgewood Artists Coalition, contact them at RidgewoodArtists@gmail.com.

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RoGallery: A leader in art auctions


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of RoGallery

BY ALAN CAPPER

Most people think of art as beautiful paintings, sculpture and photography. There is a second art in the visual arts, and that is money. Occasionally the price of a classic painting at Christie’s or Sotheby’s is $30 million or more. The art world has a new extension to desirable art with photography and sculpture that are sold for increasingly staggering prices.

In Long Island City, RoGallery, an auction house founded more than 30 years ago by Robert Rogal, now the director of business and operations, occupies a 10,000-square-foot building that holds the gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art including paintings, print, photographs and sculpture.

Rogal is a native New Yorker and has found that Long Island City is an ideal place for his business, highly attractive to its clients on the East Side and Manhattan itself. Rogal has always been involved with the world of art. Before opening the gallery, he was involved in a number of businesses backed by his expertise in corporate financial activity. Art was always an area of interest for him. Before opening the gallery he was very active in the world of franchising, with major clients including Alice’s Restaurants.

“I first became interested in art at college,” Rogal said. “I learned much about it and enjoyed what I learned. I’d become interested in adding my own business experience to the buying and selling of art and created the Ro Gallery.”

He established the gallery as a highly successful business that is greatly admired by clients and other members of the art community.

New items are brought into the gallery every day, and Robert attends estate sales and private and corporate collections. This is enormously important in order to attract the best possible work for sale privately, corporately and as prints.

Some of the names included in the gallery include Braque, Dali, Koons, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Newman, Picasso, Rivers and Wendell.

Although it is not unknown for Robert to sell paintings for six figures, a look at recent auction catalogues shows a wide spectrum of choice and price. Recent pieces include a print by Robert Rauschenberg, a Warhol for $4,500 and two David Hockney prints using a ‘60s-style photocopying technique for $60-80,000.

“Taking the position in the art auction world does mean constantly searching sources of the finest work that could be available for our clients,” he said.

The gallery has been in the forefront when it comes to e-commerce on its RoGallery.com website.

“The continued expansion of this kind of buying is something we have embraced and developed from the very beginning,” Rogal said. “It is a growing attraction to buyers because they can look in detail at reproductions of the work that they are interested in, purchase as soon as they have decided and hopefully not be beaten by another buyer.”

“I believe that this is about the future, and we will expand further and further,” Rogal said. “The thing that excites me most is the hunt.”

The diversity of the art auction market is enormous. The gallery’s publishing of lithographs, posters and prints increase the range of sales opportunities and the gallery’s revenue base.

“The art market has become more competitive each year, clients have become more knowledgeable, forgeries of original works have continued and the value of artwork [is] increasing,” he said.

Whatever changes there are in buying, auctions and collection sales, Long Island City’s major addition to the world of art will continue to develop and provide the finest work that Rogal’s research will find.

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Box art show guaranteed to surprise buyers


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

Artists from around the world gathered in Flushing Town Hall on Monday to wrap their art in boxes as part of an art exhibition called “Boxes: Lost in Circulation.”

On Friday, people visiting the art exhibition will open about 50 boxes that hold the artwork of 14 artists. Patrons will pay $50 per box — without seeing the art or knowing who created it.

The curator, Hyunsuk Kim, is hoping to blur the lines between famous and obscure artists by putting everyone’s work in indistinguishable boxes.

“An artist and a work of an artist are constrainedly positioned in the capitalistic system. An artwork is often being treated as worthless if it is a work of an unknown artist,” Kim said. “If your name is not a brand, your works are not born yet although they are made.”

Kim hopes that the exhibition will help “diminish inequalities among artists and to let people focus on artworks.”

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Fifth annual music, art street festival coming to Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines

The streets of Sunnyside will be alive with the sound of music and art this summer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District will present its fifth annual free street festival called Sunnyside Summer Strolls on Saturday, July 26 and August 2.

Sunnyside Summer Strolls will bring together local businesses, residents and local organizations under the Sunnyside arch at 46th Street, which has been transformed into a temporary public space with tables and chairs, and scheduled activities.

“Sunnyside Summer Strolls is a great community event series, designed to promote our local businesses, bring arts programming to the neighborhood and provide a temporary public space for the day,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “We are excited to partner with Re-Create QNS to bring new energy and arts expertise to the event this year.”

On Saturday, July 26 is the Children’s Arts and Crafts Fair from 1 to 6 p.m., produced in partnership with Re-Create QNS, a new coalition of creative Sunnyside organizations. Activities include face painting, water marbling, ballet, Irish step, modern dance and performances by local musicians. Families will also have the opportunity to meet with artists and teachers of neighborhood arts and enrichment programs.


Photo by Michael Rapp

“Sunnyside is home to so many innovative and passionate arts groups,” said Nancy Kleaver, Re-Create Qns director. “Re-Create QNS wants to spread the word and make more connections between the public and our local cultural institutions. It will be a fun day for kids and families to be creative together.”

Under the elevated No. 7 train, the new Bliss Plaza will host a pop-up library in partnership with the Uni Project, the Sunnyside branch of the Queens Public Library and the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

The following Saturday,  from 2 to 7 p.m., will be the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert featuring a 1920s theme and lineup of jazz musicians and performers including The Sunnyside Wolverines featuring Linda Ipanema, The Sunnyside Social Club, The Pendulum Swings, The Sunnyside Drum Corps, and The Big Apple Lindy Hoppers.

There will also be a dance floor set up in the street, free photo booth and a 1920s costume contest. Local businesses will be on-site offering free giveaways and services.

For more information visit www.sunnysideshines.org.

 

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Apollonia NYC Gallery set to open in Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside will soon be home to a new antique shop, also serving as a gallery and cultural event space, looking to showcase emerging, established and local artists.

The Apollonia NYC Gallery, located at 48-14 Skillman Ave. and named after owner Garry O’Calloghan’s late dog, will hold its grand opening on July 20 starting at 4 p.m.

The site is expected to feature handmade and distressed furnishings, lighting, paintings, prints, photos, record collections, antique cameras and other home décor items.

Along with being an antique shop, Apollonia NYC Gallery is expected to also host “salon-like” gatherings for musicians, poetry readings and artist talks through the year.

“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,” said O’Calloghan, who is also an artist. “This is also a wonderful way to meet interesting people and celebrate the vibrant local arts scene.”

In June, the space held its first preview event for the unofficial afterparty for the annual The Queen of Angels Art Fair, organized by Sunnyside artists.

Apollonia’s grand opening, which according to organizers coincides with the ancient feast day honoring the Greek god Apollo, will feature music by Le Petit Pepinot and The Sunnyside Social Club. Guests are welcome to dress in their favorite vintage clothing.

The opening will also include samples from Murphy’s Lobster Grill, meet-and-greets with Apollonia’s owners, and international and local artists, and the debut of a new mural on the space’s ceiling.

Apollonia NYC Gallery will be opened Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m., and weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/ApolloniaGallery.

 

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Glendale business aims to showcase local artists


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The arts are coming to Glendale.

Angelica Harris runs the Excalibur Reading Program on 78th Avenue, and she hopes to transform the center into an art venue once a week.

“We don’t have a program or venue that showcases Glendale artists,” Harris said. “It’s my dream to bring the arts to Glendale.”

Harris plans on booking musicians and poets every Friday evening to showcase their work to an audience of about 30 people. The July 18 event kicks off a new feature that Harris hopes will become a staple every week.

“I want to expose artists and educate people about the need for art in the community,” said Harris, who has run the learning and tutoring programs on 78th Avenue for two years.

Bill McClure, a landscape painter and window designer, has lived in Glendale for a year and said that the creation of an art night is welcome news.

“It’s wonderful because we need places for artists to communicate and there’s nothing in the Glendale area,” he said.

Since moving to Glendale, McClure has had to leave the neighborhood to showcase his work.

But with the new venue, McClure, 52, plans to exhibit his work locally.

Harris, who has lived in Glendale for 20 years, is asking people who want to watch the music and poetry show to make a $10 donation.

Harris has a personal devotion to the arts, having written several books, including “Living With Rage,” which recounts the domestic violence she experienced.

“The arts were my salvation, my sanity,” she said. “That’s why I have this dream of the art program. I want people to talk about what art helps them with.”

 

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Looking into the artwork of LIC artist Luba Lukova


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Aeroblue © Luba Lukova


What was only supposed to be a one-week visit to New York for an international exhibition has turned into about 25 years of success for Long Island City artist Luba Lukova.

As a young girl in Bulgaria, Lukova never had a doubt as to what she wanted to be when she grew up. Influenced by her grandmother who was an artist, Lukova began to attend art classes and then graduated from an art academy.

Through an invite from Colorado State University, where school officials had seen some of her early artwork, Lukova came to New York for an organized exhibition featuring artists from all over the world.

Her initial idea was to stay in New York for a week and then return to Bulgaria, but she decided to stay indefinitely, and in 1991, she began drawing illustrations for the book review section of The New York Times. She then moved on and drew for the publication’s Op-Ed section covering subjects such as the Middle East.

These illustrations opened up doors for Lukova, exposing her to a larger audience, which got her into theatre work creating posters, and years later she even got a call from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign to use one of her images months before his inauguration.

“It was just a miracle. I never went back [to Bulgaria],” she said. “For a young artist, it was a mind-blowing experience and when I saw the reaction of the people, it was really very exciting for me.”

Lukova’s pieces, whether they are on a canvas or theatre poster, all convey social and political issues in what she calls a “simple and accessible way.” She tells a whole story with just a few colors and images and creates visual metaphors for viewers to take in.

“[My artwork] involves thinking and the viewer’s participation,” she said. “All of my work is like that — it’s always provoking stuff. I try to make it accessible and bring something to the contemporary viewer that can stop them and make them think.”

Her “Social Justice” poster portfolio, the first publication from her own publishing company, has gotten her national and international acclaim. Currently some of her work is part of a show at the Museum of Modern Art and Denver Art Museum.

After moving out of Manhattan following 9/11, Lukova has been working and living in the booming art scene found in Long Island City. Last year she took part in the LIC Arts Open festival, which introduced her to a community she has now become a part of and loves.

“I think it’s a great group of artists with a lot of energy,” she said. “The art community here is growing and it is so huge.”

This year Lukova designed the poster for the LIC Arts Open, and her exhibition “Drama on Paper: Posters for the Stage” can be found at The Local at 13-02 44th Ave. throughout the festival.


     LIC ARTS OPEN POSTER © Luba Lukova

“I’m excited to be a part of it again,” Lukova said. “I think what [the festival organizers] do is very admirable and I hope we will keep the community here and we will expand. Because New York without the arts would be a very sad picture. We don’t just want New York to be the city with museums; we need the real art here.”

 

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2014 LIC Arts Open kicks off Wednesday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

© Luba Lukova

The art scene in Long Island City is heating up and opening its doors during the fourth annual LIC Arts Open – a 5-day extravaganza where over 250 artists will occupy galleries, performance studios and open their studios to visitors.

The event, which this year begins Wednesday and runs through May 18, started several years ago as a two-day, open-studio event, mainly showcasing visual artists and now just keeps on getting bigger.

This year the festival has more than 85 exhibitions and events taking place, with over 160 artists holding open studios. Every event is free and open to the public.

“We were a hidden gem for years, but that’s quickly changing,” said Festival Director Richard Mazda. “Word is getting out that LIC is home to a community of tremendously talented artists, from the emerging Stef Duffy, to rising stars like Luba Lukova—who designed the festival’s poster—to the celebrated, like Matthew Barney, Murakami and legendary sculptor Joel Shapiro. LIC Arts Open continues to be a fantastic way for us to showcase the thriving arts community in Western Queens.”

The schedule for the festival is:

May 14-18, 12 -6 p.m. Exhibition hours
May 14-16, 5-10 p.m. Most openings happening by district over three days:
Wednesday: Vernon Blvd district
Thursday: Court Square district
Friday: Queens Plaza district
May 14, 7:30 -10 p.m. Opening Party
May 16, 6 – 9 p.m. 10Squared exhibition and reception at Gotham Center
May 17-18, 12-6 p.m. Open Studios
May 18, 6 – 10 p.m. Closing Party and Silent Auction

Some highlights of the 4th Annual LIC Arts Open include:

  • Luba Lukova, whose striking images are currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art and Denver Art Museum.
  • Four vacant apartments in a TF Cornerstone waterfront development overlooking LIC’s iconic Pepsi-Cola sign that will be transformed into pop-up galleries.
  • Best known for his WWII photography, and his fashion photography, Tony Vaccaro in his exhibit “The Golden Age of Formula One: Through Tony’s Lens.”
  • After laboring for years as an art fabricator for artists like Frank Stella and Louise Bourgeois, Bernard Klevickas is emerging as an artist in his own right.
  • The Sunhwa Chung/Ko-Ryo Dance Theater, reviewed in The New York Times, will premiere “Life is Every Day: So Close Yet So Far Away.”
  • Over 100 artists are creating original works for the 10Squared exhibition. During the Closing Party, the works will be sold at silent auction for charity.
  • Eleven of Matthew Barney’s assistants formed the Crew, and created a provocative, unexpectedly interactive exhibition.
  • Big Whirlygig will feature Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart), Ernie Brooks (Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers) and Peter Zaremba (Fleshtones).
  • Acclaimed comedy group Face Off Unlimited will bring BATSU!, NYC’s only live Japanese game show and a Time Out New York critics pick to LIC.
The complete festival guide can be found on here. For the latest updates on artists and exhibitions, visit licartsopen.org/new-blog, and follow @LICArtsOpen on Facebook and Twitter.
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Free weekend art bus comes to LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Socrates Sculpture Park

The wheels on a brand-new free shuttle bus service are taking visitors ‘round and ‘round Long Island City’s art scene on the weekends.

Socrates Sculpture Park, The Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1 have partnered up to bring local residents and tourists the LIC Art Bus, which will debut on Saturday. This free weekend bus service will be dedicated to promoting the neighborhood’s arts and culture scene taking visitors between the four institutions.

“Long Island City is already home to a rich cultural corridor, and the LIC Art Bus – free to all – will make it easier for visitors to experience the art offerings the neighborhood is known for,” said John Hatfield, executive director of Socrates Sculpture Park.

The bus will run on Saturday and Sunday, on a first-come, first-served basis, for 19 consecutive weekends until Sept. 14. The first shuttle departs from Socrates Sculpture Park at noon and takes riders door-to-door to The Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1, and then makes its return to Socrates.

Departure times are scheduled for noon, 12:45, 1:30, 2:30, 3:15, 4 and 5 p.m.

“The arts are booming here in western Queens,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “With the addition of the LIC Art Bus, countless New Yorkers will have an easier time getting to some of our borough’s premiere cultural organizations and institutions – all for free.”

The LIC Art Bus’s full schedule will be available at each stop and updated at socratessculpturepark.org/bus.

 

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Nonprofit Local Project, Falchi Building seek artists for site-specific installation piece


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy Jamestown Properties

One landmark Long Island City building is calling all artists to come and create.

Nonprofit arts organization Local Project and the Falchi Building, located at 31-00 47th Ave., have come together to look for artists to collaborate on a site-specific installation piece in the 20-by-40 feet glass vitrines of the five-story location.

“I’m super excited. It’s a great opportunity for artists to show their work in a new environment,” said Carolina Peñafiel, founder and director of Local Project.

Artists can submit proposals presenting collaborations in any media and inter-borough groups are welcomed, with at least one of the artists in each proposal from Queens.

“We are definitely looking for artists to collaborate from borough to borough,” Peñafiel said. “We’re pretty open to see what’s out there.”

The temporary or semi-permanent pieces selected to be displayed inside the Falchi Building will investigate the everyday movement through a diverse city and the projects will receive a stipend, according to Jamestown Properties, which owns the building.

The Falchi Building went through a recent lobby renovation and upgrade, which brought a 2,000-square-foot pop-up artisanal food fair, known as The Food Box, to the site.

The deadline for the proposals is March 15 and artists can expect to be notified no later than March 20. An opening reception is scheduled for April 12.

For more information, visit here. Artists can submit their proposals to info@localproject.org.

 

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LIC plumber uses tools of the trade to create unique art pieces


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Orestes Gonzalez

When Long Island City resident Cristian Torres is on the job as a plumber, he sees more than just pipes and pressure gauges.

The 41-year-old Argentinian native has been a plumber since he was 17 years old. He made his way to the United States for the first time in 2001. Since then he has been creating pieces of art from material he knows and uses on the job.

“When I was young enough I was doing little things: I always had the [desire] to build little stuff,” said Torres, who remembers first building small pieces for his nieces and nephews. “Every time I see something I think, ‘with that thing, I can make this, I can make that.’”

When he isn’t plumbing, Torres, who has been living in Long Island City for the past four years, is an artist/sculptor specializing in pipe design. He used to work out of the Davis Street building shared with 5Pointz.

The father of two uses materials such as pipes, aluminum shields, copper coils and gauges to create lamps, light fixtures, sculptures and other art pieces.

Yet Torres creates these pieces with more on his mind than just adding to his collection. The artist said he uses the struggles he personally faces or sees happen in life to influence his various pieces.

“I create things always with the concept of not just using the plumbing material, but having the concept of anxiety,” he said. “I’m trying to express what I’ve seen in my life. It’s more than what they look like.”

One series Torres has been working on for the past seven years follows the theme of expressing anxiety, and was influenced by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” The artwork in the series is set on copper shields, with pressure gauges and other metal pieces welded on to form the screaming face.

Torres also creates light fixtures and sculptures with sewing machines from the 1900s and temperature/pressure gauges, which he uses to symbolize time.

“I felt like I was liberating myself from a lot of stuff,” he said. “One of the major traumas [of] the [human] being I think is time because we think we are never going to die or get old. That’s why I’m trying to use gauges all over.”

Torres currently works on his pieces in a building shared with numerous other artists, as part of the nonprofit Long Island City arts group known as Local Project, located at 11-27 44th Road. He plans on showing his pieces at upcoming art shows, but dates are still to be determined.

“I hope people just appreciate it [my art],” he said. “It’s not just something functional, because when you buy something like this, handmade or created by someone, it’s always a little bit more than that.”

Even though he has created various pieces of artwork with meaning behind each piece, Torres said he calls himself a plumber before an artist. 

“I enjoy what I do,” he said.

To see some of Torres’ pieces visit his website and if you are interested in purchasing an item, contact the artist at plumbingart1@gmail.com.

 

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Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer discusses vision for new majority leader role


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is looking forward to the next four years as majority leader.

Van Bramer was appointed on Jan. 22 by newly elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“It’s a great honor, not only for me, but for our district, for our team and for Queens,” Van Bramer said. “It was a very humbling experience. It took a while to sink in.”

As majority leader, his key role is working together with the 48 Democratic members of the City Council and serving as a bridge between them and Mark-Viverito.

Van Bramer has also been named co-chair of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team.

Since his appointment, the councilmember has hit the ground running and plans to get involved in working on subjects such as paid sick leave and universal pre-kindergarten.

“We are active every single day and I am looking forward to being a very influential majority leader over the next four years,” he said.

Van Bramer hopes to work together with his fellow councilmembers to help in any way he can.

“I’m here to help them achieve their goals and to use my office and my proximity to the speaker to advance their goals, their agendas and their districts,” he said. “I hope that they will call on me anytime they need and I will go to the speaker and advocate for them in every way I can. That’s the kind of majority leader I want to be.”

The councilmember also retained his position as chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee. He plans to continue working with the libraries and growing cultural community to make sure the budgets and appropriate funds work for them.

“I’m excited about the work ahead,” said Van Bramer. “It’s a great time and I feel reinvigorated. I am going to work incredibly hard in being the best majority leader that I can be and then the future will take care of itself.”

 

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Holocaust survivor shares experiences through art


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

As visitors walk through the Queensborough Community College (QCC) Art Gallery, they are taken through the experiences of Rosemarie Koczÿ, who at three years old had her life turned upside down.

Koczÿ was born in 1939 in Recklinghausen, Germany and three years later was taken to a concentration camp together with her family. At a young age, Koczÿ witnessed death, loss and the struggle to survive.

Years later, still having the hardships she shared with many others strong in her mind and making it as a survivor of the Holocaust, Koczÿ began keeping records of the memories through different methods of artwork. The artist began with creating tapestries then moved to drawings, paintings and sculptures. Koczÿ died in 2007. Since September, QCC has had close to 140 pieces of Koczÿ’s art, created over nearly 30 years, on display in an exhibit titled “Art As A Witness” at the campus’ historic Oakland Building.

The series of close to 100 drawings, done with ink on paper, involved in the exhibit are called “I Weave You A Shroud.” Koczÿ used each of the drawings to remember those she saw suffer and die while in the concentration camps.

“They are burials I offer to those I saw die in the camps where I was deported…” Koczÿ wrote in an initial description of her series. “In the Jewish burials the dead are washed; a woman washes the body of a dead woman, a man washes the body of a dead man. The body is then wrapped in a shroud. Sewing a shroud is an act of respect and a rite.”

The exhibit also features wood sculptures and paintings titled “Standing Man,” where Koczÿ honors an unknown prisoner who ultimately gave his life to help and protect her in the camp.

Some of the pieces are owned by the QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York, other paintings are loaned by the Stichting Collectie de Stadshof in The Netherlands, drawings from the Musée Création Franche in France and sculptures are from private collectors.

One of Koczÿ’s sculptures is permanently on display at QCC’s Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, while another piece, a tapestry made in 1975, is hung above the main desk in the admissions office.

QCC is located at 222-05 56th Avenue in Bayside and “Art As A Witness” is free to the public and will be up until Sunday, January 5.

The QCC Art Gallery is closed Monday and opened Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends noon to 5 p.m.

 

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After a decade in Long Island City, Local Project searches for a new home


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Carolina Penafiel-16

At the edge of Long Island City, where warehouses haunt like rusty fossils of an industrial past, obscured by the elevated subway tracks, street art fights for survival.

Encircled in graffiti-wrapped sarcophagi, the low brow legacy of Local Project and 5Pointz await doomsday, untouched by the sterile glass high-rises that erupt from the ground almost monthly — for now, at least.

It’s only a matter of time before the building they share becomes nothing more than piles of scrap metal and drywall dust. Several months ago, the space’s owner announced plans to sell the warehouse to a builder who would turn the space into luxury condominiums – “yuppie projects,” scoff the locals. Local Project, a space for emerging artists to nurture their craft and connect with the public, that shares a building with graffiti holy land 5Pointz, must depart their home in search of new prospects.

Carolina Penafiel, a part-time food stylist and Local Project’s founder, moved to New York from Chile 13 years ago in pursuit of her American Dream.

“I wanted to live like in the movies,” she said.

Penafiel began her career as an artist, but a bad experience during a group show changed her mind. It took too much to be an artist, to open her work to the masses, resting on talent and believing in the message behind her art. Even the title “artist” felt wrong.

“I’ve always done exactly what I’ve set myself to do,” said Penafiel. “Thankfully, I’ve always gotten where I’ve wanted to go.”

Instead, she focused on her administrative skills, training as an independent curator. She fell in love with the process of putting together a show, nurturing artists and watching them develop. One show called “Hot in Hell’s Kitchen,” held at the Fountain Gallery – a center for those struggling with mental illness. The exhibit told stories from the iconic Manhattan neighborhood. Visitors stuck notes to the wall, scribbled with memories from Hell’s Kitchen – “I got drunk,” “I met my ex,” “I kissed somebody.”

Penafiel’s shows center around creating community rather than bringing culture to high society. Local Project’s doctrine of art for the people allows her to build bridges – the most rewarding part of her job. Instead of judging artists based on reputation, Local Project celebrates unknown entities on the rise. Each resident artist is required to spend 40 hours in the building during their two week stint, creating a setting where visitors can dip into the work organically.

Local Project draws tourists from around the world. One artist, keeping tabs on the gallery’s visitors, had a person from every livable continent come see his show in a single day.

“That’s what makes us different from other spaces,” Penafiel said. “You get to come in and talk to the artists. How cool is that?”

Artists of all mediums present in the space. Every Saturday, a DJ spins for a crowd who dance and chat, huddled together in the chilly space. They host video festivals, including one of exclusively horror films before Halloween where the audience dresses as zombies and four times a year, emerging musicians play acoustic sets in a series called “Music under the 7.” Penafiel said they do as much as they can – as much as everyone wants to do.

But now, everything needs to go somewhere else.

They have begun searching for a new space – a topic not easily broached among the staff, unhappy about the move. For years, rumors of the demise of the building on Davis Street swirled. Now they are coming true.

It’s happening all too much in New York City – art institutions knocked down in favor of bourgeoisie-friendly entities. Penafiel mentioned DUMBO, formerly raw, now spotless and new like a suburban art fair.

“Unfortunately, we, the ones who helped bring [LIC] to that level are not the ones that live there or have stores there,” said Penafiel. “That’s just life I guess. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Long Island City.”