The first legal block party took place in Manhattan during World War I. Police closed a Lower East Side street for commercial traffic, and attendees gathered to sing songs honoring local residents who were fighting in Europe.
The genre has changed a lot over the past century, and currently western Queens is getting ready for a huge blowout on Saturday, Aug. 22, that won’t be as patriotic as the first-ever block party, but might make history. Presented by SculptureCenter and the Purves Street Block Association, the LIC Block Party will include everything from tremendous food to inspiring art to engaging street games.
Let’s start with the food. Bartleby & Sage, Danny Brown, Doughnut Plant and Manducatis Rustica are among the Long Island City establishments that will participate. Plus, Rockaway Brewing Company will pour the suds. From noon to 5 p.m., there will be booths where adults and children can engage in such activities as body art and cloth dyeing. Plus, an artists’ market will offer comic books, photographs, prints and more.
Festivities will fill Purves Street, but the main draw will take place at SculptureCenter’s lower level, where Eli Keszler — an artist whose pieces involve architecture, composition, drumming, installation, notation and recorded sound — will present his new work, Swarms. It’s complex, but basically, Keszler has created a sound art installation involving piano wire, visual elements, severed pipes and other components. In this environment, he will intermittently play the drums while recorded music also fills the space. The idea is to force music to interact with an acoustic environment while also forcing musicians to interact with various environments.
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