Tag Archives: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs

Community expresses mixed feelings on city-commissioned sculpture in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for one community in Long Island City, a bright pink statue that would stand more than 8 feet tall just might not fit their vision of beauty.

At the recent Community Board 2 meeting, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs presented the newest project for the Percent for Art program that is being commissioned for Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue.

Since 1982, the city’s Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible city-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork.

For this commission, a panel convened by the agency selected Brooklyn-artist Ohad Meromi and at the Dec. 4 board meeting, the community got a preview of what is being proposed for the Long Island City site.

Meromi’s proposed sculpture is an 8.5-foot-tall, bright pink piece called “The Sunbather” which is shaped as a human figure. About $515,000 of city tax dollars will go toward the construction of the piece, made of bronze.

Although Meromi said he is “excited for the opportunity” to sculpt the piece, community board members and residents at the meeting brought up issues such as the community at large not having had the opportunity to give their input on the sculpture earlier and also the color just being a little too much.

“I personally do like the art,” said Moitri Chowdhury Savard, a community board member. “But I think the bright pink color and the size of it has been brought up by many residents of the community as too much for the area. I think it might be a little too much for a lot of the residents there.”

Resident Christian Amez, also a member of the organization Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said he also wished the community could have been more well-represented earlier in the process. They also would have liked it if a local artist could have been chosen.

According to Sarah Reisman, director for Percent for Art, the agency presented a rough draft of a rendering to the community board’s land use committee first, and members of the board were invited.

Reisman also added that about 40 artists, including local Long Island City artists, were presented to a panel that later picked finalists. After finalists presented proposals, Meromi, who has presented pieces at the SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1, was chosen.

The sculpture’s size and color are still not finalized, but a permanent piece by Meromi is expected to be located at the site.

“I really thought the site could use color,” Meromi said about the color selection of the sculpture. “I think pink is bold and the site could use something bold.”

Now the agency will take the comments from residents and the community board comments and go back to the renderings of the sculpture. Then, the agency will present a conceptual design to the public design commission at City Hall.

“We want to know what you think, take it to consideration and take it to the design commission,” Reisman said. “We’re here to listen.”

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Flushing Town Hall completes $1.2M renovation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Flushing Council on the Arts

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The historic Flushing Town Hall has a new look.

The theatre and event space fully reopened on Friday, March 14, after a five-month, $1.2 million interior renovation.

The makeover will freshen up the venue after more than a dozen years of use. The Flushing Town Hall building is more than 150 years old, and it has been an active theatre for 35 years. Its last renovation was completed in 1999.

“After 15 years of extensive wear and tear on the building it was time to upgrade and to renovate,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive director of Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which operates the Hall.

The money for the renovation was partly funded by former Borough President Helen Marshall, various Queens City Council members and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The makeover includes new flooring in the hallways and the gift shop, a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) throughout the building, and new floors and chairs in the theatre, which seats 308. The theatre’s movable risers were also replaced. Just like the old risers, the new ones will allow the theatre to transform at will.

“We are capable of taking the seats and the risers out and setting the room up so that it doesn’t look at all like a theatre, but you could do a wedding or a banquet or leave room for salsa dancing,” Kodadek said. “And that’s something very special and different about our theatre. Many theatres don’t have that capability.”

Flushing Town Hall hosts about 75 performances around the year, including jazz concerts, theatre plays, educational events for children, puppetry, dance, art galleries and workshops. They’ve also rented out the space for special events, including weddings and school graduations.

On the same day it reopened, The Queens Courier donated $1,500 to Flushing Town Hall, from money that was raised at the annual Rising Stars event. The money will be used to foster educational services for underprivileged students.

 

 

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SculptureCenter expansion breaks ground


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of SculptureCenter/Andrew Berman Architect

Artists and audiences alike will soon have more space at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City.

On Tuesday, April 2, Sascha Bauer, chair of the center’s board of trustees; Mary Ceruti, executive director and chief curator; Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Kate Levin, commissioner for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, broke ground on the expansion that will include a 2,000-square-foot addition to the structure that has been standing since 1908.

(THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano)

“We’re really proud to be a part of this really great community in Long Island City and I think this expansion furthers our commitment to the neighborhood,” said Ceruti. “We’re really here for the long haul.”

The front half of the outdoor lot, which the center already uses for outdoor exhibitions, will become a one-story building that will house an entrance lobby providing guests with ticketing, orientation and different visitor services such as restrooms, a seating area and coatroom.

“It will allow us to better serve our audiences and improve the visitors’ flow,” said Ceruti. “It will create a more visible street presence for us.”

Along with the lobby, the finished facility will include an elevator and stairway to the lower level galleries, a 1,500-square-foot enclosed courtyard to be used for outdoor exhibitions and events, some upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems and improvements in office and storage space.

“When the work is completed, the new space will provide the SculptureCenter the opportunity to expand their audience and serve more artists,” said Marshall.

The expansion project was designed by Andrew Berman Architect who has designed projects for The New York Public Library and MoMA PS1. The addition will maintain the steel and brick structure of the present building, yet will create a street presence “through the introduction of a limited vocabulary of new materials including plywood and Corten steel.”

The project is expected to be completed by fall of 2014 with exhibitions still remaining open throughout the construction period, with some changes in the schedule.

In addition, the “Building SculptureCenter Campaign” will provide $4.5 million in building funds and $1.5 million in working capital and term endowment to “position the organization to play a defining role in the neighborhood and contemporary art field far into the 21st century.”

The SculptureCenter moved to the former trolley repair shop in 2002 and has since then presented works by over 700 artists.

 

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Queens Museum of Art to change name, expand


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum of Art

The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) is getting a major makeover. This fall, the international art space will double in size and shorten its name.

“This is a time of tremendous change for the Queens Museum,” said executive director Tom Finkelpearl.

Come October, the institution will total 105,000-square-feet. It will have new galleries, artist studios, flexible public and special event spaces, classrooms, a new café, back-of-house facilities and improved visitor amenities. Instead of QMA, it will be known simply as the Queens Museum.

Additionally, the west façade facing Grand Central Parkway has been completely redesigned with a new entrance and drop-off plaza, as well as a tremendous glass wall easily visible from the roadway. This entrance also features a multicolored lighting system and will present commissioned art projects.

The $68 million project also includes another new entrance and expanded outdoor space on the side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which will include a skylight atrium.

“All of this will allow people to still be in the museum, while outside in the park,” said David Strauss, director of external affairs.

Finkelpearl noted that despite the significant changes coming to the museum, what will remain constant is their dedication to “openness and engagement.”

“We designed a dynamic space that reflects our overall philosophy and allows us to broaden our current slate of public programs, introduce innovative initiatives, and create wonderful opportunities for new participants and longtime visitors to enjoy our unique brand of museum experience,” he said.

At a legislative breakfast on Friday, March 22, members of the museum hosted dozens of elected officials and community leaders from around the borough, hoping to galvanize their participation and support for the new project. The expansion thus far is supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Borough President Helen Marshall’s office, the state, City Council and donations from private individuals and corporations.

“It’s up to the business community to step up and help support these institutions,” said Strauss. “[We want them to] understand that a true public-private partnership makes progress like ours possible and successful.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley recalled growing up in the borough, always enjoying the surrounding park and all that it has to offer.

“This museum is a jewel of many jewels here,” he said.

City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, longtime supporter of the museum, acknowledged the institution’s attempts to think outside the box, bringing new and innovative programs with its expansion.

“You can’t have community without culture,” she said, getting teary-eyed. “We’ve been able to strike up new walls, and put in embracing walls [for all of Queens].”

Following the completion of Phase 1, work for Phase 2 will begin, projected to be done within 12 to 18 months.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art better watch out,” said Marshall.

 

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