Tag Archives: Richard Mazda

LIC’s Secret Theatre turns to fundraising campaign to survive


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Orestes Gonzalez

One Long Island City theatre is looking to raise enough money to help keep its doors open.

Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre, located at 44-02 23rd St., has started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign after having to deal with financial difficulties starting in late 2012.

The difficulties came after the Department of Buildings found the landlord’s certificate of occupancy was out of date, which meant that Mazda had to pay DOB fines, hire architects to get correct permits in place and also move the site’s Little Theatre to an alternative spot in the 23rd Street building.

“We were under the threat of closing one space and just having the big theatre, or closing both spaces and literally calling it a day,” Mazda said. “No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t dig our way out just from our normal thin profit margin.”

Mazda continued to explain that the Secret Theatre breaks even with the money coming in from ticket sales, but to pay for the “unexpected costs” they now had to turn to the community to help cover some debts and also continue offering programs to the community.

The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and has since produced weekly children’s theatre shows, held classes for students, provided coaching services, and produced in-house and co-produced productions.

“I am comfortable that we will raise a good amount of money,” Mazda said. “I am very moved by the support we are receiving so far and I look forward to being able to thank more people.”

Along with raising the money to pay for expenses, Mazda also said he hopes to bring change to the Secret Theatre and turn it into a nonprofit organization.

The Indiegogo campaign has a goal of $10,000 and will run until Sept. 4.

“At this point in time I don’t think we will close. We are still in trouble, but the reaction from people has been incredible,” Mazda said.

For more information visit secrettheatre.com. To donate to the Secret Theatre’s fundraising campaign, click here.

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2014 LIC Arts Open kicks off Wednesday


| 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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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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LIC Arts Open puts Queens artists on the map


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The creative colony of Long Island City blazed with inspirational energy during the second annual LIC Arts Open – a 10-day extravaganza in which local artists welcome the public into their studios. Festival-goers experienced the cutting edge in painting, sculpture, photography, theatre and ceramics, crafted by many of the city’s most forefront and promising artistic talents. Hundreds participated in more than 200 exhibitions and performances – demonstrating the masterful skill and breadth of mediums Long Island City artists bring to the creative world.

“I’m delighted with how the festival went,” said Richard Mazda, LIC Arts Open director and artistic director at The Secret Theatre. “It’s definitely a higher quality festival than last year.”

The event began several years ago as a two-day, open-studio event, mainly showcasing visual artists. Mazda sought to transform LIC Arts Open into a multi-studio event, larger and more widely encompassing than ever before.

“The event mushroomed in size,” said Mazda. “It was kind of like a hit record. I knew it would be successful.”

This year’s festival brought art unseen at previous gatherings to the foreground, marking the debut of performance pieces at the LIC Arts Open. Mazda also revealed that sculpture, a medium he believed was underrepresented at previous festivals, was more abundant during this year’s celebration.

“It’s hard to present more sculpture, especially the larger pieces,” said Mazda. “It’s hard to transport them and display them. Painting generally gets shown more in galleries. Sculpture is a less accessible form of art.”

Ten years ago, Gotham Center at Queens Plaza was a desolate industrial hall. During the festival, hundreds of one-of-a-kind, 10 X 10 pictures lined the walls of the now-revitalized hub. The works, donated by both well-known and underground artists, were available to be purchased by browsing patrons. Half of the proceeds went to future LIC Arts Open events and the other half helped continue a program run by the Queens Council for the Arts.

Mazda remarked that many of the Gotham Center affair attendees had never seen an art exhibit before. He believed the event’s locale brought commuters passing through Queens Plaza station into the building, drawn by the crowd and the excitement.

“[This kind of event] makes art accessible to ordinary human beings,” said Mazda.

Photographer Orestes Gonzalez displayed his photo essay, “Portraits of Artists 2010-2012,”depicting LIC creatives in their studios.

“I think [the festival] went really well,” said Gonzalez. “We had twice as many participants this year. There was a lot more traffic as far as the public was concerned. There were a lot more interesting exhibits. It’s gaining force in other parts of the city as well.”

Gonzalez believes the LIC Arts Open publicizes a group of artists formerly flying under the radar.

“The festival is about making a statement about the artists of LIC,” said Gonzalez. “It puts the artists of Queens on the map. Everyone’s always looking at Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we have a huge amount of artistic activity here.”

Bertille De Baudiniere, a local artist whose works were on display during the LIC Arts Open, curated a contest where 780 kids from across the borough, ages five to 18, created postcards in line with the theme of De Baudiniere’s latest collection, “Green Earth.”

“It was perfect to do [the contest] with children because they will be the next generation to deal with Earth and these problems,” said De Baudiniere. “They can speak freely. The kids are very imaginative and full of ideas. They express themselves differently. It was very unique.”

 

Joel Shapiro Receives LIC Arts Open Lifetime Achievement Award


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Jesse Winter

World-renowned sculptor Joel Shapiro was honored with the inaugural LIC Arts Open Lifetime Achievement Award.

Shapiro, whose work has been on display in galleries across the globe, was born in Sunnyside and has a studio in Long Island City.

“[Shapiro’s] work is iconic,” said Richard Mazda, director of the LIC Arts Open. “There is something about his work that speaks very directly to art lovers, but there is also a common touch to it. It is very distinctive.”

Mazda went on to say that Shapiro was one of the pioneers of the art movement in L.I.C., keeping his studio in the neighborhood and leading by example.

“There are false impressions of Queens which are beginning to be altered,” he said. “Queens is not the Queens of 50 years ago. We have inherited a lot of art institutions, but it has taken along time for people to realize Queens is a borough that is more than a place filled with people. A lot of it is driven by the arts community, including Joel. By putting his large studio in LIC, Joel indirectly influenced many other artists to do the same.”

The award was presented during a fundraiser for the LIC Arts Open on March 26 at Manducatis Rustica, located at 46-35 Vernon Boulevard. The fundraiser was a quintessential L.I.C. event, with the award donated by Green Mountain Graphics, the food provided by LIC Market and M. Wells and a sizable donation made by the Court Square Diner.