Long Island City is coming together next month to celebrate the art scene that grows every day throughout the western Queens neighborhood.
The LIC Arts Open — a five-day extravaganza where over 500 artists are expected to occupy galleries and other local spaces and open their studios to visitors — will celebrate its fifth year and hopes to work with real estate companies to help keep artists in the neighborhood.
“We’re really proud to have reached year five and I think that we did not really envision it when we first started,” said Richard Mazda, festival director. “We [started] something that even in the first year became much bigger than we thought it would.”
The festival, running from May 13 through 17, began as a two-day, open-studio event mainly showcasing visual artists. However, in its fifth year, the event now features works from visual artists, performers, musicians and so much more.
This year the festival will span 60 locations, and over 200 artists will open up their studios on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to share their work with visitors. For the first time, there will be a preview of open studios located in the Court Square area on Friday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.
“The initial inspiration for the festival was because Queens has one of the largest concentrations of artists of any borough in New York and maybe it’s the largest concentration of artists in the country. It just hasn’t been talked about much,” Mazda said. “We have a lot of the major cultural institutions in Queens so the festival was sort of inspired by the idea that it was time to shine a light on the immense talent that is here.”
Mazda also added that there is some concern surrounding the real estate boom occurring in the neighborhood, but he plans to work with real estate property companies to “remind them that artists are a valuable component when marketing the area.”
The festival is working with companies such as Jamestown, which owns the Falchi Building located at 31-00 47th Ave., to showcase art shows during the LIC Arts Open.
The idea of the five-day event is also to take over buildings and spaces that are not traditional gallery locations, and create pop-up art galleries and art shows introducing the community to these industrial spaces.
Another highlight of the festival includes neighborhood nights out, where each night is dedicated to a specific area of Long Island City such as Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills or Court Square.
A fundraiser will be held on May 5 at the home of LIC photographer Orestes Gonzalez. During the garden party, awards will be given to Harriet Taub, executive director of Material For the Arts, and sculptor Eliot Lable.
The LIC Arts Open will come to an end during a closing party at the Court Square Studios, located at 2138 44th Rd., on May 17 featuring a special concert version of the musical “Hair,” a silent auction of about 100 art pieces on 10-by-10 canvases, and performance from the Astoria band 2/3 Goat.
Every event throughout the festival is free and open to the public. For the latest updates visit licartsopen.org.