Tag Archives: sculptor

Local artists to capture Astoria in new exhibition

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Maria Belford

Astoria is ready for its photo op.

Artists, friends and Astoria residents Maria Belford and Sara Sciabbarrasi have come together to showcase their admiration for the western Queens neighborhood in a new exhibition opening this Sunday at the Long Island City café COFFEED, located at 37-18 Northern Blvd.

The show called “FACES & FIGURES: Art from Astoria,” which will have a June 22 opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. and run until June 29, will feature photographs by Belford and bronze and steel sculptures by Sciabbarrasi.

The name of the exhibition comes from the idea that the photographs show figures of people more than their faces and Sciabbarrasi’s sculptures explore the detail and aesthetics of the human face, according to Belford.

Drain, 2011. Bronze, steel, wax & hair sculpture (Sculpture by Sara Sciabbarrasi)

“I am really excited about this exhibition in particular because it is in Queens and close to my neighborhood,” said Belford, who decided to organize the exhibition with Sciabbarrasi, her roommate, because she wanted to showcase another local artist. “I wanted to have something new and different. It’ll show the juxtaposition of the two different mediums.”

Belford, originally from New Hampshire, is a street/documentary photographer who said she looks to capture the mysterious side of strangers, allowing the viewer to see the image and make up their own story in their head.

“It’s all about capturing the moment. I’ve always been interested in the kind of spontaneous types of photos that one moment are there and the next they are gone,” Belford said. “A lot of my best photos come from days that I haven’t been actively shooting. I can’t really plan for anything ahead of time. I really don’t know what I will get when I go out.”

Although Belford snaps photos from all over the world, she said the exhibition will showcase photos she has taken of strangers in her Astoria neighborhood.

30th Ave, Astoria, Queens 2014 (Photo by Maria Belford)

“I can walk out of my door and see a wide array of people outside every single day,” Belford said. “It’s really interesting to see different types of people, old and young.”

All photographs and sculptures presented at the exhibition will be available for purchase.

For more information on the artists visit www.mariabelford.com and www.saradart.blogspot.com.



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.



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.

Piece by Piece, Frame by Frame; Jorge Posada explores the outside

| smosco@queenscourier.com


Our view of art tends to be restricted to the work residing within the frame. The artist decides to start or stop at a certain point, and the audience must find meaning somewhere within that – and that alone.

This is the conventional way in which the world views art. But of course, artists will view art in their own way. With the gears in their brain turning, many artists see beyond the frame and into a reality that dwells somewhere on the fine line between abstraction and figurativism.

Jorge Posada is a painter, sculptor, printmaker and photographer working out of a studio in LIC since 1997. The Columbian native first came to the U.S. in 1984 and was merely passing through New York on his way to Paris. But there was something about the city that hooked him almost immediately. He found a kinship with the artist community and a base to create his art.

“I found friends here who were all from the art world. These were friends I didn’t even know I had. And all of a sudden, I got the idea to stay here,” said Posada, who initially lived in Woodside, but now lives in Hell’s Kitchen. “Everything you need to learn about the art world, you can learn in New York. The support system here is the reason to stay.”

Deciding to stay in New York, and work in LIC, has given Posada a front row view of the many changes that have swept the western Queens landscape. The biggest change he’s seen is in the demographics of the area, as LIC’s population has gone from warehouse workers hauling cement to young parents pushing baby strollers.

Some of his favorite places have disappeared, with new high rises sprouting up in their place. He’s not sure if it’s for better or worse yet, but he believes the old and the new can coexist in harmony.

“I don’t want the character of the area to get lost,” he said. “The new buildings should coexist with the industrial area and the neighborhood houses.”

The old mingling with the new – this is a subject very prevalent in Posada’s life. His current focus, a project he dubbed “Fragmenting Rubens,” takes the work of artist Peter Paul Rubens and goes beyond the frame. Here, Posada delves deeply into an invisible world rich with potential. In order to achieve this, the artist needed to see the original work firsthand.

Posada made his first visit to Antwerp, Belgium in 2004. Its cathedral hosts two masterpieces by Rubens, which are shown at both sides of the altar: The Raising and the Decent from the Cross. Since that first visit, Posada has been extensively sketching those two altarpieces. He felt transported by the uniqueness of the work and was moved to create work on his own.

After many hours of observation and study of Rubens’ work, he made numerous sketches in order to understand the structure, the composition and the drama contained in their pictorial space. Then he decided to launch himself into a very challenging project: to give his own interpretation and deconstruction of those paintings.

The pieces are both abstract and figurative, as the image of the human body contorts around the light and the dark with colors surrounding, bringing life and movement to the work.

“The body is a communication device. It is able to express feelings of happiness, sadness, depression and joy. It is full of movements and expression. It is alive and it dances,” he said. “This body is the only one we will have our entire life. When the body is violated in any way, it is an invasion of the only sacred possession we have.”

Posada’s sacred body of work, while highly involved, does not necessarily adhere to a strict schedule. He never follows any set schedule to be creative – he finds that impossible. He arrives in his LIC studio around 10 a.m., gets comfortable and basically just “hangs out” with the work until something strikes him – though sometimes he has to leave the studio in order to coax that strike.

“I always carry a sketchbook, and if I have an idea or a burst of inspiration, I throw it down in a fast and simple way,” he said. “An artist’s job is not just to paint. One must understand the continuous process of painting. The point isn’t to know when the painting is finished … the point is to stop.”

Posada said that if he doesn’t stop himself, he could potentially paint the same piece forever.

“That is so dangerous,” he said. “You can work on one piece so much that you end up hating it. If I’m having trouble with a piece, I leave it alone. I cover it for two or three weeks and then I go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Sometimes that is when I know a piece is truly finished.”

Considering himself a draftsman at heart, Posada relishes the opportunity to fill his sketchbook with ideas and musings, regardless if the sketches ever actually pan out into anything usable. That is of small consequence to Posada – he will paint and he will create because it is his life.

“I disconnect from everything when I create,” he said. “Art is very vital to me. It is like breathing. It moves me to clarify what I want to say. And it is necessary to explain myself and find ways to do it.”

Any art reviewer on the receiving end of one of Posada’s “explanations” need not see eye to eye with the artist. As he doesn’t always like every corner of other works, he doesn’t expect every audience to grab hold and be inspired by what he presents to them.

“You can’t make people feel something, but the hope is that they find some kind of connection in the frame of my feelings,” he said. “Maybe they don’t feel what I felt, maybe they feel something else. That’s ok. I want them to feel something, but first I want them to question.”

Ever-evolving, Posada is constantly on the search for new ways to approach art and life. And in order to do that, to move beyond the frame, he believes questioning the self is the only way.

“To question the self is what is most important,” he said. “When you question, you are evolving.”

Check out Posada’s work at www.posadastudiogallery.blogspot.com.