By Jason Andrew
Long Island City has long been one of New York’s most vital communities for contemporary art. The history can be traced back to the 70s with the opening of Alanna Heiss’ P.S.1, where between the first exhibition in 1976 to the renovation in 1997, it served as studio, performance, and exhibition space in support of artists from around the world. I remember volunteering to help install that Julian Schnabel which remains etched into the ceiling of one of the towers. When the institution merged with MoMA in 2000 following a building-wide renovation P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), it confirmed its position as the leading contemporary art center in New York and Long Island City as a destination.
In 1985, sculptor Isamu Noguchi converted an industrial building on Vernon Blvd into a permanent museum to display what the artist considered to be definitive examples of his life’s work. The Noguchi Museum and outdoor sculpture garden is considered in itself to be one of the artist’s greatest works.
In 1986, under the leadership of sculptor Mark di Suvero, a group of artists and community members reclaimed a riverside landfill just up the road from Noguchi. Used as an illegal dumping site, the plot of abandoned land was transformed into a neighborhood park for local residents and an open studio and exhibition space for artists. This year Socrates Sculpture Park celebrates their 30th Anniversary! Socrates remains one of my favorite places in all of New York.
SculptureCenter arrived in 2001 purchasing a former trolley repair shop and recruiting artist and designer Maya Lin to renovate and re-imagine a center for sculpture.
This weekend the 6th Annual LIC Arts Open is happening! Since 2011, LIC Arts Open (Queens’ largest arts festival) has been bringing together artists, residents, businesses, tourists, local government, art enthusiasts and collectors to help foster Long Island City’s cultural and economic development. The festival has done much to raise the profile of Long Island City, home to one of the largest and most diverse arts communities in New York City.
With sculpture in mind, and as a followup to our suggestions for Greenpoint Open Studios two weeks ago, here are 10 Must See Artist Picks for LIC Arts Open Studios:
Reis Studios, 43-01 22nd Street, #602A (btwn 44/43 Ave)
Liene Bosquê’s installations, sculptures and socially engaged work explores sensorial experience within architectural, urban and personal spaces; emphasizing context, memory, and history. The Brazilian sculptor is interested in the intersection of individual memory and collective memory—souvenirs are widely recognizable symbols of places even for people who have never visited them, and stand as fixed representations of those places even as the places themselves may be changing. Bosquê’s work was recently featured in Greater New York at MoMA PS1, in a piece called Recollection which comprised dozens of hand-sized souvenirs from her travels, laid out on a plain, wooden table in a grid pattern resembling a city. Be sure to also check out Bosquê’s installation at Reis Studios #436.
40-05 21st Street, 3rd floor
Wonderfully clumsy and awkwardly perfect, Maud Bryt is one of the most unique sculptors I’ve seen working today. A former figurative painter turned sculptor, Bryt adopts the rough ratios and measurements of the study of the human form (often the proportions of her own body) as compositional elements in her constructions. Organic and raw, Bryt’s work suggest gestures and poses that are fragile and momentary. Combining plaster and burlap, pencil and paint, her blocky sculptures compress imaginary space. It’s clear that the simplicity of Giorgio Morandi and playfulness of Alexander Calder are influences.
BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center, 10-34 44th Drive, Ground Flr
Ellen Day’s work is a variation on a theme: interwoven units laced in place to conceal a very personal internal sanctum. As an African-American woman, her work expresses her own self-discovery. Her handmade ceramics juxtapose her personal struggle to balance the external façade we present each day with that of our interior selves. In 2007, faced with the close of the Craft Students League/YMCA-NYC, Ellen opened BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center in its place to continue to energize and offer a creative learning environment in Long Island City.
Ana De La Cueva
The Silks Buidling, 37-24- 24th Street, #401
Although her work encompasses a range of mediums, including embroidery, ceramics, photography, video, printmaking, painting and sculpture, thread is the important medium in the work of De La Cueva. Through the push and pull of thread, the artist creates beautiful abstract lines that represent personal barriers, international hurdles, grave risks, emotional and physical desperation, feminism, identity, tradition and transformation in contemporary society. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, De La Cueva’s work inspires discussion around issues such as the ongoing dialogue of our border with Mexico, and the social and economic concerns surrounding the drug war. She makes works that range from paintings, drawings, monotypes and installations created in embroidery and although abstract, is inspired by political and social concerns.
The Falchi Building, 31-00 47th Avenue, #411
Goldwater alters wheel thrown ceramic forms which after glazing are epoxied to black iron supports. Concerned with movement, balance, flow, tension these sculptures and their harnesses of iron play with tactility and texture: softness of clay, the cold of metal and the warmth of ceramics. Moreover, these works are a play on surrealism as these biomorphic forms twist, tease and taunt.
Wendy Klemperer @ Court Square Park
Enter at Jackson Avenue between Court Square West and Thompson Avenue
Wild animals are finding their way into suburban and urban environments in the sculptures of Wendy Klemperer. As the recipient of the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award, Klemperer has been invited to create an installation at Court Square Park in LIC. A pack of wolves, a few prancing deer, some majestic elk and a hawk in a tree are the resulting Shadow Migration featuring these size animal silhouettes cut from steel plates and installed throughout the park. Klemperer, whose foundry-like studio is in Bushwick, investigates animal populations that were threatened in the 20th century, but are now rebounding and showing up in “our backyard.” Klemperer’s art is elegant.
Studio 34, 34-01 38th Avenue, #447
Objects of American pressed glass, appropriated vocabularies of decoration, and domestic craftworks are all considered in the work of Cara Lynch. In the printmaking, installations, and public art, she explores the tensions between art and craft, class and taste, desire and value, sentiment and spectacle. This year Lynch completed her first permanent public work, an installation commissioned by the NYC MTA. Inheritance: In Memory of American Glass is installed at the Ditmas Avenue stop on the F subway line.
LIC Studio 22, 40-24 22nd Street, #205
Good abstract painting can be hard to find. But visitors to the studio of Windy Noviardy will not be disappointed. Gestural and quick, her non-objective paintings reflect an interest in the vibrant and complex life of cities and the variety of cultures. Using mostly acrylic paint the artist layers colors in abstraction. The illusion of certain rigid structures emerges and subsides through the depths of vibrant organic shapes. Through long structural marks, Noviardy builds an urban architecture that captures the energy and speed of our contemporary life.
40-05 21st Street, 3rd floor
Re-purposing and re-proposing of surfaces and objects is the key to Rychlak’s work. She wants us to consider other levels of meaning behind commonplace objects. Over the past few years the artist has been inspired by drains with their references to industrial sewers and urban effluence. Rychlak transforms the drains into wax forms, exploring the limits of the material’s fragility. The wax together with the drain motif metaphorically signify the action of evacuation and siphoning off and/or the possibility of melting away. Simultaneously fascinating and repellent, these works achieve a delicate balance as these drain assemblages evince thresholds of visibility. Rychlak reminds us that nothing is ever what it first appears to be and often, as in many of her assemblages, something more is just below the surface.
Marjorie Van Cura
Reis Studios, 43-01 22nd Street, #239 (btwn 44/43 Ave)
Marjorie Van Cura’s art explores universal ideas of incongruous dualities: chaos/order, natural/artificial, destruction/regeneration. Her new series of work is influenced by the terrible beauty of natural disasters –earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and severe drought. AP news photography provides a basis for her blind contour drawings and remembered imagery of the devastated, post-destruction landscapes. She bases her finished work on these original line drawings, which she hand-traces repeatedly in overlapping iterations. The resulting complexity of woven calligraphic line and optical color create a visually intense, visceral experience.