Arts districts all over the city stage big fairs, festivals and open studio events every year, and Long Island City is no different. Last weekend was the 5th annual LIC Arts Open, with exhibitions, performances, film screenings and open studios at dozens of industrial buildings, galleries, hotels and restaurants in the neighborhood.
This is not going to be a review that recounts all the gallery and party hopping I did over the weekend. I didn't hop. In fact, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of listings in the festival brochure, and exhausted at the thought of roaming the unfamiliar neighborhood to find all the venues. So after helping to install the exhibition my work was part of at a local hotel, I limited my hopping to the surrounding sites. The following day I visited my friend Mary's studio hoping for a re-cap of what I missed. Instead we spent an afternoon looking at and talking about her work and what its like to be an artist working in LIC.
Mary Teresa Giancoli is a photographer whose work makes connections across cultures and explores the natural environment. Her current project, Waves, is a series of images that looks at the mysteries of the shoreline. Mary uses medium format film for a full tonal range and the result is a collection of very lush, sensual images that have a beautiful abstract quality, while still evoking the sound of the ocean, the wind, and the depth of the horizon.
Her studio is lined with photos taken in Mexico, Washington state and Sicily. Art books and archival boxes of prints are carefully arranged on the shelves. Just down the hall is a kitchen and lounge area, and the studio building's gallery, Studio 34. The current show there features work in a variety of media by resident artists.
I asked Mary what it's like to work in a building full of artists. She responded enthusiastically about the benefits of being part of such a community, sharing skills and benefitting from everyone's experiences and connections. Artists share information about various opportunities, and are able to participate in events like the arts open. Mary has exhibited her work at various exhibition spaces in the neighborhood, as well as nationally and internationally.
Like other Studio 34 artists, Mary currently has work in the LIC-Artists 30th Anniversary exhibit at the Paper Factory Hotel, which runs through May 31.
In fact, in case you (also) missed the LICAO, several of the exhibitions are ongoing. You can see Your Presence is Requested at the intimate Resobox Gallery until May 26. Priscilla Stadler's "Fragile Cities" hangs in the front window, and "Soil Samples From Every Sate in the United States, Collected via Craigslist," by Jackie Mock ("a collector of all things trivial") is fascinating (if, like me, you're fascinated by such efforts). Group shows at both The Factory and the Falchi Building will continue for a few more weeks.
And the fun doesn't have to end there. Although the Open Studio festival is over, most local artists would be happy to welcome visitors the other 363 days of the year. The LICAO's artist page links to over 200 artists' websites. Click around until you find some work you'd like to see in person, then shoot the artists an email to schedule an appointment. Because the LIC Arts Open lasts only one weekend, but you can enjoy art in Queens year-round.