Now with 85 events and exhibitions at 54 venues and over 160 open studios with 300 participating professional artists, the event is one of the most extensive of its kind in Western Queens.
“It took off like a rocket and really surprised people,” Mazda said at the opening reception last week at the Falchi Building on 47th Avenue. “Each year we grow a little bit more.”
Mazda said with thousands of working artists in and around Long Island City, the festival has become a way to showcase the true impact that artists have on society and the changing face of New York City in particular. “We begin the process of gentrification by making attractive and beautiful things in bleak spaces,” Mazda said. “We bring people to the neighborhoods that they normally wouldn’t visit.”
More than 20 artists showcased roughly 190 pieces of artwork at the exhibit at the Falchi Building last week.
Nancy Gesimondo, artist and member of Long Island City Artists (LICA), has been involved in the LIC Open for the last three years and showcased her work “Memento Mori,” a piece using found materials like a tree branch, shell and feathers placed on a rotating solar powered base.
“The artists are diverse in age and in the medium they use,” Gesimondo said, noting the room filled with three-dimensional wall art, paintings and mixed-media sculptures. “There’s no theme. This is just a way to showcase LIC artists as a group.”
Sunnyside artist and LICA board member Mary Pinto showcased a series of photograms at the gallery, and explained that many artists don’t always have their own space to exhibit.
“It’s a wide range of art,” Pinto explained. “This particular exhibit is seen as a way for artists who don’t have a studio in LIC to participate.”
Paul Farinacci showcased his mixed media artwork – a wooden home built with scrap materials with a detailed interior – in order to take a perspective on the way social media has “blurred together” our private and public lives.
“While on the outside this house seems like a romantic little country home, on the inside there are all these dirty little secrets,” Farinacci said. “This one has a little video playing inside. Sound is a new thing I’m working with.”
He added that while he once lived in Long Island City, the growing living cost in the neighborhood is what forced him, like many of his friends, to move to Long Island or deeper into Queens and even New Jersey.
“We’ve been here so long back when it wasn’t safe or it was so deserted, and we brought everything in,” he said. “I enjoyed it as long as I was there. I had an amazing space.”