Long Island City Artists
October 19th - November 18th,2006
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Long Island City Artists at 20: Coming Full Circle
The Beginning :
For more than three decades, professional visual artists have been drawn to Long Island City by the low rents and small town, "big sky" feeling that belies its close proximity to Midtown and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They have carved out living and working spaces with the industrial lofts, historic brownstones and modest frame houses of this eclectic western Queens locality. In this territory that stretches from Astoria to Hunters Point, new immigrants and ex-Manhattanites live side by side, and industry and art enjoy an easy rapport.
Over the years, these artists of Long Island City have continued to energize and alter the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the neighborhood. The have established their creative presence not only though world-class arts institutions and independent galleries, but also through organized artist groups.
It was little more than twenty years ago that an enterprising band of artists from across Long Island City came together to share ideas and explore creative opportunities within their community. Among them was painter Margret Dreikausen, who undertook the formidable task of converting half of the third floor of a paper factory on 36th Street into workspace for artists. When construction was completed in April 1986, Ms. Dreikausen launched LIC Artlofts Inc. and invited the public to view the new studios and enjoy an exhibition of works by its tenant artists. In October, a collaborative effort among LIC Artlofts, IS1, Artspace, several individual studios, and LaGuardia Community College resulted in two more open studios events.
In 1987, The Second Annual Open Studios representing the work of ten selected artists was held in conjunction with an exhibition at the Queensborough Community College. In 1988, the group's outreach had expanded, and fifty local artists participated in The Third Annual LIC Open Studios. By now, Open Studios had become a much-anticipated event that drew thousands of visitors from all over the Borough. It offered a wide-range audience a glimpse into the working lives of professional artists as well as the opportunity to view art in a relaxed, welcoming environment.
What started as a friendly alliance of artists continued to grow in size and scope through the leadership of Margret Dreikausen and the hard work and expertise of its early members. In 1989, it was incorporated as the not-for-profit organization, Long Island City Artists Inc., with LIC Artlofts as the headquarters. This group has the distinction of being the first association of professional visual artists to be found in this area.
Throughout its twenty-year history, LIC Artists has continued to fulfill its primary goal of enriching the cultural life of the Queens community. It has achieved this objective by increasing the visibility of the artists it serves and creating and promoting public art events for a diverse audience of borough residents. In addition to presenting the Annual LIC Open Studios, it has mounted many exhibitions, including those at Queens Theatre in the Park, Park Ridge in Forest Park, and Flushing Town Hall. In addition, LIC Artists has presented a series of seminars on topics of interest to artists and residents at Silvercup Studios.