By Allison Plitt
Whether you are an art aficionado or just want insight into the creative process of professional artists, the Diego Salazar Art Gallery in Long Island City should be your hangout spot for the next two Saturdays.
In addition to displaying the works of 14 artists in an exhibit titled “Long Island City Winter Art Show,” the gallery is presenting “The Saturday Salon Series” from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. both weekends. The series features informal lectures by artists whose work is included in the show about their inspiration and artistic methods.
On Saturday, Costa Vavagiakis, a realist oil painter and instructor at The Art Students League in Manhattan, is scheduled to demonstrate portraiture. The following weekend, painter Elinore Schnurr will showcase painting using gouache, which is similar to watercolor but the paint is modified to make it non-transparent.
Schnurr, who also curated the show, assembled artists who have studios in Long Island City or previously worked in the neighborhood for the exhibit. As a result, many colorful Queens scenes adorn the walls at the Diego Salazar gallery.
Violet Baxter, a cityscape artist, paints the views outside of her Long Island City studio. She builds up her canvases with layers of color while keeping a subjective eye on her scene.
The work of Diane Sipprelle, another artist who lived in Long Island City for many years, depicts views from her kitchen window of the train station, and John Varriano, a realist painter, contributed several scenes from New York City to the show.
“John does these cityscapes, which are sort of snapshots of moments in the city and treats them in a very painterly, classic, realist kind of way, which is fun – kind of an old master’s way,” said Ann O’Connor, communications director at the gallery.
Diego Salazar Art Gallery specializes in Latin American art and, according to O’Connor, aims for 30 percent of the artwork in all their shows to be created by Latin American artists.
In the “Long Island City Winter Art Show,” an abstract collage of shapes was made by Oscar Maxera, who came to the United States from Argentina many years ago.
The show also features Sandra Mack-Valencia, a native of Colombia who does narrative painting about the female identity. Her work can be humorous, such as the “The Wedding Picture,” where there is a happy couple in one corner and demons ready to grab them in another.
Ragnar Lagerblad hails from Brazil and works with ceramic and gold leaf. Inspired by his childhood love of bugs, he contributed a series of self-portraits, some of which show him possessing attributes of insects.
In addition, Mary Didoardo’s work is a series of heads.
Among the American artists in the show is Joe Handorff, who sewed together a pirate scene that hangs from the gallery’s ceiling. Last year he won a Joan Mitchell Grant to incorporate embroidery into his pieces, and this is the first time he is displaying this type of artwork.
Preston Trombly, another American artist who presented a series of abstract paintings he created on newspapers, is also a musician. His craft inspired him to assemble a dynamic collage of piano keys and strings.
The only photographer in the show is Jean-Marie Guyaux, whose featured work is photographs of bullet holes.
And Noriko Kuresumi, a Japanese sculptor who works with porcelain, contributed a series of porcelain sculptures called “Sea of Memory.”
Although every piece of her work has been sold, they are still on display in the gallery throughout the show, which is scheduled to run until Mar. 16.
The Diego Salazar Art Gallery is located at 21-25 44th Avenue in Long Island City. Tel: (718) 937-9077. The gallery’s website is https://www.facebook.com/DiegoSalazarArtGallery.