Astoria turns into one big performance

Astoria turns into one big performance
By Allison Plitt

For the next couple of weeks, the public can take a break from all their worries and ride the N or 7 trains to the 2nd Annual Astoria Arts Festival.

Immersing themselves in a world of art, partakers can see an art exhibit in a restaurant, participate in an interactive photo show or attend a concert.

This is the second year for the festival, which is being co-headed by photographer Lisabeth Nieves and designer Christine Haber. While last year’s festival was held only for one weekend, its success led organizers to hold this year’s festival for a whole week bookended by two weekends.

Eschewing traditional studios and galleries, the festival’s organizers decided instead to use the walls of popular neighborhood hangouts.

“A mix of photography, paintings, illustrations and mixed-media creations from well-known and emerging local artists will hang on the walls of such beloved neighborhood restaurants, bars and shops including Queens Comfort, Sweet Afton, Hell Gate, Sparrow, Astoria Park Wine & Spirits, Lockwood and William Hallet,” organizers said in a release. “There is no set schedule for viewing the art; attendees can wander into venues and linger at their leisure while enjoying some of the wonderful local food and cocktails.”

Founder of the festival, Nieves said there was a variety of 20 venues, a combination of restaurants and bars, where they would display the artwork of 30 neighborhood artists.

“We have about the same amount of artists as last year. We have about five more venues, though. A lot of new places have opened up,” she said.

There is also a schedule of eight events that spans the 10-day period. The kick-off party for the festival starts on Friday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m. at Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd.) with live music from local band 10 Cent [expletive deleted]. The evening doesn’t end there, though. On the same night from Midnight to 4 a.m. there will be an after-party at Sparrow Tavern with an Instagram photo show with over 20 participants. Printstagram, a company that can easily print Instagram photos, is one of the festival’s sponsors and has provided the festival with prizes for the event.

Another sponsor, the Impossible Project, is a company that still manufactures instant photographic materials, such as Polaroid cameras. According to Nieves, the company donated Polaroid’s instant film to the festival to help set up an interactive exhibit.

“On Saturday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. in a store shop called Lockwood (32-15 33rd St.),” Nieves said, “we hope to create a huge photo collage with anyone who wants to show up and be involved and see how it’s done.”

On the following day, Sunday, there will be two opening receptions. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., an exhibit for photographer Clemens Kois will be held at Mar’s (34-21 34th Ave.) accompanied by live music from Rudy Mungaray. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., work by artist Caitlin Allen will be shown at the Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway) with live music also scheduled.

For the full agenda of the festival’s events, those interested can go online at www.astoriaartfestival.com. The festival runs through Oct. 6.

Whether it is appreciating art or music, taking pictures with a Polaroid or enjoying a cocktail with some fine cuisine, Astoria’s 2nd Annual Arts Festival has a little something for everyone.

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