By Tammy Scileppi
Art meets food European-style in Queens when the popular Astoria Art Festival returns to the borough for the third year.
But rather than being displayed in one or two galleries, artworks will hang in more than 30 businesses throughout the northwest corner of Queens.
“We don’t have any traditional studios and galleries in Astoria, so curated art will be on display in bars, restaurants and stores, as a true reflection of the neighborhood’s community spirit,” said Lizabeth Nieves, festival founder and participating photographer. “There hasn’t been a dedicated, yearly showcase for visual artists until now.”
The event kicks off Friday and runs through Oct. 19 showcasing the works of well-known and emerging artists.
Featured works will include photography, paintings, illustrations and mixed-media creations, which were selected from an open call, resulting in 150 submissions — whittled down to 50.
Nieves, who lives in Queens, said she is working with writer Alia Akkam on a series of narrative portraits that she will interpret with a short story. The show titled “Now You Know” touches upon a person’s ability to use their imagination in what they believe is happening in a photo.
In addition to an opening party held at the gastropub Front Toward Enemy at 40-11 30th Ave. and an after party at speakeasy Mars 34-21 34th Ave. on the first night, this year’s event lineup will include an evening of live music and local vendors at SingleCut Beersmiths Saturday, and several open-house events,
Adam Steiner of SingleCut Beersmiths wears many hats and even has his own band, Green Gallows, which performs there.
“We have a great passion for the arts here at SingleCut,” said Steiner. “Nearly our entire staff is artistic in one way or another. We also have a huge passion for community. Having a relationship with Liz Nieves and Chris Haber and hearing about this function, I knew SingleCut was the place to do it.”
SingleCuts has booked seven bands and five singer-songwriters throughout the opening day, said Steiner.
Another gallery site will be Mackenzi Farquer’s store, Lockwood, just off Broadway, which stocks chic housewares, modern furniture and clothing.
“I’m super excited to partner with the Astoria Arts Festival because I believe deeply in what these amazing ladies are doing. This year Lockwood will play host to their Art Walk,” said Farquer. “Guests will get 15 percent off Lockwood goodies, an amazing goodie bag, and a drink before they head out on a boozy art adventure.”
A featured artist, Dennis Borowsky, said what he likes most about the festival is its approachability.
“Every artist in the neighborhood can utilize all it has to offer without the unreachable feeling other galleries, submissions, and festivals seem to conjure,” said Borowsky. “For years, Astoria has served as a cultural hub, where so many artists worked independently and under the radar. This festival is a social event that brings the entire community together. It’s never stuffy, and it’s exciting to meet everyone locally.”
Film photography enthusiast and Queens native, Ashley Mendolia, said she is inspired by time and the passing of it, and how a photograph can encapsulate a moment, a sentiment, a feeling.
Her work will be on display Oct. 10 – 19 at Olde Prague Tavern, 28-48 31st St.
New this year will be the festival’s first curated art walk Oct. 18. Sponsored by We Heart Astoria, the event will include a tour of five of the 35 participating venues — Lockwood, Queens Kickshaw, Pachanga Patterson, Sweet Afton and William Hallet. Tickets are limited and cost $10, which will include happy-hour priced drinks, a gift bag and a few other suprises.
While promoting and helping local businesses, the collaborative festival will shine a spotlight on a growing and dynamic community of artists. And, it’s also a great way to make new friends and network.
“This festival is a shining example of how Astoria has become a major arts destination,” said Queens Tourism Council Director Rob MacKay. “The neighborhood is teeming with creativity and diversity, and both characteristics will be on display during this event. I can’t wait for it to begin.”
For more information and a full schedule, check www.astoriaartfestival.com.
IF YOU GO
3rd Annual Astoria Art Festival
Friday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 19
Cost: $10 for Art Walk on Saturday, Oct. 18