By Mark Hallum
Over the past six years, the Long Island City Arts Open has created an atmosphere of creative community in Queens. The Amie Gross Gallery hosted an event last Friday night in which the talents of artists and architects were enlisted to design the future facility for Transitional Services for New York.
TSINY is a Queens-based non-profit with headquarters in Flushing that serves patients suffering from mental illness. The goal of the program is to completely rehabilitate individuals coping with a range of disorders. Its new facility in Jamaica will be a seven-story design by Amie Gross Architects that incorporates the work of glass artist Ellen Mandelbaum and painter Laini Nemett.
Artists and designers at the open house, located in the Amie Gross studio in Long Island City, spoke about the work they have been engaged in and the way they see individual pieces interacting with each other to influence the recovery of future residents of the building. What will differentiate the facility from every other health center is that it is designed to interact with every mood.
“There’s a difference between the art in a museum and the art in a building that people live in,” Amie Gross said. “It’s very different because you’re seeing that work every day and in a different frame of mind.”
Mandelbaum, who has a studio in Sunnyside, showcased pieces that fit the criteria of what will go in the TSINY facility. Mandelbaum is a stained glass artist whose work reflects features found in nature. In one work, she indicates the shadow of a mountain. Strands of grass can be seen in the foreground, a dimensional appearance that is produced by putting the glass plate into the fire multiple times. The colors are complex, overlapping and change deeply with the lighting.
Nemett is a painter who takes photographs of buildings under construction or in disrepair. Nemett uses photographs from several different buildings, then pieces them together by cutting them apart and reconstructing them in a 3D model. She then paints an image of the model that shows off the diagonal lines in the cross-sections of the structure, an approach to depth similar to that of Mandelbaum. Nemett plans to be present during the construction of the TSINY building to paint wall-hangers for the soon-to-be center for mental health.
“The finished large-scale paintings will combine imagery from the different stages of this building’s construction, Ellen’s stained glass, and the completed building, so that anyone standing in the lobby will feel as if they are inside the artwork,” Nemett said. “Hopefully, this sense of artistic immersion will be one of the many therapeutic features of the building for its residents and any other visitors.”
According to Ave McCracken, director of Public Affairs for TSINY, the goal of the organization is to reduce the stigma directed toward mental illness as well as develop in patients the abilities needed to live independently.
TSINY was recently the beneficiary of the proceeds for Taste of Bayside and Beyond, a fund-raising event put on by the local business association which donates to organizations leading the way toward a better future.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall