By Mark Hallum
What started out as a one-night writers’ showcase on Bell Boulevard got shut down by the snow Saturday.
The big night, however, has been rescheduled into a three-night reading from storytellers around the neighborhood on Jan. 20, 21 and 22.
Gregg Sullivan, one of the co-founders of The Bayside Council for the Arts, has transformed the space once occupied by Benjamin Moore paint supply at 41-23 Bell Blvd. into the organization’s temporary HQ.
“Boy, do we have writers coming out of the woodwork,” Sullivan remarked about the growing interest in the venture.
Local scribes such as Lon Blais, Eva Hughes, Hannah Garson, David Bold, Faith Elliot, Ronald Hellman, Madeleine Kane, Brian Lloyd and Gregg Sullivan will put their talents on display for what a flier for the event is calling “an entirely new genre of literature.”
Lon Blais recently held performances of “The Boy on the Bureau,” a one-man-show he wrote and performed about his upbringing in Danvers, Mass., as the “white sheep” of his family, in Bayside and it was well received by the community.
His performance was described by the Bayside Times’ theater writer Ron Hellman as “reminiscent of the narrative skills of a Spalding Gray.” Hellman also said “Blais held his audience’s rapt attention. He plans to take the play on the road.”
As for Sullivan, the Bayside Council for the Arts has the potential to shock some life into an old economy back before the last picture show played at the United Artists movie theater at 39th Avenue in the late 1990s.
Sullivan explained how a council for the arts could draw people back to Bayside after Bell Boulevard lost the movie theater, which evolved from a single screen to a quad in its final years.
“It was the destination people came to Bayside for. They came on the trains, they came by car, and they came to the movie theater,” he said. “The fact that we lost that is tragic. Ever since then, retail has never been able to do as well on Bell Boulevard. Though [the council for the arts] doesn’t replace a movie theater, this creates another destination that isn’t a restaurant.”
The art center models itself after the Astoria QED, which each week features a new artist or theme.
Wooden cutouts of people have been propped up on chairs facing the front window on the street of the space Sullivan is using as the Bayside Art Center to catch the eye of pedestrians going about their business on the boulevard. Sullivan calls the figures the “support group for the over-active imagination”.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall