Long Island City restaurant gives local art a home

The Crescent Grill — located in Long Island City — is showcasing local artwork as part of the LIC Arts Open program.
Photo by Merle Exit
By Merle Exit

Dan Dougherty and his bother, Shaun — the owners of Crescent Grill restaurant in Long Island City — are proud to house local art in their eatery as part of the LIC Arts Open. The Crescent Grill — located at 38-40 Crescent St. — features its own art venue, known as Dougherty Gallery.

As part of the LIC Arts Open, the restaurant featured five large acrylic paintings by New York City artist Suzanne Pemberton, as well as oil, acrylic and mixed media paintings and drawings by other city artists, including Joseph Meloy, Mike Serafino, Brandon Sines, and Paul Zepeda. They also featured actual New York City parking meters that were modified by artist Conrad Stojak.

Dougherty said the May 16 event was a success and he was pleased to be participating in the LIC Arts Open for the fifth year as a gallery.

“It provides an opportunity for new people to come to Dougherty Gallery and Crescent Grill and further reach out to the community,” he said.

For the artists, there’s an opportunity to display your art and build a connection with the community. Serafino’s connection to Long Island City runs through his work as a studio manager and assistant at a long-time LIC artist’s studio.

“I’ve been working in the neighborhood since 2006,” Serafino said. “My personal work has been exhibited at Crescent Grill Gallery in at least 10 shows over the course of the last few years.”

He considers his style of artwork to be experimental and adventurous.

“Most of my work has an element of chaos and chance in which I will try to find a moment of clarity and order,” Serafino said. “The works are often searches for a feeling rather than executed preconceived ideas. I use virtually every type of paint in my studio; oil, acrylic, watercolor, gauche, enamel, encaustic and ink are all found splattered on the floors and walls.Each has their own strengths that can be necessary for a project or balanced against one another to bring material contrast into a piece.”

Two of his favorite pieces in the show are: “Antibes” and “The Whale Hunt.” Serafino cites traveling and a constant appetite for reading about science as the main two inspirations for his work.

“The visual component to travel impacts my subsequent art. Whether it is the new landscapes or the culture of the place I’m visiting, travel always affects a change in my mind which comes out in the studio upon return.”

As for being a part of LIC Arts Open, Serafino called it “an invitation to join and art community that isn’t captured by the commercial gravity of the nearby Manhattan art megalopolis.”

“There is a [do it yourself] aspect to the community — the sense that it is a place being created, with much opportunity available for whoever has the courage to seize it,” he said. “Additionally, I sense an esprit de corps among the Long Island City artists that we’ve all chosen this path for a good reason; that a life spent creating and expressing are worth the struggle in this city.”

Pemberton has been painting landscapes for many years moving to what she refers to as “more abstract interpretations of land and seascapes in the past few years.”

She said uses acrylic paint and acrylic inks to create layers that convey the atmosphere in and around the sea.

Pemberton has been working out of the Reis Studios in Long Island City for the past four years and said she is proud to be a part of the LIC Arts Open.

“The LIC Arts Open brings together fellow artists and the community which otherwise wouldn’t happen,” said Pemberton. “Arts should be an integral part of any healthy community.”

Meanwhile, Zepeda said that he considers his style of work to have roots in Modernism. He works in oil paint — often incorporating gold or silver leaf — and also dabs in watercoloring and an oxidation process that he says creates rust and patina on canvas.

“I am inspired by the beauty of the world around me which may be found in everything from the human form to flowers, seascapes and architecture,” he said

One of his pieces that he said he is particularly happy with is the rust patterns created in “Rusty Subway Car.” Zepeda has an “NYC Subway Token Series,” which he says has proven to be a popular one.

“Curating for and being a part of the LIC Arts Open for the last few years has given me exposure to the wonderful community of people in Long Island City as well as giving me the opportunity to meet and share the work of my fellow artists in the area,” said Zepeda. “The exhibitions I help put on at Crescent have grown to be a staple of the LIC events calendar with monthly receptions on every third Thursday.”

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