It’s a bit cold to swim in the Rockaways these days, but the temperature is perfect for appreciating art while indoors. And as always, Queens is overflowing with appropriate culture for the season.

First of all, two long-term exhibitions opened in Long Island City on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Julie Comnick’s New York debut, “Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra,” will be at Gallery One at The Factory LIC, 30-30 47th Ave., until Friday, Feb. 7. This painting-and-video project explores the loss of traditional culture in the modern world through the destruction of violins.

To create “Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra,” Comnick collected about 100 broken-down, used violins from instrument shops around the United States. She then piled them in a rural area (above image) and burned them at dusk. She contemplated the flames, smoke and ashes for 12 hours and then created 12 large-scale paintings that depict phases of the destruction.

The theme might appear farfetched, but it comes naturally to Comnick. The Arizona resident was the only child of a music teacher, who felt strongly that individuals should chose one instrument and stick with it. She went with the violin. Later, she discovered her painting and drawing talent and a keen desire to use her art to question social circumstances and practices.

As this exhibition demonstrates, the violin is very important to her, and she’s concerned that modern technology and culture are slowly eliminating its value.

The other show that opened on Jan. 9, “Unbound: Authentic Visions and Voices,” displays work by more than two dozen “outsider artists” at The Local NYC until Thursday, Feb. 27.

This is the first-ever public exhibition by ART BreakOUT, a partnership between Lois Stavsky of the Street Art NYC blog and Astoria resident Bonnie Astor, an art therapist/activist. It features “outsider artists” or individuals who have little contact with the mainstream world, often due to autism and other mental afflictions. (Others simply have no formal training.)

Stavsky and Astor work with the contributors, many of whom have gallery space at The Living Museum, an art therapy program at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Institute in Queens Village. Others show at Fountain House Gallery, a Manhattan venue dedicated to displaying work by people with mental illness.

Mixed-media pieces, stencils, masks, and paintings are the majority of the pieces, but there’s some Southern folk art that Astor collected while working on a Mississippi River cruise boat. Patrons will also be able to check out some vibrant digital prints by Peter Stefanides, a pain management doctor with offices in Bayside and Astoria.

Admission is free, and some works are for sale. The Local NYC is a hostel at 13-02 44th Ave. in LIC. It’s near the Court Square station for the E, M, G and 7 trains.

On Sunday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m., the Bayside Historical Society will kick off its Winter Art Show at the Castle in Fort Totten Park. Up until Sunday, Jan. 26, the 19th annual expo features Queens-based artists who work in a variety of styles and mediums, including painting, drawing, mixed media, and photography.

Admission is $5, and many pieces will be for sale with part of the proceeds supporting the Bayside Historical Society, a 55-year-old nonprofit that maintains two landmarked properties and advocates for the preservation and protection of historical spots in Northeast Queens.

Currently, the society is headquartered in the Castle, a Gothic Revival mansion at 208 Totten Ave. that was once the Fort Totten Park Officer’s Club. Art patrons must pass through a guarded entrance at Bell Boulevard and 212th Street to get there.

Editor’s note: There’s also a chance to create. Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., hosts Live Drawing with Models on Monday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. Adults of all talent and experience levels draw from a live nude model in a relaxing, non-judgmental environment during this monthly activity.


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Queens residents display their talent and creativity at art show in Bayside
Queens residents display their talent and creativity at art show in Bayside

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