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Courtesy of Queens Together
The Plaxall Gallery on Anable Basin has opened its gates to numerous community nonprofits as a staging area to provide food to thousands of families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While The Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City is currently closed to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to redefine the mission of its waterfront cultural and community space.

Plaxall Gallery announced Tuesday the launch of Culture Lab LIC, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the development of art, theater, music and community services in western Queens. Donated by the family-owned Plaxall Inc., the 12,000-square-foot converted waterfront warehouse located on the Anable Basin in Long Island City is home to three art galleries, a 90-seat theater and an outdoor event space.

Over the years, the Plaxall Gallery has become an important institution for the surrounding artistic community. The arrival of Culture Lab LIC will allow Plaxall Gallery to expand its arts and community services, freeing its partner organization, LIC Artists Inc., to focus on its artist membership services.

“For the past three and a half years, this team of dedicated artists have built this arts center from the ground up, thanks in major part to the generosity of Plaxall,” Culture Lab LIC Executive Director Edjo Wheeler said. “This space has become home to some of LIC’s most exciting cultural ideas and activities.”

The Plaxall Gallery. (Photo by Chuck Baker)

The current gallery director, Norma Homberg, will continue to work with LIC Artists as their exhibition coordinator, and Tana Sirois will serve as performing arts director of Culture Lab LIC.

“We’re committed to providing free and affordable space for artists to develop and produce their work at The Plaxall Gallery,” Sirois said. “The impact that COVID-19 has had on the artistic community of NYC is devastating. Culture Lab will be here to support artists through the long, challenging recovery, and we will continue to make that happen in LIC.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Culture Lab has pivoted to function as a drop-off and food distribution center, becoming a key link in the chain connecting food sources to hungry people in Queens. The initiative, taken on with other local nonprofits, including LIC Relief, Brighter Bites, The Connected Chef, City Harvest and Queens Together, has already delivered needed food to thousands of food-insecure families.

The Connected Chef food relief program is feeding more 500 families weekly. (Photo by Edjo Wheeler)

The space is also used by a range of community groups free of charge, including Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, Jacob A. Riis Settlement, Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, Habitat for Humanity and local public schools, among others. Culture Lab LIC aims to expand these partnerships and welcome in more of the local community.

“We are all looking forward to the day when we can re-open and welcome the public back into the gallery for art shows, classes and a diverse range of programming,” Plaxall Inc. Managing Director Matt Quigley said. “In the meantime, we are proud to serve our community in this new way and will continue to do everything we can to ensure we pull through this crisis together.”

To learn more about Culture Lab LIC, visit its website here.

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