May 31, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
One of the borough’s biggest annual art festivals returned to Long Island City with more than 100 creators showcasing their work.
The event, called LIC Arts Open Festival, took place from May 17 through May 21 and celebrated the borough’s vibrant arts community with a wide range of art forms on display at various locations including painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance and theater.
The festival also featured a variety of educational programs and workshops for residents of all ages.
LIC Arts Open Festival aims to shine a light on those who keep the cultural heart of the area alive and vibrant.
This year’s festival was hugely significant to local artists since the event was canceled in 2020, 2021, and 2022 due to the pandemic. The festival was established in 2009.
Taking place across multiple venues, scores of galleries were open to residents to view art, converse with artists, discuss their creations, and get a feel for their lifestyle.
For instance, artist Marianne Barcellona works out of her studio at 43-01 21st St., where she displayed painting collages from a residency in New Finland in Canada as well as artwork with inspiration from Hawaii.
She said she’s in experimental mode this year.
“In my life, I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed lately and I woke up one day feeling like I was drowning so I just thought I would paint the feeling of the water being a little higher than you’re comfortable with.”
She has been working out of the building for about 10 years and said she was thrilled that the festival took place this year.
“We have missed it,” Barcellona said. “It’s very exciting that we’re doing it again because there is a lot of good artwork here that nobody sees. It’s hard to get people out here so it’s great that we have the whole community coming out together for this.”
Artist Priscilla Stadler also works out of the same studio on 21st Street and she showcased an exhibition of paintings called “Sludge” which focuses on pollution at Newtown Creek.
The exhibition aims to inform the public about the story of the creek told from the viewpoint of a mussel. The paintings were created using mussels from the creek, foam garbage and toxic sludge found there, as well as water from the creek.
In the center of Stadler’s studio, there is a long black bag or cloth that hangs 13 feet from the ceiling, representing the layers of sludge.
Priscilla worked at LaGuardia Community College for 18 years and has had studios in Long Island City for most of that time. She said she wasn’t aware of the pollution at the creek until recently.
She began engaging with more science-related themes in her art and then ended up working more with the creek.
“I’ve spent most of my waking hours here … and most of the time I didn’t know too much about Newtown Creek,” Priscilla said.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.