Sept 23rd – Oct 21st, 2006
This past year, and especially the last few months, we began to notice the streets of WesternQueens becoming filled with new works of public art. More and more, it seems that the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside, and Woodside have become a laboratory for the latest in street art.
Further research revealed a hitherto unknown collective called Queens Blackout Division that has recently put out a call to artists asking them to produce art in the streets of Western Queens. They want artists to post information about the work on their website, queensblackoutdivision.net.
The more we thought about it over here at the old Flux Factory, the more we realized that we have something of a movement on our hands. Our show, therefore, is simply a concerted effort to get the public out on the streets and interacting with the work. To facilitate this interaction, we’re organizing audio tours, walking tours, bike tours, maps, and other material. The exact schedule for these tours will be posted on this site soon. By the opening of the show, September 23, most of this material will be easily downloaded directly from this site. These tours should be good fun and will all be different.
Our space on 43rd Street will become a video archive, headquarters, and giant map for charting all the work going on in the neighborhood.
Looking forward to seeing you out on the street!
CATALOGUE by Melanie Cohn
you may view and purchace a copy here
AUDIO TOUR BY STEFANY ANNE GOLBERG and MORGAN MEIS
Download tour here (zipped folder, mp3 format)
Instructions: There is currently one Audio Tour. Listen to all individual tracks in order.
Showing in the Flux Factory space: Open Air by Knox, a street art documentary starring ESPO, Marco, Dan Witz, FAILE, Michael De Feo, Skewville, Tiki Jay-One, Lou. www.myspace.com/openairstreetart
Map are free and downloadable. Print one out and see the streets of Queens on your own.
TOURS-All tours meet at Flux Factory at 3pm unless otherwise indicated.
Bikes for bike tours will NOT be provided by Flux Factory.
Sunday, September 24: Bike tour with Jean Barberis
Saturday, September 30: Walking tour with Andrea DezsÃ¶
THIS TOUR IS NOT MEETING AT FLUX FACTORY! Meet at 3 pm on Ditmars Blvd. in front of the Starbucks. Take the N or W to Astoria get off at the last stop, the Starbucks store is right there at the end of the elevated train as you come down the stairs.
(***more info below)
Sunday, October 1st: Bike tour with Kerry Downey
Saturday, October 7th: OPEN HOUSE NEW YORK WEEKEND!
and Walking tour with Melanie Franklin Cohn
Sunday, October 8th: OPEN HOUSE NEW YORK WEEKEND!
and Bike tour with Ellen Kleckner
Saturday, October 14th: Walking tour with Meg Duguid
Sunday, October 15th: TBA
Saturday, October 21st: Street Tour and Pub Crawl with Morgan Meis and Ellen Kleckner
***Andrea DezsÃ¶ and Adam Gurvitch: Chasing Berch Walking Tour
High Art, Low Art, No Art – Berch in Queens
Depending on one’s class and neighborhood, many Americans’ exposure to ‘art’ is limited to what they see in advertisement: billboards, TV commercials, product packaging, calendars; homes, bars, and shops display reprints of vintage beverage logos, travel posters, and promos for movies and music.
Astoria and Long Island City, solidly working class neighborhoods being revived foremost through immigration and increasingly through gentrification, are distinguished by a streak of nostalgic painting on shop windows and exterior walls by the artist Berch. Berch has given the neighborhood a subtle, defined visual brand invoking the American dream of the neighborhood’s Italian, Irish, and Greek settlers of decades ago. Berch’s street paintings depict Easter feasts, Christmas regalia, autumnal bounties, Greek New Year’s delicacies, fruit cornucopias, bouquets, loaves of peasant bread, and crisp pizzas.
Berch gives us an expression of enduring aspirations, a common thread extending the desires of the neighborhood’s established ethnic enclaves to the newest generation of settlers who seek the neighborhood’s promise. Walking the neighborhood’s commercial avenues from Broadway to Ditmars, residents of western Queens are enticed to indulge in each new season’s festivities and the idealized goods on offer inside the shops that Berch has adorned. Forego the latest, hippest trends, and Berch will point you to family businesses that have sustained Astorians for generations with prosciutto, Sicilian slices, stuffed grape leaves, fresh fruit, and all the rest.
Berch’s style is reminiscent of the commercial art of an earlier period. His content and subject matter are strictly proscribed, but he paints with a free hand. After September 11th, 2001, Berch contributed to the city’s burgeoning impromptu wall memorial movement. His work is distinctive enough that you can always recognize a Berch without having to see the signature, which is high praise for any street artist. We’ve sought out Berch, but haven’t yet been able to speak with him.
So who is Berch, and what are we to make of his art? Are the neighborhood’s pervasive, custom hand-painted still lifes decoration, advertising, mural, or something beyond?