While tulips and daffodils poke out of the thawing soil and the borough undergoes its natural transformation into spring, the arts venues of Queens are going through their own metamorphosis.
Already, museums, music venues and theater spaces have begun rolling out their new exhibits and lineups.
The Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will open “13 Most Wanted Men: Andy Warhol and the 1964 World’s Fair,” on April 26 in honor of the historical event’s 50th anniversary.
Warhol, a pop provocateur, sparked a scandal at the World’s Fair. As part of a prominent set of public commissions for the New York State Pavilion — designed by Philip Johnson — Warhol enlarged mug shots from an NYPD booklet featuring the 13 most wanted criminals of 1962.
The piece was installed in April 15, 1964 but was painted over by Fair officials with silver paint a few days after. When the World’s Fair opened to the public, all that was visible was a large shiny square.
The artist later produced another set of “Most Wanted Men” paintings with the screens he used to make the mural, nine of which are assembled in Queens for the first time since their creation.
“13 Most Wanted Men: Andy Warhol and the 1964 World’s Fair” takes Warhol’s original piece as its subject and addresses the creation and destruction of the work while placing it in its artistic and social context; combining art, documentation and archival material.
The exhibit is one of dozens of special events going on in April in honor of the fair.
The quirky yet beautiful Socrates Sculpture Park, located at 32-01 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City, is unveiling two new pieces this spring.
Starting May 11, “SuralArk” and “Queen Mother of Reality” will be on view until August.
“SuralArk” is the winner of “Folly 2014,” an annual competition among emerging architects to design and build a large-scale project for public exhibition.
The piece was designed by the architectural firm Austin + Mergold and blends an overturned ship and a typical suburban house.
“SuralArk” will provide shelter for “respite and contemplation” for all who enter the park this spring and summer.
The large-scale installation will span more than 50 feet with an elevation of 16 feet. It is meant to represent the increasingly blurred lines between city, suburban environments and rural living.
“Queen Mother of Reality” opens the same day as “SuralArk.” The 50-foot long by 18-foot high sculpture of a reclining woman resting on her arm was made from reclaimed materials and was designed by renowned Polish artist Pawel Althamer.
The piece is meant — as much artwork is — to be a platform for creative dialogue but will also provide a space for interactive programming, reflecting the park’s commitment to engaging audiences through public art.
“Queen Mother of Reality” is dedicated to Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, who has been the community mayor of Harlem since she was sworn in by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1995.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery, located at 21-37 45 Road, will present what may be the most anticipated exhibit in Queens: “Whitewashed.”
The showcase will feature artists from the recently painted-over 5Pointz building, where street artists were once free to paint and decorate the structure as they pleased. The building will be razed and replaced with luxury housing and commercial space.
Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd., presents on April 12, “Black Violin,” also known as American hip-hop duo Kev Marcus and Wil B.
The pair are classically trained string instrumentalists who meld highbrow and pop culture into a single genre-bustling act.
Marcus, who plays violin, and B, who plays viola, will perform songs from their second CD, “Classical Trained,” which features verses and symphonic hooks underscored by an array of rhythmic grooves.
Flushing Town Hall will also display works of Queens College undergraduate seniors in its “Queens College Studio Arts Senior Projects” showcase.
Broadway legend Barbara Cook will perform in the Colden Auditorium at Queens College, located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., as part of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts Presents series.
The two-time Grammy Award winner and Tony Award winner will grace the stage and perform a number of hits meant to touch the audience’s heart and raise their spirits.
Richard Mazda, founder and executive director of the Queens Secret Theatre, will run the fourth annual Long Island City Arts Open where art lovers can experience visual and performance art over the course of four days.
The LIC Arts Open bridges the gap between artists, creatives, residents, local government, tourists, art enthusiasts and the art-buying sector.
The events and activities provide exposure for and outreach to the vibrant population of the Long Island City arts community.
A series of exhibits, shows and concerts will be ongoing throughout the four-day festival in various spaces in the neighborhood.
“Because our exhibition space and performance spaces are located in both highly trafficked commercial districts and traditional galleries to culturally underserved areas, in alternative spaces, each venue brings with it a unique taste of ‘community,’” the event’s website reads.
The LIC Arts Open will run from May 14 to 18. Visit licartsopen.org for more information.