Block parties in New York City turn traffic-clogged streets into a pedestrian paradise made for lazy weekends, elephant ear consumption and sunburns. The Queens Council on the Arts will continue the tradition on June 22 with a celebratory feel and a quirky touch.
The arts nonprofit recently moved into the Kaufman Astoria Studios complex from its former home in Forest Park. At the Saturday event it will officially cut the ribbon on the new space.
”We are going to bring the footprint of emerging artists to this interesting art scene,” Executive Director Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer said, citing QCA’s many arts-focused new neighbors, such as the Frank Sinatra High School and the film studio its shares the block with.
“One of the goals of the block party is to show people exactly what we do,” Krakauer said, “because not everyone knows.”
One segment of QCA’s mission to be on display is the Queens Art Express, a program in which it follows five artists from the borough — a poet, a butoh dancer and performance artist, a South Indian string instrument musician, a modern dancer and composer and a college student studying animation — on its updated blog. These artists will perform at the party.
“The Queens Council on the Arts has embraced my organization in Queens ever since we moved here in 2005,” Queens Art Express artist Valerie Green, founder of the Dance Entropy modern dance company, said. “It’s great to be a selected artist and be a part of this event.”
Green and her troupe will present “Splash.” The original piece, first created for an empty pool, features swimsuit-clad dancers dancing around and in colorful buckets of water.
“A perfect summertime crowd pleaser,” Green said.
The Express quintet also contributed to QCA’s “moveable feast” series — a group of about 15 videos created by Queens artists about their favorite little-known neighborhood restaurants.
Yelp, the website where patrons can publicly review shops and restaurants, will be on hand Saturday to judge the contributions and award a prize that’s still a surprise, Krakauer said. All the submissions can be viewed on YouTube and on the QCA website.
Other party agenda items are lots of food, a henna tattoo artist from Jackson Heights and the Sunnyside artist duo Attenborough Naftel, who will create an oversized stoop to play stoop ball.
Nonprofit Materials from the Arts will set up an arts and crafts table filled with a sampling of the organization’s huge warehouse of art supplies to create trinkets out of tiles and buttons.
Nearby, students in QCA’s High School to Art School program, a 24-week workshop aimed at bolstering high schoolers’ art portfolios for college, will draw 60-second portraits. All will be matted and gifted for free.
Guests will also maneuver remote- control cars armed with markers to zoom around a large canvas, leaving a brightly colored trail, in an event produced by Long Island City-based Free Style Arts. Another artwork will be transformed similarly, but its artists will be armed with fishing poles that dangle crayons like worms to create the piece, not cars.
“We will be doing some really wacky things,” Krakauer said.
Lastly, Astoria band Beecher’s Fault, which describes their sound as “if Wilco and Passion Pit had a baby,” will close out the night at 5 p.m. with a set.
When: Saturday, June 22, 1 to 6 p.m.
Where: 37th Street between 34th and 35th avenues
Tickets: Free, queensartexpress.com/block-party-2013