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Queens Chronicle

Museum show celebrates civic stewardship

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am

What does community stewardship look like throughout the five boroughs?

That question is the focus of a new Queens Museum exhibit, “Who Takes Care of New York?,” that uses performance art, static art and maps to look at the role civic groups play. It was set up by the Pratt Institute’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative, independent curator Christina Freeman and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s New York City Urban Field Station.

The project uses data collected for stewardship maps — digital ones showing different groups serving as stewards of the city that lets users learn about their relationships with other organizations — in 2007 and 2017.

Research social scientist Erika Svendsen of the U.S. Forest Service helped visualize the data, which will appear on a series of maps. The SAVI Initiative at Pratt also worked on their design.

Those who check out the exhibition can learn about myriad groups active across Queens, from the Long Island City Partnership to the Addisleigh Park Civic Organization, that are stewards in their communities, as well as others throughout the city.

“This exhibit is really a celebration of their work, seen through a lens of science and art and mapping,” Svendsen said.

Forest Hills-based interdisciplinary artist Magali Duzant is among those featured in the exhibition. She made a new commission for it, titled “Whole Queens Catalog.” The artist collected bits of wisdom like advice, recipes and anecdotes from stewardship groups in different parts of the borough, and she put it all in the free publication.

Two artists-in-residence at the Urban Field Station, Matthew Jensen and Julia Oldham, are featured in the show.

Jensen has been mapping trees across the city, drawing them and using other media to document them, according to the Queens Museum.

As a resident artist with the Urban Field Station, Oldham has worked on a project called “Undiscovered City,” which features two-dimensional collages that highlight the tension between natural spaces in the city and manmade structures.

A performance art piece by Jodie Lyn Kee Chow for “Who Takes Care of New York?” will be staged in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, right outside the Queens Museum, on Sept. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. Called “The Picnic: Harvest of the STEW,” the show will honor stewardship groups throughout the five boroughs. Representatives of some of them, including Sunnyside Community Supported Agriculture and the Long Island City-based Smiling Hogshead Ranch urban farm collective, will be in the performance.

From 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, a panel discussion called “How We See Stewardship” will be held in the museum’s auditorium. Lindsay Campbell of the USDA Forest Service will moderate the talk, whose panelists will be Duzant; Coney Island Beautification Project President Pamela Pettyjohn; Svendsen, who helped create the show; and Can Sucuoglu, interim director of Pratt’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative Center. RSVP at tinyurl.com/yy2rll3q.

The exhibition isn’t limited to the Queens Museum, though.

For an off-site part of the show, the Natural Areas Conservancy will host forest bathing — a type of nature-based therapy invented in 1980s Japan — on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Forest Park at Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South. It’s free. RSVP at tinyurl.com/yyf3q62g.

And on Sept. 28, guests are encouraged to celebrate Stewardship Saturdays with the Parks Department as part of the exhibition at three different events across the city. For the one in Queens, volunteers will do wetland restoration work at the southwest end of Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register at tinyurl.com/y2fgzxc6. The other events are in the Bronx and Manhattan.

‘Who Takes Care of New York?’
When: Through Sun., Sept. 29
Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Entry: $8; seniors $4; kids, students, NYC educators free.
(718) 592-9700,

Welcome to the discussion.