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Western Queens art patrons got a new reason to jump for joy — and relax in a seat — last Saturday, when the LIC Arts Bus made its maiden voyage. Scheduled to run every weekend until September 14th, the free service will stop at Socrates Sculpture Park, The Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter and MoMA PS1. The 25-passenger vehicle, operated on a first-come-first-seated basis, departs from Socrates on a continuous loop from noon to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. (Click here for a schedule with up-to-the-minute updates.) 

Seen in top photo before the launch are (from left) Noguchi Director Jenny Dixon, Socrates Director of Development and Communications Katie Denny, City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Socrates Executive Director John Hatfield, MoMA PS1 COO Peter Katz and Noguchi Director of Administration and External Affairs Amy Hau.

Top photo: It’s in Queens; bottom photo: Noguchi Sculpture Center

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It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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Thank God it’s First Fridays! The Noguchi Museum offers extended evening hours on the first Friday of every month during the summer — and as a special treat — on December 6th. The event generally features extended hours from 5 pm to 8 pm, pay-what-you-want admission, a guided discussion on art and a cash beer-and-wine bar. This Friday, Noguchi will screen two episodes of the 12-part documentary Routes: The Spiritual Odyssey of Chinese American Artists. These segments focus on Shen Ruijin and Zheng Lianjie, taking the audience through each China-born artist’s working process. A former Camargo Foundation Fellow, Ruijin is known for creating 3D painting-animations featuring images that move a little bit, thus promoting the ancient Chinese belief that change is constant. Lianjie, who lives in Beijing and New York City, came of age during the Cultural Revolution in the 1980s and transformed his work to art installations and performance-based pieces from traditional painting.

Details: Routes: The Spiritual Odyssey of Chinese American Artists, Noguchi Museum, 09-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, December 6th, 5 pm, pay-what-you-wish.

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The Noguchi Museum just announced its public programming for next month, including the First Friday and Second Sunday programs. The museum is hosting events to correspond with its special exhibitions “Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930” and “Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page.” For the November First Friday event, the museum offers extended evening hours, free admission, a cash bar and a screening of a compilation of footage of Sumi Ink Club, a participatory drawing project established in 2005 by two Los Angeles-based artists. For the Second Sunday event, Dr. Joellen Meglin, an Associate Professor of Dance at Temple University, will deliver a talk on American avant-garde dancer and choreographer Ruth Page and her collaborations with Noguchi. For more details and more events coming up at the museum, check out the website.

Photo via Noguchi.org

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Qi Baishi is one of the most influential Chinese ink painters of the 20th century. Isamu Noguchi, who lived in Japan and the United States, was one of the most critically acclaimed sculptors of the same time period. In 1930, Noguchi met Baishi in Beijing, and they spent about six months developing a new vision of abstraction. Baishi fueled Noguchi’s interest in brush and ink on paper, enabling him to develop a new approach to interpreting the human form. Noguchi also discovered that he could create almost life-sized works by painting on a table or floor as per East Asian tradition. Their creative-cultural exchange comes to life in an exhibit that launched yesterday and will remain at The Noguchi Museum until January 26th, 2014. More than 50 drawings, ink paintings, calligraphic works and sculptures by both artists are seen side-by-side for the first time.

Details: Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930, The Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, September 25th, 2013 to January 26th, 2014, click here for admission information.

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As its name suggests, the Noguchi Museum displays sculpture, furniture, ceramics and other pieces by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. But this weekend, the Long Island City venue dabbles into everything from architecture to film to live music. On September 6th, Noguchi extends evening hours as it always does on the first Friday of each month and offers a pay-what-you-wish admission policy. At 6 pm, the museum facilitates a conversation around a single work of art, followed by a screening of 16 Acres, which explores the Ground Zero rebuilding effort. Presented with the Architecture and Design Film Festival, the movie tells the behind-the-scenes story through a series of first-person narratives, but without any narration. On September 8th, Noguchi hosts the summer’s final Music in the Garden event with Mantra Percussion (above) performing Michael Gordon’s Timber, a full-length concert composed for six percussionists playing on amplified two-by-fours using mallets and fingertips. The concert is offered in collaboration with Bang on a Can/Cantaloupe Music, one of the world’s best recognized ambassador’s of contemporary music.

Details: First Fridays, Noguchi, 9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, September 6th, 5 pm to 8 pm, pay what you wish.
Bonus details: Music in the Garden, Noguchi, 9-01 33rd Road, LIC, September 8th, 3 pm, free with admission.

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Borough President Helen Marshall has secured nearly $2.4 million for the renovation of the Noguchi Museum, a project expected to start next year and wrap in 2015 to coincide with the sculpture museum’s 30th anniversary. The Queens Gazette reports that the renovation includes rebuilding the garden wall, a new irrigation system and security lighting in the garden, and improvements to the building to protect it against future storms. As Marshall says, “The Noguchi Museum is a cultural treasure that pays tribute to the life and legacy of an artist whose work continues to have a major impact today. The upcoming renovation will help to preserve this unique setting for future generations.”

Marshall Funds Noguchi Museum Renovation [Queens Gazette]
Photo by pin loh

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First, it’s February!

Well, we are one month into 2013, if you can believe it. This month we have Groundhog Day (tomorrow), Lunar New Year (Feb 10), Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent (Feb 13), Valentine’s Day (Feb 14), Presidents Day (Feb 18). Makes the month seem crowded already.

And it’s First Friday at the Noguchi Museum today

Our friends at TF Cornerstone wrote a nice piece about how today is First Friday at the Noguchi Museum. This means pay-as-you-wish admission, extended hours (5-8pm) with special programming, and a cash bar with wine and beer. The programming tonight includes “Center of Attention,” an extended conversation around a single work of art at 6pm, and Art21 episodes featuring contemporary artists at 7pm. And if you live in East Coast, TF Cornerstone is sponsoring free shuttle transportation to this months’ event. A winning combination!

Goodbye, Ed Koch

We learned this morning that Ed Koch has passed and is moving on to his next adventure. He leaves quite a legacy – including his name on a bridge, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. And on that topic, here’s a hilarious video featuring Ed Koch being a most excellent version of Ed Koch.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xkw-Cgdb6k]

We also want to share Astoria Haiku’s tribute to Ed Koch as well.

#RIP Ed Koch/
Mayor from my childhood/
Gritty New Yorker

Queens has the goods… the baked goods, that is

Anne Shisler-Hughes has written a wonderful piece on two excellent bakeries in Queens – Cannelle Patisserie in Jackson Heights and La Boulangerie in Forest Hills. Both bakeries are run by people from Brittany, a region of France in the northwest corner. At Cannelle and La Boulangerie you’ll find the celebrated Gâteau Breton – a delicious buttery almond cake – as well as croissants, baguettes, and other wonderful things. The local message boards are dotted with folks raving about both places. Definitely worth checking out.

A hidden Victorian house in Astoria

We absolutely love the story of this “hidden house” in Astoria. You can’t see it from the street, really (we know, because we’ve tried – twice in the last day or so), but you can see it on an aerial map and apparently from the platform of the Ditmars elevated subway stop. It’s essentially situated behind Teddy’s Florist – there’s a door on the left by the storefront that we expect leads you to the house. It’s a Victorian home and has a lot of period charm. George Halvatzis, of Halvatzis Realty, sometimes shows the property to potential buyers and says, ”In my 32 years as a real estate agent in Astoria, I’ve never encountered such a unique property.” So yes, it’s for sale, in case you’re wondering.

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“I am always learning, always discovering.” – Isamu Noguchi

Image source: TF Cornerstone

That philosophy is ever present at the The Noguchi Museum, a beloved museum and store in Long Island City. Located on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 33rd Road, it features sculpture pieces and well-crafted home furnishings by Isamu Noguchi along with a creative, inspired collection of room accessories and wall hangings.

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We mentioned yesterday about the unfortunate flooding of works in the Noguchi Museum’s residual collection, and it got us thinking… where do you like to see art? Do you prefer large scale art like you’d see at Socrates Sculpture Park (or the amazing Panorama of the City New York at the Queens Museum of Art – have you seen it?). Are you more interested in classic or contemporary art? Or perhaps public street art? We’d love to know. Leave us a comment here or via twitter at @queensnycity.