Festival Aims to Bring Art Scene to Gallery-Starved Astoria

By Jeanmarie Evelly on September 27, 2013 1:29pm 

 A photo from an event at last year's Astoria Art Festival.
A photo from an event at last year's Astoria Art Festival.
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Lizabeth Nieves

ASTORIA — The walls of Astoria's bars, shops and restaurants will soon be covered with the work of more than two dozen Queens artists.

The two-week-long Astoria Art Festival returns to the neighborhood on Friday for its second year, bringing gallery shows and art-themed events to 20 different local venues.

Photographer and longtime resident Lizabeth Nieves started the festival last year with a group of other artists who were tired of going to Manhattan, Brooklyn or Long Island City to show their work. 

"Astoria doesn’t really have any galleries or spaces to have art shows," she said.

Nieves and company decided to work with what the neighborhood does have — a growing artists' community and plenty of friendly businesses.

"All of the venues have been really supportive and really involved," Nieves said about the participating establishments.

The festival showing the work of 30 Queens-based artists kicks off Friday night at Hell Gate Social at 12-21 Astoria Blvd. with a live band and work by four artists. The after-party will be held at Sparrow Tavern at 24-01 29th St., where there will be an Instagram photo show.

On Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m., the furniture and lifestyle shop Lockwood will host an interactive art installation where participants can turn their cellphone photos into real-life printed photographs.

The festival will include events through Oct. 6, with gallery shows and live music throughout the week and into next weekend. A full schedule and a map can be found here.

Nieves said she thinks Astoria will eventually have designated galleries of its own.

"I have hope that at some point there will be more venues year-round," she said.

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