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Long Island City Artist Turns to Nature's Blooms for Inspiration

LONG ISLAND CITY — In Jaime Arredondo's studio, it's always spring.

The Long Island City artist looks to nature for inspiration, painting bright, large floral paintings that have been featured in the Macy's Flower Show, a Bloomingdale's window display for Marc Jacobs' spring collection and on a set of United Nations stamps.

"I couldn’t create all the color I wanted to in my abstract paintings, so I went to nature," Arredondo said of his interest in botanicals. "Theres a sensuality to it, there’s eroticism, there’s this sense of other-worldliness."

A professor of art and art history at New York University and Parsons The New School, Arredondo said he moved from abstracts to flora several years ago as a way to experiment with new colors and to make his work accessible to a wider audience.

"The challenge was to get something like this old traditional motif of flowers and make it modern, make it contemporary," he said. "I didn’t want to be confused with some little old lady out in the corner somewhere."

His paintings, which range anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000, depending on size, are richly colored and intricately painted depictions of roses, tulips and orchids set against cosmic backgrounds.

Several of his works are on display this month at Jo's restaurant in Nolita as part of a special spring installation.

Arredondo frequents the Queens and Brooklyn botanical gardens for inspiration, snapping photos of flowers and taping them to the walls of his Long Island City studio, a loft building that's been his home for the last 15 years, and where he lives now with his wife and young daughter.

The former warehouse, at 9-01 44th Dr., was once a favorite recording site for the Talking Heads and home to jazz saxophonist Don Cherry. Arredondo says artists were drawn to this industrial section of Queens back then for its large spaces and cheap rents.

"I thought no one was going to find me out here," he said.

He's seen the neighborhood change in the last decade from desolate to sought-after, though the improvements — and rising rents — have forced a lot of the artists out, he said.

"The struggle that artists have to do in this city to keep their space is enormous," he said.