QUEENS — The Long Island City art community will open its doors to the public once again this week as the annual LIC Arts Open festival returns to the neighborhood Wednesday for its third year in a row.
More than 500 Queens artists will participate in this year's festival, which has grown considerably since it launched in 2011 with dozens of group and solo exhibits, concerts, plays and other events taking place between May 15 and 19.
"It's so awesome, it's so huge," said Richard Mazda, who runs The Secret Theatre at 44-02 23rd St., and is one of the festival's organizers. "It kind of took off like a rocket."
He said he was inspired to start LIC Arts Open after moving to the neighborhood from London several years ago and noted that although Long Island City had a huge population of artists, it was often overlooked in the citywide arts scene.
"To a certain extent, the arts in Queens had a profile problem," he said. "The rest of New York doesn’t think that Queens has any culture, which is completely wrong."
Mazda said he formalized and expanded on the "open studios" event that the neighborhood had hosted in the past, where the area's many artists would let the public into their work spaces for a few days each year.
The open studios are still a vital component of the festival, and will take place May 18 and 19 from 12 to 6 p.m. But Mazda said he wanted LIC Arts Open to include artists from other disciplines too, including theater, music and film.
"We have cutting edge music, video, sculpture — the works," he said.
And a large group show will be staged at 2 Gotham Center, the glossy high-rise office tower at 42-09 28th St. in Queens Plaza. The building will host "Idle Hands," an exhibit featuring the works of 14 local artists who took a hands-on approach to creating their pieces.
The building will also host a live concert on May 18 at 8 p.m., featuring music by composer Pat Irwin who has scored several films and televisions shows including the late HBO series "Bored to Death."
Also on Saturday, The Secret Theatre will be screening a number of short films that were featured in this year's Queens World Film Festival.
A full brochure of this year's events can be found here.