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Free Shuttle Buses Will Help Residents Get Around LIC Arts Open

 A scene from last year's LIC Arts Open.
A scene from last year's LIC Arts Open.
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Junenoire Mitchell

LONG ISLAND CITY — The annual LIC Arts Open is set to kick off this week, and this year visitors will be able to board free buses that will shuttle them to some of the festival's top events.

Three buses will be looping around the neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday, so visitors can explore everything the festival has to offer — from busy Vernon Boulevard to the artist studios along 23rd Street and a set of installations inside the Falchi Building on 47th Avenue, among other stopping points.

The 7 train will also be running this weekend, after the MTA rescheduled repair work on the line to accommodate LIC Arts Open and LIC Springs!, a block party taking place along Vernon Boulevard on Saturday.

"We've connected the dots with shuttle buses," said festival organizer Richard Mazda, who thinks the increased accessibility should make it even busier this year. "People can really get around."

This is the fourth year for the festival, which aims to spotlight Long Island City's many artists and cultural organizations with dozens of events and exhibits.

Mazda, who runs The Secret Theatre at 44-02 23rd St., said the neighborhood started attracting artists about 20 years ago, as local manufacturing jobs decreased and the area's many industrial warehouses were converted to artists' lofts and studios.

Local art institutions moved in, but it took time for the public to catch on.

"My view is that the public perception of an area is always about 10 to 20 years behind the reality," Mazda said.

"I think people have only now, because of the real estate boom in Long Island City, begun to realize that this is not only a super cool place to live but very convenient, in terms of the transportation links."

This year's LIC Arts Open will include more than 250 artists in some 85 events and exhibits, including 160 "open studio" events where artists will open their doors to visitors.

The five-day festival will include an exhibit of posters by designer and artist Luba Lukova — whose work is currently on display at MoMA and the Denver Art Museum — at The Local hostel at 13-02 44th Ave.

On the nearby waterfront, four vacant apartments inside TF Cornerstone's luxury high-rise building at 46-10 Center Blvd., behind the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign, will be converted into pop-up art galleries. The eighth floor apartments will feature works by sculptor Toshiaki Noda, photographer Orestes Gonzales and painters Sharon Florin, Donna Levinstone and Paula Elliott.

World War II veteran and longtime photographer Tony Vaccaro — who was honored by the festival with a "legend award" this year — will showcase a collection of his photographs in an exhibit displayed at Evandro Tech Motors, a luxury car repair and restoration shop at 10-01 45th Ave.

The festival begins Wednesday. For more details and a full list of events and venues, visit the LIC Arts Open festival guide here.