Queenscapes Instagram Take Over - Roy Martinez

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“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.”     

It is in this vein that we choose to involve and engage our social media community. We thought it was an instinctive way to support the perspectives of the folks that have supported us by giving you all a chance to display your unique points of view.

So as of yesterday we have handed over complete content control of our Queenscapes Instagram feed to Roy Martinez @corrduroy.  

Roy is a proud Queens representative, who has been a supporter of ours since the early days. He has collaborated with us on a bunch of exhibits and programs throughout the borough and just last year he helped us organize and co-curate #FMCoronaPark18 Exhibit at the Queens Museum.

He is a phenomenal photographer with a great sense of what makes Queens special and we feel fortunate to have him represent the team. We hope you all enjoy his work just as much as we have over the years.

To learn more about Roy peep the #CapturedInQueens profile we posted on our page a couple months back:

Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Queenscapes pick of the Month - Planton Movil @ the Queens Museum

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Plantón Móvil is an ongoing project by artist Lucia Monge. Produced in collaboration with local communities, this iteration explores migration and plant-human relationships, specifically from the perspective of local immigrant communities and how they connect to their heritage as well as the green spaces of the city.

Lucia Monge started bringing people and plants together as Plantón Móvil in Lima, Peru. This is a participatory, walking forest performance that occurs annually and leads to the creation of public green areas.

“Plantón” is the word in Spanish for a sapling, a young tree that is ready to be planted into the ground. It is also the word for a sit-in. This project takes on both: the green to be planted and the peaceful protest. It is about giving plants and trees the opportunity to “walk” down the streets of a city that is also theirs. This walking forest performance culminates with the creation of a public green area.

Schedule: 

12-2pm: Building Plant-Human Connectors Workshop

Join us for this drop-in workshop where we will build unique carrying devices tailored to the specific needs and dimensions of the plant you will be walking with, as well as share stories of our plant-human relationships. 

2-5pm: Plantón Móvil 

The collective walk will depart from the Queens Museum after a welcome by the artist. The 30 min. walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park will be accompanied by music and culminate in a tree planting ceremony.

For more information and updates, please visit the Plantón Móvil event page on our website. With additional questions, please contact: cgrau@queensmuseum.org

Flashback Friday - #QueenscapesReads

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In honor of #FlashbackFriday, we go back to October 2014, over 6 years ago, for our first collaboration with the Queens Library.

Back then the Queenscapes project was still a solo endeavor, and the handle of our Instagram page was: @Mr.Queenscapes. Thankfully, the name didn’t last long and I shortened it to something that made more sense to us and who we are as a group.

It was while I was sitting in the Main Street - Flushing branch of the Queens Library when I realized that I was just followed by the Queens Library’s Instagram page. I thought the coincidence was super eery, but I also immediately realized that I needed to respond back quickly, while the follow was still fresh.

In an effort to help the Queens Library get more exposure on their Instagram page as well as promote readership throughout the borough I came up with #QueenscapesReads.

The idea was simple:

Take over the Queens Library Instagram page for a week with my own original photos for one week. Each day, I would post a photo of a selected Queens Library branch along with a quote from a novel, short story or poem based in the matching neighborhood of the selected branch.

The take over was well received and also eventually lead to working with the Queens Library on some pretty cool collaborations.

Attached below is press we received from the dearly departed DNAinfo for the #QueenscapesReads. The piece was written by our Queens comrade Katie Honan and current City Hall scribe for the Wall Street Journal:

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141029/jackson-heights/photographer-shows-off-queens-library-borough-lit-instagram-project/

Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Queen of Astoria 2nd Annual School Supply Drive

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“Genius is in the idea. Impact, however, comes from action.” 

For the last 7 years, it’s been a pleasure to watch how adopted Astoria, Queens resident Ashley Dean has rallied the folks of this borough with a multitude of different community events.

I’ve been inspired with how smoothly she can transition from organizing a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl on the outskirts of Little Egypt to creating a monthly birthday celebration for the children of the Pan Am Hotel homeless shelter in a largely ignored section of Elmhurst.

And now with summer fading fast, and the school year just weeks away, Ashley represents for her Astoria neighborhood yet again, by presenting her 2nd Annual Queen of Astoria School Supply Drive & After Work Mixer.

Join us this Thursday evening at August 15th 2019 at Katch Astoria as we collaborate with @QofAstoria for an awesome night of fun that will also benefit the young participants of Queens Community House.

Suggested Donations: Pens, Pencils, Highlighters, Calculators, 3-Ring Binders, Folders, Loose Leaf Paper. In lieu of school supplies, a monetary $5 donation is suggested. If you cannot attend, donations will be accepted until tomorrow Wednesday August 13th at Mount Sinai Queens locations.

Music by DJ Ray BLK.

Event co-sponsored by Queenscapes, Katch Astoria, Escape2NY, Dogfish Head, Mount Sinai Queens.

Words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez Flyer by Queen of Astoria

#CreekScapes19 (Summer Edition) - Photo Tour collab w/ Flushing Bay & Creep & NYCH20

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This past Saturday, August 3rd, I ventured out with Cody Ann Herrmann of Flushing Bay & Creep for the second iteration of #Creekscapes19, a guided photo walk of the oft ignored Flushing Creek located in the Willets Point section of Corona, Queens.

The tour was held in partnership with @NYCH2O, whose mission is to inspire and educate New Yorkers of all ages to learn about, enjoy, and protect their city’s local water ecology.

Because the original route through Willets Point was recently closed and de-mapped to make way for Phase 1 of the Willets Point urban renewal development which definitely includes the construction of 1,100 units of affordable housing, and maybe will even include a 25,000 seat soccer stadium.

So we decided on the fly what course we would take with the group of attendees on the day of the walk.. Due to the group being much smaller than expected, we were able to take the riskier route through 35th Ave and through and under the Whitestone / Van Wyck Expressway.

I was pleasantly surprised that with such a low turn-out all the folks who did show up were super engaged and provided an excitement to our walk that was refreshing to see.

Thank you to those select few if you are reading this today. You are the reason people like Cody and I still conduct these jaunts through the muddiest, stinkiest and most polluted area of Queens. As long as you folks still want to walk with us, we’ll keep leading you.

Also, don’t forget, we are running a photo contest! Check the details below:

The best 3 photos of the following 3 categories will be featured on both @Queenscapes and @FlushingBayAndCreep’s Instagram pages. Submit your photos by using the hashtag #Creekscapes19 before uploading to Instagram. The categories are below:

1.) Most iconic: what images pop into your mind when you think of Flushing Creek, how can you best capture the vibe in a still frame?

 2.) Most revealing landscape: how can you capture the often untold story of the ecological and political environment surrounding Flushing Creek?

3.) Best beach photo: we’re looking for technical skill and a clear depth of field.

Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Unchanged Queens - A story by Harrison Magee

A.H. Harris & Sons Construction Supplies 52-37 2nd Street, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101

A.H. Harris & Sons Construction Supplies 52-37 2nd Street, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101

International Masonry Institute, John B. Scola Training Center 12-07 44th Ave, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101

International Masonry Institute, John B. Scola Training Center 12-07 44th Ave, Long Island City, N.Y. 11101

The excerpt below was provided to us as a response to our posting a photo of the A.H. Harris & Sons Construction Supplies building in Long Island City on our Queenscpapes Instagram page a couple weeks ago. That day we asked our IG audience to tell us what they know about this ordinary old school Queens corner.

One particular IGer, named Harrison Magee gave us more than we bargained for. While Harrison guessed the wrong street corner, he told us a little story of a nearby location that looked very much like the first building pictured above (see Harrison’s photo of the John B. Scola Training Center directly below A.H. Harris)

A little bit about Harrison - He is a born and raised Queens resident with parents who were also born, raised and STILL live in the borough. He’s been with the Bricklayers Union for the past 5 years and tells us that he has always been involved with working class organizations and unions in the fight to improve working conditions.

Harrison adds, “I went to schools in Glen Oaks and Flushing, and I am lucky to have got a great education because of the diversity of the classmates around me. Queens helped me to think I can go anywhere in the world and always feel a little at home.”

Here’s what Harrison says about the Queens corner above:

“This is actually still currently the site of the John Scola Training Center of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union Local 1. It is the facility where the city’s best trowel tradesman and tradeswoman practice the crafts of bricklaying, tile setting stone setting and building restoration.

It is also where they teach new generations of apprentices who acquire skills and building traditions that go as far back as before the oldest bricks in this city.

We are the true old school, and like many industries we face challenges with modernization. This building is where we strive to stay on the cutting edge, even as the industry looks light years in front of us.

It is up to all of us to defend the spirit of the neighborhoods that we care about and paint the future that we see! They can break our buildings but not our union – we rely on your support in the community and we pledge you ours.

Together we can preserve the kind of city that bricks represent – one that never fails to spark our imagination and that brings us joy even as the world around us will change.”

Words and photos by Harrison Magee and Adolfo Steve Vazquez

WHY WE VOLUNTEER

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“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” 

This quote by Marjorie Moore couldn’t be more fitting on Primary Day in Queens. It touches on the importance of voting in a democracy, but emphasizes the impact of volunteering especially in your own neighborhood. 

Since Queenscapes has started programming community events, officially in 2015, most of the stuff we do is pure volunteer work. Our programs are all community based with the objective of engaging and empowering our Queens-wide global neighbors.

Lately though we have felt it was time to give back a little more to the organizations that have supported us and helped us stay active in the Queens community. 

While we have been blessed to be able to reach out and engage with so many of you in Queens, we haven’t done it without the support of many nonprofit Queens organizations. 

Being recognized early on by non-profit orgs like the Queens Historical Society (QHS) has been essential to our growth. 

The platform offered to us by QHS was particularly special, because it was our first invite to engage the Queens community for a lecture for the project we organized back in 2016, “Queens (as the world’s) Village: Know Your Neighbor.” 

So when QHS put the word out that they needed volunteers to work as museum docents, we got excited and jumped on the opportunity to give back in a capacity that made sense to us. 

What is a “docent?” A docent is a person who acts as a guide, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, or zoo.

Docents are one of the most needed volunteer positions at institutions like the Queens Historical Society, the largest and most active historical society in the borough and the only one with a borough-wide scope and impact. Without docents and the various volunteers that help run this institution, there would be no QHS.

It is because of volunteers that the doors stay open in pretty much all of the most important cultural institutions in Queens. Volunteer work is needed, it is important.

And guess what folks, QHS still needs more docents.

If you are interested in joining us on the QHS staff, please check out the info posted below in bold. If you don’t have the spare time to make the commitment, then just come out to say hello to us. We’ll be on duty on select Saturdays throughout the summer. Hope to see you all there soon!

Queens Historical Society is seeking docents on a volunteer basis in assisting with various roles of the organization. The role of a docent at QHS is to act as a tour guide of the Kingsland Homestead, headquarters of the Queens Historical Society, by educating our visitors on the history of the house and the family who lived in it. 

In addition, docents must also provide information about any current events and exhibits. The candidate must have availability to volunteer twice a month on Saturdays and/or Sundays, occasional Tuesdays from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Duties will consist of greeting guests, taking admission fees, and tours. It’s important to arrive at least ten minutes before the museum is scheduled to open.


Responsibilities:
1. Greet visitors when they enter Kingsland Homestead and encourage them to sign in our visitor log. 
2. Collect admission fee, and become familiar with cash/credit transactions. 
3. Provide visitors with information on how they can sign up for a membership with QHS, as well as the benefits of becoming a member.
4. Offer a guided or self-guided tour of the house, always accompanying visitors to the second floor. 
5. Encourage visitors to shop at our gift shop, which offers a wide variety of educational materials about the history of Queens.
6. Complete a Docent Form at the end of volunteer shift that will be kept in the visitor log book.
7. Must follow all rules and procedures.

**Training will be provided**
How To Apply:
If you are interested in volunteering as a docent, please email us your resume at info@queenshistoricalsociety.org


Words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez & Queens Historical Society photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez 

Cuenta Cuentos

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Today’s post comes to us from our Editorial Director at Queenscapes, Daniel Vazquez who also works full time as Assistant Editor at MCD Books an imprint of literary powerhouse Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

As per his LinkedIn.com profile, Dan is “focused on acquiring genre-bending literary fiction and narrative nonfiction representing strong, diverse characters and bold, progressive ideas.

This excerpt we are sharing below was previously entered as a blog entry for Electric Eeel, a weekly newsletter from the folks of MSGxFSG that explores, “the possibilities of storytelling.”

Dan’s explanation of the Dominican “Cuenta Cuento” piqued our interest as a true Queens piece that should be shared amongst our readers, because it’s also the story of one of Queens’ oldest cultures, storytelling. 

Peep the following script as told by a Queens kid, with all the gusto and cultural dexterity you can only find only in a native from the World’s Greatest Borough:

My Dominican identity was formed in my grandmother’s house in Queens, New York. That is, I’m a second-generation Dominican-American. So, when I heard that the inaugural Dominican Writers Conference would be held at The City College of New York, my alma mater, my interest was piqued. 

As an assistant editor at a literary publisher, attending conferences is my absolute least favorite part of the job. But, after some urging from a good friend—a Dominican writer, also from Queens, incidentally—I decided to attend. I am so grateful for the urging of good friends.

The Dominican Writers Conference offered a full day of workshops, panel discussions, manuscript reviews, author readings, and networking held in honor of the inestimable writer, Josefina Báez, who is also an actress, director, educator, and founder of the Ay Ombe Theatre Troupe. I was excited to catch a panel titled “The Importance of Place: A Conversation.” Moderated by Ser Álida, the panelists included Lorraine Avila, Gina Goico, Aura Maria Estrella, Paloma Valenzuela, creator of The  Pineapple Diaries (think a Dominican-American Insecure), and Led Black, founder of Uptown Collective. In the course of  their conversation about the impact of place upon the work and network of creators from the diaspora, Led Black quoted Jay-Z and shouted out the Dominican chimi trucks and weed spots of Washington Heights—a great start to the day.

The theme of the conference was vague: “Dominicanish.” Expanding on that,  the website asks, “We are watered down Dominicans of the diaspora, but are we?” Created by a cadre of Dominican women writers based in New York City who share a deep-seated desire to ensure that stories of the  diaspora are being told by the people of the diaspora, the conference aimed to “offer emerging and established Dominican writers, and the communities that support them, an event that celebrate[s] the important works generated from the diaspora, [and renders] opportunities for more Dominican writers to break into publishing.” To that end, a panel titled “Owning Our Narratives: How Dominicans Are Reshaping the Newsroom,” moderated by Jennifer Gil-Velazquez of La  Galería, brought together some of this city’s most talented young journalists, including Concepción de León and Sandra García of the New York Times, Marjua Estevez of BET.com, Amanda Alcántara of NPR's Latino USA, and Isabelia Herrera of Remezcla. Their discussion covered how to navigate the numerous challenges of working in media, how to champion inclusion and diversity, and how each of them are working to transform the  common perception of Dominicanidad.

At some point during the conference, I overheard someone refer to themselves as a “cuenta cuento,” a Dominican term that translates roughly to “storyteller.” It occurred to me that I had only heard the word used with a negative connotation; I was always led to believe that telling stories was akin to gossiping, exaggerating, or babbling. Hearing someone  else use the term to describe themselves, proudly, made me proud to be a  storyteller, too, just as I am proud to be Dominican. At the inaugural Dominican Writers Conference, I was in the company of other cuenta  cuentos. We were all engaged in telling our stories, committed to  supporting each other, and dedicated to taking control of the narrative  of our collective experience. — Danny Vazquez, Assistant Editor,  MCD×FSG
 

         Folks, click on the link below, if you want to read some more insightful and though provoking literary blog excerpts from the fine people at MCDxFSG:

https://mcdbooks.us18.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=a51fdf73467e2176b71972da6&id=2497c5a088

Where did all the Puerto Rican Restaurants in Queens go?

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Today’s post comes from Denise Rea who on her free time plays the role of Creative Director at Queenscapes. Full time she is the Parent Coordinator at P.S.55Q in South Richmond Hill, Queens.

Denise is a born and raised Queens resident who is currently raising her own family with her husband, another proud lifelong Queens resident, Anthony Rea.

Recently, along with their two children Amal & Amaru, they ventured out to find a real Puerto Rican restaurant in Queens.

Below Denise details how the she stumbled upon the search of one of Queens’ rapidly fading cultures:

“This past week my work led me to visit The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

While there I had access to explore their Taíno exhibit and luckily for me they were exploring the importance of Taíno foods and their relevance in the foods we eat today.

Just the brief history of cassava and how the naturally toxic root has to be carefully prepared by peeling, washing, grating, pressing (to extract poison.)

To the processes of drying, sifting and pressing in order to consume and be sustainable for years to come really left me awestruck with not just the magical properties of the cassava but the arduous and ritualistic process the Taínos endured to simply, just make bread.

This made me realize two things:

1) I have to introduce my children to the magical bread that is cassava.

2) What food ritual or tradition have I taken up that I can share with my family?

Inspired, I went home and Googled "Puerto Rican restaurants near me." Usually when I Google for a spot "near me" I find what I'm looking for at least within a mile or two from my Kew Gardens Hills home.

In all, my search found three locations in Queens. Three total spots in all of Queens.

Of the three locations, I had to disqualify two places:

Pasteles Cristina - actually isn't a restaurant but a home business that caters pasteles to families during the holidays, which is super clutch.

Don Coqui - sells Puerto Rican food, but not exclusively, and is known more as a nightlife destination than restaurant.

So the only Puerto Rican restaurant in Queens "near me" turned out to be the ONLY true Puerto Rican restaurant in Queens. That distinction goes to the Freakin Rican Restaurant in Astoria.

How does the most diverse borough in the most culturally diverse city in the country only have ONE Puerto Rican restaurant? Where have the Puerto Ricans of Queens gone?”

Words and photo by Denise Rea

2019 Queens Marathon - Kids of Queens 1 Miler

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While registration numbers have been healthy for this weekend’s 2019 Queens Marathon, there is still room for youth (infants up to 16 years old ) to sign up for the Kids 1 Miler race. This group will run along the Marathoners for a short distance then circle back to complete their mile.

The Kids of Queens is the Flagship Youth Program for the Queens Distance Runners.

Queens Distance Runner Founder Kevin Montalvo added the younger Queens contingent to the race because he believes it’s the kids of Queens will shape the future of New York City. He adds, “It is our legacy to leave them with the best possible foundation of support, free youth events, and the experience of training with athletes that cultivate and inspire the Queens Running Community.”

The Kids of Queens are able to enjoy free group runs and training sessions across the Borough of Queens. The program is close to home for Queens residents, and allows minimal commitment from families and excellent opportunities to network with the Queens Distance Runners.

Parents and guardians are allowed to register and run with Kids. Along with strollers, they will start towards the end of the pack.

Below is the link to register for this Sunday’s Kids of Queens 1 Mile Race. Also click here if you want to volunteer as well! Volunteers are still in demand folks.

https://elitefeats.redpodium.com/april-21-the-2019-queens-marathon-qdr

Pictured above are Kids of Queens runners from left, Roman Vazquez & Saul Vazquez who competed in last year’s inaugural Corona Mile at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

A conversation on The Cuckoo’s Nest

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The other day while I was in what would be considered the downtown section of Woodside, Queens, I noticed a Facebook post from a fellow Queens diehard and Woodside resident mentioning that long time neighborhood staple, the Cuckoo’s Nest Pub was shutting its doors.

I thought their closing was worthy of an Instagram post due to the fact that they have been located at this slice of the neighborhood seemingly forever, nothing less, nothing more.

While the popular comment to this post consisted of folks lamenting on losing the place, there were two people that had a very different perspective.

Before we go into the details of the Instagram conversation I want to be clear that these opinions come from two men with a long relationship with Woodside. I respect them and hold them both in high esteem.

We’ll spare their names here because I want to focus on the content and a very real issue in Queens. While we generally don’t like to hear negative things about our favorite places in our borough, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and in a lot of cases, Queens is not the “World’s Utopia.”

W1: “Fuck The Cuckoo’s Nest. Get them out of here.”

W2: “Yeah, fuck them.”

Me: “You don’t rock with ‘em?” I respect your opinion especially being from this hood. What’s the story here?” Talk about it.”

W1: “Good food over there but not worth the chances of getting treated like a criminal. I wouldn’t suggest this place to any friends. The place won’t be missed. Just go down the block to Sean OG’s where the menu is just as great minus the bison burger.”

W2: “That’s about the size of it. We used to go there regularly. I personally never liked the spot that much –it’s one of the whitest corners of Woodside. We were dead treated like criminals in there, though. Once everyone else noticed, we pretty much unanimously agreed to stop going there.”

Me: “Damn, I’m sorry that you guys experienced that. That should never happen, especially not in our Queens, especially not in a neighborhood as diverse as Woodside is. We have to tell these stories too.”

W2: “I mean, that’s typical in the Queens I know. I love where I’m from, but let’s not forget that our dirtbag president is from Queens. We truly do contain multitudes ---but Queens is no bastion of progressive ideals.”

Me: “You’re right, collectively Queens isn’t considered a bastion of progressive ideals, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do better. We can start somewhere no?”

W2: “Yes fully agreed. I just think it’s important that we acknowledge just how much work there is to be done. Something like the sort of respectability politics we dealt with at Cuckoo’s might not even read to most people as a problem. Most people might think of Queens as sort of paradise of diversity. But the fact remains that Queens is still located in America and America is a fundamentally racist nation. This conversation has been going on for too long for us to surprised by it.”

Me: “I’m not surprised by it, but I was unaware of it at this particular location. I’ve seen too much to ever be surprised of anything in Queens. And I agree on all your points.”

W2: “Yeah, I hear you. You know, I guess  what I am surprised by is that this spot ever got so much love to begin with. People just love anything that seems to have been around forever.”

Me: “Yup.”

Words & Photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Queenscapes Pick of Month - DASQ 2019 Dominican Heritage Month Celebration

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Come join the Dominico-American Society of Queens (DASQ) to celebrate Dominican Heritage Month and the 175th year anniversary of the Domincan Republic’s Independence at the La Boom Nightclub located in Woodside, Queens.

The Dominico-American Society of Queens is a community-based, 501©3 non-profit organization incorporated in 1993 to improve the quality of life in the Corona, Queens NY community. They are a member of the Hispanic Federation and UnidosUS.

Originally founded to serve the needs of residents living in Queens county. DASQ has evolved over two decades to serve the needs of families located throughout New York City. It has since become a comprehensive and multi-service organization.

Services provided are Adult Literacy and Job training, Legal and Immigration Services, Citizenship Classed and Youth Development as well as Referrals.

DASQ serves thousands of individuals and families each year. Those served include recipients of public assistance, the unemployed and underemployed, disclocated workers, senior citizens, at-risk youth and school drop-outs, and the physically disabled.

The DASQ 2019 Dominican Heritage Month Celebration will consist of live entertainment at one of New York City’s most exclusive Latin nightclubs, LA Boom, feature authentic Dominican food, face painting for children and a surprise gift for all adults!

Event is totally FREE and open to everyone. Click on the link below to register now:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dasq-2019-dominican-heritage-month-celebration-tickets-55434027669

#CapturedInQueens - Dorcas Carlo

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One things Queens does better than every other borough in New York City, is basketball. Or at least we used to. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the hoops talent flooding Queens high schools was insane.

You had Queens kids like Lamar Odom from South Ozone Park, Chamique Holdsclaw from the Astoria Projects, Ron Artest from QB, and you also had Dorcas Carlo from Elmhurst.

Yup, Dorcas Yasmin Carlo. While Dorcas ultimately didn’t reach the pros like the other names previously mentioned, she was one of the best female ballers in Queens when she played. She had the same dribble and handle that was definitive of all the elite guards that came out of this borough.

Carlo was 4th in scoring in the the NYC PSAL League in 2004 and is STILL the All-Time Leading scorer at Robert F. Wagner Jr. High School.

Needless to say it was great finally getting to meet Dorcas yesterday. We spoke about Queens, basketball and the plight of our hometown NY Knicks.

Go to https://www.instagram.com to learn more about Dorcas in our #CapturedInQueens feature just out now.  

Photo & words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

#Neirs190 Campaign

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Early last month, I was contacted by Loycent Gordon, FDNY Fire Lieutenant and Owner of the oldest bar in New York City, Neir’s Tavern.

In conjunction with Neir’s entering its 190th year of existence, Loy (as he is known to most) wanted to know if I was interested in being part of a new committee he was looking to form to help organize events and activities throughout the year to celebrate this special anniversary.

The committee tabbed #Neirs190 was eventually created and today consists of various special local team members that are focused and dedicated to preserving and protecting the oldest tavern in Queens.

Neirs Tavern opened officially in 1828, has not only always been a cultural institution in Woodhaven, it is also a community safe haven. The latter can be primarily contributed to Loy, and the last 10 years he has been the owner. Loy cares supremely about upholding Woodhaven culture, the history of Neir’s and most importantly the people of Woodhaven. If you have ever been lucky enough to experience one of Loy’s “Nickel tours” you know exactly what I mean. 

Needless to say, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to be involved. As a #Neirs190 Ambassador our task at Queenscapes will be a social media geared focus on promoting Neir’s Tavern’s upcoming celebrations, highlighting past events and most importantly spreading the word through the various Queens communities of Neir’s significance in Woodhaven.

Starting today and every following Thursday, up until the culminating 190th celebration at Neirs Tavern, we will feature a weekly feature on our Queenscapes Instagram page titled #NeirsForYears (a hashtag created by the good folks at Neirs.)

We will highlight all the amazing community events that have happened over the years at Neirs, across all our social need networks and promote all new events geared for #Neirs190 as best as we can.

So stay tuned folks and we hope to see you at Neirs soon.

Words and photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Queenscapes Pick of Month - Vikki Tobak “Contact High” Discussion

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Folks, come out to to Book Culture LIC Wednesday, January 23rd 2019 at 6:30pm, as author Vikki Tobak discusses her book “Contact High” for an event presented by Back to the Lab NYC.

Back to the Lab NYC is a community organization for photogrpahers seeking to hone their skills and craft their vision. The org was founded by Huguette Ampudia, Mark Beckenbach, Marco Jokic and Salvador Espinoza.

Contact High is an inside look at the work of hip-hop photographers told through their most intimate diaries—their contact sheets.

Featuring rare outtakes from over 100 photoshoots alongside interviews and essays from industry legends, Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop takes readers on a chronological journey from old-school to alternative hip-hop and from analog to digital photography. The ultimate companion for music and photography enthusiasts, Contact High is the definitive history of hip-hop’s early days, celebrating the artists that shaped the iconic album covers, t-shirts and posters beloved by hip-hop fans today.

With essays from BILL ADLER, RHEA L. COMBS, FAB 5 FREDDY, MICHAEL GONZALES, YOUNG GURU, DJ PREMIER, and RZA

Vikki Tobak is a journalist whose writing has appeared in The FADER, Complex, Mass Appeal, Paper Magazine, i-D Magazine, The Detroit News, Vibe, and many others. She is a former producer and columnist for CBS Marketwatch, CNN, Bloomberg News, TechTV and other leading media organizations. Vikki is also the founding curator of FotoDC's film program, and served as the art commissioner/curator for the Palo Alto Public Art Commission in Silicon Valley. She has lectured about music photography at American University, VOLTA New York, Photoville, the Library of Congress and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Purchase your book at Book Culture LIC and mention Back To The Lab for 10% off your purchase, and support a local business.

Throwback Thursday

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I vaguely remember what the Falchi Building used to look like in the 1990’s.

Besides the old Avirex jacket factory that used to sit prominently in the front of the entrance, the building itself pretty much looks the same as it always has.

It’s when you add the Citi Bike docking station firmly affixed to the curb along the corner of 47th Avenue, off of 31st Street, along with the 4-5 food carts that call this street home from 9:00am – 5:00pm each day, where you start to really feel the difference.

The buzz on the block is like a scene out of afternoon at Penn Station. Like most of Long Island City, change has come here, and it has come fast.

In 2019, I’ll try to do a better job at remembering the way the rest of old Long Island City looks right now.

Words & Photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

The oral history of Liberty Rock

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The following piece contains the exact contents of an e-mail sent to us by Lisa Gowdey Prichard yesterday December 26th 2018 @ 2:02pm:

“Back in 1969, myself (Lisa Gowdey) Cassandra Draft and a few of us from the neighborhood formed a community organization to clean up that section of Farmers Blvd.

It was a triangle where all the winos hung out and an eyesore. We all lived on Farmers or surrounding roads. I lived on 111th Rd, Cassie lived off Murdock, and many others. We got the local precinct to help with traffic and we cleaned the street from Linden to Liberty. We picked up trash, glass and everything. When we got to the Triangle, it was full of wine bottles, trash, and a bench.

That rock was a WWII memorial with a plaque on it. We decided to paint it with the cooperation of the local A&P behind it and the drug store across the street. We painted it red, black and green for the neighborhood and left the plaque untouched. The City of NY was very upset and ordered us to sandblast the paint and restore it to its original state. With the help of the local store owners backing us, we defied and challenged the city.

They agreed to leave the paint but removed the plaque to another place. So THE ROCK became a focal point of pride for the neighborhood. We had bake sales there which is how I met my husband who had just returned from Vietnam.

I no longer live in the city but I am so proud and excited that it has been maintained for almost 50 years! When I go to visit and the bus passes it I have a big smile on my face. Many memories of a good life in St. Albans!”

Words by Lisa Gowdey Prichard Photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez

Artist Spotlight - Brother Maars

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I came across Brother Maars’ work on Instagram casually, from the explore page I believe.

Immediately I was taken by not only his vibrant and colorful artwork, but also by the commentary that accompanied his images. Words of a man being pushed to the brink, but not over. Silver linings around each corner, words from an eternal optimist.

Maars’ work is heavily influenced by hip hop and his upbringing as an African American in this country. With his over the top images of sexuality, social commentary, and his firm grasp on pop culture themes, I felt Maars’ paintings really spoke to me and to folks who grew up in my generation.

Maars, also known as by his first name, Jamar, says of his work, “Abstract in concept, but relatable in subject. Comedic yet inspirational.”

The painting above is a depiction of Jamar’s cousin Zeke. He writes:

“Not just amazing on the courts, but one of the kindest, a real humanitarian, he made me a burger. To me Zeke represents the heart of the youth, his ability to bounce back and go past limitations is what inspires me most about him. Here, he is seen encouraging the kids of China to leap. No luck needed, no safety net required.”

We are honored to announce that Jamar, the Brother Maars has offered one of his original paintings to be raffled this Saturday night for our culminating pop-up photo exhibit at Neirs Tavern in Woodside for our #QUCaresDrive18 charity event.

To view Maars work go to https://brothermaars.tumblr.com/ right now.

Photo by Jamar Brother Maars Words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez & Jamar Brother Maars

#QUCaresDrive18

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The idea came to me from my father. Growing up, I remember how vividly he used to view New York City winters for the less fortunate. He constantly referred to the old New York Cares Coat Drive commercial that depicted a shivering Statue of Liberty sitting down holding her knees in a snowstorm.

When the winter season approaches each year the image of a freezing Lady Liberty is the still first thing that pops in mind.

So in an effort to help some of the less fortunate folks in our borough, in our most brutal season of weather, we came up with #QUCaresDrive18.

Starting from last week Black Friday up until next month Friday December 21st  2018, the Queenscapes Team is joining forces with the amazing squad over at Neirs Tavern in Woodhaven for a “winter essentials” drive, i.e., gloves, hats, scarves, canned goods, educational toys for kids, etc, to help benefit the residents of the Restfull Nights Shelter located in Jamaica, Queens.

For our culminating event we are presenting a pop-up exhibit of the 20 best Queens winter photos hashtagged #QUCaresDrive18 on Instagram. All photos submitted via hashtag should also be emailed to queenscapes@gmail.com for consideration.

Deadline to submit photos is Thursday December 13th 2018 at 11:00pmn. Tag and submit as many Queens winter shots as you can, new or old, for a chance to have your work featured in the oldest most significant bar in Queens.

As an added bonus there will be a hand-made painting from artist Brother Jamar up for raffle on exhibit night.

All photos selected and featured on this night will be up for sale and paired with all the  proceeds of the night to go to the Restfull Nights Organization in Jamaica, Queens. Admission to event will also be a small donation of winter essentials.

(Donations can be dropped either at NeirsTavern located at 87-48 78th St, Woodhaven, N.Y., 11421 or the Restfull Nights Shelter, 106-38 150th St, Jamaica, NY 11435. If you can’t get to either place, email us at queenscapes@gmail.com.)

 

Photos and words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez