Long Island City’s Vibrant Art Community

February 26, 2018

After founder Steven Guttman conceptualized UOVO by reimagining art storage and services through his personal experience as an art collector, he had to decide where the new art storage facility would call home. Choosing the right location meant balancing operational benefits – affordability, proximity to core demographics, employee allure – with finding a place that complimented the mission of UOVO. Long Island City, which is home to the most forward-thinking art spaces in New York, is now also home to a cutting-edge art storage facility unlike any other.

Long Island City is one of the most convenient and accessible locations for all the notable art boroughs of New York City, including the Upper East Side, and home to numerous galleries and Museum Mile, as well as artistic neighborhood hot spots like Chelsea.

Beyond Long Island City’s convenience and accessibility, it has grown into one of New York City’s thriving art scenes, attracting world-class museums and an increasing number of institutions and galleries. LIC is a haven for artists, art spaces, art collectors, art appreciators, and home to UOVO.

Long Island City’s extensive history is full of twists and turns. Industrial businesses, artists, and young professionals mingle together with families who have lived in the area for generations. To serve this diverse population, LIC’s small, but notable, restaurant scene has been growing since the 1980s. Recent additions include Per Se veteran Josh Smookler’s Mu Ramen and a Queens location of the West Village’s iconic Corner Bistro.

Foodies and lovers of the late-night scene should consider gastropubs like Vernon Boulevard’s Woodbines or jazz-and-wine bars such as Domaine Bar a Vins. Of note is the Dutch Kills bar, which serves both classic and modern cocktails in a bar that offers patrons casual, speakeasy-inspired scenery. The inspiration for its name pays homage to the Dutch citizens that settled in Long Island City in 1642 when the area was known as Dutch Kills.

As with other developments in Red Hook and Williamsburg, abandoned structures in Long Island City were repurposed as artistic centers. Large warehouse and factory spaces, formerly used for industrial storage and manufacturing, served as ideal staging areas for artists seeking generous workspaces at a relatively low price. Now, along with the rest of the booming neighborhood, there have been a high number of art-related enterprises rising to prominence along the Queens waterfront. While Long Island City may appear to be a recent art community in New York City, locals will tell you that this renaissance has been a long time coming.

Artists began realizing the cultural potential of LIC early on and were pulled to the up-and-coming neighborhood. Isamu Noguchi, founder of the Noguchi Museum, moved from his studio in Manhattan to Long Island City in the early 1960s to be closer to the people that helped him bring his works to life – becoming one of the first artists to do so.

The Noguchi Museum is one of twelve founding members who created the Long Island City Cultural Alliance (LICCA). Their mission is to bring exposure to the artists, galleries, museums, and cultural activities that inhabit LIC by publicizing the neighborhood itself. Noguchi and LICCA’s fellow members want to bring awareness to the rich, diverse culture of Long Island City, with a specific focus on the art and art organizations who support this same vision.

Another member of LICCA, PS 1, a branch of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) since 1999, had a major influence on Long Island City. Housed in a Romanesque Revival-style former school building, PS 1 ranks among the nation’s largest contemporary art spaces and hosts a rotating set of exhibitions, ensuring that there’s always something new and thought-provoking to see. Several long-term installations created by the likes of Richard Serra and Cecily Brown give life to the space as well.

Since merging with MoMA, PS 1 has since gained international renown. This location combines the reach and influence of the prestigious institution with the authenticity of real, lived-in spaces. This juxtaposition is certainly popular, as evidenced by the thousands of annual visitors.

Building on the foundation set by these and other local institutions, it’s evident why Long Island City is so important to New York City’s art community. From Eleventh Street Arts to the Fisher Landau Center, there’s no shortage of stunning and thought-provoking work happening in the neighborhood.

While Long Island City may appear to lie just underneath the radar, it has always been a vibrant neighborhood. An integral part of NYC’s cultural fabric, UOVO is proud to call Long Island City its home.