Undiscovered New York: Modern art in Long Island City

It’s no secret New York is downright spoiled by a world-class modern art scene. Art lovers flock to great museums like MoMA, galleries in Chelsea and the famous annual Armory Show. With all this great creativity so close at hand, it’s hard to believe that one of New York’s best neighborhoods for modern art isn’t in Manhattan – it actually lies just across the East River in Long Island City.

Long Island City is a neighborhood on the rebound. Thanks to the nearby Queensboro Bridge, which dumps a steady stream of traffic into the area, this industrial neighborhood was long bypassed by visitors headed toward other points beyond in Manhattan and Long Island. Yet this feeling of a gritty zone time forgot is exactly what attracted the area’s first artists back in the 70′s and 80′s. Slowly, Long Island City began a remarkable transformation, replaced by an influx of artist studios, top-notch museums and monuments to New York’s influential role in street art.

Today, Long Island City is an art lover’s paradise. Ready to check out a less crowded version of Manhattan’s MoMA in Queens and dance at one of the city’s best outdoor dance parties? Or perhaps an outdoor sculpture park with views of the NYC skyline is more your style? It’s time to investigate one of New York’s best (and lesser known) neighborhoods for art. This week Undiscovered New York visits Long Island City. Click below for more.
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Just off the 23rd St – Ely Avenue Subway stop, the first stop from Manhattan, lies P.S.1, one of Long Island City’s best museums and a mecca for up-and-coming artists. First opened in 1976 in a formerly deserted public school building, P.S.1 focuses on the shows of cutting edge art, resulting in an often delightful and eyebrow-raising mixture of works across all types and mediums from sculpture to painting to photography and beyond.

One of the most enjoyable parts of P.S.1 is the museum’s outdoor courtyard, where during the summer it plays host to Warm-Up, a series of outdoor weekend dance parties featuring DJ’s and live music. The backdrop for the party is a colossal ever-changing outdoor sculpture (see left) that is updated each Summer.

Socrates Sculpture Park
Another great reminder of Long Island City’s gritty industrial past is the Socrates Sculpture Park, located along the neighborhood’s East River waterfront. Named in honor of the area’s historically Greek residents, the sculpture park was built on the site of what was once an illegal dumping ground. Today the trash is long gone, having been replaced by large-scale sculptures, outdoor movies and art workshops.

Museum of the Moving Image
Just last week, we told you about New York’s long history with television. But we actually left one great museum out – the Museum of the Moving Image in Long Island City. In addition to galleries of movie and TV equipment, the museum features screenings of landmark movies, and has an extensive collection of costumes, photos and fan magazines. Museum-haters and those with ADD take note: it even has its own video game arcade as part of the exhibitions.