Jamaica Flux: Workspaces & Windows 2007:
Jamaica Flux: Workspaces & Windows 2007, a public art event along Jamaica Avenue and nearby areas of downtown Jamaica.
Organized by the non-profit Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL), Jamaica Flux: Workspaces & Windows 2007 follows the first Jamaica Flux held in 2004. This year's involves 25 artists and artist collectives creating 25 site-specific art works along Jamaica Avenue and nearby streets, and plenty of interaction with the Jamaica, Queens, community.
Highlight - Counter Culture Cash, Real Public Art:
The large group show is a bit uneven, and some of the pieces -- like bus stop and phone booth posters -- are expected, though interesting. But overall the show's quality is high, led by Counter Culture Cash
an excellent conceptual and interactive project by artists Anna Stein and Athena Robles. How much more interactive and accessible can you get than money as art?
The artists give their "Jamaican Bucks" to people willing to sit for portraits at the 165th Street pedestrian mall. They even convinced a few local businesses to accept this seriously local currency.
Seeing the Art - Start at King Manor Park :
The show coalesces in downtown Jamaica's largest open space, King Manor Park, with the work of five artists.
- King Manor Park - Jamaica Ave, between 150th and 153rd Sts, Jamaica, NY
- Getting There - E Subway to Jamaica Center - then walk one block to Jamaica Ave and turn left. Two blocks to King Manor Park
King Manor Park is the home of the King Manor Museum
, an historic home. It's also a busy, local park, just a few acres in size.
Lishan Chang's Time
is the show's most visible artwork, huge sheaths of plastic stretched between tree trunks and limbs on the park's southwest. It's worth spending some time watching the sun dance on the plastic and the park-goers puzzle over its meaning.
Walk Along Jamaica Avenue:
Leaving the park, you can see most of the art in Jamaica Flux as you stroll east on Jamaica Avenue toward 165th Street's pederstrian mall.
First, stop by the Nubian Heritage store and see artist books. (A visit next door to Grace Church's colonial-era cemetery is a fascinating look into the area's past.)
Then keep heading east. As you walk look for phone booths and bus stops on both sides of Jamaica Avenue that bear Jamaica Flux art work. The North Fork Bank at 161st Street has more images in its front windows.
JCAL's Building and Gallery:
Across the street from the bank is JCAL's building
. Inside, JCAL's gallery does have a show with notes from the artists' proposals and information on historic pieces of public art, but the real fun and the best art is out in the streets. Duck inside to pick up bulletins about JCAL's events.
North of Jamaica Avenue, but not to be missed is the tree-camouflaged Mobile House for Urban Migrant Worker
by Jenny Polak. It's one block north of Jamaica Avenue at 164th Street, next to First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica.
Your final destination is the 165th Street pedestrian mall, especially if the Culture Cash artists are performing. Check the JCAL website for schedules. Also, there's more art at York College and other sites.
Where To Eat in Downtown Jamaica:
My favorite restaurant in downtown Jamaica -- and it's a great family place -- is Rincón Salvadoreño
(92-15 149th St, Jamaica, 718-526-3220). It's big for the area with friendly service. Try the filling Salvadoran pupusas, but use plenty of that spicy slaw. The sesame horchata drink is outstanding.
Fast-food and takeout joints line Jamaica Avenue, but there's not much special. At the 165th pedestrian mall you can try Jamaican and West Indian pasties and other fried bits. Or, walk north for the delicious Guyanese-style curries and rotis at Sybil's (159-24 Hillside Ave, Jamaica, limited seating).
Getting to Jamaica:
In addition to the E subway to Jamaica Center, visitors can take the LIRR to the Jamaica station. Step outside at the hectic intersection of Archer and Sutphin, and walk north to Jamaica Avenue. Turn right and King Manor Park is on your left in a few blocks.
Driving to downtown Jamaica isn't the problem. It's the parking. Save yourself a hassle and use the parking garage on Parsons Boulevard, one block north of Jamaica Avenue.
Best ways to drive are via the Van Wyck to Jamaica Avenue exit, or via the Grand Central to 164th Street exit and then a left on Parsons Boulevard.