BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Queens’ cultural community celebrated the newly-expanded Sculpture Center facility in Long Island City on Sunday.
Sculpture Center, a nonprofit arts institution, moved into an ex-trolley repair shop on Long Island City’s Purves Street in 2001. Since then, the center has presented exhibitions by both emerging and established artists, and will now continue that work in its renovated and expanded facility.
Sculpture Center executive director Mary Ceruti, Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl and Dept. of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora hosted Sunday’s ribbon-cutting celebration. Part of the renovation’s $4 million in funding came from the office of the Borough President, the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and the City Council through allocations made by Van Bramer.
According to Ceruti, rather than simply adding more floor space, the renovation – designed by Andrew Berman Architect – aimed to make existing space more active and useable.
“It’s our nature to put art wherever we can,” Ceruti said.
The renovated facility boasts 2,000 additional square feet, with retail space for publications relevant to Sculpture Center exhibitions, a lobby where an exterior courtyard once sat and newly open interior space due to the removal of a brick wall.
Preceding the ribbon cutting, officials, Sculpture Center staff and members of the art community celebrated the conaming of Purves Street as Sculpture Street.
“We know that very, very few things … in the City of New York happen without culture being at the center of it,” Van Bramer said. “We can recognize the incredible role that Sculpture Center has had in forming this street and in encouraging what you now see, which is this amazing development.”
For Peña-Mora, part of the updated Sculpture Center’s importance is its relationship to the neighborhood’s history.
“We shouldn’t come with an eraser,” Peña-Mora said.
Andrew Berman Architect sought to honor the steel and brick of Maya Lin’s initial renovation of the space, according to Sculpture Center. Much of the building’s original structure and brick faces remain.
Sculpture Center maintains Long Island City’s character, its past and “the New York way,” Peña-Mora added.
The new center’s inaugural exhibition, “Puddle, Pothole, Portal,” is on view until January 2015.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.