Groups spread word about restaurant fund

The restaurant industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, with one dire forecast predicting close to half of all food and restaurant businesses in Queens would shutter by year’s end.
To help revitalize the industry, the Biden Administration created the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which provides grants for restaurants and bars equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, with a cap of $10 million per business and $5 million per location.
Members of Queens Together and the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) gathered outside The Queensboro restaurant in Jackson Heights last Friday to urge business owners to file applications to get a share of the $28 billion fund.
They handed out flyers in six different languages promoting the fund. Over the next two weeks, they plan to do the same in Rosedale, Jamaica, Laurelton, Flushing, Elmhurst, Astoria, Corona and Long Island City.
“We need restaurants to file the application as soon as possible because it’s a federal program and people across the country will be applying,” said Shurn Anderson from the office of Borough President Donovan Richards.
The application for the grant, which doesn’t have to be repaid if it is used by 2023, can be accessed online at the Small Business Administration website or by contacting QEDC, which will offer filing assistance to business owners.
Through May 24, the SBA will only approve applications from businesses that are majority-owned by women, veterans, or those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Ahead of a full reopening of restaurants on May 19, Jonathan Forgash from Queens Together, a grassroots group created at the start of the pandemic to advocate for the restaurants, painted a picture of an industry in deep distress.
As of last December, he said 92 percent of small businesses couldn’t afford the rent.
QEDC executive director Seth Bornstein said everyone in the restaurant industry has been hurt by the pandemic. He said it wasn’t just the restaurants that were hurt, but their suppliers as well.

New exhibit at Queens Museum examines truth

In Strange But True, a new exhibit opening at the Queens Museum, artist Sydney Shen takes a look at the construction of truth and methodologies used to establish facts, focusing on photographic documentation practices and their power to shape culture norms.
In her work, the New York-based artist often creates sculptures and environments that commingle historical and contemporary symbols.
For her new solo exhibition, she explores various photographic techniques, juxtaposing early medical photographs with contemporary forms, like closed-circuit television, to cull a visual vocabulary focused on our voyeuristic sensibilities of “othered bodies.”
Literally a sideways world, Strange But True is an immersive installation that blurs the line between amusing and sinister, using the distance of metafiction in conjunction with optical manipulations to demonstrate that the study of evidence can never offer a complete and unbiased picture.
Strange But True was in part inspired by Shen’s interest in the philosopher Georges Bataille, whose writings on macabre and taboo subjects have long been a touchstone for her. With this exhibition, Shen contends with a friction that arises between her alignment with Bataille’s sensibilities, and the factual inaccuracies that his assertions can leverage and sustain, from his Western White male gaze.
Bataille was transfixed by photos of “lingchi,” an obsolete Chinese method of execution, also known as “death by a thousand cuts.” He heralded it as a rare depiction of a person in a spiritual state of rapturous suffering.
“Bataille’s flawed interpretation shaped assumptions still held today about Chinese culture, religion, and society,” said Shen. “This leads me to wonder how I can reconcile my relation to these photographs and Bataille, when my own racial selfhood is subject to — perhaps even influenced by — the gaze that the discourse around these photos has perpetuated?”
The role of photography in pathologizing bodies is also connected to the culture of world expositions, which dating back to the 19th century notoriously presented both official and unofficial exhibitions of marginalized bodies, such as foreign peoples, women, and the disabled, as curiosities to be consumed.
The two New York World’s Fairs of 1939-40 and 1964-65 were no exception: the fairgrounds were surrounded by plentiful adult amusements, including sideshows and peep shows, voyeuristic invitations that are inextricably linked to the mechanics and aesthetics of photographic technology.
Both fairs liberally deployed spectacle to promote an unrelenting optimism toward technological innovation.
The 1939-40 Fair celebrated the 100th anniversary of photography and featured an entire pavilion dedicated to the Eastman Kodak Co., where, among elaborate installations, fairgoers were first introduced to Kodachrome color film, billed as a surefire way to “capture life, just as you see it.”

Strange But True is organized by assistant curator Sophia Marisa Lucas and is on view April 28 through August 22.

Author pens book about historic homes of Queens

A new book explores the notable homes across the borough of Queens.
Historic Houses of Queens was written by Rob MacKay, who currently works for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His interest in writing the book
grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society.
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized, but historically impressive, houses.
A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant dwellings, the homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a
large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria.
Musicians whose homes are still standing in the borough include Louis Armstrong,
Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne.
Through more than 200 photographs, Historic Houses of Queens explores the homes’ architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, and peculiarities.
All the while, MacKay considers that real humans lived in them. They grew up in them. They relaxed in them. They proudly showed them to friends and family. And in some cases, they lost them to fire, financial issues or urban renewal projects.
“This is a true labor of love,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. I spent a countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”

Historic Houses of Queens is currently available on Arcadia Publishing’s website.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing