Staten Island Arts will open its new Culture Lab in the St. George ferry terminal on the weekend of Saturday, June 7.
The 2,500-square-foot multi-use lounge will include offices, exhibit space, performance space and a 400-square-foot retail Artist Market. It also will be the nation’s first permanent art space in commuter quarters, according to Melanie Cohn, executive director of Staten Island Arts.
“We’re excited on the national level to put art in a transit hub,” Cohn said. “We really want to be a national example for what can done.”
The space will be open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m and on weekends, from noon to 5 p.m. On Tuesdays, the lounge will be open until 10 p.m. to offer evening classes geared to local artists on topics like how to deal with law enforcement while performing in public spaces.
The new Staten Island Arts office will be open to the community to provide one-on-one assistance to artists who are looking for technical help with things like building an online portfolio or obtaining city permits. Cohn said she hopes the new space will help build a stronger rapport with the borough’s artists.
“The Culture Lounge will give us a lot more visibility than our current location, in a basement in Snug Harbor,” she said. “Right now it’s really hard to find unless you’re looking for us.”
The Artist Market
The Artist Market will be updated frequently, featuring a variety of unique, handmade goods under a New York harbor theme. Items will include everything from paintings, to scarfs and artisanal soaps crafted by local artists. Upon opening, the market will feature about 30 artists’ works. Fifty percent of the price tag will go to Staten Island Arts, the other 50 percent to the artist.
Similar to a museum gift shop, the market will showcase plenty of area-specific works as well as a revolving door of holiday-related goods.
“Tourists will be interested in a lot of the iconic imagery of the ferry and Statue of Liberty,” Cohn said. “The other thing that we’re hoping for is that it’s a really convenient place with one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for people that are rushing through terminal.”
The Exhibit Space
There will be six, mixed-media exhibits featured in the lounge this year. Each will be on display for two months. The lounge will be an interesting, if precarious balance of tourist-driven goods and a sincere look into Staten Island’s art scene.
“There’s a lot happening, but it’s happening in these smaller niche spaces,” said Cohn, who believes the art community on Staten Island closely resembles Williamsburg in 1992. In a land most often portrayed by crass reality show characters, Cohn said she hopes to give tourists and residents alike a look into more interesting Island culture.
“It’s a place where we can say, ‘Hey, this is who we really are,'” she said. “Where our local artist community shows people what Staten Island is all about.”
Opening weekend will feature musical performances and the first exhibit by Staten Island artist Tattfoo Tan, who will be putting on an interactive show about sustainable agriculture called “Sustainable. Organic. Stewardship. (S.O.S.),” which will include a seed sharing library, mobile gardens, S.O.S. pledge, and “Black Gold” earthworm compost.
The lounge will be open to the public beginning Saturday, June 7, but there will be an early VIP opening celebration on Thursday, June 5. Tickets for the early opening will be available through a Staten Island Arts Kickstarter, which will launch Wednesday, May 14, to help raise the last bit of money for the space opening.
The Kickstarter pledges are as follows:
- $92: VIP opening ticket, plus t-shirt (The price corresponds with the year the organization was founded — 1992)
- $50: field notes book with Staten Island Arts logo
- $30: Staten Island Arts sticker