Looking for an excuse to stop studying? Look no further!

Tired of studying?

Need some art in your life?

Never fear – there’s plenty do to in Queens this weekend!

Oh Bernice! Reading Series: This charming, intimate, and always interesting reading series is currently housed at the Astoria Bookshop. Come by, sit down, and listen to some great words! The Series, by the way, is the brainchild of students from our very own MFA program.

When: Saturday, 7PM.

Art of Ink in America 2013/14: This exhibit is currently housed at our very own Godwin-Ternbach museum! Stop by during a study break and let your eyes feast on the ink paintings! I, for one, will definitely be visiting.

When: Study breaks! Check the website for museum times.

Two Solo Shows at The Greenpoint Gallery: I know, I know; Greenpoint is not in Queens. However, it’s very close – and The Greenpoint Gallery is absolutely fantastic! Take a break from your toils and soak up some fascinating art at this neighborhood favorite.

When: Friday; doors open at 8PM.

Have any other suggestions? Let me know! And remember – there’s always time for art, even during finals!

Thanksgiving: The Art of Cooking!

I love Thanksgiving – that is, almost as much as I love cooking!

Today, I’ll be making one of my favorite dishes – un potaje de frijoles blancas con chorizo y morcilla (that is, white bean, chorizo, and morcilla stew).

Here’s my recipe; try it out sometime! I’ve added pictures for extra deliciousness. =]

Alright – let’s go!

Elena’s Potaje Recipe:


– 1 green bell pepper

– Olive oil

– 1 onion

– 3 cloves of garlic, mashed with olive oil and a dash of paprika

– Azafran (preferably in leaf form)

– Red sweet peppers

– Sazon Goya (without coloring)

– Adobo Goya (with pimiento)

– Chorizo (chopped up and de-skinned)

– Morcilla (chopped up)

– 1 bag of dry white beans

– 3-4 Bay leaves

– Oregano

– Black pepper

– Red wine (preferably dry)

– 1 can of tomato sauce

– Salt and pepper, to taste

– 1 potato (cut)

– 1 chile pepper (optional)

Note: you need to soak the beans overnight, preferably in a large pot!

Alright – let’s get started!

1) First, add olive oil to a large sautee pan. Then, drop in your garlic/paprika mix. Let it simmer briefly.

2) Now, add green peppers, onions, red sweet pepper, black pepper, oregano, bay leaf, Adobo Goya, Sazon Goya, chorizo, and a few spoons of tomato sauce. If you’d like, add some paprika and/or a single chile pepper for extra spice. This will be your sofrito (seasoning).

Sofrito. This is your key ingredient! Make sure to taste frequently and add spices as you go along. Cooking is an art, not a chore! =]

Sofrito. This is your key ingredient! Make sure to taste frequently and add spices as you go along. Remember: cooking is an art, not a chore! =]

 Note: make sure to leave a bit of sofrito in the pan! We will use this again!

3) Stir. Let everything simmer for a few minutes.

4) Now, add the sofrito to your pot of beans. Stir well, and bring your stew to a light boil.

Sofrito and stew. Stir well!

Sofrito and stew. Stir well! Also, don’t let the stew boil excessively; we want the beans to be tender, not limp!

5) Do some tasting. Add spices and salt to your liking.

6) Add a few teaspoons of flour to the remaining sofrito and mix it all up. This will thicken the sofrito.

7) Add the flour and sofrito mix to the pot. The flour will give the stew a lovely consistency.

After you've added the flour and sofrito mix, your stew should begin to thicken. Make sure to stir very well - you don't want the flour to form lumps!

After you’ve added the flour and sofrito mix, your stew should begin to thicken. Make sure to stir very well – you don’t want the flour to form lumps!

8) Add a cup or so of chicken stock. Stir.

9) Add a dash of red wine and sherry vinegar. Add azafran to color the stew. Keep stirring!

10) Now, using the same sautee pan, fry up some morcilla with a bit of garlic and olive oil. The morcilla will cook relatively quickly. You can add some extra spices here if you’d like.

12) Add the morcilla to your stew. Cover the pot, and lower the heat.

13) Let the stew sit for at least an hour. Check it regularly – you don’t want it to overheat.

14) After an hour or so, add the chopped potatoes. Taste, and add spices accordingly.

The potatoes will soak up water, and give your stew a nice, thick consistency. We're almost there!

The potatoes will soak up water and give your stew a nice, thick consistency. Don’t worry – we’re almost there!

15) Your stew should be done in 2-3 hours. Just before you finish, bring your stew to a final boil.

All done!

All done!

Enjoy! Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



5 Pointz Is Gone – Is Queens Next?

5 Pointz is gone.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

5 Pointz, today. Image from nypost.com.

White paint, dead art. Gentrification at its finest.

5 Pointz was desecrated as we slept; the words, the colors, and the faces, defiant, were wiped away as we curled into our dreams. We are left with a dry, bleached shell of a museum; we are left with a sanitized emptiness.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

The destruction. Image from stupiddope.com.

But soon, even this will be taken from us; eventually, the shell will be torn down, and a luxury condominium will take its place. A bruise on top of a bruise.

I’ve lived in Queens my whole life; I’ve watched it grow, change, and ripen.

Now, I am witnessing a sort of disintegration – that is, a wiping away, a banishing of art, of unruliness, and, most importantly, of working class neighborhoods, institutions, and landmarks.

To whom does this borough belong?

I am no longer certain.

* * *

For more information about 5 Pointz, click here.

For more information about the demolition, click here.

Stay tuned: I will be following this story closely over the coming weeks.

Angry? Sad? Unaffected? Have any ideas for action? Let me know!

Exhibition: The Librarians at the Queens College Art Center

Friday is my library day. I wake up; I come over, I look for a quiet, comfortable spot; I settle down, and I read for hours. Plots unfold, and characters grow; before I know it, I’ve reached the final pages, and it’s already dark outside. Time flies when you’re at the library.

What is a library? For me, it is a place of imagination – a place of books, of discovery, and of endless time. Of course, everyone has their own definition; everyone has their own library experience.

Few, however, have much experience with librarians; they, indeed, are a mystery to many. What does a librarian do? What is it like to work in that bustling point of imagination?

The Librarians does not try to answer my questions; rather, it complicates them, destabilizes them. Indeed – this dizzying conglomerate of objects, paintings, and assorted installation pieces challenges our understanding of libraries, and of their keepers.

I was struck, for example, by a number of rough, colorful paintings of faces; they are bruise-like, deep scars on an otherwise smooth surface. Are they smiling? Sneering? Are they librarians? Or are they patrons? Students? I am unsure; I begin to question my own place within the library. Am I merely a patron? Or am I also part of the library? Am I, by virtue of my gaze, my reading, a librarian? Are we all librarians?

I was also intrigued by an installation of thin, multi-colored papers, all of which bore names and titles; as they progressed, slowly, from left to right, their colors began to fade, to run, as though the printer had run out of ink.

Is knowledge, then, fading? Are books a relic? Are they, and libraries, doomed to obsolescence, to blankness? Or will that printer be restocked? Will the vibrant pages return? Again, I am unsure.

Sprinkled throughout the exhibition are the tools, the trappings of the librarian; diagrams litter the glass windows, and an entire apparatus – a desk, computer, stack of books – sits, idly, by the exit. I wonder why they are here; I wonder if they are an anchor, a point of reference, or if they destabilize my experience further.

Ultimately, I am left puzzled – and wanting to speak to a librarian. Indeed, I want to know more – I want to know how that apparatus works, and, more broadly, what a librarian actually does.

This exhibit is a treasure; it has drawn me in to a world I had always overlooked. Definitely go see it – and go talk to a librarian!

* * *

To learn more about this exhibit, click here.

The Queens College Art Center is located on the 6th floor of Rosenthal Library. Go visit!

Projeto Morrinho at Queens College

I was planning to visit a few galleries this week; I did my research, prepared my notebook, and got my MetroCard ready. My body, however, had other plans, and I woke up on Friday with a major cold. Headache, sore throat, congestion – I was seriously suffering.

And so, as I was leaving the library that afternoon, I was a bit worried; I wondered what, if anything, I could write about for this blog without leaving campus. And then, as if by a potent and colorful magic, Projeto Morrinho appeared; it was a blur, a castle, a city growing out from the stone of Rosenthal Plaza. Now I knew, indeed, what I would write about.

Projeto Morrinho is an artistic recreation of a favela, and, more broadly, of Rio de Janeiro. It was built by a group of visiting Brazilian artists; this is its first U.S. installation. Here, recycled materials, bricks, plastic, and colorful styrofoam constitute a miniature city; rickety slums grow alongside skyscrapers and statues; an entire socioeconomic, political, and cultural universe is encapsulated in an arrangement of trash, of spare parts. The colors are beguiling, and yet disturbing; it is beautiful, yes, but jarringly so, thoughtfully so.

Projeto Morrinho at Queens College. Image from www.cuny1.edu.

Projeto Morrinho at Queens College. Image from www.cuny1.edu.

Projeto Morrinho inspires us to think, to reconsider our definitions of cities, and of slums; it urges to confront the realities of economic disparity and deadlock. The little favelas are dwarfed by larger structures; their frailty, and their power, is evident to us. What does it mean for a city to have slums? For people to live in slums? What does it mean to struggle in a divided society? An unequal society? What are the consequences of poverty? Of inequality, of differential powerlessness?

All art is political, but political art is rare. What, you might ask, is political art? It is, for me, art which challenges our societal notions; it is art which forces us to think about our world, and our place in it. Project Morrinho is, then, a deeply political art; it is an art of location, of confrontation, and of dialogue. Ultimately, it is beautiful, horrible, strong; it is both manifesto and masterpiece.

* * *

To learn more about Projeto Morrinho at Queens College, click here.

To learn more about the Year of Brazil at Queens College, click here.

Definitely check this installation out – it’s right by the library!