ICONYC Brewing Company

 

I recently stumbled upon a new microbrewery in Astoria, Queens, and I must say that this one immediately became one of my favorites. Named ICONYC Brewing Company, it’s owned by three friends who grew up together in the nearby neighborhood. The beer is brewed down the street, but there’s a tasting room on 34th Avenue.

First, let’s talk about the tasting room itself. It isn’t particularly large, but it’s comfortable and the tap wall is creative and fun. There’s a nice bar, and bar-level seating continues across the front of the space as well, allowing visitors to watch the world pass by outside. It’s a great place to hang out with friends.

Now for the beer.

We chose to order samplers, which allowed us to each choose 4 beers (5 ounces each) to sample. Kristy chose Uptown Haze (described as a “juicy, hazy, New England IPA”), Resonance (“rotating hop IPA, dry hopped with vic secret”), Never Settle (“white IPA, brewed with Moteuka and Centenial hops”), and a bottle pour – High Ryse (“rye saison fermented with Brett and Saison yeasts”). I went in a different direction: Steamline Lager (“California Common-style lager with 5 different specialty malts”), Spaaz (“Kolsch dry hopped with Spatz and Saaz”), Witbier (“tradition Belgian wheat beer), and the Sour Cherry Stout (“stout aged on sour cherries”). (Note: Two of my glasses are larger because they temporarily ran out of the tasting glasses – I’m not complaining.)

All of the beers were delicious – and it’s rare to say that when tasting such a variety of beers. The brewery is turning out high quality beers, and there’s something to please pretty much any beer lover’s preferences. (Not tasted this time: a grapefruit sour; a saison brewed with hibiscus, rose hips, and lemon grass; a cucumber saison; and a dry-hopped blonde ale.) In fact, ICONYC was so good that we returned the following weekend, and this time I ordered a full glass of my favorite, the Sour Cherry Stout. It has the coffee and chocolate notes of a traditional stout without being too heavy. The sour cherry hints are subtle, but somehow give the beer a hint of freshness. It’s so good that it will be my beer of choice any time I can find it.

ICONYC doesn’t have a kitchen, but they offer takeout menus for nearby restaurants. As a result, we discovered Homemade Taqueria next door. Their tacos, made with fresh corn tortillas, were absolutely delicious. We’ve been talking about them ever since and plan to make another visit soon.

Want to visit the ICONYC Brewing Company’s taproom and taste their beer? They are located at nue in Astoria. If taking the subway, take the R train to the 46th Street station. Walk one block south/southwest down 46th Avenue to 34 Street and then turn right. The tasting room is only a short distance away.

Welling Court Mural Project 2016

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Artists: Mike Makatron (@mike.makatron) and Dirt Worship (@dirt_worship)

Street art, by definition, is temporary. Something left exposed to the elements will deteriorate over time, obscuring once clean lines and dulling once vibrant colors. When you come across murals you love, it can be sad to see them fade as the seasons pass. But that reality is made better by another aspect of street art – what is old will soon be replaced by something new, and your process of artistic discovery begins again.

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Artists: Chris Stain (@chrisstain1972) and Billy Mode (@billymode)

Such is the case with the Welling Court Mural Project, in Astoria, Queens. In January, I wrote this post about the murals at Welling Court. Most of the murals featured in that earlier post were painted in June 2015. In the past several weeks, Welling Court has become been renewed once again, as artists from around the world descended on the neighborhood to repaint most of the area’s many murals. (I’ve never counted, but I’ve seen estimates that Welling Court has as many as 150 murals!)

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Artist: Fumero (@fumeroism)

Wanting to catch as many artists in action as possible, I made multiple trips to Welling Court in June. And I was in luck! The Welling Court Mural Project hosted its annual block party on June 12, and many artists were painting in the week prior to and after the block party. I returned to the neighborhood again several days later to capture photos of the finished murals as well.

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Artists: Chris Soria (@chrissoria), Joel Artista (@joelartista), and Marc Evan (@marcmaniac)
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Artists: Chris Soria (@chrissoria), Joel Artista (@joelartista), and Marc Evan (@marcmaniac)
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Artists: Chris Soria (@chrissoria), Joel Artista (@joelartista), and Marc Evan (@marcmaniac)
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Artist: KIDLEW (@kidlewnyc)
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Artist: KIDLEW (@kidlewnyc)
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Artist: KIDLEW (@kidlewnyc)
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Artist: Sonni (@sonni)
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Artist: Sonni (@sonni)
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Artist: Jules Muck (@muckrock)
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Artist: Jules Muck (@muckrock)
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Artist: See One (@seeoneart)
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Artist: See One (@seeoneart)

Part of what makes the Welling Court Mural Project so interesting is that you never know what you will see next. The neighborhood has streets that come together at odd angles, and as you turn the corner and look down the next block there may be another four, six, or even more murals. Don’t forget to look up – sometimes there are smaller pieces high above the streets. Glance into alleys and small parking lots; check the sides of buildings as well. Your diligence will be rewarded with artwork a less discerning eye will not discover.

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Artist: drsc0 (@drsc0)
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Artist: SacSix (@sacsix)
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Artist: unknown (will update if I determine identity)

A wide variety of artistic styles and genres are represented at Welling Court. Some work seems more like fine art, while other pieces draw on the gritty, graffiti-inspired form that traces its roots to New York City’s street scene of the 1970s and 1980s. Most artists create their murals using spray paint and exterior house paint, but there are some fine examples of wheatpaste (artwork painted on heavy paper and adhered to the walls with a flour-based glue), ceramic tiles, and other media as well.

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Artists: Christ RWK (@chrirwk and @robotswillkill) and Herb Smith (@herb_smith)
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Artists: Icy and Sot (@icyandsot)
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Artist: Mastro (@mastronyc)
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Artist: Chris “Daze” Ellis (@dazeworldnyc)
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Artist: lmnopi (@lmnopi)
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Artists: Katie Yamasaki (@katieyamasaki) and Caleb Neelon (@calebneelonart)
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Artist: Lady Pink (@ladypinknyc)

If you wish to explore the Welling Court Mural Project, you can take the N or Q train to the 30th Avenue Station in Astoria, Queens. From the train station, walk northwest on 30th Avenue (the cross streets will get smaller as you go). When you have walked about 10 minutes, you will start seeing murals. The more you walk around the neighborhood, the more murals you will discover!

(I have so many more photos than what I’ve included in this blog – I will be adding them to my Instagram gallery (@findingnyc1) as I have time, so be sure to check it out if you are interested in street art.

Discovering Street Art in Astoria, Queens

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Mural by Alice Mizrachi (@am_nyc), Welling Court Mural Project

Love art but looking for something different to do in New York City? Of course, there are amazing art museums in the city – the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Art Museum, and the Queens Museum, just to name a few. But New York City is also known for amazing street art and graffiti, and murals are spread across the city. If you appreciate public art in its many forms, a walking tour of of some the city’s murals is a great way to see part of the city for a couple of hours (or more, depending on your interests).

One place where you can view a huge number of murals within a relatively small area is Astoria, Queens. I recently toured the murals of the Welling Court Mural Project, which is located in Astoria. The Welling Court Murals Project has been going on for six years, and each year it gets bigger and bigger – this last year’s project led to the creation of more than 130 murals! It is really kind of magical. Each time I came to an intersection, I could look around the corner and see more murals! There are murals on the sides of buildings, murals in the alleys, even a small poster/mural on the side of a dumpster! Some murals have political messages; others very much come from the graffiti tradition. And the murals encompass a variety of styles guaranteed to satisfy any art lover.

Here are some of my favorites. This first one is a beautiful, powerful mural that focuses on the plight of Yazidi women, enslaved, tortured, and killed by the Islamic State in the Middle East.

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Collaboration by Lexi Bella, Danielle Mastrione, and 2esae

This next mural is very different, a colorful one by street artist Andy Golub. His work is distinctive – so it’s easy to recognize his work no matter where it’s found. In fact, if you look closely as you walk through Welling Court, you will see another of his murals (but in a different set of colors). See if you can find it!

Mural by Andy Golub
Mural by Andy Golub

There’s this beautiful mural by Dasic Fernández.

Mural by Dasic Fernandez
Mural by Dasic Fernandez

And this geometric work by Jonathan Villoch, who goes by the street name Depoe (Instagram account @depoh).

Mural by Jonathan Villoch, street name Depoe
Mural by Jonathan Villoch, street name Depoe

Here’s another colorful, fun piece. It’s a collaboration by Australian street artist Crisp, who is currently based in Bogotá, Colombia, and Praxis, a street artist who works in both New York City and Bogotá.

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Mural collaboration by Crisp and Praxis

Here’s a view with a line of murals, one after another. DSC04769

Here’s an example of one of the graffiti murals. This one is by street artist Isoking.

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Mural by street artist Isoking

There’s also this Marilyn Monroe mural, painted by street artist JC.

Mural by JC (Instragram @JCBKNYC)
Mural by JC (Instragram @JCBKNYC)

Street artist Sinned painted this unique mural.

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Mural by street artist Sinned

And this final one, painted on a gate by Bishop203, also known on Instagram as @lowbrow_bk – it’s bright color will capture your attention. (There’s another one as well, located close by. You won’t be able to miss it!)

Mural by Bishop203 (JAT1) (Instagram @lowbrow_bk)
Mural by Bishop203 (JAT1) (Instagram @lowbrow_bk)

There are so many murals at Welling Court that I could only feature some of them here. If you are interested in seeing more, I’ve posted a lot more photos here on Instagram. You should also remember that street art is usually temporary. Because the murals are outside, they are weathered by the rain and snow. Eventually, most will likely be painted over with new murals – which means that you probably have a limited time to see many of the murals I’ve included here, but there will be more to view in the future. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes street art exciting. You can go back again and again, and yet see something new each time!

If you’re planning to tour the Welling Court Mural Project, make sure that you wear comfortable shoes. The murals are in a concentrated area, but you will be walking quite a bit. The good news is you’ll be so caught up looking at the murals that you won’t even notice how much you’re walking!

If you are traveling by public transportation (my preference, as you know!) you can take the N or Q train to 30th Avenue in Astoria. Although these lines start out underground in Manhattan, they move above ground once they’re in Queens, so it gives you another perspective of the city. From the train station, walk northwest on 30th Avenue (the cross streets will get smaller as you go). When you have walked about 10 minutes, you will start seeing murals in the distance. The more that you walk around the neighborhood, the more murals you will discover!

“Behind the Scenes” at the Museum of the Moving Image

When many people explore New York City, they focus their attention on Manhattan. And there’s nothing wrong with that–as you can see from my blog, there are a variety of fun things to do in Manhattan. But the way to really fully know the city is by venturing into the other boroughs as well. Taking that approach, this post ventures into Astoria, Queens, to the Museum of the Moving Image.

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Astoria has had a long-standing connection to the film industry; its early movie studios made numerous silent films and early sounds films in the 1920s and early 1930s. That tradition has continued over the decades, with countless movies and television shows filmed there. The Museum of the Moving Image chronicles that history while offering rotating film options and contemporary exhibits.

The core exhibit at the Museum is called “Behind the Scenes.” This exhibit traces all aspects of creating and promoting movies and television shows. There are some really interesting artifacts in the exhibit–items that will appeal to pretty much any visitor.

One of the fascinating parts of the exhibit explored the use of life masks to develop the makeup and prostheses used by actors in various films. For example, the following photographs demonstrate the process used to turn actor Dustin Hoffman into character Jack Crabbe for the movie Little Big Man (1970). I found the transformation fascinating. First, here’s the original life mask:

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The second photograph shows the various latex layers used to create Jack Crabbe’s facial features:

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And this final photograph shows the end result:

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The exhibition contains many artifacts from other movies and television shows – pieces from the sets, scripts (including one from a Seinfeld episode), and other items used in their creation. There were a number of iconic costumes as well, including ones worn by the talented late actor Robin Williams. There’s his costume as Mork from the television sitcom Mork and Mindy, and the body suit and dress that he wore in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. (The exhibition also contains the life mask and makeup process used to turn Williams into Mrs. Doubfire.)

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Parts of the “Behind the Scenes” Exhibition are very interactive, engaging visitors in the experience. There was a video game arcade, what the exhibit called the first form of interactive media, and this fun installation, a 1980s TV lounge designed by Jim Isermann.

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Other parts of the exhibit traced the evolution of moving picture technology from the late 1800s to the present. Here’s an example of one of the interactive parts of the exhibit, two Mutoscopes. (When the person turns the crank, cards are flipped to create a moving image, making it work like a mechanical flip book.)

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Other interactive parts of the exhibition were associated with the editing process, such as allowing the visitor to add sound effects.

A visit to the Museum of the Moving Image is worth it for the core exhibits alone, but there are other rotating exhibits that are enjoyable as well (such as one going on right now about Internet Cats!). The museum also shows a variety of films on a rotating basis, with the schedule available on the museum website.

What’s the best way to get to the Museum of the Moving Image? By public transportation, of course. Take the M, R, N or Q subway lines to the 36th Avenue station in Astoria.