Dec. 7, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
A Jackson Heights artist is looking to bring local artists together each month to discuss their work and to foster the growing artist community in the neighborhood.
In a new series of monthly art talks at Espresso 77 (35-57 77th Street), artist Linda Gaijan will host two artists to discuss their work and artistic processes. The series will kick off this month at 7 p.m. on December 14, with lectures from local artists Alessandra Exposito and Juan Hinojosa.
“There are so many visual artists in Jackson Heights and I kept meeting amazing artists over the years, but I felt like there was no place to congregate and meet in the neighborhood and learn about one another’s art,” Gaijan said.
Inspired by her friends doing a similar program in Greenpoint, Gaijan put together the format for the monthly events. The program will begin with both artists presenting slideshows showing their work and speaking on their processes for 15 to 20 minutes each, and then the floor will open up for questions and discussion.
“I think there is a growing movement for this kind of thing because there are so many artistic people who live in Jackson Heights and want to enrich neighborhood,” Gaijan said, citing the artist group Jackson Heights Creates, which was founded in July to foster the local art scene.
She added that she had been hoping to begin events like this for quite some time, but was unable to do so until she found a partner in Afzal Hossain, the owner of Espresso 77.
Hossain explained that he loves hosting artistic events at his shop regularly, including live music and poetry readings. He also has a rotating gallery in the coffee shop that regularly showcases local artists.
“Every local business should be supporting local artists and writers, they should be friends of the community,” Hossain said. “Our only focus should not be on making money, though the events help your business too, but if you live in the community you have to work with the community needs and make it like a home. We should use our tools to help the community.”
Each month Gaijan will schedule two artists that she feels create an interesting comparison to one another. “I’m trying to make the pairings interesting and have some parallel qualities or dialogue between artists,” she explained.
She added that she has mostly reached out to artists she already knew or had heard of, but is open to hearing from others interested in participating.
For the first talk, she began by asking Exposito to participate, who is an artist that Gaijan had admired for years, before learning that they lived just down the block from one another.
Exposito suggested Hinojosa as the second artist after signing on, and Gaijan said that both agreed that he would provide a nice complement to her work.
For more information about the monthly series, visit https://www.facebook.com/jharttalks/.