Flux Factory is a not-for-profit arts organization supporting innovation in things. Until November of 2008 we were located on 43rd Street near Northern Boulevard, in an industrial wasteland – surrounded by warehouses and bordered by the edge of the Sunnyside Yards. After our eviction by the MTA to pursue development on the East Side Access project, we spent some time in limbo before eventually relocating to the Dutch Kills sub-neighborhood of LIC, on 29 Street just north of Queens Plaza. Both of our facilities were located in LIC, yet the two are worlds apart in terms of operation and our interaction with the surrounding community. We’re learning there’s still lots to learn from LIC!

Inviting artist Julia Vallera and her Color Wheelz project to Long Island City is part of that learning process, an investment back into our community and an exploration of identity of the surrounding neighborhood at large. LIC is a very large neighborhood! Like the Queens borough, LIC is extremely diverse and is not typified by any one singular identity, ethnic group, language or architecture.

The John F. Murray Playground presented itself as an ideal location for this exploration and understanding because of its location and relationship to other spaces: it is equidistant between the Pulaski and Queensboro bridges – structures that lead to other boroughs and worlds unto their own; it is sandwiched between an Avenue and a Road, and between two Streets that are somehow numerically 10 streets apart, typical of the street-ordering system of this borough; on one side of the park one is greeted with incredible skyline-views of Manhattan, on the other the irony of the tallest building in NYC outside of Manhattan all by its lonesome surrounded by much lower mixed-use neighborhoods.

The Playground itself also includes a little bit of everything: a dog run, handball and basketball courts, public art (Bigger Bird), game tables, sitting areas, a ballfield and playgrounds for children of all ages. It is my hope that the Color Wheelz van will allow all who interact with it to explore and express their relationship to this playground, to the surrounding neighborhood, to our wonderful city within a city!

Nick Normal for Flux Factory

Julia Vallera and Color Wheelz:

this text will be made available at the project site as a trifold – download PDF