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Maloney honors Noguchi

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City was a pioneer establishment that brought modern art to western Queens and even though it reached a major milestone this weekend, she wanted to ensure that it can continue to inspire artists and art lovers.

The congresswoman applauded the museum’s administrators on their 25 years of exhibits and awarded the institution a special grant Saturday to help it grow for another quarter century. Maloney toured the two-floor sculpture museum, at 32-37 Vernon Blvd., and said she was amazed by the atmosphere of the facility, which includes an outdoor area where patrons can sit and view sculptures on a sunny day.

“It’s truly an oasis here in Queens,” she said.

The museum was created in 1985 by famed Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi. After touring the world with his art, Noguchi settled in Long Island City in the 1970s and began working on his various artworks, which included sculptures, memorials, interior designs and drawings.

The congresswoman said the artist was a valuable member of the Long Island City community.

“He lived across the street and worked a lot to create art,” she said. “He was a visionary.”

Noguchi, who died in 1988, bought and redesigned a defunct industrial building to create his new art space. Artists from around the city have been working at the facility to display their work and it has attracted a following in the art community.

There are nearly 400 permanent works, 2,900 other pieces and more than 10,000 photographs at the center. The museum also offers classes for students of all ages who want to learn about the basics of sculpture art and its history.

Maloney said the museum was such an important fixture in the borough that she not only awarded it a $30,000 grant to help with its finances, but also presented its administrators with a congressional tribute. She noted it helped to bring in other modern museums to the area, including the Museum of the Moving Image and the Socrates Sculpture Park.

David Holbrook, chairman of the museum, said he was grateful for the congresswoman’s accolades and said Noguchi would be proud of the honors.

“It’s a witness to the congresswoman’s commitment to the museum and to the arts,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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