Artist looks to transform local arts scene

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A column by Michael Perlman in the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times

The visual arts scene in Forest Hills is on the rise, with new galleries at OvoSodo Italian Bistro at 110-60 Queens Boulevard, Red Pipe Organic Café at 71-60 Austin Street, and La Boulangerie at 109-01 72nd Road.

Enter Katherine Liepe-Levinson, a 32-year Forest Hills Gardens resident and an award-winning magic-realist photographer, who coordinated an art exhibition and holiday party at Ovo Gallery on December 18.

The event was well attended by neighborhood residents, business owners, and some out-of-towners. The show featured eleven works from Liepe-Levinson’s recent “Pond Series.” The works, which were shot at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, are for sale and will remain on exhibition through February.

“I focused on some of the wondrous effects of water reflections, in order to make the ordinary pond strange and extraordinary, and have viewers ponder more deeply on the beauty and necessity of protecting our natural resources,” said Liepe-Levinson, who added that her ongoing endeavor is to capture freshwater ponds throughout Queens and Long Island as a means of conservation advocacy.

Guests felt her works resembled paintings, and referred to them as decorative, meditative, and thought-provoking.

“The vibrant colors and patterns are attributed to my use of camera angles to create natural polarization results, using high speed lenses to pause action, and carefully watching the play of the wind in the trees and on the surface of the water, creating reflections that look like abstract paintings,” the artist explained.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of Photoshop or related effects programs are not part of her palette, but rather a high-end digital camera, followed by processing the raw format images in Lightroom with traditional darkroom principles.

Liepe-Levinson hopes to promote other local artists. In a well-received presentation, she proposed the idea of establishing the Forest Hills Alliance of Artists and Restaurants/Cafes and called for volunteers. Ideally, the program would be launched in the early summer and feature an initial mini-art crawl.

“Many of our most desirable neighborhoods were first home to artists, such as in SoHo, Chelsea, and Williamsburg,” she said. “Forest Hills offers a great location and neighborhood feel, coupled with the nearby Queens Museum and entertainment choices. It’s a natural place to grow a more notable home for the arts and an even more desirable neighborhood.”

Visualizing two to three-month exhibitions featuring other artists at OvoSodo, Liepe-Levinson has already presented a contract to co-owner Roberto Lamorte for a plan of two to three-month rotating exhibitions.

Visit the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times for the full story.

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