New New Yorkers
Amina Lei, Emily Fjaellen Thompson,
Julie Paveglio and Queena Ko
January 1 – March 30 2014
Lucky Luna Restaurant and Bar, 167 Nassau Ave, BK 11222
As part of Lucky Luna’s mission, we wanted our space to be utilized for others to showcase their talents, both edible and visual. Our inaugural art show highlights 4 local female artists who are either not originally from New York (like the Lucky Luna crew) or who have lived a great deal of their lives outside of the city, but who have chosen to set roots here (at least temporarily so). The show is intended to deconstruct the personal relationships that everyone has with the iconic city of New York. Known world-wide, the name alone conjures up very specific images, emotions and ideas for people from all walks of life— some who only know it as portrayed on the television, radio and cinema, or perhaps only from stories told by family about a distant cousin who once made his way to the big apple. New York is the place where people come to make their dreams come true, with varying degrees of success. Everyone carries with them their cultures, experiences and diverse world-views. They crash and collide, share and rejoice, juxtapose and intermingle on the streets of this mega metropolis.
The works featured at Lucky Luna and here on the blog, are the artists’ response to this: their journey, discovery, and perspective as a New New Yorker (or New Yorker rediscovered), about their chosen city. Each artist took a different approach, from the self-reflective to the observational, the ethereal to the matter-of-fact. The collective show is also a response on behalf of Lucky Luna that acknowledges our position as newcomers to the city. We have landed in a neighborhood built upon years of dreams and desires of predominantly Polish immigrants. While we celebrate and honor our cultures and our beginnings, Lucky Luna is excited to see what the future holds for us, influenced by the relationships with our new neighbors and home.
Amina Lei Painting: Womb 24×36 Acrylic on canvas
At an early age Eileen Lei (Amina Lei) was inspired by the rawness of hip hop, reflecting her passion for storytelling and truth-telling through art. As a 2nd generation Chinese American born and raised in the Bay Area, Eileen is a product of community and cultural intersections. She picked up her first paintbrush at the age of 3, guided by her first art teacher – her grandmother. Eileen’s childhood represented the complexity and beauty of growing up in the diverse culture of the Bay. She was raised simultaneously in the crowded and historical streets of San Francisco Chinatown and the hardened neighborhoods of Richmond, CA. Rebellious by nature, Eileen challenged the expectations of her traditional Chinese family. Her identity was shaped by her ability to pick up her pens and paintbrushes in order to express her growing pains through art and words. As a child, a teenager and an adult, this always fueled her evolution as a woman. It was the revolutionary spirit of Oakland, CA that shaped Eileen’s social justice and feminist thinking.
The unique privilege of being nurtured by the cultural diversity in the Bay Area allowed Eileen to move to the unforgiving city of New York. It is here, in the city of dreams made or broken, where Eileen’s creativity was both inspired to and forced to blossom – artistic creation in New York became not only a passion but a means and a necessity for survival and well-being. By day, Eileen works as a make-up artist. A woman’s face is a natural extension of her art canvas, as much of her paintings reflect the strength and light of women. Her passion, however, lies in her easel where she is met with the continuous opportunity to tell a story.
Today, Eileen’s art reflects the challenges and triumphs of rising against the odds – both self-imposed and socially-imposed. Her paintings are a meditation on courage, as this is the theme of the creative growth and evolution of Eileen as an artist. Courage not only allowed her to survive but it also allows her to lead a life that is reflective and truthful of her personal journey. As an artist, Eileen strives to be just that – courageous and honest.
Other works by Amina Lei
Emily Fjaellen Thompsom
Emily grew up in a small town in upstate New York. She found a way to sneak into her high school’s darkroom and no one seemed to mind and so she spent many hours there, developing and printing. Several years later, Emily is back in New York. She now lives in Brooklyn after time in Peru, Argentina, and the Bay Area. Emily’s roommate won’t let her turn their bathroom into a darkroom, so most of her photography these days is digital.
For more from around the city: instagram.com/emilicha
For more from around the world: photoblog.com/emthompson
Emily Fjaellen Thompson Photographs: Downtown Brooklyn / Coney / Bergen
Julie Paveglio Painting: In the Roses 48×42 Acrylic on canvas
Julie is interested in the interdependent relationship of humanity and environment. She questions how individuals are shaped by their surroundings and how the environment is shaped by those who inhabit it. Paveglio’s work addresses the fragile balance between survival and demise. People, medical imagery and organic form narrate ideas and moods that are solid but transitory, recognizable and foreign, connected but isolated, to further question adaptation and regeneration amidst a dynamic, ever-changing world.
Hailing from a small town in Michigan, Julie “made it out” and meandered for a number of years in Vermont cultivating her artistic voice and vision before landing in New York. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Brooklyn College and is expected to graduate this year.
Queena Ko Painting: Lucky Luna, Before (2013) 27×27 Oil and pastel on canvas
Queena Ko moved to New York in 2010 after graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in studio art and architecture. Her oil paintings are inspired by Manhattan’s urban landscape and incorporate abstract elements that reference her architectural training in digital media. Queena has shown at multiple locations in the city, including Chashama 461 gallery in Harlem and The Poetry Club Art Space, an underground gallery in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. She currently teaches as a freelance art educator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.