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Art Int.: Set Smith, Astoria, Queens, NY

Set Smith - Sparkle Frog 
What should we know before we go to Astoria?
Greek, Arabic, Spanish, and a little Russian wouldn’t hurt.

What are you currently working on?
The abstract expressionists put themselves on their canvases, which collectors buy for staggering sums. The street artists playfully comment on the setting, usually for everyone to enjoy. Your daughter may draw the family in front of the house with crayons on lined paper. This last work has the most meaning, yet the least monetary value. Art made for your friends to put in their homes is the most neglected and “illegitimate” distribution model, despite easily producing the most important art we have. I’m really an engineer, and I’m innovating my process with the ultimate goal of being able to make a lot of great art for my friends. Each work is made specifically for a friend, I give it to them for free, and I ask them to never sell it. This won’t make me world famous, but what a narrow minded definition of success that is. If, say, 300 people have my art in their living rooms, they love it, and they tell their friends stories about it, that’s success.
 Set Smith - Ai Wei Wei triple 
I am in the process of collecting a few artists who appreciate this fundamental insight and I’m helping to design innovations in their processes too. We’re tentatively calling ourselves The Pantheon after the idea that we want to have personal relationships with lots of friends and fans. I think it would be fun to tailor our artistic personalities to fit together like a real old school pantheon too.
Are there any art events in Astoria we should put on our calendar?
I am going to claim that Long Island City is in Astoria so I can say the PS1 summer events. PS1 is my favorite art museum in the city.
Let’s throw the Socrates Sculpture Park Summer Solstice event on that list too, just in case you got sick of wading through the hipsters at PS1. Socrates Sculpture Park is an unsung community mecca bringing together babies, dogs, folk art, and pagan holidays.
Last but not least, and just down the road from Socrates Sculpture Park, Ad Hoc Art throws an annual mural painting festival in Welling Ct.
Who are some of your favorite local artists?
Alice Mizrachi does these murals with great texture and appealing female figures. Lady Pink’s female figures are really fun too.
Set Smith - SharkIs there an arts community/scene vibe in Astoria?
Absolutely. We’re super damn friendly too.
What is your favorite place to see art and where should we go to eat, drink around there?
Once you’re done partying at PS1, walk across the street to 5 Pointz. It’s an enormous warehouse covered in curated murals, a bejeweled Iron Maiden t-shirt of a gallery. It’s on the chopping block, so see it now. After all that, walk northeast along Jackson Ave a little over a mile to 33-07 36th Avenue. Arepas Cafe has the best arepas in the city. Get some of that brown sugar lemonade while you’re there too. Then you’re just 2 blocks from our newest beer garden Studio Square at 36th St. and 36th Ave. where you can have a pitcher at a picnic table with some friends.
Any other musts to see and do in Astoria?
The Museum of the Moving Image was startlingly fun. Astoria park is pretty great.

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