The Q.A.S seeks to showcase art, fashion and music in a vibrant and unassuming manner so that the art form is not held to the traditional pedestals of the “white-cube” gallery, sleek runway, classic stage and the like. Rather, the prospective spectator may witness the creations as an organic part of a communal environment - where not one thing is set apart from another – and where art may fuse with everyday life.
By Shawn Evertsen
HOW TO DISSOLVE BARRIERS, BUILD NEW STAGES AND NURTURE MAJESTIC TREES OF NEW TALENT… TAP INTO AND BE A PART OF NEW YORK CITY’S BIGGEST ARTISTIC COMMUNITY AT THE QAS…
New York City is rich. The most valuable assets in all the Big Apple are not the glittering skyscrapers, not the global volume of Wall Street trades, nor the bubbling oil wells of tourism dollars. The most priceless commodity in NY is the electrifying culture of the people, the art and efforts of millions of passionate creators making their mark on the world’s shiniest stage.
In a town where legendary rock clubs have been replaced by over-priced designer boutiques (CBGB’s) and the bohemian enclaves that once nurtured a musical and artistic renaissance have been bulldozed for college dorm rooms (too much of the LES), local artists have been challenged to find ideal places to gain exposure.
Any void in nature must be filled, all demand must be fulfilled to maintain vital equilibrium. Born in 2010, the Quarterly Arts Soirée has been providing a major spotlight for countless performers, artists and musicians at various Manhattan venues for over five years, and continues to expand across the big city of dreams.
The original idea for the QAS was sparked by co-founders and curators Gerard McNamee and Jenny Mushkin-Goldman, who joined forces to express;
“The mission of the QAS is to exhibit, expose and promote talent in painting, music, film, fashion, theater, graphic design and performance, installation and video art, while celebrating the rich cultural history of the Webster Hall venue and of New York City’s dynamic East Village. We seek to showcase art, fashion and music in a vibrant, unassuming manner, so that the art form is not held in the traditional pedestals of the white-cube gallery, sleek runway, classic stage and the like. Rather, the prospective spectator may witness the creations as an organic part of a communal environment, where not one thing is set apart from another, and where art may fuse with everyday life.”
In all of Manhattan it doesn’t get much bigger and better than the world-famous Webster Hall. Established in 1886, no one disputes its status as the longest-running nightclub in Manhattan still rocking every Monday through Friday, 365 days a year. Once upon a time it was called the Ritz, and the song that coined the phrase “Puttin’ On The Ritz” (meaning to make oneself as well-dressed as possible to go out and socialize at a popular venue) was written about and for the very same place.
For 129 years Webster Hall has hosted everyone from Al Capone to Guns ’N Roses and that friend you went to college with who is now in a cult-famous indie band or EDM group. Trying to encompass and capture why Webster Hall is so historically and currently significant and important to NY nightlife in mere words is like trying to explain why the planets revolve around the sun.
The scope of the billing has led to the vast spaces of Webster Hall being used in unconventional ways, such as a large-scale staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Grand Ballroom in 2010. The number of names of artists, bands, performers and presenters of every imaginable dimension are simply to many to list or even attempt to summarize.
The concept and mission of the QAS is too big to be contained to even a space as massive as Webster Hall. In turn, the concept has evolved into a further form dubbed “The QAS Presents”. These shows often take place at downtown nightspots East Village Social (Mondays at 126 St Marks Place) and The Late Late (Wednesdays at 159 East Houston St).
While the QAS Presents shows don’t involve eight-plus hours filled with hundreds of people, they retain the spirit and energy of the QAS as a collective, keeping the modern salon busy and active during the downtime between coordination of the larger events.
Matthew Evertsen is the founder of RONIN, LLC and music director at Moondog NYC. Matthew was an integral part of the QAS from the outset as one of the founding co-producers and music liaison. He recalled the show as;
“An incredible night, all types of artists, all types of musicians, all types of sounds, just a gathering of the creative arts. To be involved with such an important project that means this much to the community at such a legendary venue is an honor and a privilege”
Michael Morello is an actor, writer, General Manager of Slake in midtown, and long-time member of the Webster Hall community. He’s been co-producing the QAS and it’s spin-off QAS Presents from day one. When asked what the project meant to him he replied;
“The QAS is what every artist longs for, a place to belong and call home. It has grown into one of the largest artist communities in NYC. Like any well kept garden, it grows and grows year after year and reaps talent from every medium.”
The soul of the QAS is directly descendant from exalted creative scenes from history. Clear parallels can be drawn to the libertine French salons of the 19th century, the parties of Swinging London in the 1960’s or the rebellious art shows like PS1 curated by Diego Cortez in the early 1980’s that helped bring names like Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame.
No matter how many luxury hotels, skyscraper condominiums, pharmacy chains or banks clog the real estate of Manhattan, no matter how high the rent is or how culture changes in any conceivable way, the people need art to survive. Art, music and free expression are equally vital to the good health of any human being as food, water, sleep and shelter.
New York City needs more events like the QAS and QAS Presents. Follow the hashtag #QAS, keep your eyes, ears and collars up, because the next one will happening sooner than you think.