Works of all kinds shine in LIC Arts Open shows

Ten years ago, Caroline Bergonzi lost her father, a doctor who, she said, liked the feeling of being around a garage and working with metal, a fascination that found him spending a great deal of time repairing cars.

Bergonzi seems to have inherited this affinity, which she has put to creative use.

“Ashes to Gold: The Alchemy of Caroline Bergonzi,” a solo art exhibit of some of her works, is now on view at the LIC Arts Open Gallery at The Factory in Long Island City, one of two fascinating attractions running concurrently in the former furniture warehouse. Both exhibits, curated by Richard Mazda, will remain on view through Sept. 6.

Among Bergonzi’s many extraordinary pieces is “Golden One,” which she created over a period of three weeks earlier this year. It was made from a single flat square sheet of metal. Bergonzi first drew on the sheet in chalk, then cut it, brazed it and shaped it into its finished form, an intricately designed phoenix, a mythical bird said to have risen from its own ashes.

“It’s complicated to make, complicated to transport. I would almost say impossible,” she said.

The themes of birth and transformation run through much of Bergonzi’s work, as do various incarnations of birds.

A 40-pound mobile, called simply “Prey,” was inspired by ospreys, large hawks that feed on fish. In Bergonzi’s vision, it takes on “a little bit of aquatic flair.” It’s also her newest creation, completed at the end of July, one week before the exhibition opened.

Across the lobby is the other exhibition, “Burn This,” which features the works of some five dozen artists and was inspired by one of them, David Sena. The title was taken from a play of the same name by Lanford Wilson.

Sena employs fireworks in his art, using them to make marks on paper, part of a process he has been practicing for 22 years.

“In June, Richard saw my work and it inspired him to put the show together,” he said in a recent telephone interview.

Sena has three pieces on display in the show, all of which were created, in part, by burning holes through layers of paper.

The results are as unique as the process. In fact, Sena said he has never “seen anything particularly like” his creations. He traced the idea back to his childhood when, he recalled, he would see marks on the sidewalk from fireworks that had been set off. And, he said, he is still discovering new techniques to employ in his art.

While some might think what he does is dangerous, Sena said he tries to keep things as safe as possible, but added, “I’ve been lucky not to burn my hands off.”

Also represented in the exhibit is interdisciplinary artist Donnelly Marks, a resident of Astoria who has been a commercial photographer since 1983.

“I like 3-D,” Marks said. “I like assemblage. I like the flow of consciousness.”

She photographs objects of interest and uses Photoshop to create what she called a “digital collage.” The finished products are on view in three pieces that are part of her Fire Series.

Perhaps the most unusual attraction comes courtesy of Mar Hwa, who calls herself a “digital immortality consultant,” offering an interactive performance that asks visitors to examine their digital habits. The final step of the application process is a burning ceremony using Chinese funeral paper, also known as ghost money.

‘Ashes to Gold’ and ‘Burn This’
When: Through Fri., Sept. 6
Where: The Factory, 30-30 47 Ave., Long Island City
Entry: Free. (718) 392-0722,