Culture Lab LIC is a 501(c)(3) formed to be the arts and culture umbrella for Western Queens. We present local, national, and international art of all genres, while supporting New York artists and other nonprofits by providing space, resources and a sense of community.
Operating out of a 12,000 square foot converted warehouse, Culture Lab LIC hosts two fine art galleries, an 80 seat theater, classroom space, an 18,000 square foot outdoor venue, and a robust residency program. Culture Lab LIC is dedicated to upholding, equity, diversity and inclusion across all our platforms.
Edjo Wheeler, Executive Director
As Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The Plaxall Gallery, Edjo has produced over fifty fine-art exhibitions, forty theater and musical productions, over one hundred classes and educational programs and dozens of community events. He has helped raise thousands of dollars for local charities by activating this center for their benefit.
Edjo is a sculptor, designer, curator and filmmaker in New York for the past twenty years. He has been establishing original programs for the arts his whole life, curating his first art exhibition and traveling educational theater troupe when only eighteen years old. Programming credits include the New York Film Academy, School for Film and Television and NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He has worked on twenty films, sixteen television shows and over eighty stage productions as a producer, director or stunt coordinator. Projects include YouTube Originals Sherwood, The History Channel's Woman Warriors, Court TV's Haunting Mysteries, One Life to Live, Guiding Light, and New Amsterdam. Edjo directed over 50 documentary films for The US Department of Energy, Con Edison, Good Will Industries, The City of New York, among others, raising over 1.8 million dollars for these nonprofit educational platforms.
Building The Plaxall Gallery and Culture Lab from scratch with such an amazing team has been a highlight of his career.
Tess Howsam, Artistic Director
Tess Howsam is an international director and installation artist. An artistic maverick, Howsam has worked as a multi-hyphenate artist, director, and curator in NYC for over a decade. Central to Howsam’s work are questions of gender roles, audience integration, and building collaborations across artistic mediums. Howsam is a reoccurring Co-Director on projects with Germany company Das Letze de Klinode. Founding Artistic Director of interdisciplinary immersive theater company Exquisite Corpse Company (ECC), Howsam leads the development of ekphrastic immersive theater. ECC’s interactive piece, ZOETROPE, was the New York Times Critic’s Pick and featured in New Yorker Magazine. Howsam has held artist residencies at Guild Hall (East Hampton), El Centro de las Artes de Querétaro (CEART) Querétaro, Mexico, and Town Stages (NYC).. Her work has been featured throughout NYC at venues such as: The Barrow Group, Governors Island, SoHo Rep, and HERE arts center.
“What I love about Culture Lab LIC is that it is an exciting collage of artistic mediums and a space for everyone. When I first came to Culture Lab LIC, I was drawn to it as an artist and an inspirational space to create and produce new work. As Culture Lab LIC’s Artistic Director, I am proud to serve an organization that champions its community, a community built by international and local artists and our neighbors. ”
In 2023, Tess was the recipient of The League of Professional Theatre Women’s Lucille Lortel Award.
MFA - Interdisciplinary Arts: Goddard College, Washington
BA - Theater: Bard College, New York
Director of Photographic Programming
Orestes Gonzalez is a photo artist & curator based in Queens, NY. His photography work relates to issues of nostalgia, family and the political and economic forces changing our country. He has curated over 20 photography shows since 2008, first at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in LIC, then independently, since 2012. His curated exhibit “Disruption”, opened at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) in 2018.
His first monograph,“Julio’s House”, is now a traveling show and was recently shown at The Frederic Snitzer Gallery in Miami and SF Camerawork Gallery in San Francisco (2018, 2019). His monthly photo column,”orestes’ LIC”,in the LIC Courier Magazine, chronicles the many changes in his community of Long Island City, Queens, described by New York Magazine as “the fastest growing neighborhood in the U.S.”
Orestes has shown extensively in the US and Latin America, and is in the collections of The Perez Art Museum, Miami, and the book collections of The NY Metropolitan Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others. In November of 2022, Orestes was named a New Yorker of the Week by NY1 News.
Lisa Charles, Music Talent Coordinator
Lisa Charles comes to Culture Lab with a management degree from NYU, and a background in project management, events planning and music management.
Lisa originally joined us as a volunteer during Covid, lending her event planning and music management experience to help begin Culture Lab's outdoor “Summer Sessions” and our “Winter Culture Lab Live” indoor YouTube programming - where you can also find her behind camera #2!
Lisa is very passionate about community and music and is grateful to be a resident of LIC and a part of the CL Team!
Guillermo Laporta, Technical Director
Guillermo Laporta is a New York City-based flutist, designer, director, and producer. He is currently the executive and artistic director of CreArtBox.
Laporta has a master’s degree from the Royal College of Music of London and a Master’s in Arts Management from Alcala University in Madrid.
During his career as a flutist, he has performed a broad repertoire of symphonic, opera, and chamber works, with BBC Concert Orchestra, Asturias Symphony Orchestra, Oviedo Symphony Orchestra, sharing the stage with renowned musicians such as Sir. Roger Norrington, Andrew Litton, Pablo González, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Truls Mørk, Natalia Gutman, Labèque Sisters, and Ainhoa Arteta.
Tana Sirois, Co-founder and Performing Arts Director Emeritus
Tana served as Culture Lab's Performing Arts Director from 2016 to 2022. Tana has 16 years of experience producing theatre, with a primary focus on devised theatre and new works.
Tana is an actor, director and producer. She graduated from Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts with a degree in Acting in 2011, and went on to co-found Dirt [contained] Theatre Company, which makes provocative, socially conscious theatre with an absurd twist. Tana is also the associate artistic director for the theatre company, Stripped Scripts.
She aims to use a truly experimental approach to her work, utilizing a variety of theatrical languages to explore original ideas that ignite new and expansive thoughts for a modern audience. She strives to explore the complex and important issues of our time with humor and truth.
She is passionate about supporting emerging artists producing original, ambitious and diverse work. More information at www.tanasirois.com
Board of Directors
Steve Cooper - President
Stephen Cooper, Attorney, Stephen Cooper, Member, CB2
Leonard Klipper - Treasurer
Managing Director of Development and Facility Assets, Posillico
Jordan Hare - Secretary
Director of Planning, Plaxall
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Culture Lab LIC
Joshua Chiet - Board Member
Principal Engineer, Dialpad
Barbara Etzel - Board Member
Licensed real estate sales person, Corcoran
Tristan Fisher-Smith - Board Member
Director of Creative Fabrication, Eventscape A+D
Jacquline Morin - Board Member
Project Designer, Jeffrey Berman Architect
Tony Pfohl - Board Member
Managing Director, Plaxall
Deputy Queens Borough President, Borough of Queens
Tamsin Dillon - Advisory