Culture Lab LIC is a new nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed to support the efforts of local artists who have been running the Plaxall Gallery, and its significant community work and arts programming over the past five years. Since opening our doors in October 2016, thanks to the generous donation from Plaxall Inc. of a 12,000 square foot converted warehouse, the programs and community outreach have doubled every year.
With thousands of guests in attendance, serving dozens of nonprofit organizations, our surrounding community truly benefits from these efforts.
A very special thanks to Plaxall Inc. for the donation of this amazing space and supporting us in turning it into this cornerstone of arts and community activity!
Thank you to our 2020 fiscal sponsor, Hunters Point Parks Conservancy for their trust and support!
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.
Tana Sirois, Performing Arts Director
Tana has served as The Plaxall Gallery's Performing Arts Director since it opened its doors in 2016. Tana has 13 years of experience producing theatre, with a primary focus on devised theatre and new works.
Tana graduated from the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts 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.
Tana is passionate about making art happen by providing an affordable venue and artistic support to emerging musicians, theatre and dance companies and individual artists in NYC.
More information at www.tanasirois.com
Director of Events
Since moving to New York City, Tess Howsam has produced and designed over 70 arts events, from underground warehouse parties to galas and Fashion Week exclusives.
Not only a seasoned Event Director, Howsam is also an interdisciplinary artist who curates and directs ekphrastic shows that blend theater, installation art, and performance. Howsam seeks to subvert theatrical expectations while building cross-disciplinary collaborations rooted in story. Viewing art as a dialogue, she gravitates toward building immersive work that addresses contemporary sociological, political, and environmental issues.
Howsam is the Founding Artistic Director of immersive, interdisciplinary company, Exquisite Corpse Company (2012-present). Exquisite Corpse Company's latest project Zoetrope (2021), received rave reviews and was written up in The New Yorker and selected as The New York Times Critic's Pick.
Tess is thrilled to be joining the Culture Lab LIC team and looks forward to the many events to come!
For more about Zoetrope and Exquisite Corpse Company, visit ExquisiteCorpseCompany.com
For more information on Tess, visit TessHowsam.com
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.
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.
Board of Directors
Steve Cooper - President
Barbara Etzel -Treasurer
Jordan Hare - Secretary
Advisory: Tamsin Dillon
Help us so we can continue to help the community...