Home of Fire Island LGBTQ Artist Residency Destroyed in Freak Fire

What now for the world's first LGBTQ artist residency?


A fire last night destroyed the building that housed the Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR), which hosts lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified artists on New York’s Long Island each summer. Co-founding director Chris Bogia confirmed the news by phone this morning from Astoria, Queens.

The Holly House hotel and Ice Palace bar, local landmarks in the town of Cherry Grove, about sixty miles from Manhattan, were destroyed. Two firefighters reportedly suffered minor injuries.

“I’m so sad for all the property damage, but we did not lose a lot of stuff,” Bogia told artnet News, “but our archives, though small, did contain a lot of irreplaceable materials. But the main concern is to strategize how to keep going. It’s the first LGBTQ artist residency in the world. We’re not gonna stop.”

Founded by Bogia and Evan J. Garza in 2011, FIAR hosted artists Travis Boyer, Ryan Brewer, Elijah Burgher, A.K. Burns, and Katherine Hubbard in its initial year. Visiting artists have included Nayland Blake, Lyle Ashton Harris, and AA Bronson. Its advisory board includes Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and actor and trans icon Mx Justin Vivian Bond.

Photo: Mike Xirinachs/WCBS 880

Photo: Mike Xirinachs/WCBS 880

“What was amazing about Holly House was that it was affordable, and large enough to house our residents,” Bogia said. “We were fortunate to have a landlord who is incredibly flexible and supportive of our mission. It’s a resort community, so many owners are not looking to rent their properties to people who want to make art in them.”

As for this summer’s residencies, Bogia said, “We are not going anywhere. The residencies will definitely still happen this summer.”

By a bizarre coincidence, the blaze happened just hours after an explosion and fire in New York’s East Village, in which two buildings collapsed.

“As it happens, I was a block away from there and was evacuated when that happened,” Bogia said.

Also by coincidence, a benefit auction is underway at Paddle 8 through April 3, including works by artists such as Nayland Blake, Danica Phelps, Anthony Giocolea, Tony Feher, Rashaad Newsome, Gordon Hall, Matt Keegan, Jack Pierson, and Ryan McNamara.


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