July 24, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
An acrylic painting will be raffled off Sunday to benefit the victims of a massive fire that tore through a Jackson Heights apartment building in April.
The raffle will take place at the Queens Pop-up Market– a market that will feature about 30 vendors– that is being held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, located at 37-06 77th Street, on July 25.
Raffle tickets are priced at $5 each, with a painting of the Empire State Building at sunset—by Queens artist Rafael Rivera—going to the winner. The raffle proceeds will be donated to the victims of a fire that destroyed two apartment buildings located at 89-07 and 89-11 34th Ave on April 6.
John Armen, who co-founded the market with his wife, Lisa Sunseesa, said the pair decided to put the raffle together out of concern for their fellow residents.
“We feel we should be involved in helping those in need,” said Armen, an art photographer. “It’s putting yourself in their shoes.”
More than 100 families were forced to abandon their apartments after an eight-alarm blaze tore through the buildings. There were no casualties but 21 people – 16 of whom were firefighters – were injured.
A Go Fund Me page was launched just hours after the fire to help the families. As of Friday, it had raised $359,580.
Armen says he would be happy if they can raise $350-$500 at the pop-up, and says he and the artist will match the amount raised.
The pop-up will be the third to take place—the market was previously held on May 22 and July 11 at the same venue—and features a diverse group of vendors selling food, art and crafts.
Among the vendors are The Boiis Co, a Filipino-owned snack business that sells mochi-filled treats, and Spicy Mami, which sells Asian fusion snacks like chili-covered gummy bears.
There will be an eclectic mix of artists that will have tables. For instance, there will be artists such as The Salvaged Sawhorse, a Queens-based artist who sells pieces with positive affirmations on them. Other vendors will offer handmade jewelry to organic soaps.
In addition to vendors, there will also be live performances, including a traditional Thai dance performance and an acoustic singer.