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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Artists Zachary Becker, Eleni Theodora Zaharopoulos and Evyenia Papadakou stand in front of the Malba home.

A north Queens resident is looking to establish her neighborhood as an arts destination.

Artist Eleni Theodora Zaharopoulos, who grew up in Malba, launched the pioneering “Malba Arts Project” on June 19. With funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs awarded through the Queens Council on the Arts, Zaharopoulos has turned her childhood home at 42 Boulevard into a space where artists can live, work and create.

Zaharopoulos, who studied poetry, film and theater, said creating the program has been a longtime dream. In 1989, the home and its backyard were transformed into a wedding reception space for her cousin and nearly 200 guests — a memory she said left “an indelible mark.”

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve just really enjoyed bringing or doing things here,” the artist said. “It’s such a big house … and it can easily be sectioned off like this.”

Zaharopoulos’s mother, Evyenia Papadakou, lives in the space and is a collaborator on the undertaking, the artist said. In addition to hostessing, Papadakou will also cook for each artist’s weekend reception.

Participating artists Zachary Becker, Ashley Yang-Thompson and Tiffany Smith will each receive room and board, an artist stipend and a personal studio space for about two weeks. Each artist’s residency will culminate with a public viewing and reception.

Becker, an interdisciplinary artist whose residency ended on July 2, created “Meet Me in Malba,” an installation which recreates his West Village basement studio inside of Zaharopoulos’s childhood bedroom to scale. The space was open to the public on July 1 and 2.

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“It’s totally a two-way street, in that, in my time here, I have spent a fair amount of time walking the neighborhood,” Becker said. “To me, and this may be selfish, but it’s been a great opportunity to come to a neighborhood that I probably would never have spent any time in otherwise.”

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“Everyone who is doing this residency, in one way or another, is a good fit for the project,” Zaharopoulos said. “It’s about activating the space in a new way.”

Billed as a residency in “pastoral New York City,” Zaharopoulos said the home and picturesque neighborhood are conducive to creativity and expression.

“Not a lot of New York City is like this,” the artist said. “I love bringing people here because I think it’s such a unique place.”

The program will run until Aug. 31. Check Zaharopoulos’s blog for updates on the project and dates of the other two upcoming public receptions.

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