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Exercise and Art Will Meet In Queens Boulevard Installation

Artist Designed With Youth Organization

A Queens artist will be exploring the intersection of aesthetics and utility at an intersection in Sunnyside with a temporary sculptural installation set for early summer that doubles as workout equipment.

This rendering shows the proposed layout for a combination art installation/workout space called ‘Flexible’ to be placed under the 7 train in Sunnyside. The installation is the result of a partnership between the Department of Transportation and Queens visual artist Darren Goins

“I wanted to make a sculpture that would challenge physically and mentally,” said Darren Goins, the 29- year-old artist who will be installing three sculptures under the 7 train at the intersection of 40th street and Queens Boulevard.

The work will be called ‘Flexible,’ he said.

To bring the idea to life, Goins partnered with Queens-based arms of the Boys and Girls Club and the Department of Transportation (DOT), which controls the public space the art will be installed on.

Queens artist Darren Goins worked with 9- and 10-year-olds from the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens and the Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club to create his art installation, ‘Flexible’-the full-size sculptures to be installed under the 7 train at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard will double as workout equipment. Pictured are some of the kids who Goins mentored as part of the project.

Goins, who recently lived two blocks from the site before moving to Astoria, said he saw a call for artists from the DOT’s Urban Art Program, walked to the location and just started making designs.

“I like to put my art in my immediate area,” said the artist, who earned his BFA in printmaking and photography from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte in 2010.

He said working with the Sunnyside/ Woodside Boys & Girls Club (SWBGC) was a no-brainer-the club is four blocks from the site, and its mission jibes with the project.

“I knew I wanted to do something sports-related, so the Boys & Girls club made sense,” Goins said.

Goins held eight workshops in the fall lasting an hour or more: Four were with the SWBGC, and four were held with the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ).

“He did a great job working with the kids and getting them motivated,” said SWBGC Unit Director Kenny Medrano.

At first, Goins just let the kids, who were between nine and 10 years old, draw freely. As they learned more and became invested in the project, he began staying longer at sessions and getting the kids more involved in the design process, the artist said.

Goins said the 10 kids he mentored showed a definite progression over the course of the design process.

During the last two workshops, he brought in pre-cut plastic shapes and let kids build their own sculpture models, Goins said.

He said he gave very few parameters in an attempt to let the kids explore design and space.

“They’re all excited to see the result,” Medrano said. “Overall it was a great experience.”

Nuts and bolts

The site will be both safe and well-maintained, according to Urban Art Program Manager Emily Colasacco, who presented the project to Community Board 2, May 2.

“We don’t just come in and throw art down,” she said.

The installation will be maintained by Goins and the Boys & Girls Clubs, who will be responsible for cleaning the site regularly, ensuring the installation is removed after its one-year tenure and returning the site to its pre-installation state, Colasacco said.

Despite its name, ‘Flexible’ will be anything but. Goins is making the sculpture from powder-coated stainless steel and reinforced plastic, Colasacco said.

Designs were approved by a statelicensed engineer, and the project will be installed by a certified city contractor, Colasacco told the board. A rubber surface will be installed under the sculptures per Parks Department requirements, she added.

The area will receive lighting upgrades, too, according to Hilary Gietz, who works for the DOT’s Queens Borough Commissioner’s Office. She said no additional lighting can be installed, because the 7 train’s infrastructure belongs to the MTA-not the DOT-but brighter LED bulbs will be installed in existing lights.

Community board members asked whether the installation can prevent vendors from using the area. Colasacco said the Urban Art Program is, in part, intended to “gently displace vendors through some sort of beautification effort.”

Gietz said the installation will also include information about the artist and how to use the sculptures as workout equipment.

Goins received grant-based funding and support from the DOT’s Urban Art Program, which has installed more than 100 projects across the city over the last 5 years, according to Colasacco. The installations remain for one year, she said.

The board approved the installation, stipulating it wants the site cleaned every week rather than every few weeks, which was the DOT’s proposition.

Look for ‘Flexible’ under the 7 train at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard later this summer.

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