By Tammy Scileppi
Kew Gardens is a place where art has a home.
A special group exhibit showcasing the talents of 30 outstanding local artists, is on view through June 10 at Austin’s Ale House, located at 82-70 Austin St. in the heart of Kew Gardens.
The aptly titled “Kew Gardens: A Place Where Art Has A Home” features 60 pieces of diverse works of art, capturing images of daily life in that quaint urban village — a bustling art community where creativity sines in the spotlight.
Photos, oil paintings and even a sculpture were submitted, and after the show closes, each piece will be donated to a Kew Gardens business where it will be permanently on view.
This project was made possible by a community grant awarded to the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, Inc. by the Citizens Committee for New York City.
“What started out as an idea to bring local artists together to share their favorite images of Kew Gardens and to bring artwork into our mom and pop businesses to promote beauty, interest, interaction and discussion, has taken on a deeper meaning,” said Carol Lacks, a Kew Gardens Improvement Association board member. “Kew Gardens is a unique community and our hope is to help, through the arts, to preserve a sense of place and the awareness of the importance of residents coming together to protect their home.”
Another board member, Rosemary Sherman, wrote the following for the Kew Gardens Civic Association Newsletter:
“This initiative will capture the heart and soul of everyday life. It will instill a sense of pride and help residents see what they might never have noticed about their surroundings: The classic homes nestled on our tree-lined streets, as well as the sidewalks of our commercial areas, lined with local stores. Forest Park is well represented and you will see images of people relaxing, a painting of teams playing soccer, dogs frolicking in the Overlook Dog Park, and the frog in the Overlook Playground, ready to spray water on children waiting to cool off on a hot day.
“The beauty of Kew Gardens’ venues covered with new snow, Kew & Willow Books at night, two children selling tomatoes at their tomato stand, Sophie, a neighbor’s black cat, peering out an apartment window, eyeing a cardinal in a close-by tree, are some of the other images.”
Local painter Weimin Mo is a prolific artist who strives to create something amazing almost daily. He finds his nirvana through observing and painting the everyday beauty around him. Afterward, he posts his work on his blog with memoir text. The painting of “Save the Bridge/Save Kew Gardens,” was made in a few hours on a blustery April morning.
Designer/illustrator Pauline Nunez Maruzzelli, who goes by Neene, is another exhibit participant. The School of Visual Arts graduate said she’s inspired by community-based projects such as this one.
“As a local resident, I am grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in issues that directly affect me and my family,” she said. “It is also a chance for me to paint in watercolor and collage, which I don’t get to do as a freelance web designer.”
Neene has shown her work in other local projects, such as the “Global Art Project for Peace” and “HomeFull, a celebration of Poetry and Art in the borough of Queens.”
Another artist, Robert W. Murphy, was born into a large creative family where musical and visual art expression were encouraged. He said his personal drive is “to imbue my work with a feeling of atmosphere, a turn of a thought, or an unspoken word.”
According to Sherman, this show reflects “the timeless grace and classic beauty of our urban village.”
“As you look around at these images, I think you will be inspired. You may see things you never noticed or perhaps look at Kew Gardens with a new perspective. I know I did,” Sherman said. “Each piece tells a story. Like the two wonderful images of the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge, and Ana Reza’s exquisite black and white photo. “Let’s all come together to save our own Kew Gardens Ponte Vecchio and continue to develop Kew Gardens as a place where art has a home.”