Kew Gardens Residents Express Love For Their Neighborhood on Painted Tiles

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on December 27, 2012 4:38pm 

QUEENS — Kew Gardens residents are showing neighborhood pride by making tiny works of art on 4.5-by-4.5-inch tiles. The tiles will be fit into a mural they hope will one day be installed in Forest Park.

The "100 Tile Mural" is the brainchild of The Potter’s Wheel, a local ceramic studio, and residents painted the tiles in the theme of “Parks, people, pets and poetry.”

So far, roughly 70 locals have contributed personal paintings — among them a tile featuring Forest Park's famed “crooked tree,” and others showing birds, cats and even local pizzerias.

One tile shows an intersection with signs pointing to Long Island, the Bronx, Manhattan and the Rockaways.

“People really put a lot of themselves into making the tiles,” said Grace Anker, owner of The Potter's Wheel. “For some people, Kew Gardens is the center of the universe.”

Last year, the studio conducted a similar project around the theme of family and community that was also made into a mural.

More than 100 residents, aged 5 to 85, contributed to it “as an expression of our community as home,” according to a plaque attached to that mural. The mural was installed at the Kew Gardens LIRR station last December.

Mariela Marvini, 41, a speech pathologist who works with  Spanish-speakers, said she and her two daughters saw the first mural and wanted to participate in this year’s edition. “We just loved it and wanted to be part of it,” she said.

On her tile for the new mural, Marvini painted a path winding through Forest Park. Her 7-year old daughter, Amelie, painted a slide at a playground located at the Overlook portion of the park, and 4-year old Emma painted a swing.

“They are basically anonymous, but people certainly remember who made what,” Anker said. “It’s always very personal.”

The studio, which has received a grant for the project from the Citizens Committee for NYC, a non-profit organization aiming to help New Yorkers improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods, is hoping to install the mural soon after all the tiles are finished.

A spokesman for the NYC Parks Department said in an e-mail that the agency has received the proposal and is evaluating it.

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