SUNNYSIDE — A Queens artist is giving his neighborhood a wake up call.
Longtime Sunnyside resident Mark Salinas organized community groups and neighborhood kids to help transform the corner of 48th Avenue and 42nd Street, painting an empty brick wall with a bright yellow mural with the words "Rise-N-Shine."
"Rise-N-Shine — that's sort of a community rally. It's sort of a call to arms to get some exposure to this area and say it hasn't been forgotten," said Salinas, 40.
The artist said he wanted to add some cheer to the formerly desolate corner, which is surrounded by several vacant storefronts and is a popular target for graffiti artists.
"I live around the corner, and I see it every day," he said.
Salinas worked with children from the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Sunnyside to start painting the mural on Sunday. He said he first connected with the neighborhood children's group last year during a community clean-up volunteer day, which inspired him to look for other ways to help improve the neighborhood.
He said the corner seemed like a good place to start — it was an eyesore, covered in graffiti tags.
"I think street art is done with good intentions, but tagging is just kind of angry and ugly," Salinas said, saying the corner "cast a dark cloud over Sunnyside."
He applied to the Queens Council on the Arts for a grant to fund the mural project.
Once word got out, he said he was overwhelmed by support from several other community groups — Gleason Paints, on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, donated paint, the Papa John's on Greenpoint Avenue provided free pizza and drinks for the volunteers and Premier Paint Roller in Richmond Hill gave the group supplies.
"I think it's really beautiful how people in the community, organizations in the community, businesses in the community, they're willing to help more than you think. They're just waiting for someone to knock on the door with the idea," Salinas said.
He said he isn't worried about the new mural getting tagged like the wall was before, saying he hopes the project will inspire residents to keep the corner looking nice.
"Now, everyone has a vested interest in making that area look good," he said, but added that if he ends up being wrong, that's okay.
"Gleason's gave me plenty of paint," he said.