A once empty lot in Elmhurst is transformed into an art gallery, thanks to some local volunteers. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.
Art is popping up in the most unexpected place in Elmhurst. In a once over-grown empty lot, between the Long Island Expressway and the Queens Center Mall, a sculpture garden is bringing life and color to the neighborhood.
"The idea is it's a paper jungle. And we have a variety of different types of animals that were designed by the community and we work together to design them," said Yvonne Shortt, the founder of RPGA Studio.
These 3-D aluminum animals were completely hand crafted by volunteers.
For long-time Rego Park resident, Yvonne Wang-Silonga, it was an opportunity to become a student, learning how to turn a drawing into a piece of art.
"I've never sanded anything; I never used a drill before. I never spray painted anything before," said Wang-Silonga.
But before the sculptures could be installed, the lot had to be cleared of weeds and grass. Shortt says the lot was once home to rodents and garbage.
"It's really great to see when you clean up spaces, when you keep them clean and the community is committed, it can also reduce the amount of garbage that's around. It can make the space very pretty," said Shortt.
In addition to the sculptures, volunteers built benches so people can take a seat and take it all in.
"We want people to sit and we want people to start having conversations. We want people to start communicating more," said Shortt.
So far, volunteers have only cleared about a quarter of the vacant lot. Their goal is to expand the project, cleaning up 10,000 square feet in total and installing even more sculptures.
"We have a lot of space that's not being used," said Shortt.