Aimed at spotlighting local artists and stimulating the creative juices of neighbors, the daylong festival is full of activities and usually draws a large crowd to its artist booths.
Due to the ongoing public health crisis this year, however, Lacks, a community organizer specializing in small business development, and Mavilia, an artist and nonprofit director, were tasked with determining how to adapt their annual effort to social distancing measures.
Together, they came up with the idea for an outdoor exhibition of local talent as a means to lift the spirits of the neighborhood during trying times. After garnering funding through community grants from the City Council and the Citizens Committee for NYC, Lacks and Mavilia went in search of Kew Gardens artists to contribute to the show.
Titled “Here,There and Everywhere: Artists of Kew Gardens,” the exhibition lines the abandoned storefronts and fences of Lefferts Boulevard between Austin and Grenfell streets, with reproductions of featured artworks on weatherproof vinyl banners.
The intention is to brighten up the neighborhood and entice residents out of their homes, giving them a reason to take a stroll in the area.
Located in the neighborhood’s retail center, Lacks and Mavilia are also hoping that the artwork will encourage people to frequent businesses on Lefferts Boulevard that are currently struggling to remain open in the face of severe economic stress.
“We lose a lot of businesses in Kew Gardens because there’s not enough shopping,” explained Mavilia. “They go on Amazon or they go down the road to Forest Hills.”
“Here, There and Everywhere” consists of works by more than 40 artists of various levels, ranging from hobbyists to the arts department chair at York College. The pieces remind passersby of the world’s beauty in a time where most are confined to the monotony of life around COVID.
Information about the “Here, There and Everywhere” and its artists can be found at kewgardensarts.com, or by scanning the QR code on a banner accompanying the exhibition in person.
The exhibition will be on display for the rest of summer, but according to Mavilia the works could travel to another location in the future. Lacks and Mavilia are also open to working with other neighborhoods across Queens that are interested in finding creative ways to showcase art during the pandemic.