When I Paint My (Woodhaven) Masterpiece
by Ed Wendell
Jan 29, 2019 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the classes taking part in “Celebrating the Beauty Around Us: Woodhaven," managed by the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and made possible through a grant from Queens Council on the Arts.
One of the classes taking part in “Celebrating the Beauty Around Us: Woodhaven," managed by the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and made possible through a grant from Queens Council on the Arts.
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Woodhaven residents April August and Maria Concolino painting the steps entering Forest Park at 76th Street.
Woodhaven residents April August and Maria Concolino painting the steps entering Forest Park at 76th Street.
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Woodhaven's Louise and Ernest Naples holding their depictions of the Seuffert Bandshell in Forest Park.
Woodhaven's Louise and Ernest Naples holding their depictions of the Seuffert Bandshell in Forest Park.
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Local poet Giedra Kregzdys flexed her painting muscles, comparing her wintry view of the Forest Park Carousel to the real thing.
Local poet Giedra Kregzdys flexed her painting muscles, comparing her wintry view of the Forest Park Carousel to the real thing.
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Some of Woodhaven’s more beautiful settings will be on display at an art exhibit showcasing the work of local resident artists.

The one-night exhibit will take place on Tuesday, February 5, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Avenue Diner at91-06 Jamaica Avenue. Light refreshments will be served.

The paintings were created for a project entitled “Celebrating the Beauty Around Us: Woodhaven.” It was managed by the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and made possible through a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts.

Over the course of a few months, local residents gathered for art classes led by the very talented Natalia Borgia, owner of Beaver Tattoo at 94th Street and Jamaica Avenue.

During each class, residents would paint familiar scenery, such as the golf course or Strack Pond in Forest Park or the historic cemetery on 96th Street behind All Saints Episcopal. Most importantly, residents made new friendships and had a lot of fun.

“I loved it,” said Doris Rugen. “I have a whole collection of paintings and when my grandkids saw them they were shocked. They said 'You did all of these?’ They loved them!”

“My favorite part of participating was getting to know everyone a little better and seeing all of the artwork each week,” added Giedra Kregzdys. “All of us have such different and individual styles. We came away with great memories and a collection of paintings.”

It was very interesting to see several different interpretations of the same image. My favorite was seeing about 14 different versions of Seufffert Bandshell in Forest Park.

It was interesting to see which details each artist decided to stress, as well as the various individual flourishes they decided to add.

The participants ranged from teenagers to seniors in their early 90s, and included a few couples who paint together. One such couple is Louise and Ernest Naples.

“One of the aspects of the art classes I loved was meeting so many like-minded neighbors I had never met before,” said Louise. “And seeing them again at meetings of the Woodhaven Historical and Cultural Society reinforced those connections.”

“I enjoyed immersing myself into the group effort and seeing the variety of approaches to painting the same bit of Forest Park,” said Ernest.

“For a novice painter such as myself, it was encouraging to have a professional and enthusiastic teacher to coach us through our tasks,” he added. “Equally enjoyable was discussing their techniques and particular points of view.”

Resident April August had so much fun during the classes she lost track of time.

“During my first class I was enjoying myself and having great fun painting and looked up and was shocked to see how much time had passed,” she said.

August felt the key to the success was the instructor.

“Natalia was really patient,” August said. “I felt very comfortable going to her, she always made me feel like I did a good job.”

“Natalia was really encouraging and guided us with helpful hints,” Kregzdys agreed. “This workshop not only helped us to use our talents, but created a wonderful sense of community. We were all sad when it ended and hope there will be another one in the spring.”

The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society has built its reputation on bringing “history” to the residents of Woodhaven. But several recent projects have emphasized the “cultural” portion of the organization’s name, and on February 5 the residents of Woodhaven will see the results.

Would you like to support projects like this in our community? Please consider coming to a fundraiser that the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is hosting on Saturday, February 16, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and include a pasta dinner, chance to win prizes at the roulette wheel, and a special big-screen showing of the all-time romantic drama Casablanca. Seating is very limited, so call the WCHS at (718) 805-2002 to get your tickets now.

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