Neighborhood Stories Art Opening June -November 2017

June- November 2017 BY LYNN KENNEDY

NYC Parks and the Friends of Astoria Heights Park are pleased to present a temporary installation of ceramic tiles by Astoria artist Penelope Eleni. In ten tiles, “Neighborhood Stories”, a collaborative art installation, made of ceramic tiles, will be exhibited at Rainey Park from June to Nov. 2017.

 An opening of the piece, prior to installation, was shown May 23, 2017 at Woodside Community Center, Astoria, NY.

Lynn Kennedy, Diane Sharon, Penelope Eleni and young artists at opening

“Neighborhood Stories” is a narrative illustration of our Queens community made by 18 children, their parents, and instructor Penelope Eleni (Gaitanis Katsaras).
   “Neighborhood Stories” was made possible by the Friends of Astoria Heights Park, Sunnyside Community Center at Woodside Houses, the NYC Park’s Department, and City Council representative Costa Constantinides.

Imagery colorfully displays what Queens means to the children.  Hence, they made out of clay: cars, houses, apartment buildings, dogs, people, and even a unicorn and robot.

Artists with their work

About the piece, Penelope says, “The funny thing is that two days in a row someone told me that there is a kiln at the Woodside Community Center not being used.  It was an exciting coincidence.   When I first saw the space at Woodside, I was blown away.  While it hadn’t been used in years and was a huge mess that needed to be cleaned, it was also a fully equipped ceramic studio with a kiln and glazes.  I was thrilled because ceramic facilities are a rarity in NYC.  The children of Woodside and Queens are lucky to have a beautiful local ceramic studio.” and “Children are always gifted artists because they know how to play.”

Penelope Eleni lives and maintains an artist studio in Astoria NY. She is a mother of three young children (an older son and twin girls). Moreover, she is a former professor of art and former elementary school art teacher.

She received a bachelor’s of arts in history from Rutgers University; a bachelor’s of fine arts in ceramics from The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University; and a master’s of fine arts in ceramics from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Moreover, she has studied ceramic art internationally in Mexico, South Korea and Greece.

Penelope Eleni’s mission is to create narrative artwork that communicates with children and instructs joyful lessons about: poetry, New York City, and certainly art.

Artist with her work

Friends of Astoria Heights Park is a group of neighbors who are committed to making Astoria Heights Park a beautiful, clean, safe, fun and inspiring public space. FoAHP began with a petition to the local community board in August 2013 to advocate for safety and beautification measures within the park. Through teamwork with FoAHP’s neighbors, they are promoting appreciation, investment, community pride, and regular involvement in the Park that will contribute to its improvement and upkeep over time.

Astoria Heights Park is one of 35 sites targeted in NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, a multi-faceted investment in the smaller public parks that are located in New York City’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods. The Community Parks Initiative is NYC Parks’ first major equity initiative. It is investing $130 million capital dollars and also brings enhanced programming, maintenance, and community partnership building to community parks serving high-need communities. The initiative will engage New Yorkers in rebuilding local parks, create new reasons to get out and get fit, and reconnect communities to the green spaces right outside their doorsteps.

NYC Parks & Recreation’s Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit