Eliseo Sandoval is not your standard artist.
The Guatemala native currently has his first collection of sculptures on display at the Gold Coast Arts Center, but his association with the center goes back a lot longer.
Sandoval has been the maintenance man at the center for about 12 years.
“They said when you have time take a piece of clay home,” Sandoval said at the exhibition’s opening last Thursday. “It feels good; when I started to make the first one I didn’t want to stop.”
Sandoval and a number of other Gold Coast Arts Center employees have their work on display at the center’s Faculty and Staff Exhibit, which runs from June 25 through Sept. 8 at the arts center, which is located at 113 Middle Neck Road in Great Neck.
The art works range from sculptures to paintings to photography.
While some employees have been painting, drawing and taking photos for decades, Sandoval only began sculpting about three months ago, he said. He had dabbled in making pots and plates before, but he had made never the sculptures displayed at the arts center before.
For the exhibit, Sandoval sculpted a chef, golfer and fisherman, among others.
“One of my sons, he’s nine-years-old, said ‘daddy why don’t you make a chef,’ and I make one and he liked it so he said ‘daddy next time make a fisherman,’” Sandoval said.
He said he would like to continue to sculpt if he has the time. As he often works most days of the week, he said, it is nice to have something to take his mind off of work.
Regina Gil, executive director of the Gold Coast Arts Center, said every person who works at the center was invited to submit two pieces of original art for the exhibition. Some of the pieces were listed for sale while some were not.
Gil, who said she taught watercolor painting for years, submitted two paintings of her own to the exhibition as well. This year is the first time the center is doing the faculty and staff exhibition, she said.
“I think this will be an annual show,” Gil said. “We want to do something between now and next year; that’s our goal.”
Jude Amsel, curator and gallery director at the Gold Coast Arts Center, said the idea for a staff exhibition came after the center began to gain what she called a “hip” reputation.
After 5Pointz, the Long Island City buildings that artists from all over the world used as a graffiti mural space, was whitewashed in 2013 by the buildings’ owners, Amsel, a Long Island City resident, asked 5Pointz artists to come have an indoor show at the center.
5Pointz artists did an exhibition at the center in 2014, which can still be seen at the center, that increased the center’s credibility.
“So now the buzz was out that the gallery was a cool place,” Amsel said. “We thought ‘we have such hip people that work here, lets show those people.’”
“People in every position here are so connected to the arts. That’s why they want to work here,” Amsel said.
Amsel’s father, Herbert Rustler, had four photos from his collection of 40,000 shown at the exhibition — all taken in 1952 when he immigrated to the United States from Germany.
Rustler was an industrial engraver for 47 years, but enjoyed photography as a hobby.
“I always liked photography. I always liked nature,” Rustler said. “My eyes see things most people never see.”