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Help build York out of cardboard

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The city of York has been growing in David Lynch's garage studio.

Lynch, an artist, has been transforming slabs of cardboard into a replica of a city, from the eagle towering atop the Citizens Bank building right down to the marquee in front of the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Peer closely, and you'll find signs advertising businesses in the Royal Square and Weco neighborhoods, as well as landmarks of the past like McCrory's and Allison's Restaurant. You'll see the York Fair, too.

Cherry Lane Park is there, complete with mini murals. A Roburrito's truck is "parked" by a cardboard Central Market. There will be a nod to the late Louis Appell, who, a few weeks before his death, told Lynch he couldn't wait to see the sculpture.

Lynch has a list of spots to be included, scrawled, appropriately, on cardboard.

"275 years of York, as much as I can fit in there," he said.

Lynch's circular sculpture will be the centerpiece of a walkable cityscape made of cardboard. Other artists have been helping him with the project, which is detailed. Each tiny brick of the Yorktowne Hotel is meticulously carved.

It's part of York's Global Cardboard Challenge event, called "We Can Build This City," led by Lynch and sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of York County and York Container, which is keeping the artist plied with layers of cardboard.

On Oct .8, community members are invited to the York History Center's Agricultural and Industrial museum to put their mark on the project.

"We're going to build the whole city," Lynch said.

He's already created some 6-foot cardboard outlines of rowhomes. Children helped decorate some at Yorkfest in August. At the Global Cardboard Challenge, participants can add and build whatever they want to complete their York - from food trucks to rocket ships.

It doesn't have to be something that already exists, said Kelley Gibson, director of communications and engagement with the Cultural Alliance.

"It's so fun to see what people imagine the city to look like," Gibson said.

And though kids as young as 4 can participate, it's not just for the young. Gibson said invitations have been sent to a number of York businesses, too, as a fun team-building opportunity.

Sometimes people can't believe what can be done with something you'd normally sit out with the recycling.

"That's the biggest reaction," Lynch said. "This is cardboard?"

One recent evening, artist Sue Leyland sat in his studio, painting a tiny, delicate pot of flowers. She and Bert Streavig have worked with Lynch before and have borrowed his studio. So they jumped in when he said he needed some more volunteers.

"We just think this is fabulous and a great way to promote the city," she said.

If you go 

What: York's Global Cardboard Challenge, "We Can Build This City." Participants will construct the "York cityscape of their dreams" out of cardboard and recycled materials. Artist David Lynch's centerpiece will be added later.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Oct. 8

Where: York County History Center's  Agricultural & Industrial Museum,  217 W. Princess Street, York 

Who: You. Anyone can participate. 

What's next: Starting Oct. 16, the community-built cityscape plus a centerpiece by artist David Lynch will be on display at the museum. Walk through the landscape during the "History on the Half Shell" event 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 16, or during regular museum hours after that. It will be on display through the end of November, said Kelley Gibson, with the Cultural Alliance of York County.

Need some inspiration?

Can't make it to the Global Cardboard Challenge? Check out these other ways to get inspired with cardboard.

  • Watch Caine's Arcade. The film is about a 9 year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad's auto parts store. The film is the inspiration for the Global Cardboard Challenge, presented by the Imagination Foundation. Search Caine's Arcade on YouTube.
  • Read "It's Not a Box." The children's book by Antoinette Portis shows what a little imagination can do to a cardboard box.
  • Visit the Artful Parent, The blog has a post on 20 things you can make from a box. Links take you to instructions for textured paintings, collages, puppets and more.