1999-08-21 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein

Citibank has been transformed into an art gallery. Customers, and anyone else who wishes to enter the branch at 113 street and Beach Channel drive, are being treated to a show like no other. The Rockaway Artists Alliance is presenting our 1998-99 Children’s Education Show featuring the beautiful artwork of our talented schoolchildren of Rockaway.

As you must know by now, RAA instructors teach art in every school in Rockaway to children ages four to 18 years. The program is funded through the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development and Board of Education contracts. Fulfilling a major need in this community, this spring RAA also ran a free after-school arts program at Junior High School 180, open to all the children of Rockaway. This show proudly presents this year’s results of the dedication and enthusiasm of both the instructors and students of RAA.

Artworks done in a wide variety of techniques fill the walls of Citibank, reflecting the challenging and innovative spectrum of courses taught by RAA instructors. Our students were exposed to terms from other languages and techniques from other countries. For example, they learned about time-honored art techniques such as "intaglio" printmaking. Their horizons were broadened. Textile design students learned about the commercial uses of design and the career opportunities open to them in the field. Examples of these techniques are featured in the exhibit. American history came to life for the students who assisted RAA instructors in making the set they helped design for Public School 197’s Black History month assembly. An actual piece of that imaginative set is installed at the bank, so even those not at the assembly may delight in it. Hanging at the far end of the bank is perhaps my favorite item in the show-a lively quilt created by students, grades one to three, under the guidance of an RAA instructor. It is a storybook quilt done under Project Arts, for the purpose of enhancing literacy in the students. Solidly composed and mood-capturing photographs, of which adult photographers would be proud, are on display. Oil paintings are displayed, as are photograms (an imaginative photographic technique), and so much more. I will allow you to discover all those surprises for yourself. Excellent blurbs guide you through the exhibit, while explaining certain art techniques with which you might not be familiar. Photographs of the sparkling, grinning faces of kids and teen assistants in our KidsmART after-school program enhance the exhibit and give a feel for what our classes are like. They also illustrate the bonds created among students, assistants and instructors. Gracing a pillar is the Newsday article which features the mural created in the KidsmART program and presented to Peninsula Hospital Center’s new pediatric unit.

When all is said and done, this exhibit is just plain fun. Viewers get to see delightful art while being reassured of how much is bright and positive in our kids. We see the creativity and imagination that can be tapped if we as a community and a society are determined to do so. Best of all, this show is something you and your children can enjoy together. The exhibit will continue for at least three weeks. Bank hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

RAA has faith in what our children can do. All we ask is that you help us provide the opportunity to stimulate the best in them. RAA thanks Citibank. Specifically we thank Monica Horgan, financial center EVP of this branch, and her staff for their generous cooperation. They have shown their confidence in RAA and more importantly, in the children of our community. Keep the faith, Citibank. Chris Jorge, arts education program director, is to be congratulated for developing the exhibit, putting it together and presenting it to Citibank with such skill and determination.

Speaking of faith in our children, this week’s column includes visual accompaniment showing RAA’s Geoff Rawling working with aspiring artists from St. John’s Home for Boys. They are completing the mural on the electric box at Beach 111 street and the boardwalk.

In case you missed last week’s column, RAA’s "Movie Weekend" will take place not in August, but in the spring. We will inform you as plans develop.

See you anon, in cyberspace.

Geoff Rawling (far right) braves the record heat and coaches St. John’s aspiring artists.


Starfish in progress.




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