2000-04-08 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio


Rockaway Artists Alliance

By Susan Hartenstein

Hats off to Kate Judge of the Rockaway Artists Alliance and to the Forest Hills Symphony Orchestra String Quartet for a stirring collaborative effort at the Queens Museum of Art on Saturday, April 1. Hats off, as well, to the Queens Museum of Art for its efforts under director Laurene Buckley to showcase the diverse array of talented artists inhabiting our borough of Queens. Saturday’s event was a collaboration of these three cultural organizations in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition of works by William Glackens.

Judge presented slides of artwork by members of the RAA as the Quartet played music by Debussy, Ravel, Ives, Gershwin, Joplin and Herbert. The result was a richly evocative artistic experience that was alternately poignant and playful and ultimately powerful. Judge took many of the slides herself. Appropriately, she photographed them in and around the buildings of Fort Tilden, which RAA is now turning into an arts center. Intelligently photographed in this often stark often lush seaside setting, perhaps nothing could more succinctly capture the strength of the artistic inspiration that this unique part of Queens provides. However, the art of RAA is inspired by its surroundings, not limited by them. This show made that quite evident. The diversity of style and subject matter of RAA artists and their work was clear. Judge cleverly edited and paced the presentation of slides so that the music and art became perfect mutual accompaniments, each enhancing the impact of the other. A string quartet is a metaphor for the range of notes struck by works of visual art. The range of colors, textures and rhythms of a visual music was shaped by Judge. Defining and redefining the visual, the richly performed music underscored at times a darkness and edge, at times a humor and brightness in these artworks.

William Glackens (1870-1938) is considered one of the most significant American artists of the 20th Century. An exhibit of his work is now being presented at the Queens Museum of Art through April 30. In the early part of the century, Glackens exhibited with "The Eight", most of whom eventually came to be known as "The Ashcan School". By instinct a realist, one can see in his work the influence of the impressionists, post-impress-ionists, the Fauves, Matisse and Degas among others. The result is a unique, personal style. This is a comprehensive exhibit that illustrates the changing trends in his artistic life from the darker, earthier palette of seventeenth-century Dutch art to bright, vibrating colors and from the events of city life to more intimate subjects. Sketchbooks exhibited provide an insight into the artist’s initial impulses and reactions to a subject or scene that will later turn into a finished painting. The sketchbooks also illustrate what a fine draftsman Glackens was. Wonderful small landscapes from the 20’s and 30’s capture the light and life of the scenes. Very special still-lifes done mostly in the 30’s are filled with breath and sumptuous colors. Interiors have a liquid quality, painted in lush colors and textures. This is a splendid exhibit of an artist whose work is worth getting to know better.

Esther Grillo is participating in an outdoor sculpture exhibition by the group 14 Sculptors from April 9 through August 10 at Adelphi University in Garden City. The reception and tour will be Sunday, April 9 at 1 p.m. in the Swirbul Library Gallery.

Guest speaker at the April 10 RAA general meeting will be Roni Henning, who will give a lecture/demonstration on non-toxic printmaking.

Enjoy. See you here next week.

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Public response to the April 1 column of "From The Artists Studio"…

Many of RAA members attended the opening of Christian Le Gars magnificent watercolor paintings (D’ici et d’ailleaurs) at the posh French restaurant L’acajou on West 19 street in the Apple on Sunday, April 2. Among the many celebrities was Ed Bradley (60 minutes), who was sharing his cote d’agneau with Philipe Montebellow (Met Museum). "Monte" also had five deviled eggs, which was a bit unfair to the others, noted Marina Callaghan, who only had three. Phil is obviously still hurt by art reviewer Hartenstein turning down his job offer at the Met, but still plans to acquire the Beach 92 street courthouse for the expanding Met. Phil is attracted to the spot because it is right across from McDonald’s. He wanted to buy Christian’s large "Macdonalds" masterpiece but was in a hurry to catch the last of the 99-cent specials with Bill Clinton at the local "McDos."

(Saint) Denis Macrae

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