2000-10-14 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance By Susan Hartenstein

From the Artists Studio...by Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio
Rockaway Artists Alliance
By Susan Hartenstein

Those Shore Front parkway wave shelters have been in disrepair for so
long, most of us lost sight of the physical power and poetry of their form.

It took an artist like Esther Grillo to see through the peeling paint and
rust. It also took a woman of Grillo's determination and talent to not only
restore their beauty, but add to that beauty. Of course, any project of this
magnitude cannot be accomplished without the support and hard work of others.

All were recognized Saturday, October 7 at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Grillo's third wave shelter mural. The project was funded by the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce. The Parks Dept. repaired the shelter's frame and surface making it possible to paint a mural on it.

For each of the mural, Grillo ran apprenticeship programs at John Adams High School and Beach Channel High School and also involved neighborhood children in the project. Many of them attended Saturday's ceremony. Assistant Parks Commissioner Ed Lewis noted that these youngsters learned painting
techniques, teamwork and commitment to a project. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who has done much for the artists of Rockaway, echoed these thought.

Indeed, the most touching moments of the ceremony came as Lauren Hutter and Christine Lindner described what they had learned and the inspiration Grillo's courage and determination had provided them.

Among those Grillo thanked were the children's parents and Mrs. Padmore, John Adam's faculty advisor for Aspira, who had coordinated that school's apprentices. Chris Jorge, RAA's art education director, eloquently spoke of the worth of these mentorship programs as being invaluable to these neighborhood children and to the community.

"The Deep," is the title of this latest mural. Its vibrant, richly colored images depict the world beneath the surface of the waters of Rockaway
as described by divers frequenting the Almost Paradise Diving Center. Located on Beach 9 street right next to Reynolds Channel, and itself a tourist attraction, the center affords a gorgeous scenic view and serves food as well. Chamber of Commerce President Liz Sulik recognized Jay Velasquez, the community-minded owner of Almost Paradise, for giving the reception in honor of Grillo's mural. She noted that this project brings the wonderment of this east end establishment further up the peninsula. Sulik also praised RAA for its continuing good work and the leading role art is playing in the future of Rockaway.

The schedule of events for RAA's Queens Millennium Festival is listed in this issue of The Wave. Saturday, October 14 from 12 to 5 p.m. an open house will be held in the large exhibition space of Building T-7, of which I wrote last week. Meet many of the 50 artists exhibiting in RAA's two buildings and their outdoor environs and see their diverse displays. Seeing the variety and imagination with which each display area in T-7 is demarked is a treat in itself. On Saturday at 1 p.m. the group 14 Sculptors, of which Esther Grillo is
a member, will hold a walking tour of their work in Fort Tilden. The pieces are both intimate and monumental. Some of the sculpture is located along the nature trail, particularly beautiful at this time of year. A map locating the sculptures can be acquired at the administration building. Grillo's whimsical "Blossoms," near Battery Harris has many layers of meaning. Its imagery and contrasting colors are both plantlike and remind one of a tentacled sea creature.

On October 15 at 1 p.m., Stories by the Sea is designed for children. The
day also includes dance performances and a beautiful video and mask collection of Bali presented by RAA's very special Denis Macrae. October 21's costume party is a preview of RAA's Halloween Extravaganza. The October 22 visit to the Russell Sage Church is a not-to-be-missed event about which I will write next week.

The Halloween Extravaganza is fast approaching. Ghoul Master Marina Callaghan is asking for volunteers to help in this fun filled treat for the entire family. Even if you have only an hour of spare time, give it to Marina. Contact her at the RAA office. Medium Rayah is gathering facts in her crystal balls about this year's event and will have a bulletin by next week. For now, all she sees is a sign reading "Le Maison de Lunes" and a bunch of lunatic artists trapped in a basement. No doubt they've gone mad waiting for their grant funding to be approved. More details to follow.

RAA wishes to say a special thank you to Jean Pawlowski, Q Guide editor for QCA, for her glowing words about us in the September 21 issue. Her generosity extended to other Rockaway groups including the Rockaway Theatre Company, RMAC and the Rockaway Museum.


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