2000-11-11 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

by Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio
Rockaway Artists Alliance

It began with a labyrinth to soothe the mind and body and ended with a shadowy maze to shock the brain and shiver the spine. It entertained, educated, calmed, excited, stimulated and satisfied. It brought together diverse elements of a neighborhood and diverse neighborhoods in common pursuit. It sang and danced; looked and listened. It attracted adults and children. It held openings twice upon a weekend and once upon a mattress. It climbed to a Rooftop Life and plunged into "The Deep." It attracted press from all over the city to see the potential of this area. "It" is the Rockaway Artists Alliance Queens Millennium Festival held throughout October.

RAA’s October Festival truly fulfilled the goals set by Queens Millennium 2000, the year long celebration initiated by the Office of the Borough President and the Queens Historical Society and coordinated by the Queens Council on the Arts. Artists of diverse disciplines from all over the borough and even the world came together to share their knowledge and talents. Sculptors with names like Nicolae Golici and Rumiko Tsuda placed their work in Fort Tilden. Well-known poet H.R. Stoneback participated in the Live Tinker Magazine. The Matsimela Dance and Drum Ensemble brought African music and dance to an enthralled outdoor audience. These visiting artists and their fans, in turn, discovered the artists of Rockaway and the treasure that is this peninsula. Audiences reflected this same cultural diversity. From one end of the peninsula to the other and from much further than that, they came to mingle at these well attended RAA Festival events and exhibits. Adults, children and teenagers came. Indeed, the Live Tinker Magazine specifically geared certain guest artists to teens, the Rooftop Life band for example, vividly demonstrating the need in our community to provide activities for these young people.

Many in business, government and the arts have spoken eloquently about the advantages brought to a community by forming partnerships among these three sectors of society. Everyone from Governor George Pataki to NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Schuyler Chapin to William B. Martin of Verizon Communications Corporation have advocated for these partnerships. RAA’s Festival brought all these sectors together, and in doing so, brought a community together. For example, east end business Almost Paradise held the reception for "The Deep" mural ribbon cutting on 105 street, which attracted citizens from all over Rockaway and dignitaries including Assistant Parks Commissioner Ed Lewis. Many who attended the reception were thus introduced to this scenically situated business. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer was one of the many sponsors of festival events. She has been an effective government supporter of the arts in Rockaway. Not only individual businesses were sponsors. The Rockaway Chamber of Commerce under President Liz Sulik has graciously sponsored and supported events of the festival. Queens Council on the Arts under Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer has been invaluable in its support and promotion of the festival. RAA would not have hosted this festival had it not been for the confidence the Borough President’s office and the Queens Historical Society had in us. RMAC and the Rockaway Theatre Company were partners. RTC’s hit production of "Once Upon a Mattress" was attended by large audiences who were then attracted to attend the exhibitions "across the parking lot."

Festival events and artwork were spread throughout Fort Tilden (as well as other parts of Rockaway), providing a sense of what this park has to offer and how our partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area can work for the advantage of the community. Even the administration building was used for RAA’s Halloween Extravaganza. Therefore, RAA wishes to express its great appreciation for the invaluable cooperation shown by Gateway, from the maintenance crew to Alex Romero to Billy Garrett to Marc Koenings.

A final thank you to all who made this past month possible, including husbands, wives, children and friends. RAA is truly a family.

The festival may officially be over but the arts center keeps on rollin’. Not only are sculptures on the fort’s sculpture walk still up, the exhibits in sTudio-6 and T-7 are still running. Artists with work in sTudio-6 are asked to remove their work November 12 between 2 and 5 p.m. to make way for a new exhibit, "Seasonal Sensations." Artwork to be entered for that show can be brought by RAA members to sTudio -6 on the 12, as well. The opening reception for this new exhibit will be held Saturday, November 18 in sTudio-6 from noon to 3 p.m. Exhibition dates are November 18 through January 14. Gallery hours are Saturday 12-5 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. Contact the RAA office to arrange group tours.

See you at the Fort.

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