2001-04-14 / Columnists

From the Artists Studio

From the Artists Studio

From the Artists Studio

By Dee H. Dickason, IV

Long before I met Esther Grillo, I knew her. On weekend subway rides to Rockaway with two young granddaughters in tow, I would stop on the way home at the Howard Beach/JFK subway station so they could feel and talk with the mer-people. They even named them. We loved them.

Then, after moving to Rockaway, I saw Esther with a bunch of kids painting a huge concrete wave and wandered over. They were painting the inside of the wave. Beautiful. Attending my first Rockaway Artists Alliance meeting on the second Monday of September I found out we own the Dragon Boat and I finally met Esther Grillo.

I went to her exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park where she kept company with Louise Nevelson, Marisol and Ursula Von Rydingsvard. Last Tuesday I watched Esther’s lecture at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey videotaped by her husband, John. Here, Esther keeps company with Andy Warhol and Picasso.

Lawrenceville is hosting the Capstone Lecture Series on Art and Science. Are they related? Are they Interdependent? How do Science and Art affect each other?

Touring her work with the teenage high school students, Esther explained how events led to her work. In 1982, "Acid Rain". In 1985, "Eruption Triptych" about Mount Saint Helens. "Celestial" shows the devastation of outer space. "Bridging" shows how to bridge the racial, religious, ideological or physical gaps between people. "Nuclear Landscape" turns into melting pools of color. "Battered Woman" in 1985 with Tracy Chapman singing Behind the Wall shows aspects of hurt and silence. These are just some of Esther’s topics.

My favorite is "Cornucopia". Esther made it after moving to Rockaway near her ocean (and mine). She and John bought a Temple and created their sacred home and studio. "I had everything I wanted. This piece is about having it all."

Then along comes Howard Beach. A car breaks down near the bird sanctuary. Three black men walk to Howard Beach. There is a confrontation and a man is chased into the Belt Parkway and is struck by a car. Esther, at her table pushes things around, searching for an answer. She prods and takes away and adds things. And she searches some more. A story starts to form. With objects and narrative Esther creates the sea creatures searching for racial harmony.

On her tour Esther answers a students question on how to look at an artist’s work with, "Give it time. The only thing an artist asks of you is to give it time."

Look at it, walk around it. Touch it, if you can. Notice your feelings. See the colors and textures. Listen to the material.

The mythical sea creatures from antiquity at Howard Beach/JFK subway station have had a lot of time to be looked at. We’ve all seen them. They were originally put up for two years and have stayed up for ten. They are being taken down this month and are looking for a home. They need a sheltered home away from direct damage from weather: maybe in a park, a corporate office, or somewhere in private industry. If you have any ideas for a new home, please e-mail Esther at grilloinrock@aol.com.

By Susan Hartenstein

The "Out of Towners," an exhibition of exciting new work by 4 diverse women artists from outside Rockaway, runs from Saturday, April 21 through Sunday, May 13 at sTudio 6 Gallery, Fort Tilden. The opening reception is April 21 from 2-5 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Admission to the reception and to the exhibit is free. For more information call the RAA office or e-mail to RockArt116@aol.com.

Sunday, April 22—Earth Day—Children’s Poster and Slogan Competition—Juggling—Live Music. Join RAA, RTC, GNRA in celebrating the clean-up of our National Park, Starts 12 Noon outside T6 and T149. More details next week. Stay tuned, or contact RAA.

Camp kidsmART, RAA’s art-based summer camp, will run from July 9 to August 2. Applications and details may be obtained from the RAA office.

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