2001-04-28 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

by Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio
Rockaway Artists Alliance

Haunting figures of trees echoing in silent vistas. Bunnies assuming their roles as compositional pawns in the game of space. Tumbleweed cages like spun caramel enclosing operatic figures, hot and cold. Commonplace objects set in a natural dance. These are some of the works seen by more than 200 people at the highly successful opening of the "Out of Towners" exhibition at sTudio-6 Gallery. From various parts of the city and beyond, visitors came on April 21 to see this beautiful, thought-provoking work and speak to the four women artists who produced them. The response of those attending was very positive.

Shannon Elliott paints what she calls "portraits" of trees. Indeed, one has a sense of character and personality in these stunning works. To her and to the viewer, they are animate subjects. Donnarae Aiello believes that art should be simple, not complicated. In her small installations she has put commonplace objects together in a way that they can be appreciated for what they are. Having spent all her life in national parks, she is particularly thrilled to be showing her work in a national park. Aiello’s double exposed giclee prints and black and white photographs are equally interesting pieces. Roni Henning’s earlier mixed media pop-ups address psychological issues such as vulnerability, as in the poignant "Miss Subways." In her more recent watercolor and colored pencil paintings, composition is the issue. Intriguingly, she has taken realistic subjects, such as fuzzy bunnies, close to her heart, and by pushing them as compositional elements in positive and negative space she has abstracted and objectified them. These spacial relationships and Henning’s subtle manipulation of color and tone, are what give character to the overall pieces. Alexa O’Brien has created heads out of resin – characters from the private mythology of the opera she is presently writing. Each is lit from inside and encased in a complex and exquisite "cage" of tumbleweed. The results reflect the delicacy of form, movement and color of these elements.

Each of these artists wishes to express her thanks to those in RAA involved in helping to create the exhibition and to all those in RAA and Gateway NRA who made each feel so welcome. All the artists expressed their pleasure in working in this wonderful space in this beautiful national park. Congratulations to curator Kate Judge and all those who helped make this such a successful opening. "Out of Towners" runs through May 13. Gallery hours are weekends, 2 – 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Sunday’s Earth Day celebration in the park was well attended and well received. The band "T-7", juggler Tim Malloy, the Rockaway Theatre Company and the Earth Day/ Anti-Litter Slogan and Poster Contest, which was held by RAA in conjunction with GNRA, were all big hits. The kids in the contest were all great. Grand prize went to Ashley Marshall. Honorable Mentions went to Patrick Kilgallen, Lizzy Vivino, Onajete Chemi, Maegen Reed and Cathryn Brown, Grace Castellanos and Maria Garcia, Marissa Mundy and Ian. Thank you to all the other entrants who did a beautiful job but are too numerous to mention here. All were excellent and crafted in the true spirit of love for life, our Mother Earth and all her offspring.

Be sure to attend the opening event of the Russell Sage Memorial Center for Stained Glass at the First Presbyterian Church in Far Rockaway. Remember – it is this Saturday from 12 – 5 p.m. at Bay 9th Street on Central Avenue. Admission is free. See you there.

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