2003-03-29 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein
From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance by Susan Hartenstein


RAA President Geoff Rawling, Senator Serphin Maltese, RAA Publicity Director Susan Hartenstein, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, and Constance Maltese at the well-attended reception for RAA’s current exhibit, “Destinations.”RAA President Geoff Rawling, Senator Serphin Maltese, RAA Publicity Director Susan Hartenstein, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, and Constance Maltese at the well-attended reception for RAA’s current exhibit, “Destinations.”

Here I am at another April Fool’s Day debating whether or not the events of the moment preclude what might be construed as a frivolous column i.e. an April Fool’s column. Here I am at another April Fool’s Day debating whether I even feel like writing a humorous column. This past weekend, however, reminded me that troubled times do not obliterate the need for humor, art and entertainment. Troubled times heighten the need for them. In the midst of anxiety we seek their emotional relief, their clarity and the freedom of creativity. Under the oppressive stress that has encased us, the human spirit rises toward the light. From the winter of our discontent we rush towards the long-awaited spring of renewal and hope. And I am thus encouraged to write an April Fool’s column of sorts. Not biting or frivolous or ironic. Serious in intent and hopeful in conclusion. No jokes on anyone.

Last Sunday at sTudio 6 Gallery approximately 300 people attended the opening reception of "Destin-ations." They came to enjoy the arrival of spring in the park. They came to see terrific artwork, to listen to the fresh sounds of live music, they came to be moved by the cadences and ideas of original poetry readings, they savored the flavors of an international variety of foods. They came, in short, to celebrate life. To enjoy its most delicious aspects. And, oh, what a day it was. Visitors sat on the benches between sTudio 6 and sTudio 7, drinking in the sun and warmth, parched after a winter short on both. The air was filled with the smell of new beginnings and, oh yes, those incredible clams. People laughed, they talked, they debated, they were serious, they were giddy. They had a great time.

The theme of "Destinations" is "Tra-vel to foreign and not-so-foreign places." The first third of the exhibit’s "journey" explores the beauty of destinations close to home. How appropriate. Many of those attending on Sun-day were exploring, for the first time, the beauty of this glorious national park that lies so close to home. They came to see an art show and discovered a wondrous place of beach and dunes and marsh.

Joining us on Sunday were State Senator Serphan Maltese, Constance Maltese and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer. How fitting that they should be with RAA for our first exhibition of the spring. State Senator Maltese and Assemblywoman Pheffer are responsible for the funding that will allow RAA to begin renovations this spring to sTudio 7 Gallery. Constance Maltese is a major artist and a major voice of support for the arts. sTudio 7 renovations will expand RAA’s ability to bring art exhibitions and art programming to this community. Our vision is for sTudio 7 to be the "central station" of an arts complex where families from all over the metropolitan area and even further can spend a day enjoying visual, performing and literary arts. Remember the column on MassMoCA I wrote a few weeks ago? If it was possible to create an internationally known arts center from converted buildings in Massachusetts, with the enlightened support of community, business and government, it’s possible here.

And so, this was my April Fool’s Day column. But unlike the slightly cynical column of a few years ago, the buildings are not smoke and mirrors, cardboard and façade. They are real and solid and true. The visions are not gone by morning, but can be attainable and within reach, with the proper support. At a time when hope is needed most, we have something in our own community to fill us with hope. We are looking at spring after our long winter. No fooling. May those we love return to us as soon as possible. May we all find the strength to carry us through these times.


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