2003-04-26 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists AllianceMythical Characters And Mad Hatters
by Susan Hartenstein
From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance by Susan Hartenstein Mythical Characters And Mad Hatters

Rockaway Artists Alliance
Mythical Characters And Mad Hatters

Section of the completed “Just Say Yes” mural by Geoff Rawling. Opening wine and cheese reception is Sunday, April 27, 1-3 pm at sTudio 7 Gallery, Fort Tilden. Daniel Taylor, son of Billy Taylor who com­missioned the mural, stands in front.Section of the completed “Just Say Yes” mural by Geoff Rawling. Opening wine and cheese reception is Sunday, April 27, 1-3 pm at sTudio 7 Gallery, Fort Tilden. Daniel Taylor, son of Billy Taylor who com­missioned the mural, stands in front.

And now, the full story can be told. "Jut Say ‘Yes’" is the 70-foot long mixed media artwork that Geoff Rawling created on commission from businessman and local resident Billy Taylor. Sunday, April 27 from 1-3 PM, you can finally see this extraordinary completed work at the wine and cheese opening reception in sTudio 7 Gallery in Fort Tilden. See this amazing, magical, mythical mural full of characters like the Mad Hatter and giant painted waves and beautiful women arising from shells and papier mache fish and…well I won’t reveal any more. You must see it yourself before it is moved to its permanent home in Linden New Jersey. The band T-7 will entertain and Geoff will be on hand to answer any and all questions. You can also take in the last day of "Destinations" in the studio 6 Gallery next door. All for free. We’re making you an offer you can’t refuse.

The Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) is sponsoring the completion of the Monarch Landscape mural by artist Esther A. Grillo and the accompanying free RAA Mural Apprenticeship Program, which begins May 1. The RAA’s Mural Apprenticeship Program taught by Esther A. Grillo will be welcoming past apprentices and encouraging new participants. The apprentices can be children or adults, 12 years of age and up. The applications for the apprenticeship may be filled out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 11-3 pm., on site. The final phase to complete the mural runs April 28 through September 30.

The Monarch Landscape mural will measure 70 feet wide by 14 feet high. It will cover the concave interior and the two exterior facades of the New York Parks Department ‘wave’ concrete shelter located on Shorefront Parkway and Beach 76 Street.

The center panel of the Monarch Landscape features colorful fields of sunflowers and wild flowers cascading over stone walls. Larger than life size Monarch butterflies are seen flying en mass across the sky, creating a flowing ribbon-like pattern over the pastoral setting.

Ms. Grillo will paint four designs on the tapering side facades. Each exterior façade will depict a dramatic scene related to the monarch’s existence. The east wall’s composition will feature a monarch caterpillar framed by milkweed plants. The west wall will show a monarch butterfly captured by a big spider in its web. Ms. Grillo’s apprentices will learn, hands on, the many skills required to complete this complex project. Working under a master artist, the students will renovate the last of four Rockaway icons. This requires teamwork, time management and task analysis. The apprentices receive community service certificates and will have their names displayed on a plaque at the mural site.

In 1987 Esther Grillo took on the enormous task of gathering support for the mural projects that would restore the four dilapidated wave shelters designed by architect Robert Moses for the 1939 Worlds Fair. She hoped the renovation and decoration of these sites would contribute to the improvement of the Rockaways, where she and her husband reside.

Over a 6-year period, the NYC Parks Department granted permission to paint the murals and it diligently completed the structural renovations of the sites. Ms. Grillo received support from RAA, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, Queens Council on the Arts, NYS Council on the Arts, Queens Community Arts Fund 1997 Program A, NYCATA/United Federation of Teachers, City Parks Foundation, Community Grants Program and private donations. Many Rockaway politicians, civic associations and St. Rose of Lima have voiced their support. Most importantly, the John Adams High School ASPIRA club and the students from Beach Channel High School were joined by neighborhood volunteers to do the actual painting.

Esther Grillo, artist, lecturer and teacher, was born in Italy. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brooklyn College. Museum and gallery exhibitions in New York, Japan, and Pennsylvania have featured her work. Ms. Grillo has received public commissions for monumental murals and sculptures. Grillo’s sculptures were part of an exhibition that included luminaries as Louise Nevelson, Marisol, and Alice Aycock at The Arsenal Gallery, Manhattan. Her kinetic steel sculpture Psychedelic Mushroom was recently exhibited in Flushing Meadow Corona Park outside the US Tennis Open.

May 10-June 29: "Unbroken: an exhibition of hope and determination" and "Through the Lens: A Member Photography Exhibition." Opening reception on Saturday, May 10, 1-4 PM in sTudio 6 Gallery. More next week.

See you at the Fort.

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