2003-12-26 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

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

One of the works featured in DIGITALSPLASH 2003: “Ox,” digital photograph by Thery Mislick.One of the works featured in DIGITALSPLASH 2003: “Ox,” digital photograph by Thery Mislick.

Rockaway Artists Alliance looks back at 2003 as a year of broadening and strengthening established programs, creating new initiatives and forging new partnerships. We look forward to 2004 to explore new creative territory, to further artistic, business and governmental partnerships and to work even more profoundly with our community and the community at large.

First and foremost, RAA thanks those who have given their support. They have joined in the effort to provide arts and cultural opportunities to young and old of this peninsula, to serve our own population of artists while attracting the best in art from beyond Rockaway and to establish the finest programs in arts education. We are grateful for the continuing cooperation of the National Park Service/ Gateway National Recreation Area.

In 2003, RAA exhibitions established added dimension to the art in the galleries at Fort Tilden. This was the inaugural year of DIGITALSPLASH 2003, a national juried exhibition of cutting-edge digital art. Part of ARTSPLASH 2003, it helped to make that fall festival the most diverse in its history and to bring the Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) to the attention of artists, nationally.

"Unbroken," sponsored in part by Newsday, was the first international guest exhibition presented by RAA at RoCA. This spring, PhotoVoice, an English-based not-for-profit organization was invited to display the impressive photographs taken by disadvantaged youth, whom the organization trains in several parts of the world. RAA exhibitions in 2003 enticed a growing number of the participating artists to become members of the organization and new teaching artists joined the arts education programs, revitalizing and renewing the creative energy of the organization. Some members took on new roles. Kalin Callaghan, for example, joined the ARTSPLASH team to coordinate the performing artists. She brought youth and fresh ideas to the job. This year RAA welcomed Tara Scannell to a prominent role in its arts education division.

RAA’s arts education department has expanded its programs. Initiated in 2002, but continuing through June of 2003, "from the heART" was a program for children specifically designed to identify and address the traumas that resulted from the crash of Flight 587. Conceived of and administered by arts education Program Director Chris Jorge and sponsored by Time Warner, "from the heART" can be used as a model for programs throughout the country dealing with the traumas of a post 9-11 world. Look for continuation of this program in 2004.

The kidsmART after-school program continues to thrive. Marina Callaghan is Program Coordinator and is assisted by Tara Scannell. Camp kidsmART accommodated an expanded number of children and teens this summer.

RAA’s partnership with the NYPD and the Weed and Seed program resulted in the new mural on the Madison Boys and Girls Club in Arverne. Esther Grillo created the fourth of her "wave shelter" murals on Shore Front Parkway – the magnificent "Monarch Landscape." Both projects enlisted local youth in beautifying their neighborhoods while learning art skills and the discipline of teamwork.

RAA looks forward to birth and renewal in 2004, including the birth of Office Manager Christine Mullally’s second child. We will welcome Mary Kelly as interim Office Manager. RAA celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2004 and plans to mark this milestone in a variety of ways.

RAA plans exciting, innovative exhibitions for the 2004-2005 season. First up is "PRESSED AND PULLED: A Juried Printmaking Exhibition" from February 7-March 7. Then comes "small, smaller, smallest: an exhibition of miniatures," scheduled for March 20-April 18. Three solo shows are planned – images of the Galapagos by nature photographer Holly Gordon, Jeffrey Berman’s mixed media pictures combining digital photography, pastel and watercolor and oil painter Christina Sarquiz’ "Emerging." Next season will also see a nature show, an indoor/outdoor sculpture show, ARTSPLASH, DIGITALSPLASH, a member show, an exhibition of the art of quilting and pottery and a fascinatingly conceived show with the intriguing title, "Art Between the Second and Third World Wars."

Work on a new roof for sTudio 7 began in November and will continue in the New Year. This is just the first stage of projected renovations to sTudio 7. The ultimate goal is to fulfill the vision of RAA – to build a state-of-the-art Rockaway Center for the Arts in Fort Tilden that will serve the needs of our community and attract real investment in the future of our underserved part of the city. This is what the Building Fund Benefits have been all about and will continue to be about. This is why we have been asking for your support – to make a dream come true right here in Rockaway.

Maybe the most inspiring story of 2003 was that of Claire Kearney, the daughter of RAA members TK and Chris Kearney. When friends and neighbors learned that Claire was gravely ill, an entire community prayed and gave assistance to this family that had given so much to others. Claire has made a full recovery.

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