2004-07-16 / Community

Local To Be Honored By U.S. Post Office

By Brendan Brosh

Local To Be Honored By U.S. Post Office


By Brendan Brosh

Local artist and Wave editorial cartoonist Robert Sarnoff has been selected by the United States Post Office to have his artwork used as a cache on a limited edition Duke Kahanamoku cancellation. The matted print will be postmarked from the Rockaway Beach Jetty Station on Beach 113 Street and Beach Channel Drive and unveiled to the public on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street on August 11 at 11 a.m.

The watercolor, which is the basis for the matted print, has always caught the public’s attention according to Sarnoff.

"I was teaching a watercolor class at Kingsborough and brought a photograph of the Beach 138 Street or 139 Street jetty into class to teach with," says Sarnoff. "I taught the class how to paint from a photograph and since then, everyone has been interested in this watercolor."

Recognizing the appeal of his work, Sarnoff had 250-postcard size prints made and displayed the watercolor in several Rockaway locations.

"In everyplace its been exhibited, people seem to be drawn to this one in particular," says Sarnoff. "They always have a story to tell when they look at it."

Seeking to get the work more exposure, Sarnoff walked into the Post Office on Beach 113 Street and asked about a stamp for Rockaway. Sarnoff was put in contact with Far Rockaway Postmaster George Buonocore and the two began discussions for use of the watercolor by the United States Post Office. Ultimately it was agreed that the jetty watercolor would be used as a matted print for the Duke Kahanamoku cancellation, which honors the man who is attributed with introducing surfing to the Rockaways in 1917.

"This is one of the first times in the history of the United States Postal Service that a local artist’s work has been converted into a matted print that will be available nationally," says Scott Klein, USPS Customer Relations Coordinator for the Rockaways. "The Far Rockaway Postmaster, George Buonocore, is hoping to bring some notoriety to the Rockaways by recognizing a local artist."

With paintings in the collection of Oleg Cassini, Arthur Ashe and Eli Wallach, Sarnoff is no stranger to the public eye. An official artist of the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament, the I Love New York campaign and the United Negro College Fund, Sarnoff is also the author of two books and several articles, including one, which appeared in the New York Times.

Raised in Brooklyn and living in Rockaway Beach for the past 33 years, Sarnoff has grown attached to the peninsula. His next work will be to compile a book on the oral history of Rockaway Beach jetties. Tentatively titled "Tales of Ye Old Jetty," the book will take a nostalgic look on the beach culture of fishing, clamming and swimming from the jetties of Rockaway’s past and present.

With an initial pressing of 500, the matted print will be available at all peninsula post offices starting Wednesday, August 11.

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