2004-09-24 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein


“Thinking Outside The Box,” by Christina Jorge. Clay figure with acrylic paint on a cloth-draped wood base.
“Thinking Outside The Box,” by Christina Jorge. Clay figure with acrylic paint on a cloth-draped wood base. “FRAME: Art in the Period between the 2nd and 3rd World Wars” is an exhibition of unforgettable images that tap into our deepest emotions and our most profound concerns. As a people caught in the maelstrom of modern global politics and the daily horrors that confront us, FRAME holds significance for each of us. But unlike the pictures on our TV screens and newspapers, the images of FRAME were created by artists to express for themselves, and ultimately for us all, the spectrum of our very human reactions to our world.

Anger, fear, pride, confusion, disgust, hope can all be found among the powerful artworks of this exhibition. Taking no point of view, FRAME, which was curated by Katherina Romanenko, allows each individual artist and viewer the freedom of expression, exploration and debate.

The eighteen artists of FRAME have come from various parts of the country and the metropolitan area. Their works explore themes that are timely and timeless. Retired New York City police detective Richard Rowney Connell now lives and works in New Kingston, NY. One of the two mixed media sculptures he has entered in FRAME is titled “Paradox 1939.” A visual parody of the symbols of the 1939 World’s Fair, the Perisphere and Trylon, the sculpture is of a Trylon and German World War II helmet on a platform, all glazed in white. Connell states, “The World’s Fair opened April 30, 1939 in America and World War II opened four months later on September 1, 1939 in Poland. With Poland in flames and despair, the world played games at the fair. The Perisphere and Trylon were to be symbols of world progress and cooperation but the Perisphere degenerated into a symbol of aggression.

Christina Jorge has created “Thinking Outside the Box,” a clay figure with acrylic paint on a cloth draped wood base. Her artist statement reads: “In March 2003, on the orders of President George W. Bush, U.S. led forces invaded Iraq. Casualties and death are an inevitable cost of war.

The issue of servicemen’s coffins is a sensitive one with some analyst’s claiming America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was fueled by pictures of body bags coming home. Thus, on the eve of the Iraq War, the Pentagon/Bush administration issued an order prohibiting any media coverage of “deceased military personnel at U.S. bases”

“In April 2004, a photo of flag-draped coffins containing fallen American soldiers from Iraq appeared on the front page of The Seattle Times. Tami Silicio, a cargo processor for a private military contractor Maytag Aircraft, took the snapshot as the coffins were being loaded onto an aircraft at the Kuwait international airport. Her intention was not an anti-war statement but as she says, “was done to show families the total respect and honor shown to their sons as they were sent home.” Rather than an award for the incredible image she captured on film, she was terminated from her job. Her spouse also lost his job with the company. Maytag Aircraft claims they were pressured by the United States government to fire the couple.

At the same time the government released similar photos breaking their own ban.

“This piece pays tribute to those who have sacrificed life and limb during this war.

“No ban or censorship can hide or sanitize the human toll and the cost to date of 1000 American lives, countless innocent Iraqi citizens, and the multitude of military men and women who have been maimed and scarred both physically and psychologically.”

Serbian artist Daniel Kariko lives in Florida and has studied, worked and exhibited all across this country. His photography explores the world of his roots in the context of the global map. Kariko asks the difficult question: “Yugoslavia was a communist country with John Wayne westerns playing on Sunday afternoon TV. I learned about American culture from movies and sitcoms. Violence is a basic condition of human beings. In the Old World it takes the form of wars. In the west, violence is under the surface, activated by frustration.

The world crashed into America in September of 2001.

How much difference is there now?”

Long Island City artist Madeline Braisted displays a photograph, “Amy’s Story,” of performance artist Amy Shapiro telling her very personal story of 9-11. The photo captures Shapiro’s tribute to the courage of New York’s citizens and visitors. Braisted states: “Though the wars and attacks may come and go we go on, but we never forget .”

FRAME runs from October 2 through November 7 at RoCA in Fort Tilden. (Due to renovations to sTudio 7 Gallery, the start of the exhibit needed to be delayed from September 26, as had been planned.) Sunday, October 3 from 1-3 PM is the wine and cheese opening reception for FRAME and ARTSPLASH 2004. RAA invites all to attend an exhibition that will stir the minds and emotions of those who see it – an exhibition whose significance extends far beyond this peninsula and well beyond these times.

Reminder: The final performance of “Seven,” seven terrific short one-act plays, is Saturday, September 25 at 8 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 320 Beach 94th Street. Tickets: $10 ($7 for seniors) are available at the door.

Final performances of RTC’s “Rockaway CafĂ© 2004” are September 30, October 1 and 2 at 8 PM at the Post Theater, Fort Tilden. Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and kids.

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