2005-12-30 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein


Rockaway Artists Alliance’s mission is to bring quality and innovative arts, arts education and arts instruction to all the residents of our community, and to showcase the rich and diverse resource of Rockaway artists for the community outside our peninsula. Thanks to the devotion and hard work of many, Year 2005 has brought us further in this mission and 2006 promises to continue this success, in even more creative and imaginative ways.

The cornerstone of RAA’s efforts in recent years has been the renovation of building T-7 in Fort Tilden, now known as sTudio 7 Gallery. sTudio 6, the smaller of the galleries, continues to be a beautiful, open and special place for a number of our exhibitions and workshops, especially after a spring repainting and partial remodeling. But sTudio 7 is being transformed into the main gallery, education and workshop space for this organization. Thanks to the continuing support of State Senator Serfin Maltese and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, in 2005 RAA was able to install new windows, doors, siding, dormers and decks. The charm and grandeur of the old architecture is now married to airiness, sunlight, line and added space that make this former warehouse a unique building perfectly suited to the arts. 2006 will bring this community closer to having a state-of –the-art cultural center. Work on a heating and air conditioning system has begun and will continue in the New Year so that expansive exhibitions like Sewn and Thrown, that included large quilts, may be held year-round. The projected goal is to have heating in a significant portion of the building by the early part of 2006.

The S ummer Moons series of free music events on our outdoor Moon Stage that was a great success in 2005 will expand in 2006. In order to better inform the public about the activities and programs of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, our website will be redesigned in the New Year.

The Exhibitions Committee of RAA continues to schedule exciting shows that challenge both the artist and the viewer with fresh and interesting concepts. RAA exhibitions attract artists from across the country, as well as locally, and the quality and originality of the exhibited work reflects that. For example, in 2006 exhibitions will include Intrusion or Intimacy, exploring the concept of openings, holes and orifices. What is a hole? Is it an intrusion to privacy or an invitation to intimacy? Is it a void, the absence of something or an opening to new adventures and discoveries? Artists are challenged to explore the dynamics of the hole as a positive or negative shape, giving a new meaning to the space and the opening. Bodyscapes will explore the multi-dimensional aspects of the human body, not only as a physical form but also as the vessel of the essence of humanity. For a full schedule of 2006 exhibitions, visit our website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org. Community tours of our exhibitions expanded in 2005, which will continue in 2006.

On January 3, 2006 RAA’s kidsmART after-school program will re-open its doors for its second season at Building T-149 in Fort Tilden. The building is getting a face lift, the returning staff has their tried and true curriculum and fresh new ideas. New staff bring with them expertise in the visual arts, percussion, theater and musical theater. This absolutely free program offers a stunning array of workshops including papier maché, theater, dance, music, clay sculpture, painting, arts & crafts and more. By the second month of the program the kidsmART library will be a fully functional section where children can receive homework help, read, relax, talk about current issues in their lives and utilize the computers and extensive CD library to work on school research projects.

kidsmART is also going to begin having free weekend field trips for the children in the program. For the first time ever kidsmART will provide bus transportation from Fort Tilden to a variety of destinations within the five boroughs, including theaters, museums and botanical gardens. 

As always, RAA teaching artists are in the public schools regularly enriching the lives of students through hands-on visual and performing arts workshops. And we’re at other after-school programs bringing the arts to the hands, eyes and minds of children whose lives are otherwise without art.

Summer 2006 will see the seventh season of our dynamic camp kidsmART. Our wheels are already turning with regards to what we can add and the innovations we can bring to the kids who make it worth standing on the parade grounds in 100 degree heat!

Where do we see ourselves a year from now? Where we find ourselves every year - a few steps closer to rockin’ the entire Rockaway Peninsula with beauty and creativity through visual and performing art pieces created by our terrific teens.

Here’s to an artistic and fulfilling New Year for us all. CU@RoCA.

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