2006-05-12 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance Art Heals - All Creatures Great And Small
by Susan Hartenstein

Rockaway Artists Alliance
Art Heals - All Creatures Great And Small

The central panel of the five-paneled portrait of Pat Clune and her five dogs, by Constance Del Vecchio Maltese.The central panel of the five-paneled portrait of Pat Clune and her five dogs, by Constance Del Vecchio Maltese. Bobbi and the Strays is a very special animal shelter located in Queens. It is currently the only "no-kill" shelter in the entire borough. Bobbi Giardino, who is the founder and director of this not-for-profit organization, heads a dedicated and loving staff and group of volunteers. She has received awards for her work from the ASPCA and the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition.

Giardino established her group out of a determination to end animal suffering. The organization operates locally and in the tri-state area. It primarily deals with dogs and cats, but sometimes smaller animals, rescuing them from harmful situations that range from abuse to abandonment to euthanasia. The animals are examined and treated by a vet, vaccinated, spayed and neutered as necessary. The present shelter is a rented space in the Vet Port of JFK airport, but Bobbi is seeking funding for a permanent shelter. In fact, donations of any kind are much needed and much appreciated. Four foster families are providing temporary homes for some of the animals. Giardino and her co-workers devote as much compassion and discerning care to finding permanent homes for the animals as to selecting staff and volunteers.

Volunteers perform a variety of tasks. Many of the staff and volunteers provide foster care. An essential component to the work of Bobbi and the Strays is to educate schoolchildren and adults on how to respect and care for animals. If you wish to learn more about Bobbi and the Strays visit: www.bobbicares.petfinder.org. If you want information, want to volunteer, or donate funds and/or supplies phone: 718 845-0779. The best way to send monetary donations is to mail them to: P.O. Box 170129/Ozone Park, NY 11417.

What, you may ask, is a story about an animal shelter doing in an arts column? The connection is Constance Del Vecchio Maltese. The artist and arts patron recently completed a five-paneled portrait of Pat Clune and her cherished five stray dogs. Clune is a retired principal, who is presently persuing her acting and singing career and producing shows with senior citizens on local and state grants. More importantly for this story, she is what Bobbi Giardano calls, "a lifesaver." She took in five older and difficult-to-place strays from a Brooklyn shelter and also cares for stray cats. Clune commissioned Del Vecchio Maltese, an accomplished portraitist, to paint her dogs. But after doing preliminary sketches it was clear to the artist that to do justice to each of the various-sized animals, she would have to do separate portraits. She also realized that because Pat and Teddy Bear, who is epileptic, were inseparable, it would be only appropriate to paint the two together. Visually, Del Vecchio Maltese knew that the juxtaposition of Pat's Irish red hair and the black of the poodle would "sing." By continuing part of one painting on to the next, the result is a "quintic" (similar to tryptic, but five canvas panels rather than three), each 25-inch by 18-inch oil painting butting up against the next in a panorama of the six subjects. The project took two years to complete, due to a variety of interruptions. It was unveiled in March at the Council on National Literatures Center. The artist's husband, State Senator Serphin Maltese, is a supporter of Bobbi and the Strays. It was his idea to turn the event into a fundraiser for that organization. More than 200 people attended.

The quintic is now in Pat Clune's home on a large wall that the artist says matches the size of her heart. Two of the older dogs have died. So Constance is particularly glad that their owner has something by which to remember them. She is also pleased that she was able to solve the artistic problem of doing justice to her subjects by "thinking outside the box."

The award-winning artist's portrait commissions include former Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone and Senator Mary Lou Rath. She also painted the American Women Portrait Series, which was exhibited in RAA's sTudio 6 Gallery. To learn more about Constance Del Vecchio Maltese visit: www. cmaltese.homestead.com

KIDSPLASH 2006: An Exhibition of Student Artwork is on view from Saturday, May 13 through Sunday, May 28 at RAA's sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA@ Fort Tilden. In a special collaborative effort, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the NYC Department of Education Region 5 Learning Support Center present some the best 2-dimensional work produced this year by student artists in this area. The opening reception is Sunday, May 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. It will feature refreshments and entertainment that includes the PS/ MS 43 Dance Troupe, which will perform at 2 p.m. The group is made up of students from the school under the direction of teachers Ms. Caines and Ms. Dalhouse. Gallery hours are Saturday 12-4 p.m., Sunday 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. For information call (718) 474-0861, e-mail rockart116@aol.org or visit www.rockawayartistsalliance. org. Teachers Norma Allende and Jo Anne Ellis are to be lauded. They conceived of and organized this exhibition, which they anticipate becoming an annual event. They would like to extend a special thanks to Mr. Ed Morgano the Region 5 Arts Coordinator and Superintendent Kathleen Cashin, who have been generous in their contributions of materials for the exhibit.

Congratulations to Roger Carreau for a successful opening weekend of his exhibit of photography, Pipe Dreams. Saturday marked a 9/11 tribute. Carreau's 9/11 inspired work, Hope Flag, was unveiled as a bagpiper played. Singer Joanne Marnick and guitarist Mike Rocks performed during the afternoon. Apryl Green, with back-up from Mary Kelly and Dan Guarino, sang at Sunday's reception. Musicians TK Kearney, Jim Fleming and Charlie Wolfe performed, all to the delight of their audience.

Performances of the clever and very funny comedy, The Women, continue this weekend at the Post Theater, Fort Tilden. Word from emerging audiences is that it's a winner, don't miss it. For information and reservations: 718 850-2450.

From all creatures great and small - CU@RoCA.

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