2007-04-27 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Exhibits' Reception This Sunday; Literary Festival a Success
Rockaway Artists Alliance Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

Rockaway Artists Alliance
Commentary by
Susan Hartenstein

One of the works on display at RAA's new show "Of Land & Sea" in sTudio 6 at Ft Tilden. Title: "Silhouetted Sails At Shore." Artist: Daniel Cronin. Medium: Oil on canvas
One of the works on display at RAA's new show "Of Land & Sea" in sTudio 6 at Ft Tilden. Title: "Silhouetted Sails At Shore." Artist: Daniel Cronin. Medium: Oil on canvas RAA contact info: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474-4373; e-mail: rockart116@aol.com ; website: www.roc kawayartistsalliance.org.

Opening reception for Of Land and Sea and The BIG Show: Sunday, April 29 from 1-3 p.m. in sTudio 6 Gallery in the Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) in Fort Tilden. Exhibits on view through Sunday, May 20.

Of Land and Sea: sTudio 6 Gallery, Fort Tilden, RoCA. Explores the extraordinary beauty of the natural world.

The BIG Show: sTudio 7 Gallery and the outdoor sculpture garden, Fort Tilden, RoCA. All works are a minimum of 6 (six) feet in size.

Gallery hours for both shows: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.

Admission: Free.

Planet Animals: Deadline for receipt of entries: Friday, May 4, 2007. Contact RAA or visit our website for prospectus and entry form.

Of Land and Sea and The BIG Show began on Saturday, April 21. As a perfect extension of the beautiful natural world surrounding it, Of Land and Sea acted as an exciting complement to Sunday's Rockaway Literary Arts Festival (more about the festival below) and added another creative dimension to the day. There are many wonderful artworks in this show. Take a peek at some of them. The delicate beaded works of Penelope Atheras are stand-outs. Joan Doblin Vogel's luscious lighting in the acrylic painting "Twilight" illuminates the special beauty of Rockaway's Breezy beach. In two oil paintings that include "Silhouetted Sails at Shore," Daniel Cronin creates the hot/ cold brilliance of a blazing orange sun and its impending dark sleep. Ludmila Vaynberg pulls the viewer into the rich, muscular lights, shadows and spaces of her watercolors "Reflections," "Early Autumn" and "After Rain." In Casey Mergen's digital print, "In the March Snow," the sharp black and white ice cold of snow in the foreground set against the background's sepia-warmed sky makes the heart beat a little faster.

At the Rockaway Literary Arts Festival, presented by the Rockaway Music and Arts Council on Sunday, April 22, hundreds of people flowed among the festival venues enjoying the many events and the glorious, made-to-order weather. Everyone to whom I spoke - authors, filmmakers, attendees and those involved in organizing and coordinating the day - saw it as a great success. Amalia Hoffman, an author/illustrator of children books, articulated the feelings of many when she said that, for her, the most important aspect of the festival was the opportunity to network with other literary professionals. Several authors were grateful for the opportunity to interact directly with the book-reading public. For Alan Geller, author of Scary Diagnosis, this was a fantastic experience. This was his first outing with the book. Interacting with potential readers allowed him to gauge what the interest in his book would be. He was very impressed by the turnout and the caliber of questions posed by his audience. It appears that the event changed the image some have of Rockaway as a non-reading public. Rockaway resident Thomas O'Callaghan, who writes thrillers like Bone Thief, was very pleased at this. English writer John Birch (aka Jonathan Linn) deemed this a great event. He told me he had never been to Rockaway before, but will come back. Sarah Langan, writer of The Keeper , called it "a treat" to be in Rockaway. The festival drew many from outside the peninsula who were not familiar with the area - both authors like Birch and attendees. Peter Langden, from Long Island, was very interested to hear from the various authors about the process by which they formulated their books.

Just as occurs when people come to RAA exhibits for the first time, many were surprised and thrilled to discover that in this part of the city they could find two galleries, a sculpture garden, an outdoor stage and a thriving theater company. The symposiums, poetry readings, talks by writers (several from Rockaway) and other events allowed the stimulating interaction among literate people from inside and outside Rockaway. It also reinforced the need and desire for a bookstore in this community. Perhaps the most powerful argument for supporting the festival as an annual event, and for a bookstore in Rockaway was found in the panel discussion with the school children who won writing awards for their schools in a writing competition held especially for the festival.

Listening to these articulate, literate, creative young people read their work, it was clear that we must provide as many tangible positive role models and opportunities as possible for literary self expression to the children of our peninsula. It is imperative that our community supports the efforts of all our arts groups that teach, encourage and reinforce these essential means of self-expression.

We wish to thank the wonderful Rockaway band SquidWorks for filling the air around RAA's Moonstage with their exceptional sounds. Guy Nevirs on vocals and guitar, Jerry Weimer on sax and John Bernstein on mandolin.

There are many in the Rockaway Music and Arts Council whose hard work made the Rockaway Literary Arts Festival a success. It also would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Rockaway Theatre Company and of Gateway National Recreation Area. None, however, could compare with the extraordinary devotion and vision of festival organizer Stuart Mirsky and co-chair Barbara Eisenstadt. They have created something very special for Rockaway. This community and the literary world owe them our thanks and our admiration.

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