2007-05-11 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

A 'Man' Named Eric, A Boy Named Oliver
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

"Provincetown Harbor." Artist: Ann Murray. Medium: Photography "Provincetown Harbor." Artist: Ann Murray. Medium: Photography The Arts @ Fort Tilden: Of Land and Sea: sTudio 6 Gallery, Fort Tilden, Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA.) Explores the beauty of the natural world in a variety of art mediums.

The BIG Show: sTudio 7 Gallery, Fort Tilden, RoCA. Living 'UP' to its title, the works in this exhibit are all a minimum of 6 (six) feet in size. That's the long and the tall and the wide of it.

Exhibits on view through Sunday, May 20.

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

Admission: Free.

Raffle of artwork through the run of the exhibits: An exquisite stained glass box fabricated by artist Penelope Atheras is being raffled off at sTudio 6 Gallery, where the box is on view.

Tickets are available during gallery hours.

The drawing will take place on the final day of the exhibits, Sunday, May 20.

RAA general meeting: Monday, May 14 @ 7:30 p.m. in building T-149, Fort Tilden.

Guest presenter: Renée Radenberg. Radenberg will discuss her sculptures, and how to make a mobile. She fabricates her mobiles with metal, sea glass, stained glass and other materials.

Her subjects can be as concrete as a creature from outer space or as abstract as the wind. Her mobile "Blue Wonderment" can be seen in "The BIG Show" through May 20. Meetings are open and all are welcome. You are encouraged to bring your own artwork for display.

The Rockaway Theatre Company's production of the musical "Oliver" opens this weekend.

Show dates: May 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. Matinees: May 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. For tickets: call 718-850-2450. The book and music for the show were written by Lionel Bart. Director: Kathy Valentine. Musical director: Anne Rebold. Set designer: James Cantirino. Costume designer: Peggy Vivino.

The production stars Austin Zambito Valente in the title role, with Nancy Sturgis as Nancy, Bernard Smith as Bill Sykes, Matthew Smilardi as the Artful Dodger and Jai Sada as Fagin.

The ensemble features Geoff Rawling, among others. (But Geoff was easier to see above the crowd.) Tommy Burke, who is an important part of RTC's stage crew and who is also an exhibiting artist and vital addition to RAA's construction and exhibitions teams, states, "It has been a complete pleasure working with Kathy Valentine." Valentine is an experienced, consummate professional and I am looking forward to enjoying the talents of all her marvelous company in this production.

More reasons to see Of Land and Sea and The BIG Show:

In The BIG Show Alysa O'Shea's video "Changeling" presents the splendid changing foliage of autumn through the use of montage, fade-ins and fade-outs. "From Its Top You Can See the Eiffel Tower" is an intriguing video portrait of a Ferris wheel. Both films explore the visual and kinetic interplay of color and the two graphic components of line and shape.

In Of Land and Sea, Tommy Burke's photograph "Crab Walk" draws ironic comment from the title of the image, for whose subject, walking days are a thing of the past. The glow of a dawn sun exquisitely illuminates the sea and rocks in Janet Dever's watercolor "Sunrise over El Morro."

Of the photographs by Ann Murray, particularly engaging was "Provincetown Harbor" that captures the late afternoon light and tranquility of the harbor at low tide.

Presently working in the galleries of RAA is artist Chris Preston with his model Tommy Burke (multi-talented fellow, isn't he?). If you have been to any RAA exhibits in recent years, you also know "Eric," whom Preston introduced here. Who is Eric, you ask? He is that stoic yet colorful 'gentleman' who sits in or near the galleries. He sees without speaking, contemplates without commenting. Eric is slightly bent forward, chin on hand, elbow resting on knee. He has captivated hundreds, especially children, who smile and ask if he is real. Yes, he is, boys and girls. Just not in the usual sense. Eric has a life that shines from within. He is the perfect man - he is whatever you wish him to be, with infinite potential. Eric is a sculpture. Preston built him from plaster bandage and papier maché. Originally from England, Preston has similar figures on display in his native country. The artist wishes to create more of these 'people,' to sit on benches and in other settings in Fort Tilden. He is at work now on two companions for Eric. All three will eventually sit in sTudio 7 Gallery playing chess together. Another figure will be in sTudio 6 in a rather "surprising" pose.

Preston wraps his posed model, complete with clothing, in plaster bandage (the stuff used to make casts). After drying occurs, he splits the results into pieces and reassembles them into an entire person. Then he collages the surface with pieces of paper in computer colors. This, Preston believes, bespeaks the computer age in which we are bombarded by colors.

Come sometime and see Eric, Chris and Tommy.

CU@RoCA

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