2007-10-26 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Halloween, KidsmART And 'The Irish Ropes'
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein Rockaway Artists Alliance

RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474-4373; e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

HALLOWEEN ALERT! Madam Rayah has but moments to spill the Halloween beans before she is at risk of being whisked off by seafaring captors. On October 26, 27, 28 and 31 (Halloween night) from 5-8 p.m., the shivering timbers of a ghastly, ghostly prison ship will drop anchor (not to mention several passengers) overboard at the port of sTudio 7 Gallery in the Fort of Tilden. Cretinous, crime-ridden cadavers. Monstrous murderers. Soulless CEOs. All manner of heinous historically incarcerated criminals will attempt to capture you for their Hadesbound vessel. Rayah has even had visions of a sanguinary Martha baking suspicious meat pies for a Mr. Todd. BE WARNED! Do NOT go to Tilden on these nights.

But of course, if you do, wear comfortable shoes and enjoy! (Not for the faint of heart…)

Many of kidsmART's returning parents sing the praises of our exceptional staff and many of the kidsmART kids have come to regard the staff members as mentors, teachers and even friends. To give you an idea of what some kidsmART staff members are up to, at and outside of kidsmART, here are some highlights from the 2006-2007 after-school season:

In February 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office offered an invitation via the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), to the kidsmART artists to create centerpieces for a luncheon at Gracie Mansion. The luncheon introduced corporate funders to the DYCD Out-of-School Time (OST) programming initiative. RAA's kidsmaRT program has successfully participated in OST since its inception in 2005.

Artistic Instructor Kalin Callaghan and Teen Assistant Christina Coradin designed and created fifteen stunning snowmen and women sculpture centerpieces. Each whimsical sculpture was expertly crafted and included representations of some of the kidsmART children's favorite New York City personalities, including an FDNY firefighter, and Yankee and Met baseball players. Teen Assistant John Macrae aided in the final attentions to detail, like making scarves for the snow people, who were mounted on mirror tiles and accompanied by miniature woodland creatures.

Another DYCD initiative was a town hall meeting inviting youth from the peninsula to speak to the societal and economic factors negatively impacting their lives in our neighborhoods. The meeting was held on May 31 at Goldie Maple Academy. Over a dozen young people spoke eloquently and powerfully about issues ranging from gang violence and poor schools, to police profiling. Among the speakers were kidsmART Teen Assistants John Macrae, Keisha Frazier, Federico Salinas and Patrick Gutierrez.

To quote from seventeen-year-old Keisha Frazier's moving speech that night, "Violence is another very serious problem in this community. I've been fortunate enough not to lose any friends to violent crime, but most of my friends have not been that lucky…. It is important to help one another….This is our Rockaway and as much as I don't like it sometimes, I love it to death and I want to see it has a better future!"

These are only glimpses of the accomplishments and commitment of just a handful of kidsmART's senior and junior staff members. Everyday, at the after-school and summer camp programs, all of the staff give their all and constantly raise the bar as creative, compassionate and intelligent community leaders. We look forward to informing you of their highlights as the year progresses.

Though "Robert Sarnoff Retrospective" holds myriad pleasures for the Rockaway viewer, it has a universal appeal. Many of his drawings are graphic "souvenirs" of the varied life of Rockaway - from beach scene habitués to the denizens of local eateries. However, the artist includes scenes from travels on other continents. His work, though woven with humor, is never frivolousness. An innate fascination with the nature of being human informs all his art. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer encounters three colorful portraits - of three homeless men Sarnoff came to know when art director of a Manhattan men's shelter. One can't help but look deeply into these faces. Sometimes Sarnoff's visual explorations are pushed to the hypnotically grotesque. Even his black and white drawings are colorful in the exaggerated rendering of their human subjects (some, recognizable to many Rockawayites.)

Of particular interest are a series of abstract giclée prints, a process that produces quality fine arts graphics with rich colors. Many top museums have exhibited giclée prints, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sarnoff's prints are bold and interestingly composed works.

Sarnoff's films, being screened each weekend at the gallery (see box for schedule), are shot in, and are about, Rockaway. This Saturday's "The Irish Ropes" is an acclaimed film about a local boxing gym. Called "riveting" by boxing writer Robert Mladinich, the poignant documentary examines the very human lives and dreams of its members, including middleweight contender John Duddy, who trained at the gym, and gym owner Eddie McLoughlin.

Upcoming at RTC: "Inspecting Carol," a hilarious onstage/offstage comedy. Dates: Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 @ 8 p.m.; 4, 11 @ 2 p.m. Expect the wonderfully unexpected. Tickets: 718- 850-2450.

FORT TILDEN HIGHLIGHTS:

"ROBERT SARNOFF RETROSPECTIVE." Exhibition on view through November 4 in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA.

October 27: Screening at 3 p.m.: "The Irish Ropes", MSG Television Movie. Signing of U.S. Postal Service Rockaway cachet matted print, "Ye Olde Jetty." Signing of Sarnoff's books "Cartoons, Comics, Ideas & Techniques" and "Papier Maché."

Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. and Nov. 8 at 8 p.m.: Test Screenings: "Dispatch", rough cut of latest Robert Sarnoff movie.

Free admission to gallery and all events. Gallery hours: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.

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