2008-01-11 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Visual Jazz and an Irish Cello
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

"Fiddler," by Marvin Schwartz. Medium: Photography. One of the pieces in RAA's exhibit Get Out Of Town, opening January 19 in sTudio 6 , Fort Tilden. "Fiddler," by Marvin Schwartz. Medium: Photography. One of the pieces in RAA's exhibit Get Out Of Town, opening January 19 in sTudio 6 , Fort Tilden.
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Highlights from "Get Out of Town":

In New Orleans, music is a religion and religion moves to the tempos of the city's music. In the photographs of Marvin Schwartz this spiritual union, this natural expression of the soul is extended into visual eloquence and held in the moment of an image. In "Tuba Man," "Amazing Grace" and "Fiddle," we see both the unique and the universal qualities of music makers in this very special part of our country.

Schwartz is a Howard Beach resident who states he has been fascinated by photography ever since the summer he was 10 years old and watched his first print developed at camp. In high school he held a part time job developing photos for a studio in Brooklyn. Aphotographer in the Army, Schwartz toured Europe carrying a Rolliflex. Though the love of the medium never left him, over the many years after his military service he has restricted himself to taking family photographs. Not long ago he acquired a digital camera, much lighter than his Nikon equipment, which, says the artist, "opened up new worlds for me. It has reopened my creative side and made me want to share my work again."

Marvin Schwartz's photograph, "American Bird Watcher," was recently chosen as one of the top entries in the New York Parks Department Photography Contest. The image, taken in Gateway National Recreation Area, was displayed at the Queens Museum of Art and the Arsenal Gallery in Manhattan, and will be part of a book to be published by the city.

Reminiscent of the masterful Ansel Adams, award-winning photographer Joseph Rothenberg frames the eternals of truth and beauty through the power of his black and white images. Rothenberg uses the classic medium of gelatin silver print. He brilliantly creates unpretentious and deftly realized portals through which the strengths and nature of his subjects are revealed. His works are expertly composed.

Rothenberg prints his images himself. "The art," he says, "is not just in taking the photograph. The art is in the printing, where a lot of the artistic choices are made." However, he is quick to point out, he performs a minimum of manipulation. These works are images of what he sees. He prints them to reflect what he originally saw, what he originally imagined at the scene. For example, in "Inverary," which is among the artist's six photographs in "Get Out of Town, dark clouds invade the sky and the low light darkens the Irish coastal town below. In this almost symphonic work, the viewer feels the vibrations of these visual cello notes; notes obviously heard by the photographer himself.

Rothenberg also comments on why he has chosen to create his artwork in black and white. When he studied the great photographers, he determined they all worked in black and white. "Color represents complete reality. Black and white abstracts reality; it is an abstract art form," reducing the images to their shapes and values.

The six photographs were made on six of the 65 overseas trips Rothenberg has taken. "Swiss Profile" reveals the dramatic grandeur of Alps engulfed by clouds. "Abu Simbal, Egypt" frames the entrance to a temple, covered in sunken reliefs. Of note, inside the temple, these reliefs are raised. The Egyptians knew that the deep shadows created by the high sun shining on these external carvings would be quite dramatic. In addition, because they were not protruding, they would not be eroded by the many sandstorms. In "Opera House, Sydney," Rothenberg chooses to eschew the usual "acrossthe water" view of this well-known structure. Instead, he captures the moment when a lyric line of a troupe of schoolchildren, 'conveniently' clad in their black and white uniforms, poetically flows toward the building's beautiful archway.

I will allow you to discover Joseph Rothenberg's other works, and all the artworks of "Get Out of Town," for yourself. The exhibit runs from January 19 through February 17 in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA. The opening reception is Sunday, January 20, 1-3 p.m. Admission is free.



(FREE) THURSDAY OPEN MIC MUSIC NIGHTS: Every Thursday at 7 p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA. Call the RAA office to schedule your spot at the mic.

(FREE) FRIDAY NIGHT IMPROV: Every Friday Night in sTudio 7 the improv group "No Shame Theater" performs and invites audience members to join in. Call RAA office to sign up.

PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: Tuesday nights, 7-9 p.m., Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. - 12 noon. sTudio 7, RoCA @ Fort Tilden. $15 per class, supplies included. Instructor: Geoff Rawling

"GET OUT OF TOWN": Locales and travel beyond Rockaway are explored. Exhibition dates: January 19-February 17, 2008. sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA. Reception: Sunday, January 20, 1-3 p.m. Admission free.

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