2008-02-22 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

New Life Drawing Class And A Historic Artists' Haven
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

"Red Scarf and Sea," by Sandra Caplan, 40 inches by 30 inches, oil on linen. On view at the Wesbeth Gallery through February 24. "Red Scarf and Sea," by Sandra Caplan, 40 inches by 30 inches, oil on linen. On view at the Wesbeth Gallery through February 24.
RAA CONTACT INFO:
Phone: 718 474-0861;
Fax: 718 474-4373;
e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website:
www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

The Westbeth Gallery is part of the famous Westbeth Artists' Housing complex located at 57 Bethune Street or 155 Bank Street in Manhattan's Far West Village. More about this historic center in a bit.

Catch Sandra Caplan's exciting artwork, which is presently on display in the Westbeth Gallery, only through this Sunday, February 24. Her oil paintings, pastel drawings and watercolors exude color and light. Anything but "still" lifes, they are lushly packed with the evidence of life and growth - flowers, vegetables and fruit; the sea and sky. Perhaps "packed" is the incorrect word, for they never feel crowded or disorderly. To the contrary, one drinks in the close-up world and then moves to the freedom and openness of the world surrounding it. The eye travels from object to object; foreground to background, to foreground once more. Energy is also to be found in the dynamic, yet never distracting movement of brushstroke, particularly in her watercolors. Indeed, none of her artwork feels too busy - just richly enticing. Reminiscent of Cézanne, Caplan changes angle and point of view within the same work, creating for the viewer, a sense of shifting in relation to the objects before her/him. Her charcoal drawings have an energy that moves from black all the way through white.

Many of Caplan's works were created in Italy along the Adriatic. These are particularly full of the sunlight that illuminates the foreground's objects and densely patterned fabrics; and the architectural forms, rolling hills and open sea of the middle and background. The Westbeth Gallery will be open this Saturday and Sunday for "Sandra Caplan: New York - Italy" from 1 to 6 p.m. and by appointment: 212-691-0595.

Westbeth Artists' Housing is the largest living and working facility for artists in the world. The 13-story complex was built in the 1890's as the Bell Telephone Labs. It saw the first talking movie and the first binary computer. The first public television demonstration took place here and the atomic bomb was first conceived here by engineers.

In an attempt to help alleviate the shortage of affordable apartments and studios for artists, funds were raised to renovate the complex, and Westbeth Artists' Housing was opened in 1970. It is reported that more than 800 visual, performing and literary artists live there today. Sandra Caplan has lived and worked there since its opening. Through grants and donations, the not-for-profit Westbeth Artists' Residents Council runs the Westbeth Gallery and a variety of cultural programs in the Community Room that includes artist-related free programs, readings, performances and movies. The Westbeth Gallery is a 2500 square foot space that offers solo and group shows of resident and non-resident artists. The complex also houses the Westbeth Graphics Studio, the Westbeth Painting Studio and Westbeth Sculptors' Studio, all for use by the residents; and studio, rehearsal and arts administration spaces for commercial rent. Also located in Westbeth is the Drama School of New School University; the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; the Riverwest Theatre, which produces original off-off Broadway plays; the Beth Simchat Torah, a gay and lesbian synagogue; and Brech Forum, which presents cabarets, performances and exhibitions by artists from all over the world.

Among the illustrious artists who have lived, worked and communed at Westbeth are actor Moses Gunn, jazz musician Gil Evans and photographer Diane Arbus. If you wish to learn more about this world-famous landmark, visit:www.westbeth.org. you may also call the Westbeth Gallery at: 212-989- 4650.

CU@RoCA
FORT TILDEN HIGHLIGHTS:
UPCOMING EXHIBIT: "STRUCTURE," explores the artistic nature of
architecture, buildings, bridges and anything man-made. Exhibition dates:
March 8- March 30. Opening reception: March 9, 1-3 p.m., sTudio 6, RoCA.
Gallery hours: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment.
Free admission.
NEW ART CLASS: LIFE DRAWING with live model. Every Thursday, 8-
10 p.m. in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden. Fee: $20 per class. No preregistration
necessary. Instructor: Geoff Rawling.
(FREE) THURSDAY OPEN MIC MUSIC NIGHTS: Every Thursday at 7
p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA. To this great night of music and friendships
add drawing: join other artists drawing on their imaginations and on one
huge sheet of paper. Call the RAA office to schedule your spot at the mic.
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.

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