2008-03-21 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

Summer In The City
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

"Mystic Rope Walk," Artist: Ann Murray. Medium: Photography "Mystic Rope Walk," Artist: Ann Murray. Medium: Photography
Phone: 718 474-0861;
Fax: 718 474-4373;
e-mail: rockart116@aol.com; website:

"Structure" Spotlight: Mary Blair translates energy and mood into paint in "Summer Storm, 59th Street Bridge." Through the use of loose, active brushstrokes, large blocks of color representing architectural forms, and subtle, atmospheric color transitions, the artist communicates the sense of solid urban structures set in and influenced by a changing atmospheric event.

Photographer Ann Murray, whose subjects are usually seascapes or landscapes, turned her head to the side a bit for "Structures." Inside a building near the water, one of the seaside museums of Mystic, Connecticut, she was attracted to the composition, movement and sepia tones of stacked piles of muscular, thick, seafaring coils of hemp. Hence, the dance of ropes in "Mystic Rope Walk."

Through the use of interviews, old postcards, present-day film footage and old home movies, Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris have produced a beautiful, sweet, often humorous, often touching documentary titled, "The Bungalows of Rockaway." More accurately, they have produced a 23-minute version of what will eventually be an expanded film of approximately twice the length. The film will ultimately attempt to cover the entire history of the bungalows in Rockaway. I was a member of the audience which saw the "rough cut" of the documentary at the Rockaway Theatre Company's Post Theater on Sunday, March 15.

"The Bungalows of Rockaway" is astutely edited. It blends a variety of elements including interviews with bungalow "dwellers" from decades past through the present. We become privy to their nostalgic recollections, their humor, joys and longings. Producers Harris and Callahan, who also served as director, chose footage they wanted in the film. Then, Ilya Chaikan, whom the producers call a sensitive and insightful editor and filmmaker, wove those pieces together.

The result is a document that captures not just the physical and historic nature of those bungalows, but their very personal social and emotional significance. One gets a sense of not just visitors to the beach, but of a "culture" that existed in those bungalow communities, and in today's communities, fighting to preserve them.

The viewer comes away with a real "feel," for example, of those who suffocated in an un-airconditioned, stagnant summer city, then fled to the open, cool, airy freedom of that hospitable magic Neverland by the sea. Because Rockaway was a refuge and playground, not just for the poor, but also for the rich and those in between, the film is also a history of New York City; and because the city is a gateway to a larger world, the history has a larger significance.

Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris are hoping that "The Bungalows of Rockaway" will ultimately be seen on Channel 13 and, eventually, on the broader PBS network. Watch for it.

If you have photographs, footage and /or memories pertaining to Rockaway's bungalows, the filmmakers ask that you please write to them at bungalows@ yahoo.com or P.O. Box 1661, NYC, 10150.


Forth Tilden Highlights

"STRUCTURE" explores the artistic nature of architecture, buildings, bridges and anything manmade. Exhibition dates: March 8- April 6. Location: sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA @ fort Tilden. Gallery hours: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission. (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.

LIFE DRAWING CLASS with live model. Every Thursday, 8-10 p.m. in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden. Fee: $20 per class. No pre-registration necessary. Instructor: Geoff Rawling. 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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