2008-04-18 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

Young Artists; three Exhibits Begin This Weekend; Receptions Next Week
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

DEADLINE for submission of entries: May 15, 2008 - "Good & Plenty," a revisit of RAA members' best work.

Over the next several weeks, this column will explore the talents of some of Rockaway's young artists.

Michael Santos has always loved cartoons - for as long as he can remember. It is his passion. He spends almost all his spare time drawing. When he was 10-years-old, or even younger, he copied (incredibly well, one should add) the cartoons others had created. Then, original ideas, original characters began emerging in his drawings. Images that were based on the cartoons he saw, but also that came from his imagination. Now, at the age of 16, Michael's repertoire is increasing. The sophistication of the drawings has grown. He has created a cast of characters and writes their dialogue himself, he says. Ideas, Michael explains, come from "watching cartoons, life around me and experiences with friends." Former RAA board member Norma Allende was his art teacher at PS/MS 105. Michael did the cover drawing for his graduating class' yearbook. When his family lived in Palmdale, California, he won a contest in fourth grade to design and execute an original mural, about world peace, for an exterior wall of his school.

Cartoons by Michael Santos, 16 year-old student at Beach Channel Hiigh School. Cartoons by Michael Santos, 16 year-old student at Beach Channel Hiigh School. In his art classes at Beach Channel High School he is drawing still lifes and portraits, from which he is "learning shading, perspective and proportion." His ambition is to attend art school after he completes high school.

Santos' mother, Lucinda, is a strong, positive influence in his life and that of his younger sister, Lisa, an aspiring poet. A hard-working, supportive single parent, she constantly stresses to her children the essential importance of giving back to the community and helping others. "Giving makes you feel better and makes the community better." She also emphasizes the importance of good grades.

How exciting to see young talent develop and be encouraged. I'll try to keep you posted. Good luck, Michael.

Robert Sarnoff is a pioneer of sorts. Among the filmmakers who have discovered the allure and fascination that our peninsula holds, Sarnoff was one of the first.

Self-portrait, drawn at age 14. Self-portrait, drawn at age 14. His three movies, "No Room Lobby," "The Irish Ropes" and "Dispatch," have been filmed and set in Rockaway. They are not merely picture postcards of pretty scenery. They dig into strengths, idiosyncracies, oddities and even the courage of some of the people who live here - true Rockaway characters. They have the feel, look, smell and taste of unique Rockaway stories. Sarnoff has received a variety of honors and accolades for this trio. His latest, "Dispatch," is an official selection of the 2008 Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival, taking place April 20-27 in Oklahoma, and has been nominated Best Docudrama. "No Rooms Lobby" won that award in 2005. Considered so realistic and eloquent was "Lobby" that it was nominated Best Documentary at the 2005 Queens International Film Festival and was chosen for the archives of the National Coalition for the Homeless. Sarnoff observes that the piece "has even more relevance [now] in the present economic climate."

"Dispatch" will be screened at the Rockaway Literary and Film Festival on Sunday, June 8 at approximately 7:15 p.m., at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden. You will see Rockaway through the rain-soaked windshields of a local car service. Suffice it to say, you will recognize some of those Rockaway characters and local talent.

I recently asked the filmmaker what he has learned in the course of his cinematic journey. He responds that in his initial work, "No Rooms Lobby," though its star John Baxter collaborated in a variety of ways, Sarnoff took charge of every aspect - camerawork, writing, directing, etc. For the second, "The Irish Ropes," a technically more complex piece, Sarnoff employed a very professional cameraman and crew, who had "a powerful impact" on factors including shooting locations and editing. His third, "Dispatch," was also more complex and required a more complex collaboration. All this, Sarnoff states, has made him realize how great and essential it is to have around you talented, professional, caring people who have mutual respect and "a desire to make a quality piece on which you are proud to put your name."

Sarnoff's journey of growth continues in his current film. He collaborates with a former filmmaking student of his, who now works for several top TV shows. Together they weave the many complicated aspects such a project involves.

What is the film about?

Clue: Its title is a pneumonic. "THE ROMEOWS." Retired Older Men who Eat Out on Wednesdays.

Can you identify?

CU@ the movies…and @RoCA.

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

Forth Tilden Highlights

3 EXHIBITS BEGIN SATURDAY OPENING RECEPTIONS NEXT WEEKEND: Sunday, April 27, 1-3 p.m. in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden, GNRA Exhibits: "Of Women," "Black and White" and "The Human Figure" Exhibition dates: Saturday, April 19-Sunday, May 20; Location: sTudio 6 Gallery and sTudio7 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden, GNRA. Gallery hours: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission.

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