2008-04-25 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

Opening Reception Sunday For Three RAA Exhibits
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

"Baby," Artist: Ludmilla Vaynberg. Medium: Oil. "One of the pieces of view in the exhibit: Of Women at sTudio 6 gallery" "Baby," Artist: Ludmilla Vaynberg. Medium: Oil. "One of the pieces of view in the exhibit: Of Women at sTudio 6 gallery" "Of Women," as curated by Sophia Skeans, is one of the most moving, original shows that has graced sTudio 6 Gallery. "Of Women" is about women, told through the voices of women. It is poignant and eloquent. It explores the many faces and roles of being a woman; as mother, daughter, wife; as giver of life, object of servitude; hero, dreamer, athlete, consumer, creator. Displaying the work of twenty-five diverse female artists (some of whom are mother and daughter pairs), it reflects the many moods and dispositions of women. Its chorus is composed of notes of sensuality, humor, pain, pleasure, courage. Realistically, symbolically, abstractly. In birth, life and death; finite and eternal.

The seeds of this exhibit began germinating a few years ago, when curator Sophia Pulkoski Skeans suggested to RAA that it do a show by and for women. Last year, inspired by her mother's life and given impetus by her mother's recent death, Skeans realized it would be "interesting to do a show that would be a tribute, not just to [her] mother, but to all women." Genevieve Pulkoski was a woman of and beyond her time. In her daughter's words, she was "independent, creative, opinionated, and had a clear historical perspective [on the societal limitations imposed] on women." Yet she never left the house 'improperly' dressed including, when appropriate, those proper dressy gloves. Clearly, she was "colorful, obstinate and resistant to definition."

Aware that today's young women and girls frequently do not realize the restrictions that have been placed on women in our culture until relatively recently, and the boundaries still being broken by courageous women, Skeans wanted the exhibit to reflect these factors, in order to enlighten today's women. Coordinately, she wanted to celebrate the glorious diversity of women, of women artists and, most specifically, of Rockaway's women artists. Representing this courage and diversity, included in "Of Women" is an homage to Far Rockaway High School's Nancy Lieberman, who fought to break the stigma of women in sports to become a respected athlete, coach and commentator and an inspiration to local girls that they, too, could pursue their dreams.

The installation piece by the curator, embodying the heart and soul of this exhibition, is a poignant work rooted in memory and in the present. Skeans wanted to honor her mother in a very personal way. Thus, the piece weaves possessions so typical of and so intimately important to Pulkoski, including a pair of those wonderful dress gloves, and old family photos. In recognition of that indomitable creative spirit that is so much a part of Genevieve's legacy to her children and grandchildren, paintings by mother, and by daughter are part of the installation, and even a painting begun collectively by mother, daughter and granddaughter. It is this eternal, female creative force that lives on in, inspires, empowers and influences even the very imagery of three generations; an inspiration grown stronger and more urgent since Pulkoski's death.

Prominent in the installation is a quote from Alice Walker: "And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see - or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read."

Kudos to Sophia Skeans and to Geoff Rawling, Janet Dever and Tommy Burke for imaginatively laying out an exhibit that allows viewers space for reflection and never feels crowded, despite the many varied artworks it contains.

Next week, "Black and White" and "The Human Figure," and more about "Of Women." See the gray box for details about Sunday's reception.

Another kudo to Robert Sarnoff. His film, "Dispatch," has just been named an official selection of the Del Ray Beach Film Festival.

Watercolors by RAA board member Martha Elliott Killian are on display at the Riverhead Town Hall as part of the exhibit, "Images of Long Island," presented by the East End Arts Council and the Town of Riverhead. The show is on view from April 28 through July 29, 2008, Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Killian has been vacationing on both forks of Long Island for many years. The beauty of the area inspired her to paint these scenes. Watercolor has been the artist's preferred medium since 1990. She attempts to express a time, a place, a mood, or a season when painting. To enable the viewer to feel a sense of being there, close attention is paid to accurate color and value. Three poems by Killian, also inspired by these scenes, accompany the artworks. To contact the artist: 718-634-0337; or visit artexchange. com, then click on M. Elliott Killian.

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

Forth Tilden Highlights

OPENING RECEPTION THIS 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. SPECIAL GALLERY EVENT: Sunday, May 4, 1-4 p.m. Poetry reading and open mic in sTudio 6 Gallery. Free. All welcome. (FREE) THURSDAY OPEN MIC MUSIC NIGHTS: Every Thursday at 7 p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA. 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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