2009-03-20 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

'On The Wall': Rockaway Contributes To The History Of Art
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

RAA mural artists Geoff Rawling and Esther A. Grillo are part of an event for the new book, "On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City," in which their work is featured. RAA mural artists Geoff Rawling and Esther A. Grillo are part of an event for the new book, "On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City," in which their work is featured.
Fort Tilden Highlights
"GEOFF'S ART CLASS EXHIBIT," the best and the
brightest, will be on through March 29. Gallery hours: Sat.
12-4 p.m., Sun. 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission.
See column for details.
p.m.; Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. - 12 noon. sTudio 7,
RoCA @ Fort Tilden. $15 per class, supplies included.
Instructor: Geoff Rawling.
FREE THURS. NIGHT MUSIC: Open mic and open stage
for performing artists, including spoken word and comics,
and scheduled bands every Thurs. night, sTudio 7 stage,
RoCA, Fort Tilden.
WINE TASTING: Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m., sTudio 6, Fort
Tilden to introduce "Wine and Dine" exhibit.

Rave reviews are in for "On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City" by Janet Braun-Reinitz and Jane Weissman. Deemed by critics to be "essential," "significant," "valuable," "important," for Rockawayites, perhaps the most important aspect of the book is that two Rockaway murals created by two Rockaway Artists Alliance members are featured in this comprehensive volume, available on Amazon.com, that Queens College Director of Art Education, Rikki Asher, says offers "vibrant color photographs and clearly written text." New York folklorist Joseph Sciorra writes that it is "a significant contribution to the history of art and neighborhood life in New York."

Geoff Rawing, RAA president, came to Rockaway in 1989 and began painting murals in his new community. Before that, he painted dozens in the East Village of Manhattan, mostly for bars and restaurants. The intent of the well-researched "On the Wall" is to examine forty years of murals in this city that were supported by, integrated with and representative of the neighborhoods and the eras in which they were painted. St. Marks Bar and Grill on First Avenue and St. Marks Place is just such a mural. Populating it are the likenesses of residents of the area who helped give the East Village its flavor and character. In addition to an image of this work, Rawling is interviewed about other murals of his, including "Shack Attack," on the lifeguard shack at Beach 117 Street and the boardwalk that, each year, the community participates in giving new life to by repainting.

Rawling continues to paint wall art, including many with the children in the school system, throughout Queens and Brooklyn, through RAA's license with the New York City Department of Education.

You have read in this column about the invaluable contribution and vital relationship the "wave bus shelter" murals of Esther A. Grillo have had to the community. Each mural pictures a different theme related to life in Rockaway. So it is quite fitting that ¾ of a page in "On the Wall" is devoted to "Monarch Landscape," one of those works along Shore Front Parkway. Grillo ran apprenticeship programs for neighborhood children and adults, as assistants in painting these artworks that gave newfound pride and a sense of unity to the members of the surrounding areas. Grillo's contribution to her community will be felt for generations - in the beauty, values, skills and self-pride fostered by the dedication and artistry of Esther Grillo.

Asher calls murals, "more than wall decoration. They express the value of human struggle and victories and bring this expression into people's lives through the power of art. ["On the Wall"] is a valuable resource for the muralist, community activist, art educator, art historian, classroom teacher, and anyone interested in discovering the rich history of public art in New York … [and] will inspire future generations of muralists and young artists to come." To read more reviews and to learn more about acquiring "On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City," which comes in hardcover and soft cover, log onto: amazon.com. Then to search, type in On the Wall, then click on the icon for the book. This will bring you to a page where you can get info re: prices, etc. and where you can click on reviews. Save the Date: A Wine Tasting on Friday, April 17, 2009 at 7 p.m. in sTudio 6 Gallery, RoCA @ Fort Tilden, as an introduction to the exhibit, "Wine and Dine," on view April 18-May 17.

kidsmART corner

The kidsmART after-school program is held on Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. in Building T-149 in Fort Tilden.

For children registered at the PS 104 program, the schedule is Monday - Wednesday, 3 - 4:45 p.m. RAA is continually accepting inquiries for positions as junior counselors and teaching artists. Please send resumes to: chrisrockart 116@ aol.com. For questions regarding after-school programming, please e-mail: marinarockart 116@aol.com.

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