It was a joyous celebration of Rockaway’s rich trove of artistic talent – a color-blind, intergenerational gathering brimming with community spirit. It was a remarkable achievement by local painter and portrait artist Yuri Yurov.
The “Rockaway Artists Unframed” project was unveiled last Saturday at the Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) in Fort Tilden, home base for the Rockaway Artists Alliance. The “surprise party” atmosphere inside RAA’s roomy sTudio 7 exhibit space included live acoustic music performances and an ample and varied potluck of food and drink. The guest list brought together a wide range of residents — a group that you just NEVER see inside one room together, if for no other reason than the fact that all of these individuals are too busy in their respective artistic endeavors to take a break for such a lovefest. Rockaway Theatre Company performers (without their makeup and costumes) mingled with musicians from Indaculture, writers for The Wave, officers of Rockaway Music and Arts Council, and many of the original visual artists who founded the RAA.
Imagine this eclectic group of souls gathered together in this great venue to view something very special — over 150 stunning unframed photographs shot by Yurov over the past year at his studio on Beach 116 Street. Months of effort resulted in spare, riveting glimpses of local artists of many disciplines, each artist sitting in a simple but elegant antique chair. When you look into each face and examine the subjects’ postures and the props they chose to wear and hold, you become even more intensely interested in finding out more about the artists’ works.
A show like this has the potential to go way beyond celebration, and hopefully, it will. A community by the sea blessed with so many richly talented individuals is a wonderful place to live. We all know that. Yet many struggle against adversity every day. The constant refrain I hear is that there seem to be few regular patrons of the arts in our relatively wealthy neighborhood. It is common for only one or two paintings to sell at art shows mounted recently on the peninsula, even though the quality is superb and the prices often hover below $200 for original works. Even in Red Hook, prices for comparable art would be double or triple that figure. A family can easily spend more than $200 on back-to-school supplies at Staples!
If you are looking for a truly unique birthday or holiday gift in the near future, pick up the phone and call the Rockaway Artists Alliance at 718-474-0861 and tell them what you have in mind. Or visit the shop at Sunlites Stained Glass or the pottery studio at The Wave (call first, to check on the hours). Any of these places will put you in touch with a local artist who may have just what you need. I purchased an original watercolor as a gift for my father last year and it was thrilling for me to visit the artist in her home and see her entire portfolio of recent work before I chose my favorite.
The unframed artists of Rockaway are waiting.