2013-01-25 / Columnists

From The Artist Studio

Like A Phoenix
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein
By Susan Hartenstein

Several years ago I did a play at the Rockaway Theatre Company titled “Deathtrap,” when the events of 9-11 hit the community, and the entire country, like a sledgehammer. The director, cast and crew had to make a decision that next weekend. Do we perform the play on nights so soon after the tragedy of Tuesday? We thought long and profoundly. We searched our souls . . . and decided to continue. To not do so would give in to the defeat that those who perpetrated the deeds would have wished for us. And as significantly, we recognized that the community needed to confirm that our lives were continuing, no matter how much pain and loss accompanied that. And we confirmed, correctly so as it turned out, that art, in all its forms, heals.

Once again, this community has been hit with a sledgehammer. And once again, as individuals and as a community, we are reaffirming life. As painful and exhausting and discouraging as it may sometimes be, we are not giving up. Residences, out-of-town volunteers, carpenters, cops, teachers, nurses, house painters, artists …- we are rebuilding, returning, redefining. And the artists? The losses, the frustrations, the triumphs feed the expressive creativity that provide artist and audience a voice that heals and renews our sense of purpose. Rockaway Artists Alliance members may not be exhibiting or performing or writing in our Rockaway Center for the Arts in Fort Tilden (closed for now). But that hasn’t stopped us. The RAA Writers Group will meet Sunday, January 27 from 4-6 p.m. at the home of members. Call 718-474- 0861 for details. Thursday Night Open Mike continues at The Wharf restaurant on Beach 116 Street. Watercolorist and printmaker Christian Le Gars will soon be exhibiting his works in Brooklyn. Former RAA President Geoff Rawling is exhibiting “Media Blend,” twenty mixed media pieces at the Kings Highway branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. And look for RAA exhibits to continue very soon on the peninsula. kidsmART is also returning, serving the children of our community as before.

Like our neighbors and fellow painters, actors, dancers and writers, some of us may have relocated, but we haven’t retreated. In the coming weeks this column will chronicle the resurgence of our peninsula and our organization.

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