2013-02-15 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

And The Beat Goes On
Commentary By Susan Hartenstein

Rockaway artist Melissa Rubin, who has exhibited in RAA’s InkSplash and ArtSPLASH, is displaying two of her paintings in a show organized by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) featuring work by artists who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The works on view, according to Rubin, were either damaged by the storm and repaired, or they were created in response to Sandy.

On view through February 24th at Chashama Gallery in Chelsea, “After Affects” boasts twenty artists who are from places in the metropolitan area powerfully affected by the hurricane, including Rockaway, Red Hook, Long Beach, the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Staten Island. The gallery is located at 303 Tenth Avenue (between West 27th and West 28th Streets). Support for the artists is through NYFA’s Hurricane Sandy Emergency Relief Fund. Of Rubin’s two paintings in the show, “Sinking” was a work-in-progress when the storm hit, and was finished afterwards, taking what Rubin calls “an interesting turn” resulting from Sandy. The second, titled “Survivor,” was created after the hurricane and as a response to it. The work’s theme, says its artist is, “we will get through it.” Rubin’s story is like that of so many of us – her basement was filled with water. NYFA established the program after Sandy, providing emergency funds for artists suffering losses caused by the fury of the hurricane. You can go to the organization’s website, NYFA.org, to learn more about this funding.

Rubin and I discussed the role of the arts in the aftermath of the devastation of a catastrophe like Sandy. We talked about their healing power and expressive necessity.

She told me of a gig she attended of a jazz musician friend of hers right after 9-11. Putting it succinctly, she said that the music, the spirit of the event made her realize, “there is still beauty in the world.”

Material for the Arts (MFTA) is generously hosting a complimentary workshop for RAA artists who have had to relocate and/or had their supplies ruined or swept away by Sandy; or who just want to revitalize their energies by working on a new piece of art. Friday, February 22nd from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. you are invited to MFTA’s large warehouse/headquarters at 33-00 Northern Boulevard, third floor, in Long Island City to pick up the pieces of your creativity and declare that you have survived the hurricane, talents and energies intact. Whether your losses were to your home, your studio, your sanity or all of the above, find new treasures to renew your spark. Supplies are graciously provided by MFTA. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP is required. Please contact Sophia Skeans, organizer of the event, at sophiaskeans@aol.com or 917-306- 8729.

Look forward to an RAA art event called 'Healing Through Art' on March 10th from 12-5 p.m. at the Knight of Columbus Hall at 333 Beach 90th Street. A variety of ‘art stations’ will be set up at which artists and, most especially, emphasizes RAA board member Renee Radenberg, any members of the community can create artworks using a potpourri of supplies. Included will be a literary station and musical entertainment. The various art mediums will give Rockaway’s courageous citizens an opportunity and an actual physical locus where they can create and 'heal' a little from the devastation of Sandy. RAA invites everyone in our community, artists and ‘civilians,’ to share and enjoy, together. More to come about the event in a future column.

The RAA Writers Group had its first Brooklyn out-of-town event, at the Kings Highway branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Last Sunday, members of the group read a wide variety of their original prose and poetry at an afternoon celebrating an exhibit of Geoff Rawling mixed media artworks called collectively, “Media Blend.” The group’s leader, Dan Guarino, also entertained the audience with his musical and songwriting talents. Rawling had an opportunity to discuss his philosophy of creating art, which remains very spontaneous, visceral and of the moment.

The Rockaway Theatre Company in partnership with Our Lady of Grace Church Gracian Players proudly presents a very special production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” directed by Chazmond J. Peacock, musical direction by Jeffrey Arzberger. Performance dates are March 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., and March 3 and 10 at 3 p.m., in the gymnasium of Ave Maria Catholic Academy, 158-20 101 Street, Howard Beach. For reservations: 718-374-6400 or www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org. Proceeds from ticket sales will be applied to hurricane restoration costs for both RTC’s Post Theater and Our Lady of Grace Church.

RAA and RTC may not be in the Rockaway Center for the Arts at Fort Tilden for the moment. But we are still functioning and healthy …and continuing to bring opportunities to artists, actors and the community. CU@RoCA. You can bet on it. RAA CONTACT INFO: Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718- 474-4373; e-mail: info@raa116.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

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