2013-05-24 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Who Knew?
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

The young at art enjoy the Rockaway Artists Alliance newest exhibition at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Susan Locke. The young at art enjoy the Rockaway Artists Alliance newest exhibition at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Susan Locke. RAA is proud to present its first exhibit since Hurricane Sandy. “RAA on the Bay” is now on view through June 23rd at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel. Images of the younger, but just as intriguing, sister of our ocean fill the gallery room with the many moods, faces and seasons of the bay. Several pieces were of particular interest to me.

Two striking photographs by Dan Guarino are of celestial bodies over the bay. Four acrylic paintings by Bob Van Lindt depict thick, graceful stands of birch trees in all seasons. One can lose oneself in misty, moody ethereal C-prints by Christian Le Gars. Oils and watercolors by Stephen Yaeger capture the moody, ever-changing body of water and its environs. Four small gems by Arlene Cornell bring the viewer to the momentarily calmer but no less interesting shorelines of the bay, with their dancing, deep reflections. Karen Fahey achieves four delicate drawings in graphite.

A very exciting art exhibit at 106-20 Shore Front Parkway marked the culmination of a three-month art class for seniors being offered by JASA and sponsored by Queens Council on the Arts. The show was a delicious mix of work by experienced artists and of people who had never picked up an art tool before. Why was the exhibit so exciting? One could discern the experienced artists by their works’ degree of polish. There were many wonderful pieces by these artists, including several paintings by a single artist that were displayed together, increasing the impact of her playful and pointed use of color to serve the mood and design of the paintings. Portraits by artists in several mediums were done with great skill. There was the gentleman who crafted jaunty human figures from wire. But what was even more exciting was the fact that, for the beginners, it was obvious that the opportunity to express themselves has drawn out natural creative instincts and talents, exemplified by the painting of a colorful, bursting volcano. Having the pleasure of seeing these works was like being present at the birth of a joyous baby discovering the world and itself for the first time. How special. In the words of Fay Schwimmer, project director of JASA Rockaway Park, thrusting out her arms in an exuberant gesture of wonder and triumph, “Who knew?” Indeed, you don’t know until you provide the opportunity to embark on the adventure.

The teacher for this terrific group of seniors was Thordis Adalsteinsdottir. The class was part of SPARC, Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide, a program that places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York. SPARC is a collaboration of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department for the Aging and five of the City’s local arts councils.

Adalsteinsdottir says that what is most amazing about this class and its students is that, even though the class has officially ended, the sessions will continue, Mondays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 12 noon. Students can come in and work, most likely under the direction of one of the more experienced artists. There is no fee for the class. Schwimmer is hopeful there will be another class with an instructor offered in the near future. Call her at 718-634- 3044 for more information.

Via a generous grant from Family to Family, PS 47 in Broad Channel invited RAA to provide after-school art education curriculum for their students from February through May. Kindergarten through fourth graders enjoyed the kidsmART program on Tuesday afternoons. Under the supervision of Tricia Horne, Facilitator; Artistic Instructors Arianna Rose, Alice Waite and James Dalid; and Teen Assistants Daryl Palasi, Jeanhus Theodore, Sydney Miller and Daniella Rua children participated in theater games, arts and crafts workshops, and more.

On Thursdays, a group of fifththrough eighth-graders participated in hands-on cartooning and digital photography workshops under the instruction of Waite, assisted by Arunava Momen, and Rose, assisted by Horne respectively. The cartoonists created characters and storyboards and the photographers experimented with portrait studios and landscape photographs that captured the beauty of Broad Channel and the bay. The young artists from Thursday will have a show of their work for parents and school staff members on Thursday, May 30 from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. at PS 47.

RAA Contact Info:

Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474- 4373; e-mail: info@raa116.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

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