2013-11-08 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Calm/Storm/Rebirth: Rockaway’s Story
Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein


“Hurricane Sandy 2pm No.3,” - photography/inkjet print by Sandra Gottlieb, one of the more than 100 works of art at RAA’s “Calm/Storm/Rebirth.” “Hurricane Sandy 2pm No.3,” - photography/inkjet print by Sandra Gottlieb, one of the more than 100 works of art at RAA’s “Calm/Storm/Rebirth.” “Calm/Storm/Rebirth” is that rare exhibit that creates a profound intimacy between artist and viewer. Each artwork is a personal expression, not just of the artist, but of the viewer; and in that communion lies the power and beauty of this show. A show for each one of us. We stand before the works and get lost in them, and take our own journeys; of memory; of peace; of pain; of hope and recovery.

The large turnouts at the opening reception and the Night of Reflection that followed on Tuesday demonstrated the connection people have with “Calm/Storm/Rebirth”; and their need to see an outward artistic expression of the many emotions and memories inside each of them. RAA thanks Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and Congressman Gregory Meeks for speaking at the reception and showing their support.

Rockaway Theatre Company was utterly splendid as they performed several of the numbers from their poignant and uplifting Rockaway Café 2013.

Thanks and Bravo!

Tuesday evening, the Art-Strings Ensemble Quartet of talented musicians created the perfect accompaniment and environment for community members to reflect, individually, or with others they may not have seen in a long time; to find out each other’s stories and journeys of the last year. The night had a very healing effect, it seemed, as visitors commented on how well the art communicated the truth of what the storm and aftermath were about.

Beautifully and intelligently organized and laid out by members of the Exhibitions Committee, the exhibit is divided into three sections – of course, Calm, Storm and Rebirth.

Calm presents Rockaway as, well, Rockaway. Kevin Callaghan’s oil painting “Beach 123rd Street” is a perfect example. A large, bright painting, it depicts a couple walking down the expanse of the boardwalk and beach. Two exquisite black and white gelatin silver print photographs by John Grillo – “Igloo, Fort Tilden” and “Battery Harris, Fort Tilden” – perfectly express the haunting intimacy of the quiet places of the fort. You can imagine, perhaps, the power of the works showing the raging storm.

Three incredible photographs by Sandra Gottlieb, black and white archival inkjet prints, remind us of those unbelievable waves that descended on our peninsula.

In a relief sculpture by Esther Grillo, “Sandy: My Story,” Grillo incorporates a glove she used in cleaning up from the storm, carrying the burden of a bronze cast, which she salvaged from her studio. Grillo says, “This is my DNA in this work.” The piece represents, “Someone crawling with the weight of Sandy on their backs.” The sky is lit with the blaze of fire. It is also, then, the story of people being saved, carried from burning buildings during the storm.

Rebirth is a story of courage and perseverance. Jonas Maas has taken salvaged materials and created pieces of art. “Party House” is particularly ingenious. It appears to be the drawers from an old piece of furniture, damaged roof tiles and recovered CDs, used to construct a weather-beaten house. Mary Meade’s mixed media collage, “Discarded Belongings; Lost Memories,” is a jarring, and highly effective, ensemble.

“Calm/Storm/Rebirth” is itself a story of renewal, as more than 40 artists have taken the destruction that was Sandy and used it to fuel their creative energies as a way of fighting back and expressing, for all of us, the often verbally inexpressible. kidsmART After-School: Free: Offering high-quality, hands-on visual and performing arts workshops. Children in grades K-8 are eligible. Open enrollment

Children may attend a maximum of 2 days per week.

RAA Contact Info:

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

Fort Tilden Highlights:

CALM/STORM/REBIRTH: On view through November 24, sTudio 7 Gallery, Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) at Fort Tilden. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free to all events. See column.

NEXT RAA GENERAL MEETING: Monday, Nov. 11th, 7:30 p.m., sTudio 7. Author Thomas O’Callaghan will present, “A Twelve-Year Effort To Move My First Novel, ‘The Bone Thief,’ From Conception To Publication.” All are welcome. Bring your latest artwork, or just enjoy that of others, and the exhibit “Calm/Storm/Rebirth.”

NEXT WRITERS GROUP MEETING: Sunday, November 24th, 4-6 p.m., sTudio 7. Bring your work to read or just find pleasure and inspiration in that of others.

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