2014-07-25 / Columnists

From The Artist Studio

Beyond Tilden
By Susan Hartenstein


Inside the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Photo by Dan Guarino Inside the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Photo by Dan Guarino Rockaway!, as you probably know, is the free public arts festival that celebrates the re-opening of Fort Tilden and the continuing recovery of the peninsula following Sandy.

This expansive art showcase goes well beyond the borders of Fort Tilden, all the way to Beach 87th Street just off the freeway. Here, The Rockaway Beach Surf Club, so active in the relief efforts after the storm, with the help of major contributions from MoMA PS1, hosts another aspect of Rockaway!

Within this throbbing, community-oriented cultural event space, bar and restaurant is a group show presented by MoMA PS1 in collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial. The exhibition is an extension of the Surf Club’s stated goals description, which is to be “devoted to promoting the love of surfing, conserving the environment and supporting [the] local neighborhood …including the work of artists, writers, musicians and all lovers of surf and beach.”

Featuring the work of some 75 artists, the exhibit was curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1, Chief Curator at Large at the Museum of Modern Art, the creative spirit behind the Rockaway! event and a Rockaway resident.

The works are a dazzling mix of mediums and styles. They can diversely be described as haunting, humorous, surreal, abstract, colorful, stark, engaging, mind-bending, and more. Many have to do with the sea and the beach. Pete Brady’s photograph “Megaset” captures the chilling beauty of Sandy’s ocean. Many carry the spirit of the sea and beach.

Often the artworks seem to flow into their environs, as a ‘simulated’ piece of driftwood fits perfectly with the tide chart on the wall. Allyson Vieira’s “Aphrodite I,” is a flowing, lyric construct of black ink on paper – a kind of Rorschach for ballerinas. Many of the works are abstract or surreal; visually engaging explorations. Thomas Dozel’s silkscreen “Into the Pyramid” places the back of a nude female in black and white against a bright orange triangle in the background. The interplay vibrates. The vertical lines of the figure contrast starkly with the horizontals and diagonals of the background.

In Ryan McNamara’s “II” the dark foreground, silhouetted trees and posed figures in the middle ground and a background awash with light create a hauntingly surreal image, especially when one discovers the eerie surprises half hidden in the foreground. And there are the computer constructed prints full of human figures, plastic accessories, and then there’s Fred Fleisher’s “Star Gazer.” A work of acrylic and spray paint on Bristol – like sending your favorite stuffed animal into space and having her telepathically send you the photos. A little girl’s fantasy.

The often strange and visually intriguing images inside the Surf Club are echoed on the outside of this unique venue. Tall sunflowers, a palm tree or two, a mural by Cindy Meyers and Carly Ruggieri, “Live Surf Die,” are just a few of the attractions to discover in the backyard and outdoor dining area. Andy Steinbrink’s cooooooooool mural near the food counter, drawn in white paint against a black ground, covers the gamut – beach, bar, skateboard rink, surf and all things related. Brightly-colored surfboards hang, lean and sit on many surfaces – not part of the exhibit, but certainly enhancing it.

Remember that Rockaway! is not confined to Fort Tilden. The Rockaway Beach Surf Club is at 302 Beach 87th Street, just off the freeway (Rockaway Beach Boulevard). The exhibit runs through September 1. Hours are Monday Thursday noon – midnight, Friday noon-1 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-midnight. Visit: rockawaybeachsurfclub.com RAA CONTACT INFO:

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

CU@RoCA.

Fort Tilden Highlights

ROCKAWAY!: Thurs.-Sun., 12-6 p.m. through Sept. 1 in several locations in Fort Tilden and the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Janet Cardiff sound installation, “40-Part Motet,” runs through Aug. 17. Free admission. Contact RAA for further info.

ARTSPLASH: Visit RAA website. Submission deadline: Aug. 22.

SUNDAY NIGHT MUSIC: Sundays, 6- 8:30 p.m., sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA at Fort Tilden. $5 at the door; new performers each week. Musicians interested in performing, contact jtsimonelli@yahoo.com

LANDSCAPE, SEASCAPE PAINTING CLASSES: Coastal, Seascape and Landscape Painting. Summer hours: Fridays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in Building T-149, Fort Tilden. RAA members - $20 per class; non-members - $30 per class. Instructor: award-winning painter Joseph Perez. Students bring their own supplies. Contact RAA for more info. July 25: Open studio hosted by Bob Van Lindt.

KERRY KEARNEY BLUES GUITAR WORKSHOP: Weds. 7:30 p.m., sTudio 7 Gallery. $30 per session. Contact RAA for information.

ROCKAWAY THEATRE COMPANY: “Gypsy,” the hit musical, directed by Susan Warren Corning; musical direction by Richard Louis Pierre. Remaining performances: July 25, 26, Aug. 1, 2 at 8 p.m.; July 27, Aug. 3 at 3 p.m. Contact RTC at rockawaytheatrecompany.org for info and reservations.

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