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Diverse themes shed ‘Winter Light’

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The Rockaway Artists’ Alliance is now showing the exhibit, Winter Light, at its sTudio 6 [sic] gallery at Fort Tilden Park at the western edge of the Rockaway peninsula. The artworks, by RAA members, are prints, paintings, sculptures and photographs, arranged around the white painted room, most depicting scenes of winter.

Irv Gordon’s “Canadian Ski Team” and “Andes Mountain Outside Santiago, Chile” are photographs highlighting great pristine blankets of snow. Patrick Antonelle, called “the American Renoir” by some, has two somewhat impressionistic prints of New York on a snowy day: “Wall Street 1915” and “Winter on 5th Avenue.” Both works are set in the past, judging by the horse-drawn carriages and the make of the cars, and have a feeling of peacefulness and even quiet celebration.

One of the sculptors represented is Robin Pogrebitsky, an artist who works with driftwood. Two of his menorahs, adorned with carved driftwood snakes to represent both the Jewish and the Chinese traditions are on exhibit, as is his “Magic Rabbit,” a piece of twisted driftwood that he painted with eyes to represent a whirling dervish of a bunny.

There’s a print of Maureen McGuire’s contemplative “Bayview” and the original oils of her “Sand Dunes” and “The Cove.” M. Elliott Killian’s evocative works, “Beach in Winter,” “Edge of Dune” and “Winter Storm,” are watercolors which show a strip of sunset under a glowering cloud bank over the ocean, rollers near a beach chair half hidden by reeds, and park benches aat the bottom of snowy dunes.

Christian Le Gars’ “Maine I, II and III” are scenes of the New England state featuring a shipwreck, a backyard and a lonely lighthouse on a bluff. “Winter Light (On the Ocean),” “Snowed In” and “The Oceanside (From Breezy)” are especially lovely and skillfully rendered watercolors by Janet Dever. In “Winter Light,” frail reeds stand before a shoreline at Breezy Point. “Snowed In” is a barn festooned with icicles while “The Oceanside” is so perfectly captured that one feels the cold just looking at it.

Geoff Rawlings’ oil painting “Winter White” shows a model looking ethereal and elvish. Frost and Ice are objects by “Fritz” (she refuses to tell her real name), a Broadway stage hand who makes arts out of bits and pieces from theatrical productions. Her works here are broken crystal drinking glasses adorned with beads and silvery wrought metal and transformed into whimsical candle holders. Dennis Macrae’s “The Sluice at Broad Channel” and “Christo’s Marine Park Bridge” are shots of the bridge, which is now under renovation and wrapped up, the artist joked, like a work by Christo. In “The Sluice,” houses in Broad Channel stand serene and glazed by sunlight. T.C. Monaghan’s “New Dawn Rising” is a photo of the skyline with the Twin Towers, taken at dawn on July 4, 2000. Though well composed, the shot wouldn’t be as notable if not for what had happened on Sept. 11.

Part of the “Rockaway Renaissance” that is attracting artists to the peninsula, The Alliance is a so far mostly unknown community resource which not only has art exhibits but dancing, drumming, poetry sessions and children’s art classes. Their contract with the NYC Board of Education allows them to provide development workshops for teachers, artists in residence, and students, which is needed more than ever. The trauma caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (which could be seen from the peninsula) and the Nov. 12 airplane disaster in Belle Harbor have intensified the need for children, and even adults in the area, to express their emotions through art.

The Alliance not only operates Building T-6 but Building T-7, a large unheated barn of a place that is used in warmer months for exhibits and performance art and is a workspace for artists. Outside, a lacy wall and gate brought from a theater production provides a stage for the Rockaway Theatre Company. On one side of sTudio 6 is an arrangement of painted stones, bricks and seashells put together by the children, and behind Building T-7 is vegetable garden, now dormant from winter, and a sculpture garden.

“People will see how much art and beauty and everything there is here,” says Publicity Director Susan Hartenstein. “I have great pride in this organization. Great pride.”

Winter Light will be on exhibit till January 27. The hours are Saturday, 12-5 p.m. and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. Call (718) 474-0861 for information.

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