2017-04-21 / Weekender

RAA’s “Culture Of One”

New exhibition features inspiring mix of artists
By Joanie Wolkoff

Sivan Dayan "Edge of Transparency" (video installation) Sivan Dayan "Edge of Transparency" (video installation) On Saturday, April 22 at 5:00 p.m., the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) will be holding an opening reception for their first multi-culturally themed exhibition, “Culture of One.” The exhibition will run from April 23 through May 21 at sTudio 7 Gallery in Fort Tilden and promises to captivate folks from all walks of life.

Among the artists represented at the show will be both local and international creatives whose work expresses diversity through an assortment of media and styles. Independent curator Larry Ossei- Mensah describes wanting to “utilize the power of art to explore the nuances and complexities that shape our society.” Given Rockaway’s broad cultural spectrum, this display of assorted talents is likely to serve as both inspiration and learning experience for visitors looking to experience an enlightening lineup of creative perspectives. “It is during times of uncertainty,” Ossei-Mensah reasons, “that we look to culture to trigger conversations… to help individuals rethink how they look at themselves and the world around us.”

Kyu Nam Han’s "Time Square in Blue" Kyu Nam Han’s "Time Square in Blue" Given the current global state of disparity staring back from us the mirror, those attending the exhibition will take heart in the assortment of varying names on the bill: Edward Coppola, Lionel Cruet, Sivan Dayan, Laura Deckelman, Steve Giovinco, John Grillo, Kyu Nam Han, Halona Hilbertz, Sheryl Humphrey, Lenore Fiore Mills, Geoff Rawling, Adam Reich, Stephon Senegal, Sherri Tiesi and Natalie Williams. United by the arts, each of them is a virtuoso aiming to honor roots and define a modern identity with their thought provoking visions.

The opening reception itself promises to tantalize the senses with a special belly dancing presentation by Anastasia, the talents of Rick Patrick on guzheng (Chinese zither) and John Maiorino’s contemporary musical offerings, as well as a serving of light refreshments.

For over 20 years, RAA has been a community hub for cultural activity on the peninsula and has provided children and seniors in particular with a welcoming venue for the arts. Between the development of performers, solo gallery shows and musical events, the coordinators of this community polestar also manage to host year-round arts education programs for kids like Camp KidsmART and its corresponding after-school program. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy a gambit of classes in painting, printmaking in a newly built studio and yoga.

RAA Board of Directors Vice President Sophia Skeans raves, “I love so many different cultures and am impassioned by them. Our curator does remarkable work and was recommended by the curator at MOMA.” While she has something exciting to share about each of the exhibition’s participants, she’ll only hint that attendees are in for a mesmerizing gamut of one-of-a-kind works. Among them, she effuses, “Having artists locally and nonlocally is a dream because we are all connected. Kyu Nam Han has a painting made of beautiful geometric shapes on one of the palaces in Korea. We have a young abstract artist from Israel who’s been studying at SVA and John Maiorino, who’s local and plays 12 instruments, will perform at the reception as well as Anastasia, who’s going to show us belly dancing at the reception and comes from Uzbekistan. Claudette from Cuisine by Claudette’s on Beach 116th Street is going to make bourekas for Saturday’s event as well. Some of these artists are up and coming while others are quite seasoned. Some are from Rockaway, others are from greater New York and then you have international participants as well. This exhibition has a different vision.”

For more information, follow RAA on Facebook/rockawayartistsalliance, Instagram @rockaway_ artists_ alliance, and Twitter @RAA116.

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