Fort Tilden Adding Some Color. MoMA PS1 PRESENTS ROCKAWAY!


The former army base, Fort Tilden, is taking a turn as a canvas.

It’s been three years since MoMA PS1’s VW Dome 2 brought a much needed a distraction to a battered community. It was art intervening with life by providing performances, dance, yoga, gardening classes, instruction in art and ecology, and a screening of a film. That led to Rockaway! in summer of 2014, primarily at Fort Tilden, which featured solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff as well as a group show at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club.

The first go-around of Rockaway! proved to be a huge success as big crowds visited the park throughout its 2014 summer run. Now, in another nod to rebirth, a building in Fort Tilden damaged by Hurricane Sandy and long in decay will become art and Rockaway! is likely to draw crowds from far and wide.

MoMA PS1 is back on the peninsula with a special outdoor exhibit by artist Katharina Grosse. In a press release from MoMA PS1, Grosse “is acclaimed for exploring the medium of painting in regards to its locations, conditions and possibilities. Through this temporary public art installation, Grosse turns Fort Tilden’s decaying aquatics building into a sublimely exhilarating exterior painting with her unique spray painting technique.”

The exhibition starts its near four-month run on the July 4th Weekend, ending on Thanksgiving, 2016. The event is free and open to the public, which will be located in the rear of the park, near Fort Tilden Beach. After the exhibition, the aquatics building will be razed by the park service as part of its Hurricane Sandy recovery program.

Rockaway! is organized in collaboration with the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, Central Park Conservancy, NYC Parks & Recreation and Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Rockaway! 2016 is a continuation MoMA PS1’s ongoing collaborative programming alongside the Rockaway Artists Alliance in the Rockaways that began with the VW Dome 2 erected in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

If you are not familiar with MoMA PS1, it is one of the largest art institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. The Queens based organization has its headquarters in Long Island City and was founded in 1971 with the mission of turning abandoned, underutilized buildings in New York City into artist studios and exhibition spaces. MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art formalized their affiliation in January 2000, bringing together a leader in cutting-edge art and the world’s foremost museum of modern art. Under the leadership of Director Klaus Biesenbach, the principal objective is to promote the enjoyment, appreciation, study, and understanding of contemporary art to a wide and growing audience.

Biesenbach notes the following on Instagram “one of the most iconic buildings in the Rockaways are the former aquatics in Fort Tilden. Built when the fort was a military base they have been abandoned for many years and they were already more or less a tear down before Hurricane Sandy. In autumn they will make way for restoring the natural beach habitat and vegetation in one of New York City’s most unique inner city nature reserves directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Protective dunes and vegetation will be there where the ruins are now. nature wins...but I will visit these buildings many times this summer before they’re gone.”

Biesenbach, who has a house in the Rockaways, recently told the NY Times “Here’s a very beautiful found object. It has history as being a military fortress, as being ecologically changed because of the hurricane. Now it’s being restored to its natural habitat.”

The RAA has developed a special relationship with MoMA which began after Sandy. Essentially homeless after the storm, the “Dome” allowed the RAA to continue their workshops and monthly meetings as well as establish a relationship with Klaus Biesenbach. “The relationship with MoMA helps the RAA to achieve its mission of bringing Manhattan-caliber shows and exhibits to Rockaway residents along with nurturing local talent,” RAA Education Director Christine Mullally said. “It is a wonderful mix of international and local talent.” The RAA’s contribution to Rockaway! is the Forbidden Fruit exhibit which begins on July 7 at the T7 building and the garden behind it.

The third part of Rockaway! will be presented by The Rockaway Beach Surf Club. The details of which were unavailable at press time but will be provided in future editions of The Rockaway Times.

Fort Tilden (169 State Road) is accessible by the Q22 and Q35 buses, the A train/shuttle to 116th St. and weekend ferry service on the American Princess. Parking is available at adjacent Riis Park. The Rockaway Beach Surf Club (302 Beach 87th Street) is on the A train/shuttle to Beach 90th Street; bus service includes the Q22 and Q52. Parking is limited to on-street. The ferry service from Manhattan’s Pier 11 to the Jacob Riis Landing operates on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays through Labor Day.

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