You’ve passed that brightly colored building at 114-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard lots of times. The one with the grinning Rockaway’s Playland clown over the door.
But what’s inside that New York Arbor Gallery? In a word, ‘creativity’.
Since opening last March, the small storefront gallery and its founder/curator/owner George Turner have been adding their own spin to Rockaway’s growing art scene. Celebrating the seasons they have now opened their third exhibition. Featuring 11 different artists the Fall Show exhibition runs through November 17. Gallery hours are weekends from 12 to 5 p.m. and by appointment during the week.
Within its space the new New York Arbor show highlights bright paintings, small but evocative paper and shadow sculptures, stained glass, textile works and even furniture.
Many of the artists on view are local or from nearby. The full Fall Show roster includes Linda Brandwein, Marna Chester, Mike Doyle, Anthony Hannon, Maureen O’Leary, Renee B. Radenberg, Amanda Ratner, John Russo, Christopher Saucedo, Pablo Tauler and Pamela Williams.
“The opening was great,” Turner said. “We had ten of the artists here. People were excited, motivated, inspired.” He also noted that it couldn’t have been more perfect that the date of the exhibition launch was also his birthday.
Turner himself is an artist, self-taught and mostly working in wood. He has set up a compact but well-tooled workshop just beyond the gallery space. He’s happy to show his ingenious and artistic furniture designs. It is both a starting point and an outgrowth of his art, which he says leans to the conceptual.
Part of this can be seen in the exhibition area itself, where he has worked in the idea of moveable walls. Although they appear permanent, they can be rearranged to reshape the space as needed.
The gallery too is a concept that has grown. “What I have learned and experienced since opening has been part of this whole evolving idea.”
Like his ‘mission poem’ states “New York Arbor is an artist’s-run space. (It) is an ongoing call for those inspired by the natural world, those obsessed with the wonder of it all.”
“We’ve been out here almost ten years now,” he said about his family’s time in Rockaway. He had also worked with other galleries and spaces across the city, and had a workshop in Brooklyn.
“This place,” he said, motioning around the gallery, “came into my life a month before my lease expired at the other.”
Like many he too had passed it often. Especially after Hurricane Sandy, he said, “I remember looking at that clown and this Armageddon view all around it and wanting to do something.”
“I wanted to bring something light here. The space is open and pliable inside. I’ve wanted to do something like this since forever.”
Everything came together and “we were able to buy this space, which is amazing!”
There was a lot of clearing, cleaning and internal rebuilding once Turner moved in in September of last year. But eventually he was able to open to the public in March, 2016.
“This summer it was great, with everyone coming to Rockaway. It was amazing to be part of that, along with the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, Topless gallery, the Rockaway Artists Alliance, MoMA PS1 and Klaus Biesenbach. To be part of this wonderful creative thing (including) the food and the music and the events. It’s wonderful!”
“Art means so many different things to so many different people. It’s something to pursue as an individual and then involve others in a collective.”
It certainly has shown through the quality and effect of the work he has been showing.
“It’s really been beautiful just to be a part of this, be able to see Rockaway developing like this. And have all of it blossoming all over the spectrum. To see so many different venues offer so much creative work. It’s so…pro-creativity!”
Turner shows a large piece of clear crystal resting near a gallery window, glistening like its own work of art. It was a gift from a woman who found that her home and heart were truly in Rockaway.
Part of a larger piece, it broke off during the move. She decided the crystalline rock had not fractured; it had instead become something new and different. So she shared it with New York Arbor.
“There is a natural energy here that begets expression,” Turner said.
“That’s what I love about Rockaway. Every day is a new beginning.”BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS