Rock Artist in Our Midst

 Rock Artist in Our Midst

By S. C. Samoy, RISE Director of Operations & Communications

Rock artist. When I hear that term, I think of Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey. But Kevin Sudeith?

Who? No, not The Who, but who?

Sudeith can be seen on the northwest corner of Beach 59th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, under the elevated A-train tracks, on most fair-weathered days, even during these short almost-winter ones. Children who pass by may think he is a tired, underfed Santa Claus because of his wiry frame, in a red suit, on a folding chair. However, if you stop and take a moment to see what is actually happening, you will witness art in action.

Sudeith’s tools include a battery-operated hand drill, a full-face respirator, knee pads, noise-canceling headphones, protective eyewear, a brush, gaffer tape, a folding chair, water, and a wagon. He is creating a piece—a big boulder petroglyph, to be exact—for Honor Walk Way, which will be part of the outdoor plaza near the new multipurpose building by Arverne East Nature Preserve on Beach 44th Street.

The petroglyph is dedicated to Barbara Hillary (1931–2019), who lived and died in Arverne. Hillary was a retired nurse, founder of Arverne Action Association and The Peninsula Magazine, and the first African American woman to reach the North Pole, when she was 75, and the South Pole, at age 79. It is a fitting memorial for one of our own.

Sudeith was one of four artists commissioned by RISE (Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity) this year to create public art, Rockaway Petroglyph 2.0, as part of the initiative Art Under the Elevated, funded by National Endowment for the Arts/ArtWorks, Radical Imagination for Racial Justice Initiative by Hester Street and Surdna Foundation, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs/Cultural Development Fund.

In 2017, Sudeith completed another petroglyph sculpture that serves as a designated landmark/meeting spot near the Beach 60th Street subway stop. Go to YouTube and type “Rockaway Petroglyph Installation and Educational Programs” in the search bar to watch an entertaining time-lapse recording of his work over a six-month period.

This season is about light in darkness, giving, generosity of spirit, renewal. Art plays into all of that, so do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of witnessing creation.


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