Rockaway Hotel to Host Artists with Residency on the Rock

 Rockaway Hotel to Host Artists with Residency on the Rock

Erica Reade’s work.

This summer, The Rockaway Hotel is bringing art and the community together with Residency on the Rock.

The power of art as a connective tissue that brings communities together is the cornerstone of The Rockaway Hotel + Spas’ ethos. As a cultural hub and art destination for locals and visitors alike, the hotel is dedicated to presenting a robust, contemporary art collection and onsite cultural programming to enrich the overall guest experience.

Since opening in 2020, The Rockaway Hotel has hosted a line-up of diverse activations that represent their commitment to celebrating the arts, including Lilac Jam, a series of live music curated by artist Zoë Buckman, public art installations and murals by Shantell Martin, Julia Chiang, Ivan Forde and Nancy Cahill Baker, hosting fundraisers with art organizations including NXTHVN, The Last Resort Artist Retreat and Baxter St. at CCNY, a curated partnership with ART FOR CHANGE, Performa Biennial, Beach Sessions, and Rockaway Music Live series, among others.

Gwen Smith’s work.

The hotel’s latest endeavor includes renovating the building across the way, at 108-09 Rockaway Beach Drive (next to Healy’s), transforming the space into a gallery/studio for the inaugural Residency on the Rock, an artist residency takeover set to take place throughout the summer season. An extension of the hotel’s ongoing arts and cultural programming, this initiative invites artists to Rockaway Beach to inject the community with their vision and creativity. Rotating every month, each artist will activate the space for a show that can be viewed Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

“We’ve always envisioned The Rockaway Hotel as a cultural and entertainment hub, and we’re thrilled to be able to give artists not only a place they can call home but a stage where they can share their talents with our community,” said Michi Jigarjian, Partner and Chief Social Impact Officer of The Rockaway Hotel + Spa. “We are proud to usher in a new wave of visitors to the destination, honoring the legacy and hospitality of one of New York City’s most beloved beaches by celebrating arts and culture.”

While residing in the building across the way, rotating artists will host in-person programming, workshops, and an artist talk at The Rockaway Hotel +Spa.

The first residency began Wednesday, May 17 with Baxter St. CCNY’s and interdisciplinary artist Gwen Smith. Her exhibition, The Chance Whale – MOCHA ISLAND, is a reinstallation of a portion of her debut solo exhibition at Baxter CCNY, including her AI surf reel and a series of cinematic versions of Moby Dick.

The Chance Whale surveys the coincidence of a pre-emancipatory history of blackness and the sea as relating to ideas concealed in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Smith’s own surfer’s quest, her spiritual navigation from the womb to the ocean. The Chance Whale continues Smith’s Origin story, framing kaleidoscopic portals through which we view life and the cyclical passage of time. These surreal, highly saturated compositions explore and connect Smith’s Black American lineage, the African Diaspora, and the often-complex relationships of black people to nature, particularly to the ocean. Like Moby Dick and surfing, the Chance Whale alludes to being just on the verge of attaining freedom.

Smith will be onsite during the exhibition and invites the Rockaway community in the space to participate in her process of post-surf creativity. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 20 and Smith will be giving an Artist Talk at The Rockaway Hotel on May 26.

Smith will be followed by a residency with Erica Reade. Reade is a fine art and commercial photographer. She is self-taught and has a background in youth development and women’s empowerment, focusing on using photography for social justice. Erica worked with non-profits for 12 years before becoming a full-time photographer in 2018. She is the Founding Director of Camera of the Month Club, an NYC photography collective, and spends most of her time photographing the beaches of NYC, with a focus on the Rockaways and Fort Tilden.

Reade is fascinated by the juxtaposition of beach culture and landscape in NYC, and her work reflects that. She began her series Beach Lovers in 2015, a series of intimate moments shared by couples at the beaches of NYC and released her first photo book in June of 2022. Several of her photographs from the Beach Lovers series are found throughout The Rockaway Hotel + Spa.

In line with the one-year release of her book, Erica Reade will be using the residency and space to celebrate the photo book and the lovers of Rockaway, exhibiting photos spanning the eight years of the ongoing series. Her exhibit opens on June 19. An opening reception will be held on June 23, and she will be giving an Artist Talk at The Rockaway Hotel on July 8.

Coming in August is The Laundromat Project (The LP). This black-rooted, POC-centered, community-based arts organization is dedicated to advancing artists and residents of New York City as change agents within their own communities. The group makes sustained investments in growing a community of multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists and neighbors committed to societal change by supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development. Since 2005, The Laundromat Project has directly invested over $1M in over 200 multiracial, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary artists; nearly 90 innovative public art projects; and a creative community hub in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, while engaging close to 50,000 New Yorkers across the city and beyond. This exhibit will begin on August 1 and continues through Labor Day Weekend.

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