I submitted the final content for my upcoming book to Arcadia Publishing on the second day of 2012, and it was quite a relief! Time to post an entry on Oy Vey Rockaway. The outstanding visual artists of Rockaway never fail to inspire my own creativity. The artist
of the moment is Esther A. Grillo of Rockaway Park, who probably has as much outdoor art on display here on the Peninsula as anyone, including her four mural installations on the wave-shaped bus shelters along Shore Front Parkway, completed from 1997-2003.
Geoff Rawling, who recently stepped down as President of Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), has created, or supervised the creation of many local outdoor murals, as well, including the Rockaway Park bay wall project, completed this past summer and fall.
Esther’s painted concrete bas relief sculpture, In Search of Harmony Bay, depicts a dark violet seascape inhabited by a community of ancient mythical sea creatures rendered in shades of lavender. The work was originally displayed at the Howard Beach MTA Station from 1992 until 2001. Esther has refurbished the piece, and in December, it was re-installed on the front wall of Beach Channel High School, at Beach 100 Street and Beach
Channel Drive, through the support of Patricia Tubridy, Principal of Channel View School for Research. Channel View is located in the east wing of BCHS, where the sculpture now hangs.
At the opening of RAA’s newest exhibit of abstract art this past Sunday afternoon at their RoCA gallery in Ft.Tilden, Esther told me that she created In Search of Harmony Bay as a reaction to the terrible incident of racially motivated violence that thrust Howard Beach infamously into the national spotlight in 1986. The artwork was originally funded by the MTA Arts for Transit/Creative Stations Grant, a project of the New York City Arts Teachers’ Association and the United Federation of Teachers. As the plaque identifying the work states, it is “an allegorical piece representing the search for peaceful coexistence.”
Another rendering of the Harmony Bay sea creatures, completed in 1997, can be seen on one of the Shore Front Parkway bus shelters.
My favorite of the bus shelter murals, Monarch Landscape, was completed in 2003.
It’s not hard to find these Esther A. Grillo art works. Just take a walk, a drive, or a bicycle ride along Shorefront Parkway, from Beach 74 to Beach 106 Streets. Rockaway takes great pride in its local artists.
Text and photos copyright 2012 Vivian R. Carter.