Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, Long Island presents an exhibition of “Chinese
Artists in America.” The works by eight contemporary Chinese-American artists
is on view through March 20.
exhibition reflects the creative vitality of Chinese and American cultural interaction
and growth through the arts and its historical and aesthetic links to other
communities,” Gallery Curator Jude Amsel writes.
artists created a new visual language that embodies aspects of traditional
Chinese art while responding to a time of great transition. Their artworks
express personal beliefs, national pride, and international awareness.”
Gold Coast Arts Center is dedicated to promoting awareness and understanding
through the arts and through public events that bring people together,” stated
Regina Gil, founder and Executive Director of the Gold Coast Arts Center. “We
are proud to have enabled artists from around the world to share their vision
and craft with our audiences. The exhibition of art by Chinese-American artists
weaves the heritage, experience and craft that has emerged from each artist’s
personal exposure to Chinese and American culture and education.”
opening reception for the art exhibition was accompanied by a cultural
performance, music and dance presented under the aegis of the Great Neck
are highlights, with the artists’ own statements.
Zhen Guo: “With ‘Muted Landscape; I present a view of the world, and we who live on its surface, that is at once expansive and frightening. The images, created (I do not say painted because there is no obvious brush work in the ink on rice paper creation) present a landscape as if from 36,000 feet, muted by both the gray color and by the distance. Mountains, lakes, a sheer rock face wall, caldera, fields of snow, high and pointed peaks and rivers are joined and blended but not necessarily in the places or ways we expect. It is as if the vision of Ansel Adams has been stirred shaken and kneaded merged a late Autumn vision of the natural world. As our eyes travel over the painting the view changes and rivers become shadows, mountains become fields, and lakes become snow covered peaks. We are entranced and at the same time afraid that, if we landed, there we could not find our way out. Perhaps this is a place for own internal search for a perch for our soul or to find our way forward.”
Xiangdong Shi: ““Food: Chinese beauty, taste and auspicious meaning. Chinese cuisine is not only delicious, but also the pursuit of form and color, such as Sweet Dumplings, put in a few red medlar, and immediately look happy, and eat the Sweet Dumplings at the Lantern Festival, so the Sweet Dumplings are also called Yuan Xiao, means the first full moon night of the year. Chinese cuisine is rich and auspicious Meaning, such as birthday, Chinese people often cook a bowl of noodles, called longevity noodles, meaning healthy longevity. Another example is the Traditional Chinese Rice-Pudding, is the exclusive food of the Dragon Boat Festival, it is to commemorate the ancient Chinese famous poet Qu Yuan, in addition, often in the Traditional Chinese Rice-Pudding have any jujubes, white rice and red jujubes are put together, the color contrast is strong. Red has a special meaning in Chinese culture, and represents good luck. Therefore, the food series I painted not only expresses the taste of food, but also the sense of form and meaning of food. This is the true essence of Chinese culture.”
Arthur B. Liu is President of Queens Art Education Center, New York, visiting professor of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, member of the Watercolor Society of USA, artist of the National Art League of USA, director of the Chinese Culture Art Association of New York, USA. He is the Educator, Artist and Inventor. He is the only one Chinese American artist who has been granted patents for inventions. He is showing “The flowing colors Chinese painting series” in this exhibition.
Ping Wang: “The initial idea of my “In and Out” series were body parts extended from a “Square”(space ) merged into a background. The background scenes are from Chinese illusional landscapes to recent New York City landmarks and daily life. After a year or two reminiscing in depth I subconsciously escaped in the collision between China and American culture. I was enormously inspired by traditional Chinese composition and techniques. In the ‘Fight Club; series, I tried to combine some oriental perspectives and compositions into a Western story. Now living in New York for several years, I can see the integration of eastern and western cultures.”
Yulin Huang: “In the face of the canvas, I have never forgotten all the so-called knowledge, just by intuition, in a simple, primitive, child-like way, straightforward and quick to smear. “Sacrifice the Body to Feeding the Tiger” (2018) is a “Dunhuang” mural from the ancient East, painted on the walls of the grotto 2000 years ago. It tells a Buddhist story. A prince, giving up his life and helping his hunger with his own flesh The hungry tiger mother and son are born into Buddha after death. Like the cross that Jesus passed. In “Chinese New Year,” red lanterns, dragon dances, lion dances, firecrackers, fireworks, spring couplets, red envelopes… The people celebrate the biggest festivals, joyous and lively. But I feel a very loneliness.”
Hai Wei: “Even though we all advocate tolerance, different habits and beliefs sometimes constitute an offense. Each different culture and art is connected of each other while learning from each other and integrating with each other. When the plane flies over the Arctic Circle, across the window, the outside is a mountain like a scarf, inside is a scarf like a mountain… All things connected, miraculous conversion. Similarly, in the body, the blood, the fresh life, can also be converted and reincarnation? We have been watching ourselves for too long and rarely look at them. Most people think the sheep is weak ,ordinary, silent. In fact, they still have power and charm of wildness. The art created by nature is life, the beauty of life, and it does not depend on us. It is a kind of dignity.”
Yafu Wang: Yafu’s works are varied and diverse. Those selected art pieces cover his early works in road, shadows, posters, and temples etc. Yafu always states that his work expresses his deep love and awe for the mighty God. It fulfills all the missing parts in his life.
After 10 days and 80 films from 22 countries screened, many the United States or Long Island premiere, the 2018 Gold Coast International Film Festival came to a close and declared the winners:
The Audience Award Winner for Best Narrative was “The Lost Suit,” a bittersweet story made in Argentina and Spain by Pablo Solarz about an 88-year-old Jewish tailor who embarks on a long, transcontinental journey to try and find the man who saved him from certain death during the Holocaust. Heartfelt and charming, with a wonderful comedic flavor, the film reminds us of the importance of family, friendship, and keeping your word. Out of 230 audience-goers, 212 gave the film the highest ranking. “People were obsessed with it.” The Gold Coast arts center, which stages cinema series throughout the year, is hoping to bring it back.
The Audience Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature Film went to “Heading Home,” by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, a stirring underdog chronicle of the unexpected triumph of Israel’s national baseball team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. With their Mensch on the Bench mascot by their side, the team laughs and cries as they discover the pride of representing Israel on the world stage. The screening featured a Q&A with Co-Director Jeremy Newberger.
The Audience and Jury Award Winners for Best Narrative Short Film went to “Stems” and Best Documentary Short Film award was won by two films, “Wendy’s Shabbat” and “One Small Step.”
A new award this year, Best Family Short Film, went to Rag Dolls.
Shorts film curator Alexandra Gil viewed some 2,000 submissions before making the selections for the festival.
The awards winners for the 8th annual festival were named at a gala lunch at the NM Café at Neiman Marcus Roosevelt Field, a major sponsor of the festival, which also supports youth arts programs. Other major sponsors included the Town of North Hempstead and Douglas Elliman Real Estate, which provided important seed money “when we were just an idea” and have kept up. Hofstra University is also a major supporter, offering film programs including internships.
Some 4,000 tickets were sold; audience goers came from 180 zipcodes. Audience goers get to see films that are rarely screened outside of independent theaters in New York City – the festival brings films to the suburbs. Many of the documentaries, like “Bathtubs Over Broadway,” an astonishing documentary about Steve Young’s quest to collect Industrial Musicals which sets him on a journey to meet the makers; and “Happy” Academy Award® nominated director Roko Belic’s film explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion, traveling from the bayous of Louisiana, the deserts of Namibia, the beaches of Brazil and the villages of Okinawa to a communal home in Denmark; and short films are only seen at festivals. There are also opportunities to hear from filmmakers and historians and engage in question and answers. One special program gives Young Filmmakers, from K-12, a chance to shine (and shine they did).
The 2018 festival kicked off with a Gold Coast Arts Center gala in Great Neck, Long Island honoring film and television star Robert Wagner with the second annual Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award in recognition of his long, illustrious career that began in 1950. (See story.)
The stars shone over the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, Long Island as film and television star Robert Wagner was honored with the second annual Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award in recognition of his long, illustrious career that began in 1950 with his film debut in The Happy Years. The award was presented at the center’s annual gala which also helped raise funds for the nonprofit Arts Center and its Gold Coast International Film Festival, which starts on Friday, November 2, 2018 on the storied Gold Coast of Nassau County’s North Shore, once home to entertainment legends including W. C. Fields, Paulette Goddard, Oscar Hammerstein, Alan King, Francis Ford Coppola, George Segal, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Joining Wagner at the gala were such luminaries as his wife, actress Jill St. John; his daughter Courtney Wagner, who co-hosts Boulevard, their new cable program about the movie stars of Hollywood; actress Sharon Gless (Cagney and Lacey) and her husband, producer Barney Rosenzweig; and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, whose mother, the late Rita Hayworth, posthumously received the first Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award in 2017.
Iconic talent agent, Budd Burton Moss, the award’s namesake, also attended the event in tribute to his childhood friend. Moss, the most respected and admired talent agent of Hollywood’s Golden Age, attended elementary school in California with Wagner, forging a relationship that has endured since.
Actress Diane Baker and noted radio and television personality Larry King sent along their best wishes via video. Also in attendance were Harriet Fields, granddaughter of the late W.C. Fields, and renowned film historian and film professor, Foster Hirsch, who moderated a candid, lively and informative discussion with Wagner before the presentation of the award.
Wagner may well hold the record for longest continuous career – he has been acting for 70 years, a fact acknowledged by tributes from Larry King and actor Diane Baker.
During the conversation with Hirsch, Wagner spoke of his mentors, who bolstered his career: actor Spencer Tracy, who “changed my life,” and film producer Darryl Zanuck, who basically discovered him, developed him and said of him, “You will be a big star.”
Clark Gable got him a screen test at MGM, but that didn’t work out, and got a contract with 20th Century Fox ($55 a week), where he stayed for 20 years, a part of the studio system.
“The studio system worked well for me. People at 20th Century Fox looked out for their people.” His departure coincided with the collapse of the studio system.
“I owe my career to Darryl Zanuck,” he said. “He knew scripts, stories, believed in the people around him. He really cared about me.. Darryl was watching me. When he left [the studio], it was a different situation.”
He joked that he wasn’t happy doing “Prince Valiant,” revolutionary for being one of the first movies filmed in Cinemascope. “It was the wig – it got in the way. Dean Martin talked to me for 10 minutes; he thought I was Jane Wyman.”
He reflected on his transition from film to television – something that wasn’t done at the time. “Lou Wasserman said to me, ‘I want you in this magazine – TV Guide. I think this medium is for you.” Wasserman proposed making a pilot for “It Takes a Thief,” and promised that if it wasn’t picked up, he would make it into a movie. It wasn’t picked up; he made the movie, and then it was picked up.”
“It started mid-season,” Wagner related. “That’s death. I thought my career was gone. But the audience liked it.”
Fred Astaire was his co-star. “There was nobody like him. A meticulous man. I asked him to play my father. I knew him when I was a kid – I went to boarding school with his son. Who asked me over for the weekend at his house. Astaire picked me up, put me in the back seat of his convertible – I was 7 or 8 years old. I didn’t know who Astaire was at the time. I spent a lot of time with him over the years.”
Hirsch pressed him on how his mentors seemed to all be father figures because his own father was “rather difficult.”
“My father was a product of that era. He did things his way. I was programmed to go into his business – steel. I always wanted to be actor in movies, from time I saw my first movie.”
He spoke of the many “marvelous leading ladies” he worked with: Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, to list but a few,” writing about them in his book, “I Loved Her in the Movies,” one of three Hollywood memoirs he has published.
“You can’t be a leading man without a leading lady.”
And he spoke lovingly and admiringly of his wife, the actress Natalie Wood, whose real name was Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, a child of Russian immigrants. She made her debut before she was five years old in a 15-second scene in the 1943 film, “Happy Land,” and at the age of seven, played a German orphan opposite Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert in “Tomorrow is Forever” (1946).
“They dyed her hair blond and taught her a German accent… She had God-given talent.”
He said that he doesn’t believe “West Side Story” would have been made without Wood. “She was so good at accents. She was good at everything.”
In the audience was his wife, Jill St. John, “the first Bond girl,” with whom he performed “Love Letters” on the stage, criss-crossing the country for nine years.
“The performances had to be different, otherwise they would have had to take me away with a net. We had to keep it different.”
Wagner’s numerous film credits includes With a Song in My Heart, Broken Lance with the legendary Spencer Tracy, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Pink Panther, The Curse of the Pink Panther, Midway, The Towering Inferno, Banning, Harper, Prince Valiant, The True Story of Jesse James, and All the Fine Young Cannibals. He re-created his role of Number Two, the villainous henchman to Dr. Evil, the archenemy of Mike Myers’ title character in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
On television, Wagner has starred in three long-running hit series, It Takes a Thief, with Fred Astaire, Switch, with Eddie Albert and Sharon Glessand Hart to Hart, with Stefanie Powers. He also starred in the top-rated miniseries Windmills of the Gods, based on Sidney Sheldon’s best-selling novel; with Joanne Woodward in A Kiss Before Dying; and with Elizabeth Taylor in There Must Be a Pony. He also appeared in the memorable Seinfeld episode, “The Yada, Yada, Yada,” as Dr. Abbot.
Named for the man who has represented some of Hollywood’s finest stars, the Burton Moss Hollywood Golden Era Award pays tribute to film legends who may not have been honored adequately during their lifetimes, and whose names and legacy are in danger of becoming forgotten by newer generations of filmgoers. The award itself, an original work of art,was created by celebrated sculptor Edwina Sandys, who also attended the event, is a granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill.
Presenting the award to Wagner, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, who had received the first award on behalf of her mother, Rita Hayworth, said she had devoted her life as a spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association, working for a cure, andnoted that among the many programs offered at the Gold Coast Arts Center (programs “from womb to tomb” in art, music, performance) are Making Memories a program that serves those with Alzheimer’s and memory impairment.
Proceeds from the benefit support the Arts Center’s outreach projects including Making Memories, as well as ArtReach, a program that brings Arts Center faculty and programs to underserved schoolchildren and others, to enrich their curriculum with arts education in the areas of ceramics, painting, music, dance, and chess.
The gala kicks off this year’s Gold Coast International Film Festival, taking place November 2 – 13 at various venues in North Hempstead, Long Island. The festival this year features 80 films over 10 days. (Tickets and information at www.goldcoastfilmfestival.org).
Since 2011, the Gold Coast International Film Festival has brought the latest Hollywood hits and Indie favorites to standing-room-only audiences throughout the fabled Gold Coast of Long Island and beyond. Add A-list celebrities and unforgettable events to the mix, and it’s easy to see why the Gold Coast International Film Festival has become the “go to” festival for film buffs and the public; (it is also the last major film festival on the East Coast before Awards season). The Gold Coast International Film Festival is produced by the not-for-profit Gold Coast Arts Center.
The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance, and outreach. Located on the North Shore of Long Island, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the region for over 20 years. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities. These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops, and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education program, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. More information can be found at www.goldcoastarts.org.
Some of the most illustrious artists of Urban Pop are on view a short distance from the mean streets of the city: The Gold Coast Arts Center has again chosen to showcase graffiti, street artists and media savants of urban culture in its exhibit, “URBAN POP,” on view through September 8. Fans had a chance to meet the five featured artists at an opening reception, May 20, at the Great Neck, Long Island gallery.
“The art scene has developed significantly since the 1970s with the introduction of using popular culture (pop art) as a source of inspiration,” writes exhibit curator and gallery director Jude Amsel. “Many contemporary artists have now merged other modern influences such as street art, graffiti, architecture and urban culture into their work.
Among the artists featured in Urban Pop, include Shiro, whose controversial work appeared on the murals at 5Pointz, a warehouse complex and graffiti mecca in Queens, and Luis “Zimad” Lamboy. Their work, along with several other artists, was subsequently destroyed when whitewashed by the property owner and was the subject of a prolonged court battle, ultimately decided in favor of the artists, awarding them $6.75 million. On hand at the reception was Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, one of the most prominent graffiti artists and a leader at 5Pointz, who has painted sections of the arts center.
Shiro actually provided the theme for the show, gallery director and curator Jude Amsel said. “She is marking her 20th anniversary as a graffiti artist. She is like Lady Pink – one of the world’s most famous graffiti artists.”
Her paintings feature a consistent character – her alter ego.
“Since I was little, I have been deaf in one ear. I wasn’t communicating with people. My family kept moving for my father’s job. It was hard to make new friends, so I kept drawing a character – my imaginary friend. I wasn’t lonely with my friend. Now I travel all over world by myself – India, Brazil, China – 18 countries. I can travel by myself because I have my best friend,” says Shiro.
She leaves her images like an “I was here” stamp in the places she visits.
“People call me to do the murals, big murals, with my character, my best friend. I leave her on the wall in the country. I keep creating my character.”
She covers her face when I photograph her with her painting. “I don’t want to worry about how I look, I want people to see my art,” she says.
Shiro grew up in Tokyo and began her career as an aerosol artist in 1998. “As a young artist, I fell in love with hip-hop. In Japan, the only way to get information about hip-hop culture was to read books, watch videos, and listen to music. I used to go to clubs in Japan every weekend with friends and other artists to dance and paint, all the while imagining what it would be like to experience the movement in NYC at the time.”
She came to New York in 2002, inspired by a film, “Wild Style” to see the Bronx.
In celebration of her 20th anniversary as an aerosol artist, she began her “90’s project’” by painting walls internationally.
She’s been living in New York for the past four years, “the city I used to dream about.”
Luis “Zimad” Lamboy is showing pieces created for the show that draw upon his early career. “In the mid-80’s I discovered creating graffiti, collage and mixed media on paper which wasn’t being done at the time by any of my peers. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone back to doing this style of work. I felt it necessary in order to move forward in my career to look back and fine tune what I had started. The new works are vibrating with color and life and feel as it tells a story of walls I’ve done, characters I’ve created and the many people I’ve had the honor of meeting and calling brothers and sisters.
Michelle Carollo’s major work, “Steampunk Davis,” is a large-scale (8’ x 8’ x 4’) 3-D construction, inspired by 1930s modernist painter, Stuart Davis. “This is an homage to his work.” It’s constructed of the discarded junk she found around her Brooklyn studio.
You feel the power, a kinetic energy of the piece.
“My work explores gender, pop-culture, and domestic industry,” she writes. “It uses humor and color to capture the energy, power and tension in contemporary culture. By using a series of symbols, figures and built handicraft, my work blends the playful with the serious.
“I draw on multiple references from cartoons to graffiti and entertainment, as well as technology and the history of art. I find there is something completely ridiculous and pleasurable in making deceptively simple imagery. The result is a visual mash-up that remixes spontaneous information with a type of balanced order.”
The drawings are her studies for the larger piece to “help figure what color, patterns, shapes,” she says.
She also is exhibiting a quilt, demonstrating the versatility of the application of her kinetic scope. “I just started working with fabric.”
Carollo, who conquers “one white wall at a time,” has exhibited at MOMA PS1.
Lenny Achan’s style reflects his experiences growing up in New York City as a graffiti and street artist in the early 1990s. The works look as if origami were sucked into a canvas, but it is an illusion: he cuts New York City transit maps into precise shapes and assembles them, adding transparent spray paint as shadow to complete the illusion of 3-D.
“People looking at NYC transit maps likely means they are stressed out. I wanted to give people a reason to smile.”
Achan describes himself as “an artist and inventor, influenced by my time growing up in NYC” but embracing experiences outside of the traditional art world to enhance and influence his creative expression.
“I am a student of the laws of nature and sacred geometry and draw from the complexities of everyday life to create pieces that help audiences reflect on more simple times. My philosophy of modern art and the street art movement has been heavily influenced through studying and experiencing global disruption of various commercial and political industries. Art in all forms is a vehicle for innovation and communication. I used everything around me to create and share my view of the world.”
He says, “I wanted to use sacred geometry to mimic life. Geometry is sacred to the philosophy of origami – shapes, whether a person or a bumble bee – are shapes of geometry.
“It is formulaic – they mimic and respect the complexity of math, science, biology, while at same time” break down to simpler, essential shapes.
Achan clearly achieved his desired impact: a woman reflecting on his NYC Transit Map dog, “Cityboy,” exclaims how it brought her pure joy.
Will Power, a self-taught contemporary artist who was influenced by graffiti and hip-hop culture, describes the INV8DERS series of works in the exhibit as “a hybrid fusion of a New York City pigeon with spray paint can. The pigeon represents Graffiti and Street artists, the spray paint can head represents Contemporary Urban Art.” He is striving to make INV8ERS an iconic figure for urban art culture worldwide. He describes the vibrant colorful background as his foundation, his evolution from graffiti. “the ability to combine these various colors is a skill learned from many years of being a graffiti artist. The INV8DERS are a perfect amalgam of graffiti, street art and fine art.”
These artists “bring a myriad of visual cultural influences to their fine art practice,” said Gold Coast Arts Center’s Gallery Director and exhibit Curator Jude Amsel, Some hone their skills on the street, others working in the studio find their version of popular urban art, some having a unique language of their own not categorized within a specific movement. However, each one of the artists offers something unique and different as to their expression of Urban Pop.”
The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Located on the North Shore of Long Island, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the region for more than 20 years. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities. These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education program, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
All Types of Kinds is the 2018 “Your Big Break” Talent competition winner at the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Acoustic Café, organized by the Gold Coast Arts Center, Love Revolution Org, and the Rick Eberle Agency.
The band was among the top five finalists that also included two other bands – 37 Stripes and Psychopompus – and two singer/songwriters – Kaylee Shahira and Lydia Von Hof – who had won their knockout rounds held earlier this year. They performed in front of a sell-out audience and judges from the music business including producers, radio and television personalities and music business executives.
The competition really does provide a “big break”: as the talent competition winner, All Types of Kinds will have the opportunity to open for national acts at major local venues like The Paramount; recording time at DCITY Studios; a feature on Reverbnation.com; musical equipment from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America; and public relations and social media campaign, booking and label services consultation with the Rick Eberle Agency.
All Types of Kinds, a New York City-based Alternative band consisting of guitarists Billy Conahan, Ray Rubio, and Rocco Stoker, along with percussionist Berk O, won with their polished precision, sweet harmony, musicianship, artistry, versatility and originality in their smart lyrics. As a group, they have performed from folk to rap and other genres in between, and it all came out in this performance. Their music and shows reflect the band’s diverse background: they all are singer/songwriters with an extensive repertoire of songs and experience performing in musical theater, stand-up comedy, and as actors. This all comes together in how they engage the audience, giving a very entertaining performance.
First formed at Great Neck South High/Middle School in 2010, Psychopompous is the most recent nominal iteration of the musical project formed by singer and guitarist Justin Kelly, percussionist Beni Hahitti, and bassist Maximillian Nero. The three created Psychopompous through a mutual interest primarily in progressive rock, and then expanded into an unending plethora of musical interests that continues to grow at an alarming, and often frustrating rate. Their music has taken notes from progressive rock, heavy metal, alternative, blues, funk, psychedelia, Gregorian chant, Tibetan throat singing, and occasionally whale songs. They have been known in the past for their sincere love of technical music, experimentation, improvisation, and their unbridled willingness to play music nobody wants to hear.
The band 37 Stripes, formed in the fall of 2016, consists of 8th and 9th graders. The members were introduced at the School of Music and Art on Long Island and quickly connected with one another and settled on musical upheaval as an alternative expression. 37 Stripes have been writing their music and playing at festivals and venues around New York City. Band members are Manhasset residents Andrew Hahn, who plays Fender bass, sax, and keyboard; Oscar Cellura on Fender guitars, and keyboard; and percussionist Zach Levine, a resident of Syosset, who plays the drums. The band has played at the renowned “Bitter End” in Greenwich Village and Mulcahy’s in Wantagh, NY. 37 Stripes were also finalists in the Town of Oyster Bay’s Battle of the Bands and the Morgan Park (Glen Cove) Summer Music Festival. They were invited to appear live on Rick Eberle’s “Rising Stars” radio program.
Kaylee Shahira is a young, passionate indie-pop artist with a killer sound who hails from northwest Indiana. Shahira loves writing about the questions nobody can answer — living with mental illness, personal life philosophies, and the intricacies of being a social animal. Shahira exudes promise as an emerging artist. She performed her original song, “Dime,” which contemplates the notion that a person changes every 10 years.
Lydia von Hof is a 16-year-old classically trained pianist, singer who ranges from jazz to opera, and, composer, and since her first appearance at Your Big Break, where a judge encouraged her to writer her own song lyrics, has become a passionate singer-songwriter. piano player, and songwriter whose song and performance just won first prize at the Young Performers showcase at the Hard Rock Café in Boston. The Commack High School junior performed as a soloist at Madison Square Garden at a New York Knicks halftime show and is the 2016 winner of Long Island’s Got Talent. Aside from singing pop, jazz, R&B, Broadway, and opera, Lydia has performed classical piano solos at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. She has been a returning musical guest on PATV’s “The Brick Wall.” She performed four of her own songs – evocative of Adele, who is one of her musical inspirations, along with Michael Jackson.
The headliner for the show was Budist Priest, which presented a stunning historical tour of music that went back to the “rock” of its day, in the 1600s, to Johann Pachelbel’s baroque Canon, and to “future”.
The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Located on the North Shore of Long Island, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the region for over 20 years. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities. These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education program, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. More information can be found at www.goldcoastarts.org.
“Nature has been inspiring artists for centuries, and its beauty has been captured in paintings, sculptures, photographs and a variety of other medium. But some artists take the relationship between art and the environment a step further, creating works from nature itself or producing artworks that make bold statements about the natural world and the imprint mankind has left on it.” This is what curator Jude Amsel was looking for when she put together the exhibition, COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS, on view at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery in Great Neck, Long Island through April 1.
The seven artists whose works are represented “are commenting on man’s relationship with our planet. These artists have the power to make environmentalism a priority and bring green initiatives to the forefront of cultural conversations,” she stated.
“With all the gloom and doom, we can feel sad with what’s happening in the world. But these artists bring an awareness,” a literal consciousness of our role and responsibility, Amsel said at the Artists’ Reception, March 4. The viewer is left with a sense of optimism that man’s better impulses will rise to the fore.
Yoon Cho’s work – multi-media performance art which combines video superimposed with digitized drawings – is the starkest commentary on this theme: her project was inspired by a difficult pregnancy after 10 years of marriage and the birth of her son, she and her husband traveled to barren landscapes to comment on extinction and procreation, the images of life forcing its way through.
Beth Williams Garrett created feminized Buddha head sculptures out of plastic bags.
Linda Cunningham turned the blighted industrial waterfront of the South Bronx into striking images on torn, furled canvas.
Nancy Gesimondo found solace in creating assemblages of natural materials, where mussel shells appear as butterflies, a metaphorical prayer flying to heaven; water chestnut seedpods are like flying bats, and peacock feathers are like tall grass.
Lauren Skelly Bailey re-creates the natural world of coral reefs in meticulous glazed ceramics, mimicking the surprise you have when you touch coral, which seem to be fluid and flowing to discover they are rock hard.
Charles Cohen uses realistic photography to get reduce household products to the shape and color of their plastic containers to force a different perspective.
Luba Lukova, whose graphic artistry can be seen in the New York Times, brings her timely commentary to an image of a green plant shielded by a hand as bombs fall, in her silkscreen, “Peace and Planet” (2015).
What is so interesting is to see such variety of media and approaches that come together to the essential message of human impact on the natural world: a collective consciousness of our responsibility.
Here’s more from the artists about their works:
Lauren Skelly Bailey’s ceramics are uncanny in the way they so realistically, meticulously yet artistically represent coral. You appreciate the beauty of nature’s own design. And like nature itself which is deceptively complex (think of a wasp’s nest), her work is exceptionally technical. “Stacking Up” (2016) for example, is crafted of porcelain, stoneware, slip, glaze, resin and flock – the pieces are each fired five to seven times. There are pieces gilded with real gold on the last firing.
She began her arts education studying painting and cartooning at Adelphi, graduating with a BA and MA, then went on to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to earn her MFA. She produced many of these ceramics during a residency at the Museum of Arts & Design and had two grants from the NYS Council for the Arts.
“My work explores methods of making assemblage sculptures, conglomerations, installations, and figurines. There’s that sensation of falling for process, the chase of finding the unexpected and learning how it occurs. From that knowledgeI make intentional decisions regarding textural surfaces, glazes, slips and clay applications, changing the context of the piece from a study to a solution. I respond to changes and observe balance in my work, seeking to push an uneasy tension between materials and form. Each new sculpture is a moment, something new that has been achieved or understood, taking me further into my experience with ceramics.” (laurenskellybailey.com)
The first reaction to Nancy Gesimondo’s assemblages is how they evoke Native American references. Nancy is from Sunnyside, Queens.
“My work is an exploration of materiality and science that results in new visceral narratives. I create assemblages comprised of natural materials such as shells, feathers, seedpods, semi-precious stones, rocks and crystal formations.The juxtaposition of these found elements results in surreal landscapes, imaginal creatures and hybrid specimens that aim to suggest the exploration and sense of mystery of an archeologist assembling vestiges of a distant past with no true reference of their origin.
“My work is a reflection of my appreciation of nature’s beauty and diversity, as well as my concern for its decline. The delicate fragments imbue the work with an ethereal quality that portends a futuristic glimpse of the place we call home.”
Her assemblages draw upon natural materials she regularly collects – feathers, shells, seedpods, semi-precious stones, rocks and crystal formations. “It shows a reverence for Earth.”
“I’ve been collecting feathers forever – they are like little signs from beyond to me.”
She added, “I let the materials guide me towards the image. I very rarely see the composition in advance.”
The overall feeling is of tranquility, a peacefulness, a poetic aesthetic. The natural elements are used as metaphors.
“A Winged Victory for the Sullen” (2016) is an assemblage with amethyst crystal, iridescent feathers, and water chestnut seedpods (collected at Beacon NY), that look like flying birds. It is mounted on 300 lb watercolor paper, and she explained how she had to puncture roofing nails from the back, then glue the seedpods on.
“Evening Prayers III,” (2017) draws upon mussels that look like butterflies, and a strip of peacock features that look like tall grass. “It’s difficult to find mussels that are still together, but after my father died, I wanted to go to the beach. I went to Long Beach where I know there are mussels, but on this day, I never saw so many whole mussels as then. I collected four bags worth. I felt it was a sign from my father, “Abundance. Don’t worry.”
“The shells poetically morph into butterflies. They are like prayers – wishes and wants that fly to heaven.,”
Linda Cunningham makes an artful plea on behalf of South Bronx in her series, “South Bronx Waterfront Sagas-shards: The New Vision” (2016).
“Collaged canvas with torn edges convey contradictions documented with photo-transferred images, layered with acrylic and pastel revealing a broken South Bronx history, an urban renewal tragedy, an area once the retreat of choice for fresh air and greenery. The shards of information and vistas evoke the Port Morris harbor where barges once docked and youth swam off a pier in the East River. The beautiful open vistas are now inaccessible to the residents of the Mott Haven and Port Morris areas of the South Bronx, abandoned and dominated by deteriorating remains, rotting remnants of piers, power stations and City Waste transfer stations.”
Cunningham’s work centers upon time, transience, contradictions, and compelling environmental concerns juxtaposed against industry and urban blight.
The canvas itself is twisted and tortured in its way – not at all the neat rectangles that fit into frames.
“Life doesn’t come in a convenient box – I can’t work in a square (or rectangle). Life is one torn edge to another.”
Beth Williams Garrett, who studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and has shown her artwork up and down the East Coast, said, “I was a painter for 30 years, until 2010, when I felt the need to make sculpture. I was searching for a suitable sculpting material, I stumbled upon using plastic bags as a medium… Plastic bags were being thrown away – that’s no good for environment. They present themselves to me as a material to make sculpture with.”
“The inspiration for my first sculptures came from my travels to Buddhist temples in Japan and ancient ruins in Rome.”
Indeed, the sculptures fashioned of plastic bags evoke Buddha, but then there is a twist. “I have always felt my work was autobiographical, as a woman and focused on the female figure.
The result is a feminized Buddha – “girl Buddhas” she said.
Her skill as a painter comes through in the way she uses the colors and patterns in the plastic bags to great effect. One of the pieces draws on both her painting and the sculpting.
“Since then, I have been exploring what I can do with the plastic bags. My newest endeavors have been combining the 3-dimensional work with the 2-dimensional work as relief/multi media pieces and I continue making heads as I love how the plastic bags lend themselves to creating facial expressions.”
“It happened by accident in the studio. I propped the plastic bag head on a canvas to take a picture and decided to combine the two. I usually paint bodies without a head, so it made me laugh to make plastic bag without the body. (bethwilliamsgarrettart.webs.com)
Yoon Cho’s Desert Walk Photo and Video Series explores the connection with our environments by featuring America’s diverse desert landscapes with superimposed digital drawings of various biological life forms over the artist’s walk performance. The silhouette graphics of biological life forms such as cells, pollen, reproductive organs, embryos, and skeletons in the sky tell a story of the cycle of life and our co-existence with the Earth.
Cho’s personal journey from a difficult pregnancy to motherhood and upbringing in a family of physicians encouraged her to examine the relationship between the biological life forms and their habitats. The Desert Walk encapsulates beauty, destruction, and preservation of the land we live in.
The work is based on photographs from 20 different sites in four states (New Mexico, California, Nevada and Arizona). The final scene is at the Array where astronomers listen for signs of life from outer space. “That represents the future,” she says.
Her work was supported by the Puffin Foundation and New York State Foundation of Arts. (www.yooncho.com)
Charles Cohen uses photography to change perspective.
“From the threshold between participation and observation, I break with day to day experience. Familiar with the ethnographer’s dilemma, I embrace this betwixt state as the key to being human: we act as protagonist and critic in our own lives so that we can bridge the gap between individual and collective.
“My work exposes reductive dualities and challenges the ordinary relationship between perceiver and perceived by provoking reflexive thought… My work explores a range of subjects, literal and figurative, in an embrace of liminality and in confrontation with a binary view. The result transforms the subject/object relationship from real to metaphor and liberates a state of being—one. (www.promulgator.com)
Luba Lukova creates images that she hopes will catalyze action and change the world. Her thought-provoking posters address essential themes of humanity and injustice worldwide. Her messages help viewers develop empathetic understanding for social and cultural issues through indelible metaphors and an economy of line, color, and text. Lukova’s work is included in the permanent collections of MoMa; Denver Art Museum; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Hong Kong Heritage Museum; Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image imprimée, La Louvière, Belgium; the Library of Congress; and the World Bank, Washington, D.C. (www.lukova.net)
The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. It offers classes for tots to seniors in art, music, dance and performance;, events, gallery, film festivals and outreach programs.
The results are in: Darkest Hour, a new film starring Gary Oldham as Winston Churchill, is the winner of Best Narrative Film at the 7th Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival. Best Documentary award was a tie: Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro, the World War II soldier turned war photographer, who attended the sell-out screening, and the Long Island premiere of Dare to Be Different, about WLIR 92.7, the influential Long Island radio station on the cutting edge of music in the 1980s.
In all, the festival, now in its 7th year, screened more than 80 films from 12 countries – 36 of them Long Island premieres – with Q&As with dozens of visiting artists including directors, producers, and grandchildren of famous film subjects: Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, the artist Edwina Sandys; Frank Sinatra’s granddaughter, AJ Lambert who attended the 60th anniversary screening of the movie musical Pal Joey, and David Ben-Gurion’s grandson, Alon Ben-Gurion, after the screening of an extraordinary documentary based on six-hours of recently uncovered candid conversations with Israel’s founding father.
A record 15 of the screenings were sell-outs; the film-festival drew 4500 audience goers of all ages and backgrounds, from all over Long Island and the metro area – 175 different zipcodes.
“People think film festivals are elitist – but that’s not what we’re about,” said Festival Director Caroline Sorokoff. The festival featured “Free Film Friday,” with presentations of the movie classic “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper; family short films at the Great Neck Library, and film shorts at the Port Washington Library (with a Q&A with Israeli filmmaker Yaniv Segalovich, director of An Average Story, Letiferet, who joined Alexandra Gil, curator of the Gold Coast International Film Festival’s short films; the film won an audience award).
“Hundreds of people took advantage.” And this year, veterans could come to any screening for free, thanks to a grand from GEICO.
The Gold Coast International Film Festival is distinguished by the fascinating events that are organized with the screenings – Q&As with producers, directors, actors, experts and people associated with the films.
Indeed, a highlight of the festival was the Long Island premiere (two weeks before general release) of Darkest Hour, featuring Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance as Winston Churchill and the terrifying early days of his appointment as Prime Minister as Hitler’s forces were taking over Europe and threatening an invasion of the British Isles. It was Britain’s darkest hour. And like the movie “Lincoln”, and “Thirteen Days” about John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which shows the backstory of a key “moment” in pivotal history, we learn of how he had to overcome intense opposition from political rivals, and the diabolical choice he faced: negotiate with Hitler to save British lives at a terrible cost or rally the nation and fight on against incredible odds. Gary Oldman brilliantly portrays the first dark days of Churchill as Prime Minister. Directed by Joe Wright, the screening at the Soundview Cinemas in Port Washington, featured a Q&A with Churchill’s granddaughter, the artist Edwina Sandys, a young child during this time, who spoke nostalgically and lovingly of her grandfather and grandmother, Clementine.
Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro is the remarkable story of WWII infantryman and legendary photographer Tony Vaccaro, who created one of the most comprehensive, haunting and intimate photographic records of the war using a smuggled $47 camera while developing the negatives in his helmet at night. Tony Vaccaro, himself, along with Director Max Lewkowicz and Producer Valerie Thomas participated in a post-screening Q&A session, followed by the opening reception of Tony Vaccaro’s acclaimed, wartime and celebrity photography at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery in Great Neck (on view through February).
The Long Island Premiere of Dare to Be Different had three sold-out screenings, and featured a Q&A with Director Ellen Goldfarb and Executive Producer and former WLIR Program Director Denis McNamara, plus a host of other special guests, including artists and DJs featured in the film. It was an event that could only happen on Long Island, where WLIR brought new wave music to America. WLIR helped launch the careers of U2, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Clash, and The Cure, among others. Special guests attending the premiere include Larry “The Duck” Dunn, Michael “Eppy” Epstein, Max Leinwand, Steve North, Carol Silva, Donna Donna and “Malibu Sue” McCann.
Ben-Gurion: Epilogue, a stunning documentary compiled from six hours of never-before-seen footage, of newly discovered conversations with Israel’s founding father presents a rare and fortuitous piece of cinematic archeology – it’s as if film was found of candid conversation with George Washington. Watching, you realize you are seeing a work of undeniable historical significance with prophetic implications for Israel’s future. Presented in Partnership with American Friends of Soroka Medical Center to a standing-room-only audience at the Bowtie Cinema in Great Neck, the screening featured an extraordinary Q&A with Ben-Gurion’s grandson, Alon, who spoke personally of time spent with his grandfather.
An extraordinary documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, was the first of a new “Science on Screen” series funded by a hard-to-win grant to the Gold Coast Arts Center to better communicate science to a general audience. The documentary finally credits the dazzlingly-beautiful actress as a brilliant inventor responsible for the innovation that made possible secure WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS communications (her intent was to make the Navy’s torpedoes more effective in order to win World War II, but the Navy put the patent away in a drawer until it was rediscovered by another inventor devising military weapons). The Long Island premiere, featured a Q&A (sponsored by Edelman financial Services, LLC) with Director Alexandra Dean, Fleming Meeks, the Forbes journalist who scored amazing interviews with the reclusive actor late in life, and Dr. Christine Metz of the Feinstein Institute and was moderated by Diane Masciale of WNET.
Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image, Long Island Premiere at the Gold Coast International Film Festival of the documentary examining the industries and obstacles responsible for the body image crisis and showcasing the dynamic leaders fighting for more diversity of size, race and age, featured a Q&A with Director Jenny McQuaile and Producer Yael Melamede and a panel of distinguished experts from Northwell Health: Dr. Gabriella Farkas, Dr. Bonny Patel and Nancy Farber, ND. The Q&A was sponsored by the Katz Institute for women’s Health at Northwell Health.
The 60th anniversary screening of Pal Joey, an Academy Award-winning musical gem, with famous classics by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak, featured a Q&A with AJ Lambert, Sinatra’s granddaughter (Nancy’s daughter) and Raj Tawney, a multi-media journalist/producer. Lambert spoke about her warm and loving grandfather.
Supergirl, the story of Naomi Kutin, an Orthodox Jewish pre-teen girl with an extraordinary talent – holding a world record in powerlifting, featured a Q&A with the film’s director, Jessie Auritt and “Supergirl” herself, Naomi Kutin and her family.
The delightful documentary Hummus! The Movie, was followed by “The Great Gold Coast Hummus Taste-Off” at Lola restaurant next door to the BowTie Theater in Great Neck Plaza.
The seventh anniversary of the not-for-profit Gold Coast International Film Festival featured over 80 films and dozens of filmmakers at screenings and events at North Shore venues, including Soundview Cinemas in Port Washington, the Bow Tie Cinemas in Great Neck, Port Washington, Manhasset and Roslyn, and the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck.
Films presented this year showcased major Hollywood actors, include Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Arquette, Burt Reynolds, Isabelle Huppert, Rainn Wilson, Bill Nye, Rosemarie DeWitt, Imogen Poots, and Shahab Hosseini, star of the 2016 Oscar-winning film, The Salesman, which premiered at last year’s festival, featured in the East Coast premiere of the Iranian film Gholam this year.
This year’s festival included more than 40 premieres, including French movie-star Isabelle Huppert’s new film Souvenir; Burt Reynold’s new film Dog Years; Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story; Yellow Birds, starring Jennifer Aniston, Toni Collette, Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan, and the timely Bill Nye: Science Guy. Award-winning feature films from the world’s most prestigious festivals (Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Tribeca, Hamptons) were screened, along with dozens of excellent short films.
The festival featured films from 12 different countries – most that you cannot otherwise get to see – including 1945, from Hungary about a remote Hungarian town preparing for the wedding of the village magistrate’s son, when two Orthodox Jews arrive at the village train station with two coffin-shaped wooden crates, supposedly filled with soaps and perfumes. Is this a harbinger of the return of more Jews? Led by the boorish village magistrate, the townspeople fear that these strangers may be heirs of the village’s denounced and deported Jewish neighbors and have come to claim their family’s stolen property. Paranoia runs rampant, leading to tragic events and a potent, unexpected ending. “While there have been many films about the Holocaust, there are few about its immediate aftermath, when greed and material gain from the Jewish peoples’ demise was pervasive. Director Ferenc Török cleverly captures this often overlooked moment in history where one town’s actions become a metaphor for the moral decay of the whole country. Shot in elegant black and white with an eye for exquisite composition and a minimal evocative score, 1945 is a subtle and nuanced study in the collective guilt and enduring anti-Semitism of postwar Hungary,” wrote Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco Jewish Film.
The Long Island premiere of The Insult, provided a rare look at modern-day Lebanon. The intelligent, rivetting and politically charged drama focuses on how a minor disagreement between a Christian Phalanges Party supporter and a Palestinian construction foreman sparks an unforgivable insult, which ignites a confrontation of national importance. Celebrity lawyers, TV news, and political leaders get involved in a trial that rips open raw memories of Lebanon’s violent past
Paris Opera, from France, provided a fascinating, candid behind-the-scenes view of a season at the Paris Opera, following the array of personnel – management, performers, costumers, cleaning crew – even choreographer Benjamin Millepied – who work night after night to bring breathtaking spectacle to this legendary setting.
The New York premiere of Back to Burgundy, from France, is a story of wine, family, family business, and more wine is set amid the gorgeous backdrop of Burgundy, and told with an assured mix of drama and humor. Jean, who had left his childhood home more than ten years ago, returns after his father’s death to reconcile the future of the business with his brother and sister.
This year, GCIFF again presented the work of talented young filmmakers in grades K-12 in its Young Filmmakers Program, presented in partnership with Hofstra University, a festival sponsor.
The festival finished on Wednesday November 15 with a Closing Awards Lunch at the cafe at Neiman Marcus Garden City (in Roosevelt Field). Neiman Marcus was a major sponsor of the film festival. The lunch also launched the Neiman Marcus ”Love to Give” Collection, where 10% of the proceeds from the sale of the ”Love to Give” items goes back to the Gold Coast Arts Center, based in Great Neck, Long Island, which organizes the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival.
For the past 110 years since Neiman Marcus’ founding, said Doris Wilshere, Vice President and General Manager, supporting the arts has been a priority. “It has been of particular interest to the founders. That’s why our partnership with the film festival is important to us. It’s the one budget we are encouraged to spend every $1 of, every year.”
In addition to Neiman Marcus Garden City, sponsors and partners of this year’s Gold Coast International Film Festival included: founding partners, the Town of North Hempstead and Douglas Elliman Real Estate; major partners, Hofstra University and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency; GEICO; Deluxe Entertainment Services Group; AARP Long Island; A.L. Sarroff Fund; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; The Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health; St. Mary’s Kids; Jet Blue; Biener Audi; LVR Rental; The Inn at Great Neck; The Andrew Hotel; WLIW21; Altice; New York Women in Film & Television; Anton Publications; Blank Slate Media; LI Pulse; Edelman Financial Services, LLC; and LOLA of Great Neck.
The Gold Coast International Film Festival is produced by the Gold Coast Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021, 516-829-2570, www.goldcoastarts.org.
Unlike Ema Ryan Yamazaki, the director of the new documentary “Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” who became enchanted with Curious George as a child in Japan, I only became a fan of that impish monkey whose curiosity always gets him into trouble, when I saw an exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City that showed how his adventures actually mirrored the real-life adventures of its creators, the artist Hans Rey and his wife Margret, who made a harrowing escape from the Holocaust by bicycle, just steps ahead of the Nazi invasion.
Yamazaki’s documentary engagingly and cleverly incorporates animation that blends seamlessly into Rey’s own drawings along with traditional documentary techniques – newsreels, artifacts, interviews – to tell their story, which is on one level, a story about their devoted relationship and the creative process but also one of survival.
Newsreels show the context of Hans and Margret’s lives as German Jews born to upper middle class families in Germany, how dire and entrenched the economic depression became after World War I, a war that Hans, still a teenager, was recruited into as a medic. But most chilling were the images of the rise of Nazism in Germany as a response to rampant desperation, the bombing of Paris, the tanks rolling into the city, the storming of Nazi soldiers, and the long lines of people desperately trying to leave.
The film uses an animated images of the couple fleeing Paris on the bicycles that Hans built out of spare parts (because none were available), and traces their harrowing journey to get to a train, then a port in order to flee to Portugal, a neutral country, and ultimately the United States. You see them passing by the Statue of Liberty, and their words (from interviews) of reaction: that they were finally free, in a country where everything is possible, the Land of Opportunity.
Without being preachy or hitting you over the head, the scenes are chilling echoes of what is happening today, with the greatest flight of refugees from genocide, terrorism, violence, economic deprivation, and famine since World War II.
And yet, the scenes are done without horror and brutality; instead, there is emphasis on the strangers they would call upon to give them a place to sleep and food to eat on their journey.
During the Reys’ flight, they were able to carry out only what they could fit into a bicycle basket, but they brought out the completed manuscript of the first “Curious George” book ( the character was named Fifi then) and they had the check for an advance for future books, which financed their journey.
In one scene, recreated in animation, they are stopped by thuggish police who go through their possessions, then, coming upon the book with the adorable monkey, they soften and let them pass through.
Curious George saves their lives.
And the character gave them new life in the United States.
They contact a sister who lives in Long Island who knows a book editor who turns out to be a refugee from Europe, as well, who knows their work, and immediately contracts for four books, with an advance of just $1000 (probably the best deal Houghton-Mifflin ever made).
The movie is absolutely charming and frank in describing the two different personalities, from interviews with the children, now Baby Boomer senior citizens themselves, who knew them from Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, where the couple spent summers.
An interesting note: the 1950s, we are reminded, was a period of intense anti-Semitism in the United States and Waterville Valley was not exactly welcoming to the German Jewish couple. But because of the children, who played and swam with Hans (he would play turtle with them) and watched Hans draw his character and were completely enchanted by him (Margret was described kindly as standoffish and severe, “to put it kindly”), the parents warmed up as well.
We get to know them – Margret as an independent minded, nontraditional, no-nonsense woman who was a calculating businessperson (she launched herself in advertising), who wrote the text for the books and was the “curious” one; and Hans, the “mischievous” one, who was good-humored, easy-going, and loved being with the children. He was the one who would feed squirrels (digging a tunnel so they could reach his house without crossing a road), who built a bird-feeder that the squirrels couldn’t get to and a squirrel-feeder the birds couldn’t get to. At one point, Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, notes that their relationship was not based on love, and yet, they completed each other and were devoted to each other and indeed, the sum of the duo was greatly more than each one alone.
As Margret says, Curious George’s curiosity gets him into trouble, but his ingenuity gets him out of it.
Anyone who grew up loving Curious George, loves the process of making art and creating children’s books, would be fascinated, but it is also a study in relationships and a genuine drama, an adventure that resonates so strongly today.
Monkey Business is narrated by Sam Waterston (“Grace and Frankie,” “The Newsroom,” “Law And Order,” whose sister was one of the Reys’ neighbors in Waterville Valley) and is the directorial debut of filmmakerEma Ryan Yamazaki, and animated by Jacob Kafka.
At the screening as part of the ongoing Gold Coast Arts Center’s International Film Festival at the BowTie movie theater in Great Neck, Long Island, discussed the film in a Q&A.
Kafka, the son of a rabbi and a seismologist who has been making movies since he was five years old, in addition to making animated short films, developed the animation software for ROUGHANIMATOR for mobile devices which has been used by animators worldwide, was for a full year the only full-time animator.
Indeed, one of the most impressive aspects of the film biography is the animation, so novel for a documentary, but so appropriate for telling the Reys’ story. It is remarkable how Kafka was able to reproduce Hans Rey’s own style so seamlessly, literally animating Hans’ drawings.
“I tried as best I could to copy his style.” Indeed, the still characters take on movement and life because of his animation.
He said that the film utilizes some 15,000 individual drawings – each one hand-drawn (rather than computer-animated) – averaging 10 per second of film. Hans Rey would typically insert Margret and himself into the drawing, so he based his images of them on Hans’ own depictions.
“Each is hand-drawn, frame by frame. We ultimately had a team of 8-9 people – but only two were full time, and for the first year, it was just me. The background designer drew anything that doesn’t move; anything that moves, I drew. After a kickstarter campaign last year, we were able to bring on other animators.”
It was decided early on to use animation in the documentary because there was very little actual footage of the Reys. Though they did many television interviews in the 1960s and 1970s, at that time, nothing was saved.
Among the interesting elements that were discovered, was overturning the myth (which Hans enjoyed perpetuating) that while Hans was in Brazil, working for his brother-in-law’s import/export business, that he went up and down the Amazon River selling bathtubs. Though Hans traveled on the Amazon to see the jungle life (capturing images of monkeys, no doubt that figured into his Curious George creation), it wasn’t to sell bathtubs which would be absurd. That was a common truth that Hans indulged, and appears in many biographies, but was completely untrue, Kafka said, but only discovered well into making the film (there are scenes of Hans selling bathtubs to the tribal people along the Amazon).
But what they never uncovered was the origin of the character of the Man in the Yellow Hat.
Production on the documentary began three years ago and was finished in January. Asked whether the current refugee crisis figured into the making, he said it was coincidental timing, but became more and more relevant, especially because of director Ema Ryan Yamazaki, who grew up in Japan, had her own immigrant experience.
Lay Lee Ong, library executor of the Rey Estate, has been successful in keeping alive and reviving Curious George – with movies, PBS, and a new generation of artists carrying on the tradition.
“Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators,” which had its Los Angeles premiere in June and has been making rounds of film festivals (has been an official selection of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, and Rooftop Film Series before coming to the 2017 Summer Gold Coast Cinema Series), will be available online and on demand August 15 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Comcast, TWC and others (see curiousgeorgedocumentary.com).
The 7th Annual Gold Coast International Film Festival will take place November 7-14, 2017 at venues across the town of North Hempstead, on Long Island’s fabled North Shore. (goldcoastfilmfestival.org).
Judges at the 5th annual final of the Gold Coast Acoustic Café’s Your Big Break talent competition had an unusually hard time picking the winners out of a talented field of six, but in the end, Paris Ray was the grand-prize winner and Julia Lambert the runner-up, at the Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, Long Island, Saturday, April 1.
Paris Ray, a 21-year old from St. James who majored in Studio Composition in the Conservatory of Music at college, dazzled the judges with her original song, “Astronomy” (“I became an astronaut so I could give you space.”) off her Just Visiting EP; a second, highly personal original song that gets to the heart of domestic violence, as well as the required George Michael song (each of the contestants only a week ago was assigned a George Michael song to perform).
Julia Lambert impressed with her song-stylings on the acoustical guitar, and her original song that soon will be released on an EP (“Take a chance, it will be okay, I promise.”).
All of the performers were audience favorites:
Julia Hayden, from Port Washington, backed up with a sensational band, performed two original songs plus a tribute to George Michael, which offered a MiddleEastern meets MidWest country feeling, and an really interesting song that featured the drum roll of a marching band (“Carry on”).
Lydia von Hof, just 15 years old but conveying a skill and sophistication way beyond her years (she is a classically trained pianist who will be performing Chopin at Carnegie Hall), brings a full, rich voice to her performance.
Sydney Perruzza, from Carle Place, brought her bluesy style to her performance.
Jaclyn Manfredi, 17, brings a sultry style reflecting jazz, blues and R&B influences, and has performed at the Apollo Theater. She performed an original song, “Warehouse.”
The “Big Break” is not just a clever title. The young performers are competing for prizes that could well launch their career.
As the grand-prize winner of the 5th Annual Your Big Break talent competition, Ray will have an opening spot for national acts at major venues like The Paramount, recording time at DCITY Studios and Online TV streaming opportunities, a feature on Reverbnation.com, a $250 gift certificate from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America, a PR and social media campaign including management, booking and label services consultation with Rick Eberle Agency.
Lambert, as the runner up, won a video camera.
In addition, Rick Eberle has also invited all the contestants to appear on his radio and TV shows.
The judges are major players in the music industry including: ReverbNation.com’sLou Plaia, All Music Inc.’s Guy Brogna, Songwriter Tara Eberle Drouin and Label Executives Stephen Marcuccio, Jerry Lembo, Linda Ingrisano, Mark Ambrosino.
The contestants for Your Big Break were selected out of 1000 submissions through Gold Coast Arts Center (www.goldcoastarts.com) and Reverbnation.com sites in response to an open call for musicians age 15 to 25 who do not currently have a recording or publishing contract. The artists have to perform with a band or solo with an acoustic guitar or sing to a backing music track. There is no fee to submit.
The six finalists came out of two semi-final competitions of performers and were paired with mentors to guide them in performing a song by George Michael, assigned to them, in tribute to the music icon who died last December: American Idol’s Robbie Rosen, Dream Recording Studio’s Jason Melker, Sojourn Record’s Mark Ambosino, arranger/producer/songwriter/remixer and former VP of A&R at Atlantic Records Jimmy Bralower, singer/songwriter John Hampson of Nine Days, and songwriter/producer Donnie Klang of MTV’s “Making the Band”.
Your Big Break talent competition is hosted by the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Acoustic Café and LoveRevolution.Org. Conceived by Rick Eberle and the Gold Coast Arts Center, the talent competition carries on the tradition of Long Island musical talent, including
Ashanti, Mariah Carey and LL Cool J (born on Long Island), Billy Joel, Lou Reed and Harry Chapin and going back to John Philip Sousa and Guy Lombardo.
The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Café once a month, a music venue that showcases local up-and-coming talent as well as established music acts. With its black box theater performance space and a lounge in the art gallery, the Gold Coast Acoustic Café is one of the few small music venues around which makes for a special and intimate atmosphere for artists and audience alike, especially during Your Big Break.
When RJ Rosegarten left Great Neck 17 years ago, where he had gone to school, raised a family, had a career in advertising and served as Mayor of the Village of Great Neck Plaza, he was finally free to pursue an ambition from childhood: to be an artist.
He returns to the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck Plaza – which as mayor he helped bring fruition – with a show, “Lost & Found: the Art of Assemblage” which draws upon his strong sense of design and construction. The exhibition is on view through March 12.
“Assemblage involves the thoughtful combination of elements to create something new and original,” states Jude Amsel, the curator who installed the massive exhibit of some 50 works.
RJ Rosegarten (better known by Great Neckers as Bob) claims that the pieces are not intended to hammer home a theme or message or story, that he approaches the work from the point of view of design, color and form, meticulously choosing objects that together form the image he has conceptualized in his mind.
At the end of it, he says, he comes up with a title. “That’s often the most difficult part,” he says.
His humor comes through with the titles (“it’s Great to be King”), but don’t read in a theme or moral – it’s for the beholder to find your own meaning.
But if the piece is built around an aesthetic, the choice of objects – each with their own meaning – the title, in fact, broadcasts a mood, emotion or message even if was subconsciously in Rosegarten’s mind, or resounds in the viewer’s own head. The design captures your attention, but then you keep going back to explore and discover and your head forms its own patterns and themes.
These aren’t objects. These aren’t randomly selected. Each element is meticulously chosen – sometimes involving longtime searches.
He describes his effort obtaining just the right red delicious apples (so realistic you think they are actual fruit), for his piece, “Legacy of the Red Apple,” (2016). He had two heads that he fused into one, like Siamese twins. Why apples? “In the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge had fruit.”
He can tell you the provenance of each object in the piece – where he obtained the silver head in “Sarah Silverstone Presents” and how it took a long time before he found just the sunglasses he wanted for the piece, how the drawer it is assembled in came from a factory (the writing is on the side). He sees Sarah as a person, referring to Sarah as “her”. Indeed, the two gauges and thermometer evoke her personhood, even symbolically.
There is a story behind every piece – about how I got there, where the pieces came from – can tell you where every piece came from – glasses – looked for it a long time – looked for a long time where to put – fit on Sarah – gauge, knew where it would go – design them, lay them out, do not glue them, leave for a week, come back and keep looking at them, move around, put pieces in/out, then glue, last stage – once glue, sign name, over – can’t go back and say I wish I put a ball in there.
“Sarah Silverstone has a twin sister,” he says, explaining that he bought two of the metallic faces. “Sarah represented to me the absolute woman, a sexy woman; her sister is so sexy, every time I pass her, I talk to her, ‘Hope you have a nice day.’”
He has the same personal connection with the “Wizard of Odd” and the “Thought Collector”.
The personal connection is manifest in his work, Dorzi/Dorzi, built around a vinyl record, but not just any 1950s 45rpm. His friend made the label to suggest it was made by the Bobby Randall 3 band. You learn that Bobby Randall, he explains was non-ethnic name Rosegarten was going to use when got out of college and was going into advertising. (He was discouraged from changing his name by his grandmother.) There are 3 hands – for the three band members, in a pose as if they are snapping their fingers to the beat.
His grandmother and grandfather appear again in small photographs that are embedded into a series of four “Junk Drawer” works.
Junk Drawers may look like a hodgepodge, but are not random, he says.
“I visualize what junk drawers have,” he says. “Everyone has junk drawers – in bedrooms, kitchens, desk drawer, basement.” He chooses the items that fill the drawers (which he builds) independently, and over time, lays them out and photographs them. “Then I take everything out and glue back the items one by one.”
The Junk Drawer series each has a photograph of grandmother and grandfather at Rockaway Beach.
One of the boxes has a plastic Howdy Doody figure, while another has the Princess character from the show. He says he goes for colors, shapes and looks for holes.
“It’s not nostalgia,” he insists. But as he knows the provenance of every piece – some have personal connection, like the photos of his grandparents and a John Lennon/Imagine photo.
“Every time you look, you see something else.” Or actually, you “find” something new.
But looking at the items, it is hard not to become nostalgic as you find items that spark memories of your own past. The Junk Drawer series and his Americana series are like mini-Smithsonians of American cultural icons of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and so forth.
Rosegarten says he loves making the Junk Drawers and would customize for someone on commission. “I would go to your house and if you didn’t have the elements I wanted, I would ask if I could use some of mine.”
The pieces he chooses are specific – he combs particular shops (he has his favorites for manikins in the Garment District), antique stores, flea markets, garage and barn sales, which “are entertainment in the country and have become an essential part of my new work with found objects. One day I might find a rusted scythe with a broken wooden handle; the next day a box of glass dolls’ eyes or a red View-Master. I put the material in labeled boxes and store them to be rediscovered.
“When I select objects for a new composition, I may sit with them for days, moving them around like pieces on a chessboard until they take shape. Placement and balance are key. I remove pieces; add others, balancing shadows, shapes, textures and color until I know instinctively that the work is completed: the new composition has taken on another dimension, a unity of its own and gained strength and character.”
Rosegarten, who grew up in Great Neck (he graduated high school with movie director Francis Ford Coppola), now lives “in the country” in upstate New York, in a house he built 17 years ago where he has a 30 x 30 ft studio off his bedroom that opens to a deck and pond, and a 2500- sq ft basement work area.
His collected objects are neatly organized in labeled tubs under tables – machine parts, metal parts, extra toys, manikin hands.“Everything has a place, a place for everything.”
Often, he visualizes the entire piece in his head before he starts his assemblage.
“I just finished a piece Thursday. It doesn’t have a name (or does it have a name): The Quick Brown Dog Jumps Over the Lazy Fox. Why? Because part of the visual – a box,with 2 white hands, at the top has the keyboard of a very very small typewriter –a vertical piece, a piece at bottom, a nodule on top hands,. The sense of design is perfect. It was in my head.”
“I never went to art school, except for a month at the Art Students League, Bruce Dorfman, teaching there since early 60s – he said, push the envelope. It’s ok if off-center, if you don’t have anything there and want it to sit there.”
Indeed, it is so ironic considering that most people move to Great Neck from New York City because of the public schools, that his big regret is that when his family was still living in the Bronx, he was accepted into Music & Art, but before he could attend, his family moved to Great Neck.
“I should have gone to Music & Art. I would have had an art background and the chances are I would have gone to Pratt, School of Visual Arts, or Cooper Union.” He said his father was not keen on Rosegarten going into advertising, but had he had an art background, he would have been on the creative side, instead of a “suit.” “I would have been more Don Draper than the account guy.”
He was doing painting until 1990s, then, around 2000, he went to an antique show on 6th Avenue and came upon wooden patterns which were used to make metal parts in the early 1900s. “I bought 20 of them –they were inexpensive – I didn’t know what I would do with them. I washed them off, That’s when I started.“
It fit into his overarching philosophy of reuse, repurpose, renewal – “an ability to use things that have been tossed away and have them come back and serve another purpose – Lost and Found (is what I call it). I’m not interested in what is sold in dollar store but things that have age, patina, character. Snapshot” is built around an antique folded camera and tractor parts.
“I take individual pieces that by themselves are utilitarian and they become a “body” – a personality. Each has its own personality.”
The exhibit also includes Rosegarten’s paintings, which have the look and vibe of Pop. “Just as I have reinvented myself a number of times in the past 30 years, so too has my art undergone a metamorphosis. Over the last ten years, it has moved from post-Pop paintings to a more muscular sculptural medium, where form and design take precedence over color.”
Regina Gil, Founder/Executive Director of the Arts Center, writes in her introduction to the catalog:
“In this latest chapter of his creative life, RJ Rosegarten draws upon the rich fabric of his imagination, strong art and design skills, and solid knowledge of carpentry that lets him execute what he already sees in his mind fully formed. And the results are impressive.
“Here is a man who grew up in a small town, absorbing all the qualities of civics, ethics, and community values that one associates with such an upbringing. He married young, had three sons and led the life of the American Dream. He even went on to work in the advertising world; that fabled Madison Avenue bastion of the creative idea sellers; but not as an artist, as a ‘suit’. So, without knowing it, he was adding to his arsenal of skills by including leadership, salesmanship, and public speaking to his repertoire. But he was fascinated by and engaged with the artists and designers.
“When he left advertising, he became a beloved and respected mayor of that same town, bringing his love of the town and business acumen to the job. He demonstrated that the world of politics and government were new fields on which he could impose his creative eye. As a result, the town grew and he was elected and re-elected time and again.
“It was only when he left the town again, retiring from public life that he began to fully realize his longtime dream of being an artist in his own right. And he is an artist in the fullest sense of the word. Not only are his technical skills the very best; but his thoughts, ideas and vision are on display, inviting the viewer to enter his carefully constructed world; challenging the viewer to understand his point of view, to embrace it or to disagree. A lifetime of thinking and living, of humor and wit, of deep, serious emotion and also of playfulness; the full range of the human experience in a construction of wood and found objects.
“As a longtime friend, I am delighted to see RJ ‘Bob’ Rosegarten come home to Great Neck. Without his friendship and assistance, mentoring another dreamer through the shoals of politics, fundraising, and community engagement, it is doubtful that this Gold Coast Arts Center could have found its home here. It seems fitting that we honor him with this exhibit that introduces the people he served as mayor to the man he is now — the artist.”
“RJ Rosegarten, Lost & Found: The Art of Assemblage” is on view through March 12 at The Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Rd, Great Neck, NY, 516-829-2570 or www.GoldCoastArts.org.