Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Alliance Embraces Bay Ridge Arts and Culture Gentile Puts Brooklyn Spotlight on Community
by Harold Egeln (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 04-18-2011

By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BAY RIDGE — This community, 45 minutes from Broadway and 20 minutes from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is thriving with theatrical, musical and dance performances as well as art exhibits.

And now this growing cultural landscape is in the spotlight with the launch of a new alliance.

“Bay Ridge is home to some of the best arts and cultural happenings in Brooklyn. From theater and opera companies to historical societies and musical choirs, we got it all!” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Southwest Brooklyn) at the launch of the Bay Ridge Arts + Cultural Alliance. “Brooklyn’s cultural scene does not stop below Park Slope.

“The number and diversity of events happening here on any given weekend is impressive,” added Gentile, referring to an events calendar distributed at the launch held at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. “Welcome to a really big show!”

Official borough recognition of Bay Ridge’s cultural institutions came when Georgine Benvenuto’s Gallery 364 on 72nd Street was included on the SmArt Brooklyn Gallery Hop bus tour for the first time in November 2009. Borough President Marty Markowitz and Brooklyn Tourism sponsored the borough-wide tour.

Further recognition of the community as an arts and cultural magnet came this past fall when the 60-year-old Bay Ridge Community Council formed its first arts and cultural committee under the leadership of the late Tom Kane of Brooklyn One Theater and the Narrows Community Theater.

The alliance’s official launch included performances by a Regina Opera singer and two teens from Young Dancers in Repertory. It sprang from conversations that Councilman Gentile had with Victoria Hofmo, founder of the East Coast Scandinavian Museum.

Around the large room at Good Shepherd were tables representing each aspect of the alliance, such as the Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts with President Chandra Hira and the Narrows Botanical Gardens with landscape artist Jimmy Johnson. The garden hosts art, music and movies.

“The alliance will seek to increase partnerships between arts and cultural organizations and local businesses as well as greater cooperation and cross-promotion within the Bay Ridge arts and cultural scene,” explained Gentile.

City Representative Welcomes ‘Amazing Alliance’

“This alliance is an amazing event, feat and accomplishment for your community,” said Chief of Staff Katie Dixon of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Among those in attendance were representatives from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Alliance of Community Theaters of New York.

The mission statement of the alliance includes promoting Bay Ridge’s arts and cultural diversity with funding and advocacy organizations, pooled events and local business partnerships, and finding new audiences, and shared spaces for arts and cultural groups that have no permanent spaces.

Alliance member groups include the Bay Ridge Festival of the Arts, Narrows Community Theater, Art at the Corner, Ridge Repertory Company, Narrow Botanical Gardens, Scandinavian East Coast Museum, Young Dancers in Repertory, Harbor Defense Museum, Bay Ridge Historical Society, The Art Room, the Children’s Chorus of Bay Ridge and many others.

‘Food’ Exhibit Shown At Bay Ridge’s Gallery 364
by Harold Egeln (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 03-28-2011

By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BAY RIDGE — “Food, glorious food!” could be the theme song for Gallery 364’s latest art show.

The artistic serving of food-themed paintings, mixed-media artwork, photographs and sculptures was the idea of gallery owner and founder Georgine Benvenuto. “We believe in giving just one or a few key words to our artists and then see what they come up with in terms of visual artwork,” she said of the exhibit “Food.” “It challenges their imaginations and selections, and delights our visitors and buyers,” she said.

One of the newest artists to exhibit at the gallery is Charles Johnson, whose large and heavy gray sculpted stone artworks, such as “Quince,” “Walnut” and “Coconut,” have dazzled viewers. “He’s the latest addition, and his work is wonderful. He even made and supplied the pedestals upon which his carved stone-works are set,” noted Benvenuto.

Housed in Benvenuto’s historic 100-year-old limestone house on 72nd Street, the first-floor gallery and art studio has made a splash in Bay Ridge’s cultural scene since it opened four years ago.

“Food” at Gallery 364 not only exhibits the artwork but also sells it, and buyers have a variety of choices at both affordable and higher prices.

The opening-night festivities included an awards show. Best in Show winners included Johnson’s aforementioned “Quince” and Dave Foss’ large digital color photo titled “Uninvited Guest at the Luncheon of the Boating Party” — an enthralling impressionist scene of a nude female in front of a large, famous Renoir reproduction.

There were honorable mentions who received gift certificates. Dolores Valenza, a frequent exhibitor, got the nod for her mixed-media “Marzapan” while photographer Larry Nicosia, on board since the gallery’s earliest shows, was chosen for his large “Sliced Pears” digital photo. A third honorable mentioned went to John Avelluto’s huge mixed-media pizza pie, titled “J loves M.”

Real food was provided by Pierre of Circles Bay Ridge, with chocolate delights from Dove Chocolates.

Judges for the art competition were watercolorist Doug Opalski and Brooklyn College photography Professor Doug Schwab. Coldwell Banker and Mary Kae Higgins were the sponsors, and raffle prizes were donated by The Green Spa and Wellness Center, The Bookmark Shoppe and Dove Chocolates. “Food” is on exhibit through April 21 and can be seen by appointment. For more information, phone (917) 767-3848 or log onto www.gallery364.com.

Bay Ridge Eagle
‘Love Is …’ Valentine Art Show Celebrates Young Artists
by Harold Egeln (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 02-17-2011

By Harold Egeln
Bay Ridge Eagle

Love is… celebrating Valentine’s Day and showcasing the budding talents of young artists with the “Love is …” theme at Gallery 364, the exhibit space for The Art Room’s first show at Bay Ridge’s premier fine arts gallery and studio.

Enjoying an exhibit timed for Valentine’s Day, Gallery 364, in a historic limestone house at 364 72nd St., hosted the fabulous and fascinating “Love Is …” children’s art show staged by The Art Room, a fine arts learning space for children located at 8710 Third Ave.

“The children whose art is being exhibited range from age 3 to 12. They are natural artists, a talent I hope they never lose. They and their artwork inspire me!” Leigh Holliday, founder and owner of The Art Room, said at the exhibit.

Her business opened last summer to much excitement and celebration by the community, with civic and government leaders applauding the new venture. Skills learned at The Art Room help children exercise their imaginations, encourage playful spontaneity, build self-expression and confidence, and teach them fine arts fundamentals of drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media.

“What a wonderful, amazing thrill to see this exhibit,” photographer Georgine Benvenuto, Gallery 364 founder and owner, said. Benvenuto re-shaped her first floor for the gallery and studio, which has hosted theme shows for nearly four years.

The gallery was packed with the happy young artists and their proud relatives, as well as curious visitors such as Community Board 10 Chairperson Joanne Seminara and photographers Dave Foss and Larry Nicosia.

Among the many artworks that filled the gallery’s walls and tables were the “Love Is a Rose That Never Dies” watercolor painting by Maria Lopardo, “Love Is Music” by Georgia Soumakis, and “Love is Like a Snowstorm” by Steven Fadel.

The paintings and clay sculptures included “Love Is ...” various things, including my dog, ice cream, pizza, books, my family, my animals and sunshine. On one table was a sculpture by Scarlett Pappalardo of an air-dry putty clay artist with a color pallet standing in front of an easel.

Gallery 364’s next theme show is “Food” with an opening reception scheduled for Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m.