Last-Minute Art Getaways: ‘Rockaway!’

Surprises await the art-lover at Fort Tilden this weekend.

Patti Smith and Klaus Biesenbach planning Resilience of the Dreamer. Photo courtesy of MoMA PS1.

So you woke up late on the weekend, and need to get out of the city to see some art, but you haven’t had time to plan. No problem: We’ve done the research for you. Here’s our pick for a great emergency art getaway this week:

What: “Rockaway!,” is a terrific public arts festival centering on Resilience of the Dreamer (see our write-up), an installation by artist, poet, musician and Rockaways native Patti Smith, as well as sculpture by Adrian Villar Rojas and Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet shown (and heard) in a local chapel all at Fort Tilden. After you’ve checked these out, you can head to the Rockaways Beach and Surf Club (a hip restaurant, bar, and event space devoted to the love of surfing) to see a group show with art works by Elizabeth Peyton, Tom Sachs, Laurie Simmons, and Olafur Eliasson, among many others. This art festival, which is presented by the Rockaway Artists Alliance, MoMA PS1, and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, celebrates the reopening of Fort Tilden, after Hurricane Sandy, and is meant to signal the recovery of the Rockaway Peninsula.

When: The weekend hours at Fort Tilden are 12 – 6 pm. At the Rockaways Beach and Surf Club from 11am – midnight. Through September 1, 2014 (Janet Cardiff’s installation closes August 17).


“Rockaway!” installation view at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Photo: Rozalia Jovanovic

Where: Fort Tilden and The Rockaway Beach Surf Club

Why: Because, though you want to go the beach, you also want to do something culturally and intellectually stimulating. In this case, you’ll also be supporting the rehabilitation of the Rockaways. Situated around the dunes and in various buildings, the installations here make for a great beachy treasure hunt of sorts. Grab a map (provided on site) and check out Smith’s site-specific exhibition “Resilience of the Dreamer,” which works well with the raw mystery of Fort Tilden (a former US Army installation). There are several parts to Smith’s presentation, including a gold four-poster bed left open to the elements in an incredible abandoned military repair shop. Another building houses Smith’s black-and-white photographs, and the Walt Whitman Reading Room is the artist’s homage to the work of the poet. Janet Cardiff’s installation The Forty Part Motet (on loan from MoMA) gets a suitably poignant host in Fort Tilden’s military chapel, which was damaged during Sandy but is getting renovated. Adrian Villar Rojas takes the nest of the Argentine national bird, the hornero, as his starting point and has made various sculptural objects that resemble it around the structures of Fort Tilden. You may need to engage one of the friendly volunteers to help point one of them out but once you see them, you’ll have fun hunting them down.


Installation view of “Rockaway!” at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club.

The group show at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a relaxed presentation that doesn’t distract from the goings on at the bar, or the beach-bummy vibe of the Rockaways, but works with it. Along with the surfboards hung from the wall you’ll see a transformed tide chart by Tom Sachs, an Abercrombie & Fitch “shopping bag” by Stewart Uoo made of aluminum and human hair, and the bathroom doors covered with bright funky wallpaper made from a drawing by Caitlin Keogh. Grab a Shrimp Po-Boy, some Grilled Watermelon or a Vegan Lobster Roll. You may run into MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach with one of his celebrity friends in tow.

Perks: The friendly and knowledgeable local volunteers on hand give this show a surprising personal touch, and you may just get a story or two or some extra details about the work in question, particularly Patti Smith’s, and how it relates to the Rockaways. If you’re driving, you can pick up a free parking pass to Fort Tilden at the military chapel (where Janet Cardiff’s installation is housed). And given the haunted quality of Fort Tilden, and the weather-proof conviviality of the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, this is an outing that works rain or shine.

How: Rockaway Beach Surf Club: 302 Beach 87th Street. Take the A train to Far Rockaway and change at Broad Channel and take the Shuttle (S) to Beach 90th. There’s also the $6 Bushwick Beach Bus to 86th Street, and Fort Tilden (169 State Rd). You can also take the ferry, running regularly from Friday to Sunday, from Pier 11 at Wall Street and the East River to Jacob Riis Park. If by car, it’s about 40 minutes from the city. GPS it!

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