Out on the 96th Street beach in the Rockaways on Wednesday, over a dozen New York artists donned swim trunks and painted en plein air to benefit Smallwater, a local community building charity established in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in an event organized by the New Art Dealers Alliance along with White Columns, and Scott and Tyson Reeder. Daniel Heidkamp turned in a shimmering portrait of Bridget Finn, co-owner of Cleopatra’s gallery in Greenpoint, lounging on a beach towel; Chuck Webster’s abstract piece, seemingly modeled on the parachute tent that the artists gathered beneath — provided by co-organizers Friends and Family — was adorned with the word “ROCKAWAYS,” written in reverse. Talia Shulze’s canvas featured a red bikini bottom and an anonymous midriff, plus half a breast and a nipple — not modeled on anyone’s anatomy in particular, she said, but rather a sort of “Ur-nipple.”
Ellen Altfest set up a camp a bit further down the beach, beginning a realistic depiction of a few pieces of weathered wood jutting out of the sand. While none of the art got too outré or conceptual, a piece by Jeffrey Tranchell pushed the boundaries a bit: A dazzlingly decorated empty frame ornamented with one of the red safety marker flags dotting the beach.
These works — along with canvases by Tyson and Scott Reeder, who helped organize the group of artists, Gina Beavers, and others — will be auctioned off in mid-September at a to-be-determined Manhattan location. The money will go toward further community programming and events hosted by Smallwater, which from its post-Sandy early initiative to provide food and necessary staples to Rockaways residents has since morphed into a broader DIY institution handling outreach and education.