2015-07-01 / Front Page

Au Naturel Is "Revealing" Artwork In Sunnyside

By Thomas Cogan

Au Naturel is a show of 24 artworks that Sunnyside Artists Inc. has mounted on the walls of Salt & Fat, the restaurant at 41-06 Queens Boulevard.  The restaurant’s customers may view the artworks from now until Sunday, July 26.  Salt & Fat is not open Mondays, so the last Monday in June, the night before the opening, was a fine time to present a preview showing to the artists and their friends.  It was also the occasion to present the Luke Adams Award, named after the late executive director of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, to three of the artists whose submissions were judged the best.    

As the name indicates, Au Naturel presents nudity, though in fact only a little more than half the artworks (though all the prizewinners) are definitely, or even suggestively, nudes.  The works hang on the east and west walls of the narrow restaurant and a viewer who begins by looking to the east side will see one such suggestion, Larry Auerbach’s photograph, “Water Drop,” which is just that, a drop of water, but looks like a pendulant female breast.  It’s a fine way to start the show.  A few paintings away is a work by Chip Moeser of a standing woman, nude above the towel she clutches at her waist and wearing a flower in her hair, the appealing title of the scene being “Isa’s Mosaic of Hopes, Dreams and Forgotten Lovers.”  On the opposite wall is a photograph on canvas by Traci Anderson, showing a black woman in a back seat.  She holds a cigarette.  Her right arm is inscribed with tattoos and her left leg is draped over the front seat, while her tank top has been pulled above her large breasts, which she covers with her left arm.  It’s entitled “Carefree.”

Among those works not au naturel are “Rockaway Beach After Hurricane Sandy 2012,” a photo of a wrecked beachfront stairway and a boy with an impassive countenance in front of it; and, despite the title, “Now and Then, Naked Nature,” really a study of wilderness furze, in pastel on Bristol board and created by Betty-Ann Hogan.  Then there’s “Without Defenses,” watercolor and ink on paper by Tricia Healy, which may or may not show a woman in flight, who may or may not be nude.

But when it was time to give out prizes, nudity ruled.  In third place was Bruce Sharpe’s “Sun Bathers,” an oil on canvas painting of a Fire Island-ish scene showing one man face down on a beach towel and another in a canvas chair, nearer the surf.  Second place went to Matt Cauley, whose “Untitled Perfect 8 Magazine Project 2009,” acrylic on canvas, shows a man in full frontal stance.  In first place was Jennifer Frisbee’s “Emily, Resting” and how could it be otherwise?  As anyone viewing this pastel on paper can immediately see, Emily is not only nude but pregnant too, and expressing complete serenity, like another woman said by some to be pregnant, the Mona Lisa.  Emily is an irresistible sight, to both viewers and prize judges.

The prize was named the Luke Adams Award because the former executive director of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, who died in November 2014, fervently believed in Sunnyside as a place for artists.  As a tribute to him, the part of 46th Street (or Bliss Street, as he strongly preferred to call it) between Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue, where the Sunnyside Arch is located, is to be named Luke Adams Way this summer.


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