Not only did Rockaway just get an ice-cream sandwich stand, but this weekend it got an art gallery on the strip where Sayra’s, Uma’s, and The Rock all opened in the past year.
Topless, which opened Saturday on the corner of Rockaway Beach Blvd. and Beach 90th Street, takes its name not just from the scenery at Fort Tilden, but also from what co-founder Jenni Crain (previously manager at Y Gallery on the Lower East Side) describes as a desire to eschew crass commercialism in favor of “expanding our community in a lateral, horizontal growth.”
“We’re really interested not [just] in reviving the community,” says Crain, speaking for her partner and fellow artist Brent Birnbaum, who lives in Rockaway, “but bringing more attention to it and bringing artists together who wouldn’t normally be working together.” Indeed, they’ve already made friends with Patrick Clark, a stained-glass artist who founded the Rockaway Artists Alliance back in 1994 and now keeps a studio next door (he’s currently working on a stained-glass window for the St. Francis De Sales Church that depicts the boardwalk, the Twin Towers, and the Freedom Tower, among other things).
On the walls of Topless you can still see a watermark from when Sandy flooded out the former tenant (an eye doctor), and you can also expect to see works by a mix of emerging artists and “younger artists and artists who almost never show.” The inaugural show, “The Party’s Over,” features a trio of Brooklyn artists: there are paintings by the prolific Andy Cross, foam forms by Yale painting major Caroline Wells Chandler, and video art by a recent RISD grad, Cindy Ji Hye Kim. Exhibits will rotate every three weeks throughout the summer, and the gallery’s plans are TBD past that.
Topless, 90-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd., at Beach 90th St., Rockaway Beach; open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.