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A Rebirth of Wonder

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

In week two of ART YARD Summer Session 2022 we worked with Teaching Artist Marie Roberts to create to large-scale acrylic murals on canvas.

We began with a comparative study master works including frescos from Pompei, Georges Seurat, Diego Rivera and Marie’s own banner paintings among others. (shown in that order below)

I also shared my work to be included in the Coney Island themed exhibition coming up at BWAC. Then I read I am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, included in A Coney Island of the Mind.

Meridith McNeal, Magical Things from My Mother's House A Coney Island of the Mind, 2017, watercolor on paper, 12x12"

Working in groups switching off tasks, Marilyn August, Evelyn Beliveau, Zeke Brokaw, Sigrid Dolan, Sarah Gumgumji, Robin Grant, August Levenson, Delphine Levenson, Meridith McNeal, Eden Moore, Elizabeth Morales, and Marie Roberts gessoed canvases, made design choices, drew out our designs, mixed colors, and painted.

Artists opted to work on tasks they were well suited for such as Evelyn drawing out the large banner to large scale, Jacob precision painting line work, Eden working in tandem on lettering, Zeke and Marylin steadily painting taking up new areas whenever necessary.

When not mural painting, artists created individual pieces inspired by lines from I Am Waiting also on view.

Elizabeth created a deeply moving piece in which she relates lines of the poem to recent gun violence in schools.

Elizabeth Moralez, I am Waiting

Sigrid creating two mysterious symbolic paintings incorporating text in such a way as to make Marie compare her work to the Book of Kels. Marie used a warm walnut colored ink for her observational landscapes. I like the dialogue between Marie’s and Zeke’s landscapes. Zeke with a more colorful approach. Delphine employed excellent graphic design with a bubbled circular motif surrounding her letters as well as some excellent watercolor work. Robin references Mark Rothko’s abstract expressionist paintings in her colorful abstractions. (images to follow next week, when I remember to take photos!)

Marie opines: “It was fascinating to see how the ART YARD Summer Session participants transformed the source material - historical and my own banner work, into something totally reflective of a different formal point of view. For me, the joy of working with this group is how each participant brings individuality into a team project.”

Jacob and Evelyn sketch in the mural design.

We are thrilled that our mural A Rebirth Of Wonder, a directional banner and individual paintings inspired by the Ferlinghetti poem are included in More Art of Coney Island curated by BWAC co-president Alicia Degener opening at BWAC on Saturday July 30, 1-6pm. The opening is free and open to the public. We hope you will join us!

In a third area of focus, participants interested in developing a lesson worked with Dennis Buonagura to conceive of a lesson concept, hone a written plan, develop work samples and ultimately teach a class during Summer Session. We also had discussions about the importance of strong communication skills—voice projection, enunciating and eye contact.

This week Jacob Rath took the plunge with great results!

Jacob summarizes: “I taught a lesson inspired by the driftwood collages made by George Morrison. I began the class by insisting that we do not use the words "nature" or "natural," and instead think about things as being "human-made," "other life form made," or "inanimate element made." I briefly discussed George Morrison's life, and showed examples of his driftwood collages. Some of his works were collages made from salvaged pieces of wood from Lake Superior, another piece of his was made by rubbing charcoal on paper over wood pieces to capture texture. Participants were instructed to create an art piece that included textures shaped by either a non-human life form or inanimate element (such as wind, oxygen, water, or sunlight).

Teaching Artist Jacob Rath wins Best Dressed for ART YARD Summer Session 2022

Students took this assignment in many different directions. Elizabeth made a drawing combining several different wood and stone textures from the room. Marilyn made a collage similar to Morrisons using fragments of rubbings from wooden floor boards and posts. August took inspiration from our discussion, and made a drawing of the different particles found in the air. Sigrid's piece combined textural rubbing with observational drawing. Most of the artworks emphasized textures. Many were done entirely with charcoal, and many of the artists that used color used it in a subtle way.”

Art work by (left to right, top to bottom): Marie Roberts, Elizabeth Morales, Delphine Levenson, Marilyn August, Sigrid Dolan, August Levenson, Jacob Rath, Marie Roberts and Zeke Brokaw.

Another astounding achievement of the week, is thanks to Delphine, who took on the organization, and cleaning of the supply closet.

Trophy goes to Delphine for BEST ORGANIZER!!

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆


By Marilyn August



July 18, 2022 3.6 miles

Red Hook and new adventures!

Finding my way to the ART YARD studio at BWAC was a little less complicated than last week, even though it was totally new territory. I was delighted to meet Sigrid on the bus and it was nice to have company for the walk to BWAC from the bus stop.

Our space in this Civil War-era building on a pier facing out to the Statue of Liberty is huge! The thick walls are built of old, irregular stones; and the floor consists of wide, well-worn, wooden planks, with high ceilings. The room is furnished with a stage, a grand piano, large, overstuffed sofas around the perimeter, with windows that face the water. The weather is hot, hot and humid--there’s no air conditioning, but fans and sea breezes keep it ventilated.

Marie shares her power point presentation of master artists

Today we tacked up canvas rear of the stage where our mural would hang to assess the size and scale of the mural. The vote was unanimous to add an additional panel to expand our surface horizontally. We moved the canvas to covered tables and Marie Roberts supervised the application of gesso, which is a white paint mixture used as a primer on canvas to coat and seal the fibers before application of paint for the mural.

Robin in animated discussion, August, Delphine and Sarah on the stage

We were also challenged with making a piece of art based on lines from a poem read by Meridith, “I Am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from his collection of poetry in A Coney Island of the Mind. These pieces will complement the Coney Island theme of the larger show at BWAC and will be included in the exhibition. I selected a line and started working on a concept for my project.

I Am Waiting

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up

and I am waiting

for a rebirth of wonder

and I am waiting for someone

to really discover America

and wail

and I am waiting

for the discovery

of a new symbolic western frontier

and I am waiting

for the American Eagle

to really spread its wings

and straighten up and fly right

and I am waiting

for the Age of Anxiety

to drop dead

and I am waiting

for the war to be fought

which will make the world safe

for anarchy

and I am waiting

for the final withering away

of all governments

and I am perpetually awaiting

a rebirth of wonder

As I transferred from bus to subway on my way home I found myself front of It is my favorite market – Trader Joe’s! This TJ’s in a former bank is really beautiful. With 4x the checkers as my usual store in San Jose, check out was a breeze.

Trader Joe's in in Downtown Brooklyn

At home, Gigi, my feline roommate, greeted me with hungry noises, and I obliged by preparing her dinner—and then mine.


Day 2

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 2.6 miles

Today was an even easier commute, as I’m beginning to recognize some of the landmarks along the bus route. Zeke also arrived at the bus stop, and we rode together to BWAC.

Meridith treated us to a big bowl of delicious “gourmet” popcorn. It was a big hit, along with donuts from Marie. Another hot day.

Meridith's morning popcorn preparation.

Prior to my arrival, Meridith and Marie had put up brown paper around the canvas which was already mounted on the wall, and Marie and August (who is our Program Assistant as a work study job this summer through his High School) had gessoed a smaller panel to enlarge the main mural.

When “critical mass” was present, Meridith discussed the concept of taking a sketch, a small representation of what the mural is to be, and scaling it up to a very large size. Evelyn took on that responsibility and very quickly sketched in with paint the outlines of the image Marie had designed. It consists of a sun at the bottom right corner of the canvas with rays emanating diagonally across to the left. The words A Rebirth of Wonder are painted over the rays and the entire expanse. A border of waves at the bottom and cloud-like forms on top and sides frame the canvas. The inspiration comes from a line in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem I Am Waiting from his poetry collection, A Coney Island of the Mind.

Everyone who wanted to paint had the opportunity to pitch in and paint in the sketched areas with guidance from Evelyn.

Meanwhile, Marie painted the outlines for a smaller banner which will direct visitors to the exhibition. It consists of a fist with a finger pointing in the direction of the gallery entrance. Zeke and I painted the orange border and the yellow ground around the hand. Marie painted the purple hand and black outline of the fingers while I painted the green sleeve and red lines setting the plaid design.

It was amazing seeing the blank canvases gradually filled in and then suddenly vibrant with color.

August, Jacob, Evelyn and Zeke at work. Mural shapes up!

Since my father had studied art with Marie over many years, it is very special for me to have the opportunity to work on the mural with Marie. I loved painting and watching how quickly our mural came alive. I was impressed with the teamwork and enjoyed being part of the larger effort.

Dennis, Sarah, Robin and Marylin outside our studio at BWAC

After class, Meridith, Jacob, and I traveled together to Dumbo to rendezvous with Ed Rath for dinner. We had a bus ride and a good walk to Ed’s loft not far from the water. After a delicious bowl of watermelon and a glass of wine at home, we walked to “Superfine”, a lively, popular restaurant nearby where Ed had a show last year. The dinner was delicious, and