Last Chance: A Kaleidoscope Of Color On Roosevelt Island
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Last Chance: A Kaleidoscope Of Color On Roosevelt Island

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

Painted glass panels with splashes of vivid color in the Main Street windows of the RIVAA Gallery hint at the treasures inside.

Arline Jacoby’s exhibition, “Color Outside the Line,” features oil paintings, acrylics, collage, sculpture, monoprints, tile work, and a slideshow of photographs of moments of color – the view of Manhattan from her window, a tangle of seaweed and other plants, a rainbow and more. Hanging strips of brightly painted canvas in a corner of the space – where visitor tend to congregate — create what feels to the artist like a chuppah, or wedding canopy.

The 90-year old artist has been creating art for all of her life, and she continues to experiment with technique and materials. The work is layered with meaning and light, and many pieces inspire the viewer to look carefully from different vantage points. While there are some portraits and landscapes, many are non-figurative, with imaginative flourishes.

In an artist’s statement, she says, “For me, the spinning of the color wheel reveals unlimited possibilities. I am intrigued by color as its own form and meaning, as the content and the context.”

Her quartet of studies, “Primary Colors,” is delicately painted on handmade Japanese boards. For “Strong Man” and “Strong Man 2,” she uses strips of translucent paper and found objects to create an evocative and beautiful portrait, in profile. With its blocks of color, her “Sunset” is radiant with light.

“I’m always thinking about making art,” says Jacoby, who has taught art at high schools on Long Island and at Queens College, Hofstra and St. John’s University as well as, more recently, at Cancer Care. She now teaches a weekly class at the senior center on Roosevelt Island.

Sometimes, she pours color onto surfaces, as in her large “Color Burst,” but there’s nothing haphazard about the work – she has a strong sense of composition. She notes, “I’m conscious of where I want the eye to go.”

Most of the work was done over the last several years, but some pieces go back decades, including a 1959 portrait of the artist’s three children. She spent part of the last two winters in Laguna Beach Village in California, where she did many of the paintings.

The artist grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from the Tyler School of Art. She raised her family in Wantagh, Long Island and moved to Roosevelt Island in 1987; she works in a studio near the gallery. Jacoby was instrumental in founding the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) and establishing the gallery.

Most of the work is for sale, with prices ranging from $400 to $2500, although Jacoby admits that there are some pieces she can’t part with.

“It’s very pleasing to me that people come back to see the show again. They get energized.”

Exit the gallery and the free red bus that stops just outside – that transports visitors and residents of Roosevelt Island to and from the tram and subways — seems even more vivid.

The RIVAA Gallery, 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, closing on Sunday, May 17th. The Roosevelt Island Hebrew Congregation is hosting an Oneg in the Gallery on Friday, May 15th at 9 pm. Gallery hours are Friday, 6 to 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11 to 5 pm.

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