By Merle Exit
Long Island City locale’s Rainforest Art Foundation held its opening reception last Friday with a focus on seasoned and accomplished artists over the age of 80 who are still producing work in relation to the foundation’s mission.
The exhibit presents art that takes advantage of a wide range of media, offering a broad perspective of both styles and concerns
Three of the artists reside in Queens.
June Chao, 88, of Flushing, tries to show her love of nature in her paintings, which portray sceneries of specific locations. One of her pieces on display, titled “Waterfall,” is set in Taiwan, while another, “Sea of Clouds With Pine Trees,” depicts a very famous mountain in China where the trees grow out from the rocks in the mountains.
Min-Tsu Tseng was born in Taiwan in 1938 before moving to Flushing in 1969. She became what she called a “housewife artist with an intense love of nature.”
Tseng didn’t have to go far for inspiration, as much of the focus of her work is the plants and flowers in her backyard.
“I grow off of my vegetables. In order to appreciate their shapes and colors, I preserve them and assemble them into paintings,” Tseng said. “The early works were given away as gifts to friends and family.”
Two of her pieces on display are “Midnight Forest Leaves” which was made using dry leaves and acrylic on paper; and “Mapa Morning,” which incorporates maple leaves and acrylic on paper.
“I wish people would pay more attention to our environment and make an effort to preserve it, so that later generations can appreciate them as well,” Tseng said.
Marlene Yu is the founder of the Rainforest Art Foundation and her husband, James, is the curator.
“Global warming continues to be our greatest environmental hazard, causing destruction everywhere. I shall depict the energies displayed by nature in all of its forms and colors,” Yu said. “Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and forces of wind and fire are all too visible to ignore. My efforts in the Environmental Green Movement in art only provide a glimpse and appreciation for the awesomeness of the forces of nature.”
Yu, who recently turned 81, had taken six months to complete the 54-foot long, 20-foot high canvas acrylic this year. With a multitude of paintings to choose from in her studio, she opted for two pieces based on their outstanding colors.
“In putting together the exhibit, I took note of what color might be lacking,” said Yu, who selected “Purple Crystal” and Purple Swamp” to be featured in the exhibit. Both projects were completed in 2017.
Born in Taiwan, Jen-Jen Liu said her first love was science and took painting lessons during her working years at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“In our daily lives, art plays and important role. We all need the arts,” Liu said. “Art influences us and can have a huge impact on our moods and emotions. It can even inspire us to do something in a positive way.”
Elizabeth Molnar Rajec, of Bratislava, Slovakia, showcases artwork that captures her extensive travel over the world, including her life in New York City. Her unique collection of photographic art features original kaleidoscopic images that are a one-of-a-kind composition.
“The message from viewing my pictures is to inspire that time goes by very fast and only the clicking of the camera at a given second captures a particular moment in our lives,” said Rajec, who has two pieces of art — “Baobab Tree” and “Tree Trunks” — on display.
Gaby Chien, born in Taiwan in 1938, aims to educate the masses of the effects of global warming through her art. She does so in the exhibit with her piece, “Baby Penguin: Mom, I am hungry.”
“I have to warn about the urgency of global climate change,” Chien said. “The painting represents a call to action against the heavy toll that humankind’s activities have taken on Mother Earth. After Al Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It,” was published in 2016, I was inspired to visit Antarctica. I witnessed calving glaciers where penguins swam searching for food such as krill and squids. As the temperature of oceans increases, they will suffer in hunger and die.”
Guo-Dong Li, a leading contemporary Chinese calligrapher who has exhibited 83 times at the United Nation Headquarters and is a permanent honorary chairmen of the Global Artist League Council, was also featured in the exhibit.
He has two pieces on display — “Long Life” and “Good Fortune,” both completed this year.
The “80 Plus and Going Strong” exhibit will be on display through Nov. 27 at the Rainforest Art Foundation — located at 36-58 37th St.
The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call (917) 682-3630.