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Fort Tilden Celebrates Reopening in Rockaways with Arts Festival

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A park in the Rockaways that was once an army base is celebrating its comeback after Hurricane Sandy, showing art work from some well-known names. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

From the top of Battery Harris at Fort Tilden, the Manhattan skyline seems close enough to touch, but remote enough to avoid all the hustle and bustle.

"There's phenomenal natural environment around here," says Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian.

Fort Tilden Beach was closed last summer because of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. It recently reopened, and a free public arts festival simply called "Rockaway!" helps celebrates that.

"It's been a really powerful way, through art—really place based art—to really connect the public with what we offer here," Nersesian says.

The National Park Service is hosting the installation, which partners the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, MoMa PS1 and the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

It was conceived by MoMa PS 1 director and Rockaway resident Klaus Biesenbach in collaboration with artist Patti Smith, who performed at Sunday's opener. She has a home in the Rockaways.

It features her work called "Resilience of the Dreamer," which includes a bed inside a former locomotive repair shop.

"It has beautiful white linens on it and you can this beautiful white kind of falling, cascading fabric that really lends it its dream-like quality," says Rockaway Artists Alliance Director Christine Mullally.

There are also a collection of Smith's photos, plus five granite stones engraved with the poetry of Walt Whitman. Inside a chapel, a musical piece gives each member of a choir its own speaker.

Christine Mullally says she hopes visitors will see the beauty of the Rockaways, but the art is also for many who are still trying to bounce back from Sandy.

"I really am hoping that everyone in the Rockaway community—which is a large peninsula of thousands of people—that everybody comes and takes this opportunity to see some international artwork," Mullally says.

You can check out the exhibits Thursday through Sunday from noon till 6 p.m.

For more information, check out momaps1.org/rockaway1, or nps.gov/gate.

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