Thanks to group effort, the art show goes on


Alvin Shatkin’s art has taken him all the way to Italy, but home is where he hangs his art. And that’s right in Riverdale. 

The 76-year-old began seriously studying sculpture after he retired in 1983. He spent several summers working under famed sculptor Nathaniel Kaz in Pietrasanta, an Italian town known for its marble. He picked up drawing, photography and graphic design along the way, and taught a charcoal course at Riverdale Senior Services. 

RSS is where he exclusively displays his work, during the annual Vintage Art Show there.

“This is the only show I participate in because I’m a member here and I volunteer here,” he said, noting that he helped set up the Senior Services’ computer lab years ago and continues help out there.

His soft, pink and purple watercolor of a cemetery monument, his charcoal rendering of a cowboy and his clay planter of a man’s head are displayed alongside approximately 215 other pieces in the 34th annual Vintage Art Show. About 90 artists from across the borough submitted work.

The walls of the Riverdale Seniors Services were covered from floor-to-ceiling with photographs, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings and drawings. 

Styles ranged from abstract pieces, including bright beads sewn onto canvas, to classical — with the exhibit showing multiple renditions of “Madonna and Child.” A bright print of an orange and yellow fish hung near a watercolor of a mosque. A bronze koala bear clutching a heart sat among dozens of sculptures. Photographs captured serene floral landscapes and a woman poised with a bowl of fruit atop her head.

Three years ago, Riverdale Seniors Services stopped receiving funding from the Bronx Council on the Arts, which previously used to finance the show. However, Executive Director Julia Schwartz-Leeper said the organization has been shifting funding to ensure the show, which means so much to the community, goes on. This year, Kittay House, Methodist Home for Nursing and Rehabilitation and HealthOutreach program at the Allen Pavilion pitched in to help pay.

“To see people do what you do, yeah, it’s encouraging,” said Dorothy Wildhagen, a Kingsbridge artist, showing several bright watercolors. “We have the opportunity to meet artists from all across the Bronx.”

The work was a welcome sight for Senior Service visitors as well. Ida Rosenblatt, who regularly signs up for the organization’s monthly art museum visits, said it was nice to have art come to her for a change. 

“They’re very good, very talented,” she said.

The 34th Annual Vintage Art Show will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through June 14. Visitors are asked to call 718-884-5900 before stopping by.