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'Kicking up the Dust'

By Melissa Arnold

Ask Sally Anne Keller what she loves most about painting with watercolors, and she’ll give an interesting response: She says it’s like painting backward.

“There’s no white paint in watercolor, so if you want to have a white cloud in your piece, for example, you have to paint around the area you want it to go. It’s a little tricky, and I enjoy that,” said Keller, 53, of Rocky Point.

The artist fell in love with painting when she was just a little girl, and since then her work has appeared in galleries, libraries, hotels and local businesses. Her next event is a solo exhibit entitled Atmospheric Watercolors, appearing at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham for the month of December.

“I grew up with a single mom and she worked a lot, and I was always doodling or painting something. Then one day when I was in elementary school, we had an art class about watercolors. That was it for me,” she recalled.

‘Path to Beach’

Aside from public school art classes, Keller is entirely self-taught, gathering much of her painting expertise from poring over books. Her family was supportive, she said, and pushed her to create and share whatever she could.

Ultimately, Keller began a career in the insurance industry, working jobs in various parts of the field for 30 years. On the weekends, she works as a consultant at an art gallery. And of course, whenever she can steal a few moments to herself, she’s painting in her home studio.

“You can be your own worst critic, and to hear other people say that they enjoy your work feels really good,” Keller said about the exhibition process. Her first exhibit a decade ago in Southampton brought her out of a solitary hobby and into the local art scene.

She’s now a part of the North Shore Art Guild and loves selling her work at affordable prices to raise money for causes close to her heart. Even the infamous radio host Howard Stern has purchased one of Keller’s paintings — at the time, he shared that he enjoyed painting with watercolors himself.

“I love getting people together, especially when it can help other people at the same time,” she said. “I’ve donated to veterans’ causes, animal rescues, and children’s hospitals in the past.”

With Atmospheric Watercolors, Keller has selected about a dozen watercolor paintings of varied sizes that depict Long Island landscapes. What makes her work special, she said, is the way she tries to pull viewers into the scene.

“I’m really into nature — I see shapes, shadows, and colors in ways that most people overlook. I like to create pieces that make you feel what you see. If it’s a sunny day, then I want you to be able to feel the warmth. If it’s a storm, you might feel the heaviness of the clouds coming in or smell the rain,” Keller said. “If people can experience that by looking at my work, then it makes me happy.”

Currently, the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, located at 3131 Nesconset Hwy. in Centereach, is featuring a collection of works from the North Shore Art Guild. The exhibit includes several of Keller’s paintings. All the artwork on display is for sale, and proceeds from sales of those pieces will benefit Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. 

Vito Marrone, incoming president of the North Shore Art Guild, met the watercolor artist when he first joined the organization in 2011. At the time, Keller was participating in a mixed exhibit of more than 50 artists. Marrone recalls Keller’s work catching his eye right away.

 “We have some really great artists that are part of the North Shore Art Guild, and Sally is one of them. I’ve had the chance to take classes with her and she’s so good at what she does,” he said. “Watercolor is difficult, and she’s taught me a lot about how to engineer a watercolor and maintain control of the paint so that the finished piece comes out well.”

Keller’s work has been featured in several exhibits at the North Shore Public Library, and Adult Program Coordinator Lorena Doherty said they’re excited to welcome her back again.

“Sally is a skilled watercolor artist. Her work is direct, and luscious in the use of color and light,” Doherty said. “Sally has a way of isolating the beauty of nature and creating the feeling of standing inside the work, not just on the outside looking in. Atmospheric artwork is timeless and enduring, and the exhibit is a beautiful addition to the library.”

For those interested in meeting Keller and learning more about working with watercolor, she will host a demonstration at the library on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. All are welcome and the event is free.

North Shore Public Library, 250 Route 25A, Shoreham will present Atmospheric Watercolors throughout the month of December. For library hours and more information, please call 631-929-4488. 

By Melissa Arnold

In 1867, August Heckscher left his native Germany and, like so many others of that time, embarked on a journey to start a new life of prosperity in the United States. He immediately set to work mining coal for his cousin’s business, all the while studying English. Heckscher’s efforts led him to a lucrative career in iron and zinc mining, and he ultimately became a multimillionaire.

Heckscher was well-known for his philanthropy, and in 1920, he gave back to the town of Huntington with the establishment of Heckscher Park. The beautiful setting of the park became home to the Heckscher Museum of Art, which was founded with a gift of 185 works from Heckscher’s personal collection including art from the Renaissance, the Hudson River School and early modernist American art.

The museum has since weathered the Great Depression, eras of war and peace and changing artistic tastes in the community. That early collection has blossomed to include more than 2,000 pieces that include many styles, media and historical time periods from artists all over the world.

Today, the Heckscher Museum of Art is looking ahead to 2020 and honoring its home with a museum-wide exhibit entitled Locally Sourced: Celebrating Long Island Artists.

At the helm for this exhibit is the Heckscher Museum’s new curator, Karli Wurzelbacher, who joined the staff in August. Wurzelbacher studied art history in college and spent the better part of a decade in and around Manhattan before coming out to Long Island.

“We wanted to take a broad view of all the artists who have visited and worked on Long Island at some point in their lifetime,” she said. “In this exhibit, we’ve represented more than 130 years of art in all styles, from very abstract to very representational. It’s about all the different perspectives that Long Island has inspired. I think everyone here has been looking forward to our 100th anniversary and wanting to commemorate it in a special way. The museum has always been so supportive of artists who have lived and worked here, and it’s part of our mission to preserve and share the history of Long Island through art.”

The process of planning Locally Sourced was already underway when Wurzelbacher arrived on Long Island. She acknowledged that an exhibit that encompasses the whole museum was quite the undertaking, but it allowed her to dive deep into the Heckscher’s permanent collection.

“Curating gives the opportunity to tell stories and create narratives visually using objects, and to help people make connections between artists,” said Wurzelbacher. “Some of the artists in this exhibit were teachers or students to other [artists], and you can see that in their work.”

The exhibit is divided into four sections, each offering a unique view of Long Island. They include Huntington’s Own featuring the works of renowned painters George Grosz, Arthur Dove, Stan Brodsky, Mary Callery and many more who live or lived and worked around Huntington; East End Exchanges which explores the connections and influences of artists of the East End, including Fairfield Porter and Jane Wilson; Women Artists which features the work of female artists who have made a profound impact on their field, such as Miriam Schapiro, Betty Parsons and Esphyr Slobodkina with a nod to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing women the right to vote; and Landscapes that trace the changes in environment and in art throughout the Island’s history. This gallery includes 19th-century images from Thomas Moran, to modern works by Ty Stroudsburg who interpret Long Island’s land, sea and air.

The exhibit includes work in a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture and mixed projects. In all, more than 100 pieces represent the work of 89 artists — just a fraction of the museum’s permanent collection, Wurzelbacher said.

Visitors to the museum will have a chance to weigh in on the places and things that they believe make Long Island special. Stop by and leave a pin on the 15-foot graphic of Long Island in the Huntington exhibit. The graphic will also show where the exhibit’s artists lived.

“Artists have been escaping the city to come out to the country and take part in the natural life here from very early on. To see the rugged terrain and vegetation of the North Shore, it’s easy to understand why artists would be drawn here,” said Michael Schantz, the museum’s president and CEO. “Ultimately this collection belongs to the community, and everyone should be proud that there are so many artists that have called Long Island home. We want to celebrate that.”

The Heckscher Museum, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington will present Locally Sourced: Celebrating Long Island Artists from Nov. 23 through March 15, 2020. The museum is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission discounts are available for children, students, members of the military, first responders and residents of the Town of Huntington. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

By Melissa Arnold

Brittany Schiavone has a long list of things she loves to do, including acting, singing, dancing and riding horses. But these days, her biggest passion is giving back to others.

Schiavone, 30, is among more than 400,000 people in the United States living with Down syndrome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome can lead to learning, muscular, cardiac and digestive problems, to name a few.

Today, one in every 600 babies in America is born with Down syndrome. Since 2016, Brittany has sent care packages to families around the country that welcome babies with Down syndrome to let them know they’re not alone. Her organization, Brittany’s Baskets of Hope (BBOH), has delivered more than 800 baskets to families in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

Brittany’s mother, Sue Schiavone, remembers struggling firsthand with the reality of Brittany’s diagnosis and uncertain future.

“Everything about my pregnancy and delivery with Brittany was typical,” said Sue, who lives in Huntington and also has an older son. “At the time, screening for Down’s wasn’t as advanced as it is today, so I didn’t have a diagnosis for Brittany prior to her birth. I knew something was wrong right away — she was adorable, but very floppy.”

Sue added that while she worked as a special education teacher, she had limited experience with Down syndrome at the time. “We learned pretty quickly that Brittany had Down’s, and it put us on a totally different road. I want to say we weren’t devastated, but we were. We took some time to come to terms with it, but ultimately we rallied and worked to help Brittany be the best person she could be.”

The Schiavone family became a part of the broad-reaching but tight-knit Down syndrome community, where Brittany was connected to early intervention therapies and other resources. As time went on, she blossomed into an outgoing, bright and happy girl who loved performing. Later on, as part of her own self-directed care program, Brittany went to work part-time at a clothing boutique. She liked the job, she said, but would soon be inspired to try something new.

“I was on a break at my job and I watched a video about people helping babies with Down’s. I wanted to do that,” Brittany said.

At home, Sue said Brittany became insistent about doing something to help families like theirs. “She just wouldn’t let the idea go.”

In 2014, Brittany founded BBOH as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. With help from talented family and friends, legal paperwork was filed and social media websites took shape — all with Brittany calling the shots.

Each care package is either personally delivered or mailed by Brittany and contains a hand-crocheted baby blanket, a Down Right Perfect onesie, some pampering products for new parents, Brittany’s story in her own words and educational material about Down syndrome.

 BBOH has exploded in popularity recently, primarily through word of mouth. Thanks to a nomination from family friend and BBOH team member Ashley Asti, Brittany was selected as one of 10 finalists in the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth national competition. The internationally known makeup company, L’Oreal Paris, began the Women of Worth event to honor those who go above and beyond, selflessly volunteering their time to empower others. 

Asti got to know the Schiavone family when Brittany hired her to work on healthy eating and good nutrition. “Brittany was 25 at the time, and I really admired how driven she was,” Asti said. “How many people at 25 know their purpose and have the courage to live it so fully?” 

She eventually stopped working for Brittany, but the two remained close friends. Earlier this year, Asti saw an ad for Women of Worth while scrolling through her Facebook news feed. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a big deal,’ and I really felt called to nominate Brittany. When I stopped to consider what a Woman of Worth should be, she immediately came to mind,” she said.

Brittany received a $10,000 prize for being chosen as a finalist and is now enjoying some time in the spotlight.

“I was so excited when I found out,” she said. “There were lots of interviews, and L’Oreal sent a camera crew. I wasn’t nervous about it; I just said, ‘Let’s do it!’ We got our makeup done, it was a lot of fun.”

Now, Brittany is looking for the community’s support to help her win the grand prize of $25,000 by voting for BBOH online now through Nov. 14. The winner will be announced on Dec. 4 at a star-studded gala in New York City.

All of the prize money will be used to benefit BBOH by covering the cost of care package materials and shipping, as well as the creation of a dedicated office space for BBOH in the Schiavone’s home. They are also working toward helping families outside of the U.S. receive baskets, which is in great demand but still too costly for the organization, Sue said.

“Brittany’s Baskets of Hope gives people that have babies with Down syndrome hope and joy, and it makes me really happy to help them,” Brittany said. “I want everyone to know that people with Down syndrome can do anything — really, really anything.”

To vote for Brittany, visit www.lorealparisusa.com/women-of-worth. To learn more about Brittany’s Baskets of Hope, donate to the cause or to request a care package, visit www.brittanysbasketsofhope.org.

Photos by Nilaya Sabnis

 

Army veteran Eugene Casper with his POW/MIA tattoo Photo by Chris Cordone/Foxlight Studios

By Melissa Arnold

Each Veterans Day, the country pauses to recognize the men and women who have served as members of the military. For some, it’s a day of pride and they’re humbled to be recognized. Others live with trauma, injury or regret and prefer not to talk about their service years.

Regardless of their circumstances or histories, the Northport-East Northport Public Library is honoring all veterans with a unique photography exhibit for the month of November.

The exhibit, titled Ink Stories: Symbols of Service, focuses on sharing veterans’ memories and experiences through photographs of their tattoos.

Army Veteran John Baptisto Fiore. Photo by Chris Cordone/Foxlight Studios

“My father was a Vietnam veteran who had tattoos. When he returned from Vietnam, he struggled to find acceptance in the community [because he was in the war],” said Kathryn Heaviside, community services librarian at the Northport-East Northport Public Library. “Hearing stories from his service and the stories behind the tattoos, I felt confident I would be able to find others who were willing to share.”

Heaviside said that art exhibits focusing on tattoos have been held in other places around the United States and believed the concept would be a great fit for the library because of its commitment to veteran outreach and proximity to the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The exhibit took nearly a year to plan, with flyers, email blasts, social media posts and word of mouth used to find local veterans.

“It was slow going at first, but once the word started to get out, we had more and more responses. The concept was really well-received by the veterans,” Heaviside said.

In all, 34 veterans came forward to participate in Ink Stories. They include 33 men and one woman from all branches of the military. The majority served in Vietnam, while others were involved in the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion or the modern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among them is Eugene Casper, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran from Ronkonkoma. Casper didn’t want to go to college and enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in 1968.

“I knew I was going to end up in Vietnam, but I wanted to see what it was all about. I was 18, young and dumb,” Casper recalled. He spent one year in Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange and now lives with cancer and other health issues.

While many of Casper’s fellow soldiers got their first tattoo during basic training, it took decades for him to get inked. 

Army veteran Eugene Casper has his tattoo photographed by Chris Cordone/Foxlight Studios. Photo by Nora Nolan

“When I got back from the war, I had a bad taste in my mouth and pushed a lot of my feelings and experiences aside. But years later, this stuff will always catch up to you. I reached out for help at the VA and decided to get my first tattoo when I was 50.”

That first tattoo, the POW/MIA symbol on his left shoulder, was eventually followed by an eagle with an American flag background and his dates of service. Most recently, his granddaughter opened her own tattoo shop and did a piece on Casper’s forearm depicting a helmet, boot and rifle with the phrase “All gave some; some gave all.”

Casper and the other veterans came to the library over several scheduled days, where they filled out questionnaires about their experiences before posing for photos. Chris Cordone, a Huntington-based wedding photographer, volunteered to photograph the veterans for free.

“They would enter the room to be photographed and just totally open up. Some would cry,” Heaviside said about the photo sessions, which she described as emotional and moving. “The vets were thrilled to talk about their tattoos and share their stories. For some of them, it was the first time they had spoken about their history in 40 years. Some of them were hesitant, but once they started to share, they didn’t want to stop. I’ve formed a real bond with each of them through this experience.”

Army Veteran John Baptisto Fiore. Photo by Chris Cordone/Foxlight Studios

The exhibit is comprised of individual 24-by-36-inch framed posters featuring photos of each veteran, his or her tattoos and some of their own reflections as written and designed by Heaviside. Each veteran will also be presented with a blanket made by the library’s teen volunteers.

Casper was thrilled to be a part of the project after seeing an ad for it in a local newspaper. “I thought it would be a good thing to do. The more people that get to see what we went through, the better,” he said. “I’m 69 years old now, I have nothing to hide and I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m proud to be a Vietnam veteran.”

He added that seeking support at the VA made all the difference for his well-being. “There is help out there for everything, but you have to look and you have to reach for it. Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, tell people what’s going on,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with things alone.”

Ink Stories: Symbols of Service is on view at the Northport Public Library, 151 Laurel Ave., Northport and the East Northport Public Library, 185 Larkfield Road, E. Northport through Nov. 30. Identical exhibits are found at each library. 

The public is invited to an opening reception at the Northport Public Library this Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. For library hours and more information, call 631-261-6930 or visit www.nenpl.org.

‘View from the Red Room’ by Joseph Reboli

By Melissa Arnold

For more than three decades, Joseph Reboli dedicated his life to creating art and sharing it with the world. His vibrant oil paintings, many of which focused on scenes in the Three Village area, were beloved not only here on Long Island but around the world for the way they captured the essence of the places he loved. Reboli’s work has been on display in museums, private collections and homes around the world.

Since its founding in 2016, the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook has worked to preserve the legacy of its namesake, who died in 2004, while also highlighting the people and places that most inspired him. Its newest exhibit, on display beginning Nov. 1, will focus on one of Reboli’s unique honors: his inclusion in an exhibit at the White House.

“Joe was a very modest guy, but I think he was really honored by this opportunity, and it was one of the highlights of his career,” said Lois Reboli, Joe’s wife of 14 years.

In 2000, the nation’s capital was preparing to mark the 200th anniversary of the White House. To celebrate, the White House Historical Association planned an art exhibit and companion calendar titled White House Impressions: The President’s House Through the Eye of the Artist. The association selected 14 well-respected artists to participate, with one artist representing each of the 13 original colonies and the District of Columbia. 

Among the chosen artists were Reboli, who represented New York for the month of March, as well as realist painter Ken Davies of Massachusetts, Reboli’s former professor at the Paier College of Art, representing February. 

The cover of the 2000 White House calendar.

The other artists were Domenic DiStefano (Pennsylvania, December 1999), Al Alexander (New Jersey, January 2000), Ray Ellis (Georgia, April 2000), John Barber (Virginia, May 2000), Marjorie Egee (Delaware, June 2000), Marilyn Caldwell (Connecticut, July 2000), Tom Freeman (Maryland, August 2000), West Fraser (South Carolina, September 2000), Richard Grosvenor (Rhode Island, October 2000), Carol Aronson-Shore (New Hampshire, November 2000) and Bob Timberlake (North Carolina, December 2000). Carlton Fletcher of the District of Columbia was granted the cover.

“We made the trip down to the White House in 1999, and the artists got to meet with Bill and Hillary Clinton. It was our first trip to the White House, and definitely impressive to us both,” Lois Reboli recalled. “Joe had been in the Army and he was a very patriotic person. A White House photographer walked around with each artist as they decided what they wanted their piece to be — the photographer was the only one allowed to take pictures. Then the artists took the photos home to work.”

Reboli was the only artist in the White House exhibit to choose a point of view from inside the building. His painting, “View from the Red Room,” looks outside to the South Portico with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. 

The Red Room has served a variety of purposes in different presidencies, from a music room to a meeting space, the backdrop for official photos and family dinners. First Lady Jackie Kennedy once said that the view from the Red Room was her favorite in the White House because it looked out on the American people. 

“When I saw this particular view, I loved the light on the South Portico with the landscape in the background,” Reboli wrote at the time about his choice. “The light’s reflection on the portico contrasted nicely with the dark interior of the room.”   

The painting from the Red Room will be on display at the Reboli Center, along with the White House calendar and original work from nine of the 14 artists featured in the 2000 exhibit, said Reboli Center secretary Colleen Hanson.

“This exhibit was a huge undertaking, and took a lot of detective work in some cases. Lois has been working on this exhibit for more than 8 months. It was a search for contacts with the artists of the calendar, communicating back and forth, and then finally getting the artwork. This was a rather complicated exhibit to put together because of the number of artists involved, the time span of an event that happened more than 20 years ago, and the fact that during those 20 years not everyone had stayed put and that deaths had occurred,” Hanson said. 

“We wanted to share the work the artists did for the White House as well as some of their original work to give a greater sense of who they were and their artistic interests.”

The White House Calendar exhibit will be on display from Nov. 1 through Jan. 26, 2020 at the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook. Participating artists include Al Alexander, Carol Aronson-Shore, Marilyn Caldwell, Ken Davies, Domenic DiStefano, Ray Ellis, West Fraser, Richard Grosvenor and the late Joe Reboli. For more information, call 631- 751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.

'Ensnared' by Jonathan Horn

By Melissa Arnold

For the past three years, The Atelier at Flowerfield has buzzed with activity. Artists of all skill levels come to the St. James art studio to create, learn and connect with others through classes, studio time, social events, art history lectures and exhibits.

As The Atelier has grown, it has also attracted a host of young, talented creatives looking for a place to hone and share their skills. Since 2017, the annual Long Island Young Artists Exhibition has provided a platform to celebrate their accomplishments with the community.

“I believe that when artists are young, they’re uninhibited. The sky is the limit for their creativity, and they don’t filter themselves by what will or won’t sell or how people will respond,” said Director Kevin McEvoy in a recent interview. “They’re willing to experiment, to take risks with their art. It’s incredible to be a part of that,” he said.

McEvoy estimates that 50 to 60 young people spend time at a workshop on a regular basis, many of them students at local schools or recent college graduates. Some of the artists take classes or have studio time five nights a week, while others come by for several hours during the day. The Atelier’s state-of-the-art studio space simulates natural light, allowing nighttime students to create pieces with realistic-looking daylight without interrupting their daytime responsibilities.

This year’s Young Artists Exhibition invited artists ages 11 to 28 to submit works of any medium or theme to be reviewed by a panel of curators including Margaret McEvoy, Gaby Field-Rahman, Dr. Stephen Vlay and Barbara Beltrami.

In total, 46 applicants submitted 130 different pieces for judging. The completed exhibit includes 47 pieces from 33 artists, mostly from Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Aside from age, there were no specific requirements to enter a piece for consideration. McEvoy said he wanted to welcome young artists of all kinds to explore themes and mediums that appeal to them the most.

One of this year’s exhibitors, Ariel Meltzer, 16, has always been fascinated with drawing people. “I’ve always found art to be very calming, and even when I was young I loved drawing faces and people in general,” said the artist, who lives in Stony Brook. “There’s so much diversity in the human figure, but there are so many similarities at the same time.”

Meltzer discovered The Atelier a few summers ago after her mother encouraged her to find something fun to do. She said she was interested in continuing to develop the art skills she’d gained during the school year at The Stony Brook School, and the St. James studio was a perfect fit.

“You get to know so many different people that each have their own perspective on art,” Meltzer said. “I love the connections that I’ve been able to make through The Atelier. Everyone is welcoming and supportive — it’s a great atmosphere to learn in.”

Whether she’s attending morning classes in the summer or night classes during the school year, Meltzer always has a new project to work on. She’s worked with charcoal, oil, acrylics and more, but at home she tends to return to her old standby, graphite pencil.

Her submission to this year’s exhibit, “Grace,” is a drawing of a classmate she completed for a school assignment. Meltzer said she wanted to make the girl’s hair and face appear softer to match her name, Grace.

“I’m proud of the work that I send in no matter what, so I don’t worry too much about whether or not it gets chosen. But it’s still really exciting to be a part of the exhibit. This is my second year being included,” Meltzer said.

Jonathan Horn, 27, is on the upper end of the young adult group, but that doesn’t stop him from creating whimsical, unique and fun works of art.

The East Setauket resident has been artistic his entire life, starting to draw with markers at just 2 years old. These days, he’s primarily a painter, but his tools are one of a kind. Horn studied studio art and anthropology at Stony Brook University, and in the process developed a deep curiosity for the tools used in ancient civilizations.

“I started to wonder what it would be like to make and use these tools to paint with,” Horn said. “So I did. And I found that they work just as well as anything you’d buy commercially today.” His yucca leaf and palm brushes are used with paints Horn has made himself using a special clay. 

While Horn enjoys painting using classic techniques and subjects, his real passion is fantasy. “I grew up watching a lot of cartoons and playing video games, so the work I do tends in the direction of fantasy,” he explained. 

Horn’s two works in the exhibit include a clay-based gouache painting of flowers done on watercolor paper and a vivid gouache painting on gypsum board of a fish being attacked by a squid and eel. 

“This is the first recent exhibit I’ve submitted work for, so I was pretty nervous and relieved to be chosen,” he said. “The Atelier is a fantastic place to learn, whether you’re an experienced artist looking to hone your skills or a beginner looking to dip your toes in the water for the first time.”

The Long Island Young Artists Exhibition is currently on view at The Atelier at Flowerfield’s Atelier Hall Gallery, located at 2 Flowerfield, Suite 15, St. James through Nov. 21. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and admission is free. For more information, call 631-250-9009 or visit www.atelierflowerfield.org.

Image courtesy of The Atelier at Flowerfield

 

A sensory-friendly screening of Beetlejuice was held at the library in September. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

By Melissa Arnold

Enjoying a movie can be a great way for the entire family to spend some quality time together. But for people who are especially sensitive to light or sound, the experience can be difficult to handle, if not impossible.

At Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station, the staff wants to ensure no one is excluded from its programs because of a lack of accessibility. Thanks to a suggestion from a visitor, the library now offers sensory-friendly movie opportunities once a month that are open to all. 

“We’ve always tried to really listen to the community about the needs that they have, and this was something we’d been looking to do for a while,” said Lori Holtz, head of adult services for the Comsewogue Public Library. “We see very regular attendance for this program, which shows us that people are really enjoying the experience.”

Earlier this year, an employee from a local group home for adults approached the library suggesting they try offering sensory-friendly movie screenings, said adult services librarian Christine Parker-Morales, who added that the program has been well-received and is continuing to expand.

According to the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD), at least 1 in 20 adults in the general population may be affected by SPD. For people with these disorders, any kind of sensory stimuli — bright lights or darkness, loud sounds, intense smells, certain clothing textures — can be overwhelming, confusing or disturbing.

Setting up a sensory-friendly movie is a simple process, said Danielle Minard, the library’s outreach librarian. All that’s needed is a bit of extra planning by leaving the lights on, lowering the sound, adding captions and providing advance information about the movie’s storyline and elements. “We try to show films that are fairly current,” Minard added. 

“We began the program this past March with Inside Out and since then, we’ve shown Mary Poppins Returns, Guardians of the Galaxy, Singin’ in the Rain and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” she said. In anticipation of Halloween, Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice was screened in September.

There are no special requirements, fees or advance registration required to see the sensory- friendly movies — all are welcome to attend.

“Libraries exist for everyone and we’re here to serve people of every age, regardless of their needs,” said Comsewogue Library Director Debra Engelhardt. “Everyone deserves quality services, and we’re continuing to learn how we can deliver those services better. I’m very proud of everyone’s hard work. I would encourage any community member to bring their interests and needs to their local library. It may take a while to get something started, but it’s our job to make good things happen for everyone who lives in the area.”

Sensory-friendly film screenings are held monthly on Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Room at the Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station. Upcoming screenings will be held Oct. 25 and Nov. 29. The films are not chosen ahead of time, but are appropriate for all ages. For more information, including additional sensory-friendly library programs, call 631-928-1212.

This article has been updated Oct. 22.

Stephanie Carsten portrays Maria Smith Williamson at last year’s event. Photo courtesy of TVHS

By Melissa Arnold

Ah, October. The perfect time of year to grab a light jacket, sip a hot drink, and go for a casual walk through a cemetery.

For a quarter of a century, the Three Village Historical Society has invited visitors from far and wide to explore the lives of some of our area’s greatest contributors, both famous and little known at its annual Spirits Tour.

The interesting twist is that the event brings guests on a walking tour through two of Setauket’s historic cemeteries — Caroline Church of Brookhaven Cemetery and the Setauket Presbyterian Church Cemetery — to meet each deceased community member and hear his or her story firsthand.

It’s a unique, fascinating and engaging way to learn more about the area’s rich history, and none of it is scary or Halloween-themed. They promise.

The long-running event, held this year on Oct. 19, is primarily the work of historical society board member Frank Turano who creates detailed scripts for each character and has written more than 400 pages over the past 25 years.

The historical society works hard to ensure that the tour is different each year, with some familiar faces as well as new people to meet. This year’s theme, The Unforgotten, focuses on names you might not know from history class but who still made a significant impact on the area.

“There were a number of people I knew about that never got any sort of notoriety,” said Turano. “So I decided to go about the process of finding interesting but obscure characters. It took several months to write the scripts.”

Volunteers from around the community, many of whom are involved with local theater productions, suit up for the evening in period attire from Nan’s Antique Costume & Props Rental in Port Jefferson for a true-to-life experience.

The cast

Greeter

(Tim Adams)

Richard Floyd 

(Michael Freed)

Anna Kopriva 

(Karen Overin)

Myra Lyons 

(Stephanie Carsten)

Edward Pheiffer 

(Tommy Ranieri)

Justice Carl Rhuland

(Steve Healy)

John Scott 

(Mort Rosen)

Gen. Francis Spinola

(George Overin)

Caroline Strong 

(Karin Lynch)

Hilma Wilson 

(Tara Ebrahimian)

Sarah Young 

(Theresa Travers)

Henrietta Shipman

(Cathleen Shannon)

Marjorie Cutler Bishop

(Stephanie Sakson)

“I live in the area, and it feels great to be connected to the place where I live,” said Janet McCauley, a board member of the historical society who’s also served as co-chair for the tour for more than 10 years. “It’s so much fun watching the actors portray these different figures in our history, and to see people from the community come back year after year.”

The 90-minute guided tour will include a dozen historical figures, among them Brookhaven town founder Richard Floyd, World War I nurse Caroline Strong, and Sarah Young, a woman with a curious story and shocking devotion to the man she loved. For the first time ever, this year’s tour features more women than men, a difficult feat considering the majority of historical records were written about and by men, Turano said. 

Even Three Village Historical Society President Steve Healy is getting in on the action with a portrayal of Justice Carl Rhuland, a local businessman and justice of the peace.

“The Spirits Tour is one of the longest-running events of its kind and it’s close to my heart,” Healy said. “You can go on this tour every year and learn something new. Everyone is so passionate about bringing these stories to life, from the costumes to casting to script writing and the fine details. Frank has incredible attention to detail and this time of year provides the perfect atmosphere for the tour.”

McCauley urges all tour goers to arrive early, dress for extended time outdoors and to wear comfortable walking shoes. And of course, help yourself to apple cider and donuts donated from local supermarkets and Ann Marie’s Farmstand in Setauket. An exhibit with additional information will be on display at Setauket Presbyterian Church throughout the night.

The 25th Annual Spirits Tour will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 (rain date Oct. 26). Tours, which are approximately 90 minutes long, leave from the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave., Setauket every 15 minutes starting at 5 p.m. Each tour lasts approximately 1½ to 2 hours. The last tour departs at 7:45 p.m. 

Tickets in advance at www.tvhs.org are $25 adults, $15 members; $10 children under 12, $8 members. Tickets on the night of the event, if available, are $30 adults, $20 members; $12 children under 12, $10 members. For more information, call 631-751-3730. 

Keynote speaker Erika Swyler will discuss her writing process at the event at 2:30 p.m. Photo by Photo by Nina Subin

By Melissa Arnold

From its bustling theater scene to scores of local artists, photographers and writers, Long Island has always been a hot spot for creative types. Book reviews and interviews with local authors are a regular part of our Arts & Lifestyles coverage, and many of the Island’s libraries are proud to offer a collection of stories written by people from the area.

At the Port Jefferson Free Library, the annual Local Author Fair allows writers of all genres to meet readers, share their work and even make some new friends. This year’s fair, held Saturday, Oct. 5, will welcome more than 20 authors for an afternoon of reading and conversation.

Now in its 5th year, the fair began as a response to the large number of local writers approaching the library looking to publicize their books.

“The library hosted author panels in the past for writers to talk about the writing and publication process together,” explained Salvatore Filosa, marketing and outreach librarian at the Port Jefferson Free Library. “We’re constantly given books to add to our collection of local authors. In fact, area writers approached the library so frequently we thought it would be a good idea to have an event where people not only come to see an author they know, but to meet other authors whose work they might not be familiar with.”

Each author that appears at the fair has their own dedicated space to promote and sell their work. While book signings may leave an author rushing to get to each person on line, the fair provides ample opportunity for authors to take questions, chat and browse other tables.

This year’s keynote speaker, Erika Swyler, is a native Long Islander whose nationally best-selling work has earned acclaim from Buzzfeed to the New York Times.

“I try not to get myself tied down to one particular genre,” said Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation. “I’m a very curious person and I’m interested in a lot of different things.”

Swyler’s writing career blossomed from her time in acting school, where she emerged as a playwright. It was a natural progression, said the author, who yearned for the chance to dig deeper into a character’s thoughts and feelings. Two novels later, she credits her success to dogged perseverance and a thick skin when it comes to rejection.

At the fair, Swyler will discuss her writing process and read an excerpt from her newest release, Light From Other Stars, which blends sci-fi with literary fiction and shades of horror in a coming-of-age tale.

“Long Island has its own unique and powerful culture that sets it apart. I love meeting other people in the area who are pursuing creativity,” Swyler said. “Living a creative life is difficult, and it’s important to develop a sense of community to remember that we’re all in this together.”

Stephanie Kepke of Plainview has been a part of the fair since its second year and enjoys returning annually to make new connections.

“I love this event because it’s a great way to meet readers, and it’s always wonderful to get to   hear from wonderful keynote speakers as well,” she said. “I find that often people will come to meet a specific author and then discover others in the process.”

Kepke was an English major before beginning a lengthy career in journalism and public relations. She dabbled in fiction all the while and began sharing stories with the world in 2015. Her work, which she describes as “women’s fiction with heart, humor and a dash of spice,” includes two novellas — A New Life and You and Me — and a novel titled Goddess of Suburbia.

“I’m so grateful to get my words out into the world, and it means so much when people come up and talk about how much our work has impacted them. The fair is an unparalleled way to come out and really talk to authors. We all want to meet everyone who comes to see us, and for me it doesn’t even matter if you buy my books. It’s about making connections,” she said.

In addition to the keynote from Swyler, a few of the authors will also have the chance to give 5-minute “lightning talks.” Visitors should be sure to visit as many tables as possible, collecting signatures from authors as they go. The more signatures you get, the more chances you’ll have to enter the day’s raffle. Winners will receive a bag of Port Jefferson Free Library merchandise and a signed copy of Swyler’s latest book.

“It’s very easy today for people to search for a book online and buy it, but getting to read something written by a local author who you get to meet and talk to gives you the chance to make a more personal investment in their work,” Filosa said. “It’s always a joy to watch people discover new authors and new books from this event.”

Participating authors:

Erika Swyler
Mindy Kronenberg
L L  Cartin
Ralph Brady
Joseph E. Vitolo
Lorraine Stacy
Mike Virgintino
Liz  Macchio
Celeste Williams
Lisa Scuderi-Burkimsher
Stephanie Kepke
Larry McCoy
Peter Busacca
Marilyn London
Oswaldo Jimenez
Erick Alayon
Jack  Batcher
TRACI Wendler
Marianne  Schwartz
Roland Allnach
Catherine Asaro

Sponsored by the Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library, the 5th annual Local Author Fair will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson. Admission is free. For further information, call 631-473-0022.

Image courtesy of the WMHO

By Melissa Arnold

Picture this: It’s August of 1776, the air is thick with humidity, and the road we now call Route 25A is made of dirt, not asphalt. Americans secretly loyal to the Patriot cause are traveling on horseback from Setauket to New York City, where Gen. George Washington is stationed. These brave men are on a mission to deliver critical information to help win the Revolutionary War, some of it written in invisible ink.

Image courtesy of the WMHO

We know these stories and many like them from historical literature, but can you recall many stories about the brave women who supported the war effort? On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization invites the community to take a trip back in time to see what it was like to live on Long Island during that time period and explore local treasures with a unique living history event titled Courageous Women of the Revolutionary War.

In the summer of 1776, the British forces were able to take control of the area, radically affecting the lives of local families, especially those Patriots who supported American independence. Many husbands and young men were arrested and enslaved on prison boats in New York Harbor, and boys were forced into service for the British Army. Meanwhile, wives, mothers and daughters were left to protect their children and property alone.

In the Three Villages, four historic properties purchased and lovingly restored by philanthropist Ward Melville will become the center of the action for the Courageous Women living history performances. Guests will travel to each site by trolley and hear stories of struggle, hope and patriotism directly from the women who lived at that time.

The event is the first of its kind in our area and is a labor of love for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

“This was a group effort that started at a staff meeting more than a year ago,” said Gloria Rocchio, president of the WMHO. “We felt that women weren’t really focused on in explanations of the Revolutionary War, and since next year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, we felt it was time to bring [the female perspective] out of the shadows.”

The tour’s mission, made possible by a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, is to inspire and educate the public about the contributions of these valiant women while fostering an appreciation of the Three Village region and its cultural heritage.

Using historical literature and oral histories from the Three Village area as a guide, the WMHO has worked to create realistic stories of four women who lived during the war. The organization also relied on the expertise of the Anna Smith Strong Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a lineage-based service organization for women whose ancestors lived during that era.

Tour guests will be greeted by an actor in period dress at each of the historic properties, which are listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. At the Thompson House (circa 1709) in Setauket, visitors will meet Phoebe Thompson, a chronically ill woman and wife of 18th-century physician Dr. Samuel Thompson.

The tour will also feature the oldest house in the Town of Brookhaven, the Brewster House (circa 1665), also in Setauket, which operated as a tavern and general store during the war. Rebecca Brewster, wife of Joseph Brewster whose cousin Caleb Brewster was a member of the Culper Spy Ring, will greet visitors. Rebecca helped to run the tavern, which was frequented by British soldiers.

In Stony Brook, the Hawkins Mount House (circa 1725) will host Ruth Mills, wife of Culper spy Jonas Hawkins. Ruth witnessed firsthand the stresses and danger of opposing the British. At the Stony Brook Grist Mill (circa 1751), participants will meet Katie, an indentured servant from Ireland who is working to pay off a debt her family owed to the British government as a Grist Mill “Dusty.”

“We wanted to create an event that was more than just fun and entertaining,” said Gabrielle Lindau, director of development at the WMHO. “How many people realize that the Culper Spy Ring was right in their backyard? It was easy to go back into the historical records and learn a bit more about these women.”

To ensure historical accuracy and high-quality talent, the WMHO hired professional actresses from St. George Living History Productions, a Medford-based living history troupe.

WMHO education director Deborah Boudreau said that the organization believes this event captures the spirit of Ward Melville’s dream to help the community engage with local history in a personal way.

“Ward Melville spoke of history as something that you live with and lives with you,” Boudreau explained. “Visually, the properties bring you back to the 18th century. They give you a sense of what Long Island would have looked like at that time. I’m excited for people to learn about these stories, and for the opportunity we’ve had to imagine what such a defining moment in our country would have meant through the eyes of women. The Revolutionary War planted a seed for the Women’s Rights Movement. It brought visibility to what women are capable of.”

Courageous Women of the Revolutionary War will be held on Sept. 28 (rain date Sept. 29) with trolley tours departing from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are $40 per person and reservations are required. For further information, please call 631-751-2244.