Art exhibit

One of Rick Mundy’s Adirondack paintings, ‘These Mountains 1'

By Irene Ruddock 

Rick Mundy is an award-winning watercolor artist who specializes in realistic paintings of Long Island, the Adirondacks, the Caribbean Islands, New York City, Africa and Alaska. He is noted as being one of the top art businesses on Long Island and has been published in Art Business News, The New York Times, Boater’s Digest and the Encyclopedia of Living Artists.

I recently visited Mundy’s Setauket studio to get a sneak peak of the artist’s upcoming exhibit featuring 60 watercolor paintings at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. An artist reception is scheduled for Sept. 2 and again on Sept. 23 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 

I am amazed by the vast variety and creativity of your portfolio. How do you think of all these ideas? 

Painting is a celebration of the creative spirit and all that is beautiful in nature. As a teacher of biology, I learned more about nature, which is a recurring theme in my paintings. It is fun and exciting and I can’t stop myself once I get an idea! I like to paint in themes and in a series, and I most often do a diptych or a triptych. 

When did you first decide to become an artist and was there an artist who encouraged you? 

I enjoyed art since I was a child being inspired by John Nagy and winning a few contests, but later I apprenticed with the watercolorist Andrew Stasky who encouraged me to paint in transparent watercolor — where the light travels through many layers of paint to the viewer creating a fresh, clean painting.

‘These Mountains 111’ by Rick Mundy

Your new exhibit sounds stunning with a 360º view of the Adirondacks that includes a series of eight paintings. What is it about the mountains that attracts you so?

 I was an outdoor guide licensed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for decades. The Adirondacks possess the calm of a woodland pond, the roar of a gorge in the spring and have ever-changing personalities from season to season. I know practically every trail in the mountains — its waterfalls, rocks and special ledges to stop for lunch! I enjoy going higher and deeper into the mountain where, in my mind, I compose the essence of the scene I want to paint — moving water, rocks, wildlife. I don’t photograph or sketch much; instead I develop the ideas in my mind so that these paintings are not actual places —they are created in my painting.

How has your extensive mountain climbing influenced your philosophy of life in other ways? 

I feel that nature feeds the soul. Being at one with nature, not fearful, but calm with the knowledge of the beauty that nature can deliver. Knowing Mother Nature is in charge and respecting her vastness. She will show you great things, but she is in charge. 

‘Royal Adornments’ by Rick Mundy

You are showing three rooms of paintings — Long Island, Adirondacks and the third titled ‘Well, … certainly different.’ Can you give us a hint about that? 

The Long Island paintings are all about the special beauty of the island’s beaches, boatyards, barrier islands, etc. In the last room, I exhibit my African collection including royal hair combs, animal skins and beading; my tropical mosaics, which look like Tiffany glass; my floral Gingko paintings; and some cityscapes.

What kind of presentation are you planning at your art receptions?

I am going to show examples of sketches and notes that I worked from, even the ones that didn’t deliver the look I wanted. It will show how the Adirondack paintings, which took two and a half years to complete, finally evolved.

What would you like the viewer to take away from this exhibit? 

I would like people to see in my paintings something in nature that they may have missed or wish to experience. I especially want to share with the viewers all the beauty I have witnessed. 

View Rick Mundy’s exhibit at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, 440 Montauk Highway, Great River from Aug. 30 to Sept. 30. The arboretum is open Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For parking fees and restaurant information visit www.BayardCuttingArboretum.com. Visit Rick Mundy’s website at www.rickmundywatercolors.com.

All images courtesy of Rick Mundy

Jim Molloy explores imaginative new subjects and styles in solo exhibit

'Primary Colors'

By Melissa Arnold

Artist Jim Molloy of Miller Place has earned a reputation as a nautical and landscape painter, and it’s easy to see why. His oil-on-canvas masterpieces of lighthouses in Maine, the local harbors of Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai, or the intricate components of a sailboat will transport you to another place. His award-winning work has been showcased up and down the East Coast.

These days, though, Molloy is exploring something completely different. And it all started with a trip to the antique store.

‘Entropy’

“I found some [children’s] blocks and thought they would make a nice still life,” said Molloy, 53. “From there I started working with Tinker Toys, LEGOs, things like that, anything I could find.”

The new focus on what he calls “abstract realism” has given Molloy a surge of fresh ideas, and he’s ready to share them with the world. His first solo exhibit, entitled Primary Colors, will debut at Gallery North in Setauket on Aug. 30.

 

Art has always been a part of Molloy’s life, and he worked for decades using his talents wherever he could — as an illustrator for technical manuals, in the advertising industry, making 3-D models, doing custom airbrush work on vehicles and the list goes on. His real passion was for painting, however, and 12 years ago he left the workforce to paint full time.

It was easy to keep up his old rhythm of waking up and getting to work, said Molloy, who paints daily in his home studio. Self-taught, he honed his skills through hours of reading and study.

“After I quit my job, I visited museums and read every book I could get my hands on [about painting],” he said, adding he is especially inspired by Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer.

There are also the artists that encouraged and collaborated with him along the way. Among them are Irene Ruddock, president of Setauket Artists, who met Molloy at an art festival years ago. He began to exhibit with the group, and in 2015, they named him their Honored Artist.

“People are attracted to Jim’s paintings, not just because of his skillful techniques, but because of their soulfulness,” Ruddock said. “His work contains that special quality that tugs a bit at your heart, where you know that you are not just looking at something — you are feeling something that is warm and rare. In short, his paintings become memorable.”

‘Square Meal’

The journey to Primary Colors began last year at Gallery North, when Molloy was featured in a group exhibit titled The Art of Eating. Each work in the show focused on food, and Molloy’s contribution was a whimsical painting of children’s blocks arranged to resemble a plate of sushi with a pair of chopsticks.

The painting, an oil-on-panel work titled “Square Meal,” captured the attention of Gallery North Executive Director Judith Levy.

“I was amused by it. It was unique, interesting and fun,” said Levy in a recent phone interview. “When Jim approached me about an exhibit, I told him I would love to focus on that painting. It’s important for us to show a range of different ideas, and I’m very excited.” The show will also be on view during the gallery’s 2018 Outdoor Art Show and Music Festival on Sept. 8 and 9.

The process of creating each painting is a true labor of love for Molloy. Once he finds a subject that interests him, he’ll take it home and set it up in the studio. But before the painting begins, Molloy takes a photo of the subject that he can work from as time goes on. Getting the perfect angle and lighting is painstaking, and Molloy often shoots 100 photos or more before getting it just right.

‘Express’

In total, 32 works of art will be showcased during Primary Colors, many of them created within the past year with the exhibit in mind. The title hints at a common theme — each painting features the three primary colors — red, yellow and blue — in a prominent way. The paintings vary in size, from 6-by-12 inches to 3-by-5 feet, and all will be available for purchase.

“People in this area know me for my landscape art, so I’m honestly a little nervous about how they’ll respond to this exhibit,” Molloy admitted. “But I think it’s fun and colorful. In the beginning, when I first started painting [in this way], I never would have noticed the little details. But now I see everything differently. It’s a new perspective.”

Primary Colors will be on display from Aug. 30 to Sept. 21 at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket. The public is invited to an opening reception on Aug. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Molloy will be the featured artist at the gallery’s ArTalk series on Sept. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibit, visit ​www.gallerynorth.org​ or call ​631-751-2676.

To see more of Jim Molloy’s artwork, visit ​www.molloyart.com.

Images courtesy of Gallery North

From left, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Joshua Ruff of The Long Island Museum and town historian Barbara Russell at the Longwood Estate. Photo courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

On Aug. 7, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and town historian Barbara Russell visited the Longwood Estate (circa 1790) in Ridge where they presented two historic paintings to Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretation at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, to be added to the museum’s collection as a long-term loan.

The portraits, painted by Shepard Alonzo Mount, were gifted to the town by Eleanor Smith of California. The subjects are William Sidney Smith (1796–1879) and his wife, Eleanor Jones Smith (1805–1884). A year after their marriage in 1823, the couple came to Longwood Estate and raised 10 children. William Smith served as Brookhaven Supervisor from 1829 to 1834.

“These pieces were donated to the Town of Brookhaven, they still belong to the Town of Brookhaven, but they are coming to the museum and will be stored in our collections to be used occasionally for exhibition purposes,” said Ruff in a recent phone interview. “We agreed in taking them as a long-term loan because we believe they really add to our holdings on Shepard Alonzo Mount.”

Painted in the early 1830s, the two portraits were displayed in the house on the property until the last Smith family owner, Eleanor Northrup Smith, sold the estate and moved to California in the late 1960s. The paintings have been stored in a warehouse since that time. 

Albeit a loan, Ruff is thrilled to be able to add them to the museum’s current collection, which includes more than 25 of Shepard Alonzo Mount’s paintings and several hundred of his drawings and sketches, not to mention the enormous collection of paintings and drawings by his more famous younger brother, William Sidney Mount.  

According to Ruff, these particular portraits are unique in that they precede the portrait paintings the museum has, which are from the later 1830s and 1840s. “They were done just when [Shepard] was starting to launch his career as a portrait artist. This was a phase of his career that we hadn’t really documented before. They are valuable in that sense to us,” he said. “They show him beginning to mature as an artist and improve in his skills.”

'Untitled' by Bill Shillalies

By Heidi Sutton

“Conjoined” by Elizabeth Heaton of Amityville

The Long Island Biennial returns to The Heckscher Museum of Art with fervor this year as the fifth edition of the exhibition offers Long Island’s top artists the opportunity to share their artwork with the Huntington community and beyond. The juried exhibit opened on Aug. 4 and will run through Nov. 11. 

Contemporary artists who live in Suffolk and Nassau counties and who have specialized training in art were invited to submit artwork created within the past two years. The result is twofold: providing artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a broad audience in a unique and exciting space and allowing art lovers to see snapshots of what is happening artistically on Long Island.

The brainchild of former curator Kenneth Wayne, the first biennial opened in 2010 in conjunction with the museum’s 90th anniversary. Now, eight years later, the juried exhibit has grown in popularity, receiving a record 351 submissions this year, with 52 works representing communities from New Hyde Park to Montauk selected for the show. Of those selections, 38 of the artists were first-time exhibitors.

‘Wafting Bubinga; by John Dino

This year’s judges — Christine Berry of Berry Campbell Gallery in New York City; Robert Carter, professor of art at Nassau Community College in Garden City; and Bobbi Coller, an independent art historian and curator — were tasked with selecting six winners, which were announced on Aug. 8. 

“The art world needs as many venues as possible for new artists; this is so important and very much appreciated,” said Carter, who was impressed with this year’s submissions. “The artist entries were surprising in how they varied in media use and subject matter — touching on nature, social issues and more.”

Mediums included oil, acrylic, pastel, woodcut, watercolor, sculpture, mixed media, ceramic, bronze, embroidery, tempura, sculptures, photographs, prints and more.

“Buttermilk Falls,” woodcut on paper, by Beth Atkinson of Northport; “Abrasha in Port-au-Prince,” oil on canvas, by Peter Beston of East Quogue; “Wafting Bubinga #2,” carved wood, by John Cino of Patchogue; “Conjoined,” pastel and water on paper, by Elizabeth Heaton of Amityville; ‘Untitled,” ceramic/bronze, by Bill Shillalies of Massapequa; and “Slight Disturbance,” acrylic on clay surface, by Frank Wimberley of Sag Harbor rose above the competition to receive Awards of Merit.

According to museum’s curator, Lisa Chalif, the Long Island Biennial “is about the creativity that surrounds us on Long Island. The show is extremely diverse in terms of medium and subject and style. It is just very appealing — there is something for everyone here.”

‘Abrasha in Port au Prince’ by Peter Beston

The exhibit spans two of the four galleries at the museum. The adjoining exhibits include The Tile Club: Camaraderie and American Plein-Air Painting (through Nov. 4) and Surface Tension: Pictorial Space in 20th Century Art (through May 5, 2019).

“Long Island is teaming with talented artists and the museum is pleased to bring this fact to the public’s attention,” said Executive Director and CEO at The Heckscher Michael W. Schantz in a recent email, adding, “A high quality juried exhibition, such as the Heckscher Museum’s Biennial, remains one of the best ways of doing so.”

The Heckscher Museum of Art, located at 2 Prime Ave., Huntington is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

In conjunction with the Long Island Biennial, several related programs are scheduled at the museum:
‘Slight Disturbance’ by Frank Kimberly

Exploring Art … Making Memories

A guided tour and activity for those living with dementia and their care partners will be held on Monday, Aug. 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Members pay $8; nonmembers $10; care partners are free.

Gallery Talk

Meet Long Island Biennial artists John Cino, Rachelle Krieger and Alisa Shea at a gallery talk on Sunday, Sept.16 from 1 to 3 p.m. Members are free, nonmembers pay $5.

DRAW OUT! With Biennial Artists

Join The Heckscher Museum and its 2018 Cultural Partners for this free Community Arts event on Sunday, Sept. 23 from noon to 4 p.m.  (rain date Sept. 30). See demonstrations and meet Biennial artists Mario Bakalov, E. Craig Marcin and Inna Pashina. Hear live music, sketch a model, paint en plein air and much more.  

The Heckscher Museum of Art was founded in 1920 by philanthropist August Heckscher and is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. The museum’s permanent collection comprises more than 2,500 works from the 16th to the 21st centuries. 

'Gamecock Cottage Stony Brook' by Linda Ann Catucci

By Heidi Sutton

‘Off Duty’ by Robert Roehrig

The lazy days of summer are finally upon us, a perfect time to drop by the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery to check out its annual juried summer exhibition, Capturing the Spirit of Long Island.

“So many Long Island painters find creative inspiration from the local landscape,” explained  STAC’s Executive Director Allison Cruz in a recent email. “Each brings an individual style and vision to their work so each exhibit is unique. Our Island provides endless possibilities for artistic compositions. I always look forward to seeing what hidden treasures the artists uncover!”

According to Cruz, artists were invited to share their artistic vision of any of Long Island’s four seasons and submit art depicting the characteristics of its landscape, weather, wildlife or activities associated with winter, spring, summer or fall. A total of 49 works by 32 artists were accepted into the show and feature a variety of media including watercolor, gouache, oil acrylic, pastel and colored pencil.

‘Cupsogue Coast’ by Adriann Valiquette

The beautiful exhibit fills four gallery rooms and the center hall gallery on the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion.

“I am always amazed by the unique work received for our Long Island exhibits and I have never been disappointed. And what is so wonderful is that each year we have new artists as well. Each show gives us an opportunity to see some new local talent and each year local artists step up with new work,” said Cruz. “We never exhibit the same piece more than once here at the gallery anyway,” she added.

Exhibiting artists include Ross Barbera (Ronkonkoma), Melanie Berardicelli (West Islip), Renee Blank (Holbrook), Renee Caine (Holtsville), Linda Ann Catucci (St. James), Donna Corvi (Flushing), Julie Doczi (Port Jefferson Station), Liz Fusco (Kings Park), Maureen Ginipro (Smithtown), David Jaycox Jr. (Northport), Anne Katz (Stony Brook), Kathee Shaff Kelson (Stony Brook), Jim Kelson (Stony Brook), Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), Mary Lor (New York), Joan Rockwell (Stony Brook), Robert Roehrig (East Setauket), Lori Scarlatos (St. James), Gisela Skoglund (Kings Park), Irene Tetrault (Westbury), Adriann Valiquette (Ridge), Mary Ann Vetter (St. James), Nancy Weeks (East Setauket) and Patty Yantz (Setauket).

‘Two Artists Intense Focus’ by David Jaycox Jr.

The executive director is excited to show off this new exhibit. “This is an opportunity to discover or maybe rediscover Long Island,” she said, adding, “viewers will see so much beauty and variety of our island … and sometimes seeing it through someone else’s eye can put you in touch with new places or new ideas you will be inspired to explore.”

The community is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. to meet the artists and view their work. The winners will be announced at that time. 

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s juried summer exhibition through Sept. 9. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org. 

‘Cassio’ by Dino Rinaldi

By Melissa Arnold

‘Stable Door’ by Joseph Reboli

Horses, whether ridden, raced, bred or simply beloved, have long been a part of Long Island’s culture. From the Belmont Stakes in Nassau to the Smithtown Hunt and the Old Field Farm in Suffolk, the majestic animals hold a special place in the hearts of many.

Among them was the late artist Joe Reboli, whose 30-year career was defined by bringing both famous places and ordinary views of the Three Village area to life with great care and realism.

The Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook was founded in 2016 to celebrate Reboli’s life and honor the history of the place he called home. Since then, the center has created a number of exhibits blending Reboli’s work with local artists as well as artifacts from Long Island’s past.

On Tuesday, the center opened an exciting  new exhibit, Artistry: The Horse in Art, which will focus on horses and their environment through a variety of mediums. Among the Reboli works in the exhibit is “The Stable Door,” an oil-on-canvas painting.

Roberto Dutesco’s ‘Love’ will be on exhibit at the Reboli Center through Oct. 28.

“Joe had a way of capturing this community that evoked such wonderful feelings from people,” said Reboli Center co-founder Colleen Hanson. “His painting of a stable door in our exhibit was done for [the late publisher] John McKinney. Joe’s ability to paint white was just astounding — there is more to the color white than many people realize; there are so many shades and hues in it and he captured them all.”

In addition to work from Reboli, the exhibit will highlight three other main artists. Roberto Dutesco, a Romanian-born Canadian artist, is well known for his fashion photography. But in 1994, Dutesco began to explore nature photography with a trip to Sable Island, nearly 200 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. There he photographed the island’s breathtaking wild horses. He has returned to the island six times since then with the goal of inspiring greater conservation efforts through his work. 

‘Zidette’ by Dino Rinaldi

Dino Rinaldi is a Port Jefferson native whose winding career has taken him from illustration to advertising and finally painting full time. As a teen, Rinaldi recalls opening up an issue of the local newspaper and seeing a painting of gasoline pumps by Reboli. 

“I looked at it and thought, someday I want to be able to paint like that. It moved me,” said Rinaldi, who now lives in Setauket with his wife and daughter. “To be able to create art for a living is a dream come true.” Keep an eye out for “Zidette,” Rinaldi’s graphite powder-and-pencil drawing.

Elena Hull Cournot, who originally hails from East Setauket, now provides creative arts therapy in the West Village and owns a studio in Brooklyn. Horses are a mainstay of Cournot’s work, who is known for her large commissioned paintings of horses and soulful works created during her time as an artist in residence at the Burren College of Art in Ireland. Like storytellers who seek to capture the personal essence of their subjects, Cournot strives to spend time with each horse she paints. One of those horses was “Indie,” whose oil-on-canvas portrait is featured in the gallery.

The center’s history gallery will focus on events and places that include horses in a prominent role. The Smithtown Hunt is the only surviving foxhound hunt on Long Island. While it was originally a live hunt when it was first held in 1900, it is now exclusively a drag hunt. The Old Field Farm was built by Ward Melville in 1931 and continues to be a hot spot for the equestrian community. 

“Every year, we sit down and talk about what kind of exhibits we’d like to have. We look at different community events that are going on, and then work to determine the artists we might feature and a theme based around that,” Hanson explained. “This is such an interesting and fun show — there are so many people who love horses and have owned or ridden them at some point. They are beautiful, intelligent creatures that have a wide appeal.”

Hanson also joked that her own history was a factor in the decision. In the decade she spent as the director of Gallery North in Setauket, not a single exhibit featured a horse. Thanks to this exhibit, she’s now hung more than 30 horse paintings, drawings and photos.

The center will hold several special free events during the exhibit’s run, each coinciding with Third Friday activities in the area. Dino Rinaldi and Roberto Dutesco will be at the center Aug. 17; Leighton Coleman, Sally Lynch and Edmunde Stewart will be welcomed on Sept. 21; and on Oct. 19 there will be a screening of the documentary “Snowman,” which tells the story of a simple workhorse saved from the slaughterhouse by a Long Island man. Snowman went on to become a national show jumping champion.   

See Artistry: The Horse in Art through Oct. 28 at the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook. Admission is free. For information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org. 

A swan lands in Lake Ronkonkoma. Photo by Artie Weingartner

By Melissa Arnold

Artie Weingartner

For as long as Artie Weingartner has taken photos, his focus has always been on others.

Weingartner, who lives in Lake Ronkonkoma, is a fixture at local high school sporting events. He has faithfully chronicled the work of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society and is the official photographer for the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group.

Now, for the month of July, the focus is on him as Sachem Public Library presents an exhibit featuring a wide array of Weingartner’s photos in a collection titled Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma.

It’s an odd feeling for 58-year-old Weingartner, who admits it took a serious push from friends and loved ones to move forward with the exhibit. But nothing makes him happier than bringing joy to the people who see his photos.

“I like seeing people’s reactions to pictures and hearing their feedback — it really makes me feel good, and it makes me want to do it more. I love the rush of satisfaction that comes with it. I guess you could say I’m addicted to it,” he laughed.

Lake Ronkonkoma on a fall day

While photography has piqued his interest for decades, it took a long time for Weingartner to really find his niche. His father bought him his first camera, a simple Kodak, when he was just 9 years old. But he admitted feeling frustrated over the process of shooting a roll of film, waiting to have it developed, and then discovering that many of the photos were duds. “I didn’t have the patience for [traditional photography],” he said. “Not being able to see what the result was right away was hard for me.”

When digital photography emerged in the early 2000s, Weingartner was thrilled. Finally, he had the instant gratification of seeing each photo, with no wasted film and the option to delete ones he didn’t like with the push of a button. His love for photography was rekindled, and he hasn’t looked back. 

He began casually taking photos of his kids’ sports matches, plays and concerts. Word spread quickly about his natural talent. “Parents stopped bringing their cameras around and my pictures were used more and more. It became a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” Weingartner said.

A swan lands in Lake Ronkonkoma. Photo by Artie Weingartner

Now that his children are grown, the photographer is focusing more on chronicling the history of Lake Ronkonkoma. On a frigid day in January of 2016, he was invited by Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society member Matt Balkam to photograph the historic Fitz-Greene Hallock Homestead on Pond Road. The 14-room home was built in 1888 and contains all of the original furnishings of the Hallock family. In 2006, the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society took over the care of the home, and it is now the only historic home in the community that remains open for tours and other public programming.

That experience would lead Weingartner to become regularly involved with the historical society and the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group.

In 2016, News12 contacted Evelyn Vollgraff, the president of the historical society, about filming in the area for a show covering historic places on Long Island. When reporter Danielle Campbell arrived at Long Island’s largest freshwater lake with Vollgraff, she was horrified to see how neglected and filthy the body of water was.

Fog encompasses Lake Ronkonkoma

Campbell, Vollgraff and several others put the word out on social media that they wanted to work on beautifying the area. The response was beyond anything Vollgraff anticipated. “We never asked for help. We just did it,” she recalled. “People got interested — legislators, councilmen. At the first meeting, 90 people were there asking what they could do and how they could help. The community came together in an amazing way. We have joined together as groups of friends that wanted to help our community. But now many of them are a part of the historical society as well, and most importantly, they’re my friends.”

In early 2017, the group held its first cleanup of the lake. Weingartner was there that day, too. They have since removed more than 300 tons of trash from the lake, and turned an old bookstore destroyed by fire into the historic Larry’s Landing, a popular hangout named for the bookstore’s late owner, Larry Holzapfel.

“Artie showed up with a camera at one of the cleanups and just started taking pictures — that’s just who he is,” Vollgraff said. “You have to record history. I can’t save every house in Ronkonkoma, but with Artie taking pictures, the history lives on forever.”

The community has also expressed its gratitude for Artie’s work through Facebook, where he frequently posts his photos on the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group and Sachem Sports pages.

“People were coming out of the woodwork from Florida or South Carolina who lived there 30 years ago to say how much it meant to them to see pictures of the place they grew up,” Weingartner said. “When I first moved to Long Island from Queens in 1970, we used to swim in the lake, but over a few years it got so dirty that we didn’t swim there anymore. Before that, people used to come out from Manhattan just to spend time at the lake. It’s always been an important, historic part of this community.”

While the exhibit is named Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma, Weingartner said it encompasses a range of subjects, including sports and landscapes from other parts of Long Island, including Port Jefferson and Belle Terre. More than 75 framed 8-by-10 prints are on display. His favorite photo features Lake Ronkonkoma at sunset, with two birds and sunlight streaming down to the shore. All the photos were taken with a Nikon D600.

The photography show also includes guest contributions from photographers Richard Cornell and Richard Yezdanian.“This exhibit will be interesting to people in our area because [the lake and other scenes] are literally in our backyard,” said Anne Marie Tognella who works in programming and public relations at Sachem Public Library. “It captures many of the scenes that we see and appreciate every day with natural and historic value.”

Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook will present Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma in its art gallery on the lower level through the month of July. Join them for an artist reception on Saturday, July 21 at 2 p.m. For more information, call 631-588-5024.

‘Dingy Boat Rack’ (Brookhaven Town Marina, Mount Sinai) Photo by Gerard Romano

By Melissa Arnold

If you ask Gerard Romano how he’s feeling about his first ever photography exhibit opening this weekend, he’s quick to admit he never imagined this would happen.

“It seems like one minute I was submitting pictures to the local newspaper, and now there’s going to be an exhibit for [my pictures],” said the Port Jefferson Station resident. “I wasn’t expecting to do anything like this — the thought never crossed my mind before — so there was a lot to learn.”

Last year, Romano began to submit his photos to Times Beacon Record News Media’s weekly Photo of the Week series. Several of his photos were chosen over time, and eventually he was invited to submit a collection of his favorites for a two-page photo essay in the Arts & Lifestyles section. 

Now, Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station is featuring Romano’s photographs in an exhibit he’s entitled Visions of the North Shore. The presentation will be on display in the library’s gallery throughout the month of July and will showcase images of this beautiful part of Long Island that we call home.

‘Low Tide’ (Stony Brook Harbor) by Gerard Romano

Romano’s interest in photography began more than 50 years ago, when he acquired a 35mm camera soon after he left the Army. “I enjoy creating images and seeing things differently through the lens of a camera,” said Romano, who went on to work as an engineer and auxiliary police officer for Suffolk County. After his retirement he became active in digital photography. “I find it very satisfying to share those images with other photographers around the world through the image sharing website Flickr,” he said.

That desire to share his work would become the spark leading to this exhibit. One day, while visiting Stony Brook Harbor, he met Donna Grossman who was instructing a plein air class through the Atelier at Flowerfield art school in St. James. He snapped a photo of the artist, and Grossman offered to critique his work. “She suggested doing an exhibit, and I thought it might be fun,” he recalled. 

Reached by phone, Grossman said that Romano was a talented observer of life on the North Shore. “I am happy that his work will finally be brought to the attention of the residents of this beautiful area. His show at Comsewogue Library is not to be missed,” she said.

Romano is happiest photographing the area he knows best — the landscapes and waters of the North Shore, especially its bluffs and beaches. Taking inspiration from Norman Rockwell, he also enjoys taking candid photos of people interacting with one another and recently began focusing on taking close-ups of flowers.

“I like to go out with a plan for the kind of photos I’m going to take, but mostly it depends on the weather,” Romano explained. “Stony Brook offers a beautiful harbor, a wonderful museum, the Village Center, the grist mill, Avalon Park and Preserve, and nearby Harmony Vineyards. I also love to take photos around Setauket’s historic district, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai Harbor with the lobster boats.”

‘Seabird’ (Port Jefferson) by Gerard Romano

One of the photographer’s favorite images in the show is “Seabird,” an image of a seagull perched on a piling in Port Jefferson Harbor. “The gull let me get within three feet of him before flying away,” said Romano in disbelief. “It was very unusual.” 

To create his images, Romano uses two Nikon DSLR cameras, both equipped with BMP sensors. One camera has his all-purpose “walk around” 18-200mm zoom lens, which he uses most of the time. The other camera usually has a wide-angle lens. The photographer’s favorite is a 10.6mm fisheye lens for up close and personal shots. “It creates great special effects,” he explained.

Featuring over 45 images, the exhibit will display a variety of subjects, giving visitors a chance to find something that resonates with them. Its six sections will include seasonal landscapes, nautical photos, classic cars, Norman Rockwell-style color candids, black and white photos, and more.

Loretta Holtz, exhibit coordinator and head of adult services at Comsewogue Library said the library was happy to be showcasing the photographer’s work, adding, “Gerard Romano has captured so many wonderful scenes of our local area and we hope the community will take the time to visit the library gallery in July to see this exhibit.”

As he prepared for the exhibit’s opening a few weeks ago, Romano said that he didn’t realize how much work went into this kind of project. He and his wife Barbara Ann printed and framed each photo themselves, which had its own learning curve. It’s been hectic getting to this point, he said, but “it has also been a rewarding learning experience that has extended well beyond photography.”

Comsewogue Public Library is located at  170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station. Viewing hours for the gallery are Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-928-1212.

Alexa Helburn, right, with Simone DaRos, the vice president of the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society, at the nature photography fundraiser on June 13. Photo from Ronald Feuchs

By Sabrina Petroski

Alexa Helburn’s interest in photography started at the age of 13, with an iPhone camera and a dream. Now 15, the Huntington High School honor student held her first photography fundraiser, Nature Through the Lens, at the Cold Spring Harbor Library on June 13 in hopes of educating people on how to conserve the environment, as well as how to appreciate the beauty around them.

The event was for the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society whose mission is to protect birds and other wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend through education, public advocacy and conservation action.

Of the 24 photographs on display, 17 of them found homes with members of the community, raising $195. The money will be used to fund a Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society (HOBAS) backed fishing line receptacle project by James Ricci, a seventh-grader at Greenlawn’s Oldfield Middle School, which helps prevent wildlife on North Shore’s waterways from getting caught in unused fishing line. 

‘Amber Breeze’

Reached by email the day after the event, Alexa, who took all the exhibit’s photos using her newest toy, a Canon EOS T6 digital SLR, was still taking it all in. “I worked really hard and felt both nervous and excited — nervous about people’s reactions and questions, and excited to showcase my work to the public.” Alexa said she still uses her iPhone 8 sometimes, whether it be to capture a moment that would otherwise be missed or to preview shots before using her Canon.

Relocating from South Salem in Northern Westchester a year ago, Alexa used her love of photography to explore her new home in Huntington and found that taking pictures of her surroundings made her more comfortable in her new community, as well as made her appreciate her surroundings more. 

“Moving was tough, but I guess you could say that having a hobby, like photography, made the transition a little bit easier,” she said. “Photography allows me to capture what’s going on in my life and share that with my friends and family. Photography is also a creative outlet for me, whether it’s snapping a photo of that perfect sunset or capturing a fleeting moment at the exact right time — the feeling of getting it right makes it all worthwhile.” 

Camelot Lavender Foxgloves

Alexa says that she has always been interested in environmental conservation, and when she found HOBAS she discovered she could use her two passions to benefit her new community while giving herself exposure and a chance to connect with the community. 

The photos at the exhibition included pictures taken on recent HOBAS field trips as well as images from nature preserves in the Huntington-Oyster Bay area. The selection included the aptly named “Spiral of Branches,” captured at the John Hume Japanese Garden in Mill Neck; “Amber Breeze,” taken at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Lloyd Harbor depicting common reed grass blowing in the wind forming a natural fence in front of the marshes beyond; along with the beautiful image of “Camelot Lavender Foxgloves” snapped at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay.

When asked what advice she would give to people her age interested in pursuing photography, Alexa said it is important that they know that they don’t need a professional camera to take good photos. “Newer smartphones have great built-in cameras, and that’s a good place to start,” she advised. The photographer also recommends focusing less on the technical aspects and more on the compositional aspects instead. 

‘Spiral of Branches’

“This was her first time exhibiting her photography publicly, and it’s great to see someone so young using their talent to not only benefit themselves, but also the community,” said Ronald Feuchs, the founder of Stand Out for College, LLC, a college counseling and mentoring service that focuses on helping students create significant service projects that benefit the community as well as fostering the student’s personal growth and confidence in the process. 

Feuchs has been working with Alexa to develop this community project that showcases her talents and gives back to her new community. 

“Alexa is a self-taught photographer, and her eye is incredible,” said Jackie Tepper, Feuchs’ assistant. “Her use of light and color is so sophisticated.”

Alexa’s family has been so supportive of her recent escapades and hopes she continues to pursue her passion. “I’m so proud of what Alexa is doing with her photography project with HOBAS. She’s using her tremendous talent to benefit a very important organization in our new hometown and she’s pushing herself beyond her comfort zone by exhibiting her work to the public,” said Alexa’s father Jim. “It’s a big deal for anyone, let alone a 15-year-old, to put their artistic talent on display. And, even though I know firsthand that a high school student has taken these photos, I am still amazed by how sophisticated her eye is.”

For Alexa, the opportunity to hold a photography fundraiser was a no-brainer. “I thought this would be a great way to make a difference and take responsibility to help care for our environment.” 

More of Alexa’s photos will be posted on the HOBAS website shortly to continue raising money for the society. For more information, visit www.hobaudubon.org.

‘Golden Grasses’ by Julie Doczi

By Heidi Sutton

The lazy days of summer are still a few weeks away, but inside Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery the flowers are in full bloom, a warm breeze of salt air tickles your nose, and if you listen closely, you can hear the splashing of water in a pool. There are other sights and sounds as well as you travel from room to room throughout the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion — a Ferris wheel goes round and round at a carnival, children giggle as they play hopscotch on the sidewalk and waves softly lap at a fishing boat tied to a dock.

Now in its 40th year, STAC’s annual Juried Fine Art Exhibition is back with fervor. Aptly named A Summer Song, the colorful show, which runs through June 24, features over 50 original works of art by 45 artists depicting scenes relating to summer. And if one catches your fancy, it may just be available for purchase.

Artists were invited to submit “representational images of summer-related sights, activities, impressions, or atmosphere — as well as surrealistic or abstract evocations inspired by the subject” from “images of sun, sea, surf and verdure to a more melancholy awareness of summer’s last gasp, a prelude to fall.”

And much to the delight of STAC’s Executive Director Allison Cruz, the entries that poured in by local artists from Bay Shore, Brookhaven, Centereach, East Hampton, East Northport, Farmingdale, Hauppauge, Hempstead, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington Station, Commack, Montauk, Nesconset, North Babylon, Northport, Patchogue, Port Jefferson, Ridge, Rocky Point, Ronkonkoma, Setauket, Smithtown, St. James and Stony Brook were on point. Artists from as far as Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont answered the call as well.

According to Cruz, a national show is good for a lot of reasons. “There’s so much talent here but I see it as an eye opening experience for [local artists] in a way for them to learn how to grow their art,” she said.

Chosen mediums run the gamut from oil, pastel, acrylic, watercolor and pen and ink to paper lithograph, resin mix media and torn paper collage, stoneware and kiln-formed glass.

The exhibition’s juror was Carol Strickland, an art historian who contributes feature stories on visual art to Art in America magazine. Her articles on culture have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Art and Antiques, MOMUS and Private Journey magazine. The author of “The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern,” Strickland also writes a monthly column on art and politics for www.clydefitchreport.com. 

“The excitement in this exhibit for me was having a juror who has never juried anything out [on the Island] before and whose credentials throw the exhibit into a whole different light,” said Cruz, adding, “There are a lot of new artists this year.  [The juror] attracted a lot of new people.” 

“It was a pleasure to see so many varied responses to the theme, which hit all the notes in terms of sensory and aesthetic interpretations,” said Strickland. “Some were so expressive and lively, I felt a jolt of energy, as if inhaling a big gulp of freshening wind from the seashore. Others captured a more tranquil or pensive mood, inducing contemplation of both summer’s joy and transience.”

Participating artists include Janet Amalfitano, Shain Bard, Jorus Beasley, Victoria Beckert, Marta Beltramo, Renee Blank, Jean Marie Bucich, Renee Caine, Kevin Casey, Frank Casucci, Carol Ceraso, Gerry Chapleski, Donna Corvi, Claudia Cron, Julie Doczi, Anna Franklin, Janice Gabriel, Vivian Gattuso, Maureen Ginipro, Jan Guarino, Katherine Hiscox, Paul Hitchen, David Jaycox Jr., Jim Kelson, Lynn Kinsella, Mary Lor, Jeanette Martone, Frederic Mendelsohn, Joseph Miller, Margaret Minardi, Debra Puzzo, Kate Rocks, Micheline Ronningen, Joseph Santarpia, Stacey Schuman, Kathee Shaff Kelson, Margaret Shipman, Roxene Sloate, Rosemary Sloggatt, Hannah Steele, Rita Swanteson, Alexandra Turner, Nicholas J. Valentino, Adriann Valiquette and Patty Yantz.

While finding the task difficult because “the level of technical skill in the entries was impressive,” Strickland eventually chose a first-, second-, and third-place winner along with three honorable mentions.

First place was awarded to “Summer on the Sidewalk,” pencil and ink on paper, by  Jeanette Martone of Bay Shore; second place went to “Summer Bouquet,” acrylic on canvas, by Renee Blank of Holbrook; and “Eternize #3,” paper lithograph and mixed media by Claudia Cron from Connecticut, garnered third. 

Honorable Mentions include “Driveway of the Artist,” oil, by Frederic Mendelsohn of Port Jefferson Station; “Sight,” charcoal on wood, by Hannah Steele from Massachusetts; and “Golden Grasses,” pastel, by Julie Doczi of Port Jefferson Station.

According to Strickland, she made her final decisions based on presenting “a wide array of different facets of the theme, to show images that varied in media, subject and style,” as well as looking “for works that aroused a response in me.”

For Cruz, Strickland’s presence was an important one for the gallery and the participating artists. “For me personally, it was an opportunity that fits into my line of thinking,” she said. “When I do a juried show and I’m hiring a juror, the point of it is to give the artists a different experience, a different opportunity to have someone with a different background to look at their work.”

 For Strickland, the feeling was mutual. “In all cases, I appreciated each artist’s originality and individual approach to mark-making … and wish all entrants a satisfying future of art making.”

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Member Artist Showcase through June 24. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

All images courtesy of Allison Cruz

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