Art exhibit

'Man of La Boca' by Virginia Khuri

The Huntington Arts Council, celebrating its 55th year, recently unveiled its latest exhibit at its Main Street Gallery. Titled 12 × 12, the juried show features artwork inspired by the LP Record Jacket and will be on display until May 26. The winners, selected by juror Beth Giacummo, were announced at an opening reception on May 4. 

‘Bound,’ Honorable Mention by Shreya Krishnan

“It was a pleasure to juror the Huntington Arts Council 12×12 open call,” said Giacummo in a recent press release. An artist, curator and educator, Giacummo currently serves as the gallery director for Farmingdale State College and is the executive director of the Patchogue Arts Council. “I’d like to thank all the artists who took the time to submit work for consideration, there was a fantastic response and it made the final decisions difficult. I’d also like to thank the HAC for the invitation to be a guest juror. I enjoyed seeing so much new work,” she added. 

The idea of the 12-inch LP has been a concurrent image in popular culture since the first one was pressed in 1903. The images on the cover grew from signage and marketing to works of art that represented the music and the culture in which both were and currently are being created. The album cover quickly emerged as a way to feature the work of talented artists. Its iconic format still maintains the visual representation for the auditory message enclosed within. 

‘The Rain King,’ Honorable Mention by Patty Eljaiek

Thirty-six artists were accepted as finalists including Detlef Aderhold, Patrick Aievoli, Beth Atkinson, Quinn Blackburn, Winifred Boyd, Mary Brodersen, Terry Canavan, Wendy Curtis, Dawn Daisley, Grainne de Buitlear, Doris Diamond, James Dima, Patty Eljaiek, Terry Finch, Nicole Franz, William Grabowski, Jan Guarino, Rodee Hansen, Dan Hittleman, Melissa Johnides, Amy Kasindorf, Kate Kelly, Virginia Khuri, Karen Lynne Kirshner, Myungja Koh, Shreya Krishnan, Anny Lamsifer, Jacques LeBlanc, Ellen Liebenthal, John Micheals, Kasmira Mohanty, Michael Ricigliano, Toxic/Nature Studios By Scott Schneider, Roya Shamsdiba, Meredith Smith and Stephen Wyler.

Best in Show was awarded to Virginia Khuri for “Man of La Boca,” with honorable mentions handed to Shreya Krishnan for  “Bound,” Patrick Aievoli for “Patsy and the Kisco Kids v1” and Patty Eljaiek for “The Rain King.” Congratulations!

‘Patsy and the Kisco Kids v1,’ Honorable Mention by Patrick Aievoli

“We are excited to feature this small works show inspired by artistic impact of the record jacket,” said Marc Courtade, executive director of the HAC. “This concept crosses so many generations of artists, particularly now with the resurgence in the popularity of the LP. Its just one example of how we are working to provide a broader range of creative options for artist to show their work. Please stop by the gallery to see this show.” 

The Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery is located at 213 Main St., Huntington. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-271-8423 or visit www.huntingtonarts.org.

Council members Mark Cuthbertson, Joan Cergol and Ed Smyth, center, pose with art students and their teachers in front of the Heckscher Museum on May 4. Photo from Town of Huntington

In conjunction with the Town of Huntington’s 18th annual Tulip Festival, intermediate and middle school students within the Huntington Township were invited once again to enter the annual Tulip Festival School Art Contest. 

The event was sponsored by the Town of Huntington, NEFCU, Huntington Arts Council and the Heckscher Museum of Art.

By Laurel Bonn of Finley Middle School

This year’s theme was Huntington in Bloom. Students were encouraged to independently interpret the theme and create personal reflections of springtime in Huntington. The winning artwork was selected by a jury comprised of artists and art professionals and was displayed at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park during the Tulip Festival last Sunday. 

Laurel Bonn of Finley Middle School was awarded the Carolyn Fostel Best in Show award, given in honor of the late Ms. Fostel. Fostel was instrumental in planning and securing sponsorship support of the initial Huntington Tulip Festival in 2001 and continued to be active in these capacities on the Festival Committee until she passed away in 2011.

By Shivaangi Salhotra of the Long Island School for the Gifted

Shivaangi Salhotra of the Long Island School for the Gifted received a Showwide Honorable Mention. 

Three winners from each grade level were honored at the event, with the first-prize winner receiving a $50 gift card courtesy of NEFCU.

Third-grade winners: First Place — Isla McAlister, Second Place — Alexa Blumo, Third Place — Sophia Marino.

Fourth-grade winners: First Place — Nina Corbett, Second Place — Lily Kramer, Third Place — Grace Lu, Honorable Mention — Megan LaMena, Honorable Mention — Avery Veter Walsh.

Fifth-grade winners: First Place — Grace Schoonmaker, Second Place — Sameera Chaudhry, Third Place — Andrew Vitale.

Sixth-grade winners: First Place — Caterina Dottino, Second Place — Hannah Stark, Third Place — Gabriella Messing.

Seventh-grade winners: First Place — Emily Gershuny, Second Place — Elisa Kong, Third Place — Stephanie Wickey.

Eighth-grade winners: First Place — Si Yue Jiang, Second Place — Jennifer Zhu, Third Place — Lily Chai.

Art teachers also received $50 for each student whose art was chosen as the best of the grade for use in purchasing art supplies, also courtesy of NEFCU.

To see images of all the entries, visit www.huntingtonarts.org.

Winners honored at art reception on April 20

By Heidi Sutton

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook kicked off its 2018 juried art competition, Wanderlust, with a standing room only artist reception on April 20. 

Amateur and professional artists were invited to submit up to three pieces using the desire to travel as their inspiration. 

Neil Watson, executive director of the LIM, opened the reception by congratulating the artists.“You deserve a huge hand. This is one of the strongest shows that I’ve seen in five years.” 

“I’ve been a museum director for many years in many different kinds of museums and artists are the core … Whether it’s a carriage that’s made by a group of artisans from the wheels to the fabric … or it’s a painting or a photograph, it’s a maker. I applaud all of you for being makers and continuing to do that and push it because I know it’s really hard.”

Watson went on to mention that the works of 39 members of the LIMarts, a collaborative arts group, were in the show and encouraged the other artists in the room to join. “This museum believes in makers,” he said. 

Museum staff members combed through more than 300 entries submitted to come up with 76 final entries. Debbie Wells, co-founder and partner of Artful Circle, served as juror and was tasked with selecting a first-, second-, and third-place winner along with two honorable mentions. Wells was also present at the reception, a first for a juried exhibit reception at the museum.

Before announcing the winners, Lisa Unander, director of education at the museum, encouraged all the visitors to browse the exhibit to see all of the artist’s works. “It’s a fantastic show. We are so happy for the turnout for [all the artists] tonight,” she said.

Smithtown resident Elizabeth Milward captured first place for her hauntingly beautiful black and white photo,  “All Aboard,” which was taken on the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania. “Just beaming with artistic talent” was a comment overhead from one of the visitors.

Barron Krody of Stony Brook nabbed second place for his oil on canvas painting, “Happiness Is …” depicting a young girl with a big smile sitting on a cloud with arms outstretched as if flying. “When I heard about the theme [for the show] the word that came to mind was exuberance,’’ said Krody at the reception. Mission accomplished Mr. Krody. 

Third place was awarded to Julianna Kirk of the hamlet of Brookhaven for her  colored pencil masterpiece, “Prague Street,” which featured a young girl in the foreground.

Two honorable mentions were awarded as well. The first was to Jovanna Hopkins of Dix Hills for her stunning digital photograph of Zabriskie Point in California’s Death Valley. The second was to Ronkonkoma’s Gabriella Grama for a vintage suitcase decorated with mosaic tile titled “Worldy Possessions.” The work of art is adorned with images of all the places she has visited, including Egypt. Said the mosaic artist, “I made this just for the show because I love to travel.”

Juror’s comments:

1stplace  

 Elizabeth Milward

All Aboard, Photography

“This photograph tells the story of wanderlust – the desire to journey. The composition of the two figures facing the tracks into the misty distance is very strong and quite moving. The atmospheric quality is enhanced by their vintage clothing and the soft landscape ahead of them.  Excellent monochromatic layering and use of photographic techniques makes it worthy of first prize.  It exemplifies the theme of the exhibition.”

2ndplace 

Baron Krody

Happiness is…,Oil on Canvas

“The perfect title for this whimsical take on the Wanderlust theme. Beautiful, painterly clouds float throughout the composition. Like a cherry on an ice cream sundae, the young girl is brave, happy and poised to embark on an adventure.  This piece is colorful and imaginative – the viewer does not know what is going to happen next, but there is much optimism for this girl!”

 3rdplace 

 Julianna Kirk

Prague Street, Pencil

“This storybook-style illustration was executed by an artist with superior skills in colored pencil techniques.  The perspective of the buildings and architectural landscape are charming and beautifully drawn.  By adding the red-headed woman in the foreground, it frames the composition so that the viewer is seeing the world as she sees it.  The color choices are interesting – a terracotta palette with touches of green give the piece an old world feel.  One wonders what this woman is dreaming about in this European courtyard scene.”

 Honorable Mentions

 Gabriella Grama

Worldly Possessions, Mosaic on Vintage Suitcase

“Most exhibitions feature art on the walls, but when a piece made of unusual materials is showcased, it always stands out.  This mixed media artwork is an unexpected combination of materials.  The form underneath is a suitcase, symbolizing travel and carrying one’s belongings from place to place.  By covering it with mosaics, it adds a sense of permanence because mosaics are not mobile. They historically, are adhered to walls and decorative objects. The juxtaposition of movement and stability is intriguing.  The travel stickers are both fanciful and well-created as they document the travel itinerary of the suitcase.”

Jovanna Hopkins

Zabriskie-Point, Death Valley, Ca.,Photography

“This photograph takes a vast landscape and reduces it to a viewpoint that is nearly abstract.  Between the intense colors and the varying textures of the rocks and shadows, the viewer must look at this scene for the beauty of the shapes, rather than its reality. The composition forces the eye round and round with just enough time to stop and appreciate nature at its finest. Sometimes ‘wanderlust’ means one wants to keep going, but there are also times where it is necessary to just sit and really look at where you are!”

Whether you’re a world traveler or just a dreamer, don’t miss this beautiful exhibit. The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Wanderlust in the Visitors Center through June 3. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Jan Staller, ‘Water Purification Plant,’ Hempstead, Long Island, 1991, Heckscher Museum of Art

By Kevin Redding

Heavy metal is coming to Huntington’s Heckscher Museum of Art this month. Not in the form of head-banging music but the photography of Jan Staller — a Long Island native whose large-scale shots of industrial landscapes, urban infrastructure, neglected buildings and construction materials have been subjects of beauty and acclaim for almost 40 years. 

From April 21 through July 29, nearly two decades of Staller’s career will be on display at Heckscher’s Heavy Metal: Photographs by Jan Staller exhibition, which will feature more than a dozen of his “monumental photographs,” a three-channel video of his work and an in-depth discussion with the artist himself on May 10 at 7 p.m. 

Jan Staller, ‘Pile of Rebar,’ Flushing, Queens, 2007, on loan by the artist

Staller, who moved to Manhattan in 1976 after gathering up degrees at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts and Maryland Institute, rejected the trend among photographers at the time to journey across the country in search of subjects and instead began capturing his immediate surroundings. A deteriorated highway along the Hudson River. Buildings in ruin. Unfamiliar architecture. All with a focus on pattern, geometry, line color and light — both natural and artificial. 

Staller has said of his unique work that he “looks for the sculptural, formal and lyrical qualities of objects that are not always thought to warrant contemplation.”

This ability to zero in on the unseen and passed-by in the urban setting, and capture the gradual development of Manhattan over time, has brought Staller’s work to the pages of Time and Life Magazine, Forbes and The New York Times and inside the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Since the 1970s, he has taken his camera across the country and world and was chosen to photograph on the sets of such films as “12 Monkeys” and “Fargo.” The latter’s snowbound setting was a natural fit for Staller, whose snapshots of blizzards in empty New York City in the ’70s and ’80s are among his most famous. He has also had two monographs of his photographs published — “Frontier New York” and “On Planet Earth.”

“Jan’s photographs show us our ordinary, everyday surroundings in a way that many of us do not perceive them,” said Lisa Chalif, the museum’s curator, who first met Staller during an exhibition in 2009 titled Long Island Moderns, highlighting local artists from painters to photographers to architects. “He makes me stop and see things differently. You see the beauty there and most of us are not able to look and isolate the formal structures necessarily in those sights. You can see all the color in the rusted steel. I didn’t always see that but he helps me see that.”

She continued, “Staller perceives in existing manufactured forms, seen in random industrial settings, a serene beauty that he isolates with his camera, discerning order in chaos, beauty in decay and a sense of mystery within the ordinary.”

In a recent interview, Staller, who grew up primarily in Sag Harbor, said he became infatuated with photography at an early age as his father pursued the art as a hobby, dark room in the house and all. By the time he was 13, he had his own 35mm camera and was snapping pictures of the garden and nature. A couple of years later, at 15, he started developing his own prints with the aid of a dark room he built at school. 

Looking back at his long career, Staller said the common thread in all his work is an “ephemeral” subject matter.

“Things in transition are, for at least in the moment that I’m there, of particular interest,” he said. “I think that’s something I’ve always been captivated by. But if you look at my work over the years, you can see there’s a gradual [inclination] to get closer in on the subject matter, a lessening of the contextual details and a greater emphasis on the thing itself. Until the thing itself is the only issue being explored, such as these photographs made of construction materials … ” 

The photographer, who still resides in Manhattan, said he was looking forward to the exhibition and gauging the public’s response to his work. “I think that being an artist, we’re exploring some ideas and are hoping to impart those to others,” he said. “So when people understand that in a very clear way, that’s probably the most gratifying thing.” 

Staller continued, “I often quip that we artists are all wannabe cult leaders, in the sense that we think that we have this vision of the world and art is something that is affirmed by a consensus or not. So it all depends on who or how many people are affirming the work. A show at The Heckscher Museum is an affirmation and one that I’m very satisfied with.”

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington will present Heavy Metal: Photographs of Jan Staller from April 21 to July 29. The community is invited to a Gallery Talk on Thursday, May 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. $5 per person, members free. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.Heckscher.org.

Photos courtesy of The Heckscher Museum

From left, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci; Jillian Guthman, receiver of taxes; Best in Show winner Paulina Trzonkowska of West Babylon; and Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth. Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington recently announced the top awards for Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum. The prestigious competition received 385 entries from a record-breaking 62 high schools across Suffolk and Nassau counties. The juried selection narrowed the field down to 80 works currently featured in the museum gallery through April 15.

“Every year, the caliber of artwork is more impressive and the artists’ statements increasingly more creative and thoughtful. It is a challenge to choose the best of the best from hundreds of entries,” noted Joy Weiner, director of education.  

The competition’s four top honorees were Paulina Trzonkowska, a senior at West Babylon High School who received the Celebrate Achievement Best in Show Award for her colored pencil work titled “Too Close”; Isabelle Lin, a junior at Manhasset High School,  who received Second Place, the Judith Sposato Memorial Prize, for her painting, “Two Flags”; Estefanie Arrue, a senior at Hicksville High School, received Third Place, the Hadley Prize, for “Female Reconstruction,” a mixed media work; and Rico Ford, a senior at Valley Stream Central High School, received Fourth Place for the colored pencil work “Pair of Kings.”   

 Now in its 22nd year, Long Island’s Best provides students the opportunity to exhibit their artwork in a prominent museum and to be featured in a full-color catalog while museum visitors are treated to exceptional artwork by talented emerging artists.  

Jurors for the exhibition were Lisa Chalif, curator, The Heckscher Museum of Art, and guest juror Doug Reina, a notable Setauket artist and 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipient. 

“For high school students, this is a rare and exciting opportunity to put their skills to the ultimate test and show the world who they are. This is where you bring your A game,” said Reina. “This is their first taste of what life in the contemporary art world is really like. The ‘creative pressure’ gives these young people terrific experience as they become the next generation of the world’s artists.”

In addition to the gallery exhibition, visitors can see all of the artwork submitted to the competition on a digital display that will run for the entirety of the exhibition and Mitchells, a Huntington-based department store, will display select images from Long Island’s Best in its windows on Main Street beginning mid-April.  

Generous support for exhibit is provided by The Darrell Fund Endowment, Strong-Cuevas Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation,  RBC Wealth Management,  A Friend of the Museum and Dr. Inna Gellerman of Gellerman Orthodontics.

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington is open Wednesday to 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.

‘Dance of the Haymakers’ by William Sydney Mount, 1845

By Heidi Sutton

Now through Sept. 3, The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook presents a delightful treat: a special exhibit titled Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount.

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868) was a renowned artist best known for his genre paintings, although he also painted landscapes and portraits. Born in Setauket, Mount lived in Stony Brook and painted many local scenes. A man of many talents, Mount was also a musician (he played the fiddle and fife), composer and inventor, designing a hollow-back violin that he named the Cradle of Harmony.

‘The Banjo Player,’ 1856, by William Sidney Mount, oil on canvas, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

So many of Mount’s paintings incorporate music into the scene, whether it is dancing or playing a musical instrument so it was only natural to “connect his two major passions in life,” according to the exhibit’s curator, Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretations and chief curator at The LIM.

Currently on view in the Victoria V. Costigan Gallery in the Art Museum on the hill, the fascinating exhibit links Mount’s music and art with more than 20 oil paintings, pencil drawings, musical instruments, original compositions and more.

Of course, it is the incredible oil paintings, drawn from the museum’s unsurpassed collection, that take center stage. “Catching the Tune,” “Dancing on the Barn Floor,” “Just in Tune” and the famous “Dance of the Haymakers,” among others, are displayed in all their glory.

The portraits, some of which are over 160 years old, are as colorful and vibrant as ever. “Both William and his brother, Shepard Alonzo Mount, were really great at painting eyes and giving one the feeling like they are sitting in a room across from you,” commented Ruff, who has a fondness for “The Banjo Player.”

‘Just in Tune,’ 1849, oil on canvas, by William Sidney Mount, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

Situated toward the center of the room is a unique music stand that Mount illustrated with sheet music of early American folk tunes including “Dearest Ellen” and a patriotic Fourth of July song. “These musical pieces were popular in the 19th century,” explained Ruff during a recent tour. The stand was designed to accommodate four musicians at a time and Ruff said that Mount most likely used it. “I would be surprised if he didn’t,” said the curator.

Also on display are some of Mount’s compositions including “In the Cars on the Long Island Railroad” and “The Musings of an Old Bachelor,” as well as musical instruments — a tin whistle, hornpipe, tuning fork — which belonged to the Mount family. A piano owned by Mount’s uncle Micah Hawkins sits in the corner. A General Store owner at Catherine’s Market in lower Manhattan, Hawkins composed music and to some extent was an influence to Mount “but his whole family was passionate about music,” said Ruff.

Along with Mount’s personal violin and initialed case, three prototypes of Mount’s Cradle of Harmony are also on view. “It’s nice that we were able to have all three examples of the violin that he designed and we have the 1852 patent design drawing for the first one,” the curator said.

In the background, a video plays several of Mount’s compositions, initially recorded by violinist Gilbert Ross for the Smithsonian in 1976 on its own Cradle of Harmony, tying the exhibit together perfectly.

“It is amazing how Mount was just able to bring music and art together and combine it. Until you have all [these items] gathered in a gallery you don’t necessarily appreciate just how much he was setting a violin down and picking up a paintbrush,” reflected Ruff. “Where one started and one finished is not always clear … nor should it be. It was just this continuing, constant influence and important part of his life.”

Related programs

Art & Music lecture

The Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, St. James will present a lecture on the Perfect Harmony exhibit with guest speaker, curator Joshua Ruff, on Thursday, April 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Atelier Hall featuring an early American fiddle performance by Director Kevin McEvoy. Suggested donation is $10. For more information, call 631-250-9009.

Mount tribute concert

On Saturday, April 14, The LIM will host a concert by the Manhattan-based Red Skies Music Ensemble at 2 p.m. The group will bring Mount’s music and art to life through visual imagery and theatrical interpretation of songs from the artist’s own collection. One of the musicians will play Mount’s Cradle of Harmony. Followed by a Q&A. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 members and students. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

Hands-On Art

Students in grades K through 4 can take part in an after school program, Hands-On Art, on Thursday, May 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. by visiting the Perfect Harmony exhibit and taking inspiration from William Sidney Mount to combine music and art. $10 per child. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount through Sept. 3. The museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children 5 and under free. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

 

From left, MPMS Historical Society members Nancy and Dick Pav, picture framer Eric Grotz, photographer Michael Eamotte, Leg. Sarah Anker, MPMS Historical Society Treasurer Gerard Mannarino and MPMS Historical Society members Margaret Cibulka and Antoinette Donato

HONORING HISTORY On Saturday, Feb. 10, Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) attended the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s gallery opening at the historic Daniel Hawkins House in Miller Place. The reception included wine and cheese and a display of beautiful photographs portraying local sites by artist Michael Eamotte, of Michael Ray Images, encased in frames donated by Rustic Frames by E.G.

“Thank you to the members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society for their hard work and dedication to preserving out local history,” said Anker. “The photo gallery reception was an amazing opportunity to visit the Hawkins House, and to see photographs from a local artist who cares about the rich history of our community. I encourage everyone to visit this historic site and to support the historical society’s preservation efforts,” she said.

The goal of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society is to ensure that historic landmarks are remembered and preserved for future generations. Help preserve history by volunteering or making a donation to this important organization. All monetary donations will help the society renovate the historic Hawkins House and Miller House. For more information about the society and its upcoming events, please visit www.mpmshistoricalsociety.org.

‘Lure of the Butterfly,’ c. 1914-15, oil on canvas, private collection

‘My great and absorbing passion is the love of beauty. Beautiful things give me pleasure. As fine art is the application of the principle of aesthetics or beauty, painting has especially appealed to me as an outlet.’

­— Jane Peterson interview with The Garden Magazine, 1922

By Heidi Sutton

After a brief hiatus in January, the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook opens its 2018 season with a new traveling exhibition featuring the works of artist Jane Peterson. Titled Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad, it was organized by the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Conneticut, and was initially on view there from November 2107 to January of this year. The show, which opened last weekend in the Art Museum on the hill, will run through April 22 and will be accompanied by a number of gallery tours, workshops and other public programs.

Jane Peterson sketching on the beach, Jane Peterson Papers, 1907-1981, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Jane Peterson was a modernist painter whose artistic journey provided a vital link between the impressionist and expressionist art movements in the United States. Born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1876, her love of art led her to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and after graduation she studied oil and watercolor painting at the Art Students League in New York City. Peterson went on to have a formidable and successful career as an award-winning artist and was featured in more than 80 solo exhibitions until her death in 1965 at the age of 88. Today her artwork can be found all over the country in various museums, galleries, institutions and in the hands of private collectors. 

For those of you who have never heard of Jane Peterson you are not alone. But her artwork is so extraordinary that the public deserves to be enlightened and that is precisely why this show was created, according to its curator, Cynthia Roznoy of the Mattatuck Museum.

“From the time of her one-person show in Boston in 1909 Peterson exhibited frequently right through the 1950s when she is already in her 70s,” said Roznoy during a recent phone interview. “During the high point of her career from the teens through the 30s she had multiple exhibitions a year. By the 1950s she had one exhibition per year, but that was still a great accomplishment for a woman painter at the turn of the century.”

‘Tiger Lilies’, Mattatuck Museum

According to Roznoy, the idea to create a solo exhibit on Jane Peterson occurred rather serendipitously. While visiting the Liros Gallery in Blue Hill, Maine, in 2013, the director of the Mattatuck Museum, Robert Burns, was immediately drawn to two paintings by Peterson. Intrigued, he purchased one of the works, “Tiger Lilies,” and upon returning to the museum asked Roznoy if she had ever heard of this artist. She had not and after some quick research “we decided it was time to do a show and bring her back to public recognition,” said the curator. 

Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad brings 85 of Peterson’s incredible paintings together for the first time in over 45 years along with photographs and archives that provide a glimpse into her personal life. An enormous undertaking, the process took two years to complete and included the collaboration of over 30 museums including Hofstra University Museum in Hempstead, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Brooklyn Museum as well as many galleries and private collectors nationwide. 

While researching Peterson, Roznoy was most impressed by how evolutionary and versatile she was as an artist. “What I learned about her is her scope of technique,” she said. “I always admire an artist who evolves — who doesn’t do the same sort of paintings all the time … [Peterson] never stopped learning and she loved to study and to learn from other artists and also she always enjoyed expanding her repertoire … her style, her subject matter, her interests all changed as she developed, professionally and personally.” 

‘Tiffany’s Garden,’ c. 1913, watercolor and gouache on paper, Long Island Museum, gift of the Estate of Miriam Godofsky.
Image courtesy of LIM

The decision to turn the show into a traveling exhibit was an easy one for the curator. “There were a couple of reasons. The first one was our perceived notion that she was an artist who deserved to be better known and one way to do that was to travel it. Another one was after 45 years this is the first retrospective exhibition and it is the first museum exhibition and we felt other museums would be interested in doing so. Once we started talking to other institutions, everyone said ‘Great idea! Why didn’t we think of this before?’ So it was like tapping into that zeitgeist where everyone says yes, time to do it, and we were the ones to get it started,” said Roznoy.

Entering the art museum at the LIM, a lovely portrait of Peterson by Elsie Southwick Clark beckons you to explore the life and art of this American master. Divided into several sections, the exhibit explores Peterson’s early years; her travels to Europe as well as Egypt and Turkey; her home cities of New York, Palm Beach and Glouchester, Massachusetts; portraits of women; her floral still lifes; and the grand gardens of Laurelton Hall, Louis C. Tiffany’s Oyster Bay estate. The Long Island Museum contributed Peterson’s “Tiffany’s Garden” to the show. Preferring to work in oil, watercolor, gouache and charcoal, the artist often combined a few of the mediums together to create colorful, vibrant scenes.

As a whole, Roznoy is personally most impressed with Peterson’s Glouchester street scenes. “I think they are the most enchanting works in the exhibition. They’re just beautifully painted, with very intricate composition.” She also enjoyed investigating the Tiffany garden paintings. “The link was very interesting to me because of Tiffany [and] the fact that he would invite artists to Laurelton Hall and Peterson was one of the artists who painted the gardens.” 

‘Girl with Fruit,’ c. 1914, oil on canvas, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Dale B. Finfrock

“It’s just a great exhibit. We are very thrilled to have it,” said Joshua Ruff, curator at the Long Island Museum during a recent tour. “She’s not a name but boy she was good,” he gushed. “It’s always exciting to do a [solo] exhibition about an artist [that people are not familiar with].” Roznoy agreed, saying “It is every curator’s wish to find an underknown artist and to bring them to public attention and there is that whole scholarly pursuit that is so satisfying.”

An accompanying catalog, written by Roznoy and Arlene Katz Nichols with an introduction by J. Jonathan Joseph and a foreword from Burns, is available for sale in the LIM gift shop or at www.mattmuseum.org. After April 22 the exhibit will travel to the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina, from May 13 to July 22 and then head upstate to The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls from Aug. 5 to Oct. 14. 

Roznoy hopes visitors to the exhibit will see Jane Peterson as a conduit to modernism in the early 20th century, gather enjoyment of her work and also experience “a sense of satisfaction in seeing a woman in the early 20th century succeed.”

The Long Island Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children under 6 free. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Images courtesy of Long Island Museum and Mattatuck Museum

Maryland aster

By Rita J. Egan

Diane Bouchier hopes to plant the love of botanical art in the hearts of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library patrons. The library, located in Setauket, will host an exhibit of Bouchier’s drawings, Native Plants of Long Island, through the month of February.

Diane Bouchier

The Stony Brook resident said she has been artistic since she was a child, but her career path took a slightly different direction. For nearly 40 years, she was a professor at Stony Brook University where she taught sociology of art. While artistic activities fed into her academic work “in a very positive way,” over time she felt a need to hone her skills. 

“I was always supposed to be artistic as a kid, but then I went into the social sciences,” said Bouchier in a recent interview. “I guess I was a child of the ’60s, and I thought it was important to understand what was going on. I don’t regret that choice, but along the way, in fact, when [my husband and I] moved to our house in Wading River I started a garden, I realized I could not draw the flowers to the level I wanted to draw them. I said to myself, ‘Wait a minute, you’re supposed to be artistic, why isn’t this turning out?’”

Her frustration in drawing flowers inspired Bouchier to take courses at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx where she obtained her certification in its botanical arts and illustration program.

It was during her time studying botanical art that she met one of her mentors, Ann-Marie Evans, a teacher at NYBG. Bouchier said it was Evans who encouraged her to start the American Society of Botanical Artists, an interactive community dedicated to preserving the tradition and encouraging excellence in the contemporary practice of botanical art.

The artist has exhibited extensively, including having her work on view at the 8th International Exhibition of Botanical Art at Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh and the Long Island Museum’s juried exhibition, Animal Kingdom: From Tame to Wild.

Bouchier, who lists 17th-century French artist Nicolas Robert among her favorites, said when she retired two years ago, art became a full-time pursuit. She calls her most recent work her retirement project.

“They say that when you retire you need a project, so I needed something,” the artist said. “So, what do I really care about, and the answer was ecology and art. And what am I trained in? I was trained in botanical and natural history illustration, so I put the two together.”

For the last few months Bouchier’s drawings were in a traveling exhibit displayed at various locations in Suffolk County including the Smithtown Library, North Shore Public Library and Sweetbriar Nature Center. While those exhibits included 20 of her 16- by 20-inch pieces, the Emma Clark Library exhibit, which is the last stop in the tour, will consist of only 10 drawings.

Bouchier said she decided to select those that pointed toward warmer weather for the Setauket location since she feels that come February many are tired of the winter.

New England aster

The artist said many of her drawings depict specimens she obtained from the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, an organization that encourages people to plant native plants that support birds, bees and butterflies, while her garden inspired her for others.

“In the course of drawing the plants and learning about them, I started planting them in my garden,” she said. “It’s a small garden but I’m very pleased that some of the drawings exhibited are from plants from my own garden, and that’s a special pleasure.”

Bouchier said for most of her artwork she prefers using colored pencils on Stonehenge paper, which she said is soft and smooth. She also works in pastels and egg tempera, a medium that has egg yolks in the paint that leaves a brilliant surface.

The artist said it can take a week to 10 days to complete a drawing when she uses colored pencils. She said one morning she’ll do the basic drawing and then another day the undercoat. “It’s very calming,” she said. “If you want to de-stress you should do this.”

Bouchier encourages people of all ages to learn how to draw, and she shares her knowledge by teaching classes at Gallery North in Setauket. In April she will head up a course on the fundamentals of botanical art techniques on Sundays, April 8, 15, 22 and 29. Call 631-751-2676 for times and cost.

“There are very few self-taught artists in the field because whether you’re drawing animals or plants, it’s important that it be accurate at a certain level,” Bouchier said. “You can still be expressive — these things are not opposites — but you don’t want to get the basic structure of the plant or animal wrong.”

When it comes to the artist’s classes, Judith Levy, director of Gallery North, said Bouchier’s classes are informative and relaxing and students leave feeling successful when the workshops are over.

“She’s very focused, she’s very organized, and she gives them a process of how to look at things or how to do a particular technique or use whatever the material is,” said Levy in a recent phone interview. “Sometimes it’s pencils; sometimes it’s colored pencils, it depends on what medium. She is very, very good, and her classes are popular.”

Bouchier also shares her love of creativity with her husband, WSHU radio personality and essayist David Bouchier. The artist said her husband asks her for feedback when it comes to his radio scripts, and she also reads and edits his book manuscripts. In turn, she tests out her ideas for drawings and paintings on him. In 2002, her husband released “The Cats and the Water Bottles,” a book of his essays of life in France, which includes line drawings by his wife.

The artist, who lists her drawing “American Holly and Winterberry” among her favorites, said she hopes the exhibit will inspire library patrons.

“It’s to encourage people to recognize the subtle beauty of our native plants and to perhaps consider planting them in their own gardens,” she said.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, 120 Main St., Setauket will present Native Plants of Long Island by Diane Bouchier through Feb. 28. For more information, call 631-941-4080 or visit www.emmaclark.org.

'Country Ride,' taken in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, edited with oil painting effect

By Melissa Arnold

For more than 40 years, John Spoltore has immersed himself in his love of photography. It has taken him all over the world, earned him scores of accolades and allowed him to nurture hundreds of budding Long Island shutterbugs through teaching. But it all began with an unfortunate accident.

John Spoltore

In 1975, Spoltore was enjoying an exotic honeymoon in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with his new bride Barbara. The couple spent one afternoon exploring the beautiful Dunn’s River Falls, but in a split second, Spoltore dropped his tiny camera with its precious photos of the trip from the top of the waterfall.

That trip led to a better replacement camera and a desire to capture the world. Now, Spoltore is sharing some of his favorite photos in an exhibit at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham throughout the month of January.

“I always enjoyed taking pictures, but it wasn’t until after I was married that I really got bit by the [photography] bug,” said Spoltore, 64, of Port Jefferson Station. He originally went to school to become a teacher but ended up working for the Nassau County Department of Social Services, helping those in need access welfare and food stamps.

In his spare time, he read every book about photography he could get his hands on and attended local workshops.

‘Eagle Eyes,’ an image of a bald eagle in captivity (sky photo edited in) taken in Skagway, Alaska

One day, Spoltore walked into a photo studio and asked to help them shoot weddings. They took a chance, and soon he was shooting his own weddings and portraits. Eventually, Spoltore launched a successful career with companies including Tiffen and Canon. He has also taken thousands of photos of railroad life while working in public affairs for the Long Island Rail Road. Many of these photos are framed and hang in stations around the Island.

While portraits, weddings and event photography pay the bills, Spoltore loves to shoot landscapes. His favorite style focuses on highly saturated photos of colors that pop, as well as infrared and combinations of color with black-and-white palettes. He also likes to manipulate photos so they resemble oil paintings.

Spoltore takes much of his inspiration from the famous wedding and portrait photographer Monte Zucker and creates images based on Zucker’s quote, “I don’t photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world as I would like it to be.”

‘All Aboard,’ an image taken with infrared digital camera at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada.

“I think digital technology makes things a lot easier since you can see your photos right away instead of waiting for your film,” Spoltore said. “Many of my students are intimidated by digital photography because of all the options. But when you see a really gorgeous picture these days, it’s (mostly) digital manipulation. You’ve got to be a good photographer, but you also have to be good on the computer.”

Spoltore’s teaching career began with a simple class he offered for adults in continuing education at Comsewogue High School. When that program ended, one of his former students approached the Comsewogue Public Library about letting him teach there.

The popularity of Spoltore’s classes exploded, and he now offers classes at 34 libraries on Long Island, in addition to private lessons. More than 800 people receive his weekly email newsletter featuring photos and articles about photography, and he’s also contributed a column to local newspapers for the past several years.

“Seeing the ‘aha’ moment on the faces of my students makes me so happy — they would say how easily they understood what I was explaining to them,” Spoltore said. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve never met have emailed me with questions or problems. I’ve had people come to me with a camera still in the box become really great photographers.”

‘Glacier Moon’, taken from a cruise ship in Alaska with moon edited in

This month’s exhibit at the North Shore Public Library is Spoltore’s 10th on Long Island. It will feature 25 framed prints of his favorite photos that showcase a variety of styles. Each photo is printed on metallic paper to enhance its color. Visitors to the exhibit can expect to see visions of Long Island’s North Shore, Alaska, Canada as well as Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country, to name a few. A photo of an Amish father and son riding a horse and buggy titled “Country Ride” is among Spoltore’s favorites.

“John Spoltore has a great and beautiful heart,” said Lorena Doherty, art exhibit and adult program coordinator at the North Shore Public Library. “I have attended his classes and am astounded at the level of knowledge that he has to share. He enjoys working with people. It gives him such great pleasure to share his talent, knowledge of people and wisdom with all. Please come and view these colorful iconic images.”

The exhibit will also be the photographer’s farewell to Long Island — Spoltore plans to relocate in a few months to Florida, where he hopes to continue spreading his love of photography to anyone willing to learn. His absence will be felt by many including the library where it all began.

“John has taught photography programs at the Comsewogue Library since 2010, and we are sad to see him leave the Island,” wrote the library’s Adult Services Librarian Christine Parker-Morales in a recent email. She continued, “John’s classes were always beloved and well-attended. In 2015 we ran a Geek the Library campaign at the library and John was our go-to guy for a patron portrait shoot included in the activities. He also took part in our library’s 50th Anniversary celebration, providing digital professional-quality family photos free of charge to those who participated. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors and will find his shoes here at Comsewogue hard to fill.”

“Photographs by John Spoltore” is on display through the month of January at the North Shore Public Library, 250 Route 25A, Shoreham. For hours and more information, visit www.northshorepubliclibrary.org or call 631-929-4488. Learn more about John Spoltore at www.swedephoto.com.

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