Arts & Entertainment

By Rita J. Egan

Vocalist Amber Ferrari has been busy preparing a brand new show that she will debut at Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three on Aug. 1. Well known on Long Island for her brilliant “Joplin’s Pearl” production, dedicated to 60s icon Janis Joplin, this time around Ferrari has decided to take on a living legend — Madonna.

The show, titled “Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari,” will open with the singer performing songs from Adele, Heart, Alanis Morissette, Aretha Franklin and more, including a couple of her own songs. Ferrari said the second half will consist entirely of Madonna’s hits from the 80s, as well as “Vogue,” which hit the charts in 1990.

Amber Ferrari as Madonna. Photo by Rich Balter Photography
Amber Ferrari as Madonna. Photo by Rich Balter Photography

Unlike “Joplin’s Pearl,” where Ferrari wears a wig and is dressed head-to-toe like Joplin, in this show the singer will wear costumes inspired by Madonna’s famous wardrobe, but she won’t pretend to be her.

“It’s going to be more about enjoying Madonna’s fun music,” Ferrari said.

The singer said she and her husband Chris started discussing the idea of a Madonna show a few years ago and kept it in mind until they had some free time. The couple is excited about the fact that potentially they will have two productions to perform for their audiences. Ferrari is also thrilled to sing more pop songs, as opposed to the rock songs she is known for performing.

“I wanted to pick another icon in a different genre other than rock, because my first set is usually the majority rock ‘n roll,” the singer said.

Douglas Quattrock, director of development, and group sales and marketing coordinator at Theatre Three, has known Ferrari since they performed together in “Woodstockmania: Woodstock in Concert” at the theater a decade ago. He said the audience is in for a fun night, and he knows the singer’s unique and versatile voice can handle any artist’s songs.

“It’s going to be something new, but with the same energy. She throws 120 percent into everything she does. She’s just amazing,” Quattrock said.

Ferrari said she grew up listening to Madonna and lists “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” “Holiday,” “Dress You Up,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Like a Virgin,” and “Express Yourself” among her favorites. She said she always thought they were dynamite songs, and she’s including all of them in the Aug. 1 production.

The singer has been busy rehearsing the last few weeks with her fellow band members, which include her husband Chris on guitar, Eddie “Yaz” Yeznach on bass and Jim Carroll on drums. At the Aug. 1 show, Ferrari and band will also be joined by Frank Centrone on keyboard, Billy Aberle on background vocals, and the singer’s father, Bob Hansen, on percussions.

In addition to rehearsals, Ferrari has been working on the costumes for the show, including an 80s-style wedding dress and outfits inspired by Madonna’s “Material Girl” gown and “Lucky Star” outfit. She invites the audience members to join in on the ‘80s fun by asking them to wear their favorite outfit from the decade.

“I think it’s going to be a blast, and I think everyone is going to be surprised. It will take them back to the ‘80s,” Ferrari said.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari” on Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased by calling 631-928-9100 or by visiting www.theatrethree.com.

‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ comes to Theatre Three

The cast of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

It’s important to be honest, right? That’s the message Theatre Three is spreading in its latest endeavor, “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “The Boy Who Cried Giant.” With book and lyrics by Jeffrey Sanzel, the musical production follows the original fairy tale closely with a sprinkle of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and makes for great entertainment.

Jack lives in a small village with his mother and his best friend, Filpail the cow. Blessed with a vivid imagination, Jack has “a habit of making the truth look like a pretzel.” He has told so many tall tales (“I can even wash a cat!”) that no one believes him anymore. When he finally tells the truth — that he climbed up a beanstalk to a giant’s castle — it falls on deaf ears and therein lies the moral of the story.

For an hour and a half, the talented cast of eight adult actors, directed by Sanzel,  whisk the audience away to a magical faraway land filled with song, dance and much laughter. From the first musical number, the “Song of Boasting,” accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, you know you are in for a real treat. With music and lyrics by Kevin F. Story, and choreography by Sari Feldman, all the songs are terrific, with special mention of the “Ballad of the Empty Pail” and “Song of the Beans.”

Michael Giordano is perfectly cast as Jack and quickly draws the audience in with his energetic personality. His one-handed cartwheels and leapfrogs over Filpail are impressive and keep the young audience on the edge of their seats. For many, these acrobatics are as magical as anything in the story.

Olivia Andrunik, new to Theatre Three’s stage, plays Jack’s mother with just the right amount of scolding and love. Tamralynn Dorsa plays the Fairy Mary Goodwing who just can’t seem to say goodbye. Her rendition of “Song of Truth-Telling” was beautiful. James D. Schultz is hilarious as the giant’s wife, and he commands the stage with his solo, “Song of the Giant’s Wife.” Frank Gilleece plays the butcher in the first act and the giant in the second, and does a fine job as always.

Amanda Geraci and Andrew Gasparini make a great team as Margot and Marco — the thieves who trick Jack into trading his cow for magic beans — and switch roles effortlessly in Act II as Henrietta the Hen and Harry the Harp.

But it is the indefatigable Kevin F. Story as Filpail the cow who steals the show with his “mooving” rendition of “Song of the Cow.”

Add special effects like a magical beanstalk, hilarious props such as a giant shoe and terrific costumes designed by Geraci, and the end result is an enjoyable afternoon of live theater that your kids and you will love. Meet the cast up close and personal in the lobby after the show.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Jack and the Beanstalk” through Aug. 7. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Eric Schell and Faith Ahmed in a scene from ‘West Side Story’ at the SCPA. Photo from the SCPA

By Charles J. Morgan

About an eon ago your scribe was watching a TV talk show on the family’s round screen box on which a participant referred to “West Side Story” as a “slice of New York life.” Another participant, the great Robert Morley, snorted, “Ectually, old boy, it’s Romeo and Juliet.” Morley was right, and the Playbill at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Art’s opening really was the Bard’s opus with full credit put to music, and not just music but Broadway music and dance.

With a team featuring Arthur Laurent’s book, Leonard Bernstein’s music, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and Jerome Robbins’ choreography, success was all but secure. In SCPA’s effort it was secured in Smithtown.

Direction was by Jordan Hue who, facing the challenge of a massive cast, showed his craftsmanship in blocking and interpretation. Each Jet and each Shark were real tangible creatures thanks to Hue’s disciplined creativity.

The show is practically all choreography, and thanks to the genius of the indefatigable Melissa Rapelje, excellently performed execution was the armature of the show. She faced the off-beat accents, the dissonances and the diversity of rhythms undaunted. Her skills with interpretive, modern, Latin and even ballet were never more displayed.

Coalescing with the dancing and singing was the superb live music led by Melissa Coyle on keyboard with conductor Craig Coyle on piano. Jim Waddell was outstanding on drums. The number “Cool it!,” performed by the Jets, was accompanied by Waddell using only the sizzling hi-hats. Craig Lindsey and Bob Dalpiaz handled extremely competent reeds. Jill Boardman was on violin and Russ Brown’s bass anchored all the intricate changes of rhythm easily. Finally, Joe Boardman’s trumpet reached aesthetically ethereal heights … as usual.

The two “star-crossed lovers” were Eric Schell as Tony and Faith Ahmed as Maria. Schell’s tenor and Ahmed’s soprano melded smoothly in both duet and solo. In the “balcony” (fire escape) scene their “Tonight” was a truly velvet love song while Schell’s rendition of  “Maria” was lovingly rendered. Ahmed also exhibited obvious talent in “I Feel Pretty.”

In a choreographed dream sequence Courtney Braun sang a solo “Somewhere There’s a Place” with both charm and power delightfully linked. Justin Albinder stood out as the doomed Bernardo. As “Action” Bobby Montaniz leads the Jets in a hilarious mockery of the sadistic Officer Krupke. Some of the lines are quite dated: (“…my mother pushes tea…), yet Montaniz is the key to the humor of it all.

In addition to choreographer, Rapelje also played the role of the second lead, Anita. Her drive, verve and singing while leading the girls all keyed to a spicy rendition of “Puerto Rico” like a dish of asopao jibaro.

Add the intricate lighting by Chris Creevy, the massive, flexible set design by Timothy Golebiewski and the wonderful costumes by Ronald Green III and you have a wonderful evening of live theater.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “West Side Story” through Aug. 30. Tickets are $35. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Ten nights of independent films you won’t see anywhere else

Katie Page stars in “This Isn’t Funny” to be screened on July 17 at 9:30 p.m. Photo by Peter Borosh

By Donna Newman

Would you love to travel the world but lack the funds? … the time? … the energy? Well, you’re in luck! The 20th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival — which begins this evening at 8 p.m. — will bring the world to you. Travel far and wide in the comfort of a cushioned seat in the Staller Center’s air-conditioned Main Stage Theater on the Stony Brook University campus. Festival Director Alan Inkles says, “Over ten days, [you] will be transported to Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Mexico, Greece, Egypt, France, Canada, Iran, Belgium, England, Morocco and Algeria.”

Should you prefer homegrown fare, Inkles said, “We have more American films than ever this year. Dramas, comedies and documentaries will be shown on our huge screen, and many of the producers, directors, cast and crew members will attend the Q-&-As following the films.” In sum: There will be something for everyone.

You’ll travel through time during the 10-day festival as well. Be transported to the South in the aftermath of the Civil War (“The Keeping Room”). Find yourself in a Nazi-occupied Dutch village (“Secrets of War”). See how American propaganda films were created during World War II (“Projections of America”). Return to the 1960s in Quebec for a story with heart and music (“The Passion of Augustine”). Tune in to a television debate series in 1968 that created a whole new format for public discourse (“Best of Enemies”).

Revisit the turn of this century and yet another banking scandal (“The Clearstream Affair”). Spend time in the current decade examining women’s rights (“Nefertiti’s Daughters”). Or step out of time into some magical moments in the short films “Freeze,” “A Single Life,” “Wrapped” and “DOT.”

Inkles and his staff have screened more than 700 entries, looking for the best independent features, documentaries and short films available worldwide. The schedule includes 34 films; 19 are feature length and 15 are shorts. Among them are a world premiere and eight films that will have their first U.S. screenings.

“Audiences will get to see many works of true indie spirit, where the filmmakers wear a variety of hats,” commented Inkles. “On Opening Night we’ll have the U.S. premiere of ‘The Man from Oran,’ a drama from Algeria starring Lyes Salem, who also wrote and directed the film. It’s a story set largely in the years following Algeria’s independence from France, that explores the themes of friendship, idealism, politics and betrayal.” Inkles is pleased that Salem will be present on Opening Night.

Perennial festival attendees will recognize the star of the Closing Night feature, “The Passion of Augustine,” a film from French Canada about a small convent school that had become a musical treasure. Céline Bonnier also starred in the 2012 festival entry, “Mommy Is at the Hairdresser’s.” Léa Pool directed both films. Inkles is delighted that Bonnier will attend the screening.

An added feature to this year’s festival is a display of Vintage Film Posters in the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery located on the first floor of the Staller Center. This exhibit of classic movie posters will be open each night of the festival from one hour prior to the first screening until the last screening of the night begins.

This year’s festival is being presented by its newest sponsor — Island Federal Credit Union — a financial institution that has been serving Long Islanders for 60 years. Island Federal has established a 10-year partnership with Stony Brook University that provides philanthropic funding for multiple university projects.

The SBFF runs for 10 nights. Most nights screenings begin at 7 p.m. Starting times for the second film varies. Check the schedule. (In some cases, Q-&-As may delay the start of the second feature.) The Opening Night film begins at 8 p.m. The Closing Night film begins at 8:30 p.m. And there’s a bonus feature on Sunday evening that begins at 6 p.m.

A Festival Pass to see all the films is $85. A $225 Gold Pass includes seating in the section reserved for filmmakers and their guests, as well as tickets to the opening and closing receptions. Individual tickets ($10, $8 seniors, $5 students) will be sold subject to availability. Tickets for the Opening Night and Closing Night receptions are $25 each, also subject to availability.

For more information, call the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-ARTS or visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

Dedication ceremony to be held this Sunday

Molly Sedensky affixes the crocheted pieces on one of the trees on the grounds of the Long Island Museum. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Boxes and boxes of brightly colored crocheted rounds were stashed in a room in the administration building of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook in early July waiting for volunteers under the direction of artist Carol Hummel to be attached to two large trees and three smaller ones on museum grounds.

This was the final step in the yarn bombing project, Hooked@LIM, which began last January at the museum when community volunteers, more than 200 in all, began making the pieces. Yarn bombing, also called urban knitting, guerilla knitting and graffiti knitting, began as a way of bringing the community together by decorating public works including trees, statues and even railings with colorfully knit or crocheted pieces.

The art form has spread to other countries with Hummel traveling to Europe on a number of occasions to work on a community project.

Hummel, who has a master’s degree in sculpture from Kent State University, began yarn bombing in 2004 with a public art competition in Cleveland. She noted that she had the idea of decorating these trees at the Long Island Museum for several years. Two are large and visible from the road, Route 25A, so can even be seen by community members driving by.

So for the past approximately six months the volunteers have been crocheting. On July 6, Hummel and her volunteers began affixing the crocheted pieces to the trees. The color palate and pattern were carefully worked out in advance, with the lowest pieces on the trees in deep blue and purple and the colors lightening and brightening as they work their way up the tree in the high branches.

The nylon yarn does not harm the trees, she noted, as air easily passes through the crocheting as does rain. She’s even seen insects crawling around the crocheting and an occasional bird removing a loose string for its nest.

Hummel was assisted by daughters Molly Sedensky and Emily Ellyn. Sedensky could be seen on a lift, high up in a tree, wrapping it with the rounds. Volunteers came each day of the installation to assist.

“I brought in everybody,” Hummel noted referring not only to her daughters but her grandchildren as well. “It’s a big job.” Ellyn, a chef who has been on the Food Network, drove up from her home base in Florida to assist.

The exhibit will be in place for two to three years depending on weather conditions. Already, “people have been coming by and looking . . . we’re spreading a little happiness — it makes everybody smile,” said Hummel, taking a brief break from the installation. In addition to the five trees at the Long Island Museum, one tree at Avalon Park and Preserve was also yarn bombed.

The official opening of Hooked@LIM and a dedication ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 19, at 2 p.m. with the artist and all the volunteers who worked to make the exhibit possible. The Stony Brook Chamber Ensemble will present an outdoor concert, featuring a brass quintet. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own seating, chairs or blankets, for the concert. In the event of rain, indoor space will be available.

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. For further information, please call the museum at 631-751-0066.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization presents new motorcycle exhibit

Mike Wolf, creator / star of ‘American Pickers,’ with a 1912 Indian TT Racer, which was later restored. Photo from Jim Giorgio

By Ed Blair

America has always had a love affair with motorcycles. “In a car you’re always in a compartment, and, because you’re used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer, and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle, the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” So said Robert Pirsig in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.” Dan Aykroyd stated the case more simply: “You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle.”

Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, James Dean. Clint Eastwood, Buddy Holly, Peter Fonda. Hijinks from Evel Knieval and Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzerelli. There is no doubt that the motorcycle occupies a unique and intriguing niche in both the national culture and the counterculture, and it is the subject of an absorbing local offering.

Following on the success of last year’s summer exhibit, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present The Love Affair with Motorcycles Continues! opening July 11. On view are more than 30 motorcycles, as well as motorcycle memorabilia, artwork and sculptures.

Speakers will be on hand to talk about a number of motorcycle-related topics, and visitors can view an outdoor car showcase in the WMHO Center’s parking lot and also participate in a scavenger hunt. Stony Brook Village restaurants will feature exhibit-related dishes on their menus, such as the Hog Hero, the Harley Hoagie, the BMW Burger, Knucklehead Chili, and the Screamin’ Eagle.

The evolution of the motorcycle can be traced from Mike Wolf’s restored 1912 Indian TT Racer through to a 1975 Ducati 750 Sport from 20th Century Cycles of Oyster Bay. Also on display are bikes from the private collection of Joe Buzzetta, such as his 1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850, and, courtesy of Peter Nettesheim, an unrestored 1928 BMW R52.

Also on view: a 1903 Indian (the only one known to exist), courtesy of Jim Giorgio; a 1955 Pan Head Billy Bike, (Gerry Duff); a 1970 Rupp Mini Bike (Joe Amendolia); a 1975 Norton Commando (Michael Racz); a 1975 FLH Harley (Douglas Johnston); a 1975 Honda Goldwing 1000 (Bill Mabanta); a 1973 Harley “Steampunk” (Copper Mike); and a replica of a motorcycle that appeared in the iconic biker movie “Easy Rider.” Besides getting up-close looks at the Harley Davidsons, Kawasakis, Suzukis, Triumphs, Hondas and other motorcycles, enthusiasts can give vent to their fascination with motorized two-wheelers by checking out the artwork of David Uhl.

Scheduled speakers and their topics are Pete Nettesheim — Restored vs. Unrestored Bikes (Sunday, July 12); John Petsche — Biodiesel Bikes (Saturday, July 18); Steve Linden — History of Motorcycle Brands and Emblems (Saturday, July 25); and Jeffrey James — Music and Motorcycles (Saturday, Aug. 8); and  Movies and Motorcycles (Saturday, Aug. 22). All talks begin at 2 p.m.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present America’s Love Affair with the Motorcycle Continues! July 11 through September 7 at its Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. The exhibit, partially sponsored by Astoria Bank, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12. For a full schedule of exhibit events, 631-689-5888, or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

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Kevin Burns and Katie Ferretti. Photo by Rita Egan

By Rita J. Egan

For the next several weeks, actors Katie Ferretti and Kevin Burns will transform into a perfect nanny and a charming chimney sweep in the stage production of “Mary Poppins” at the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at the CM Performing Arts Center. The local actors are excited to present this timeless tale where a magical nanny, with the help of her friend Bert, adds some much needed fun to the lives of the Banks children. In addition to being thrilled about their current roles, the two actors are also honored to portray the characters that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke made famous in the 1964 movie.

“‘Mary Poppins’ is my favorite movie of all time, so to get to play such an iconic role that was created by such a great actor, singer, dancer is really just a dream for me,” Burns said.

Ferretti admitted that it can be intimidating to take on such an acting part, but at the same time she said, “It’s definitely exciting to play a role that Julie Andrews made famous. It’s like a dream come true to me, because I look up to her so much as a performer.”

The musical is the first time Ferretti and Burns have acted together. However, both have performed at the Oakdale theater before. In the past 10 years, Burns has appeared in numerous productions at the venue, including “Singin’ in the Rain” (Don), “42nd Street” (Billy) and the “The Rocky Horror Show” (Dr. Frank N. Furter). Ferretti said she has been acting at the theater for more than 2 years and has had roles in musicals such as “Into the Woods” (Cinderella), “Les Misérables” (Cosette) and “Guys and Dolls” (Sarah).

Despite her acting roles, not only at the CMPAC but also at the Merrick Theatre and Center for the Arts in productions of “Seussical” (Gertrude), “Cinderella” (Cinderella) and “Proof” (Catherine), acting is only a hobby for Ferretti. The 25-year-old works full-time as a behavior support worker at the Developmental Disabilities Institute, where she works with teens and adults with autism. While performing in musicals may be part-time work for Ferretti, she said she did take voice lessons in high school that prepared her for her favorite pastime.

For 26-year-old Burns, acting is a full-time profession. In addition to his work at the CMPAC, he has appeared at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, most recently as Frosty in “Frosty the Snowman” and the Troll in “The Snow Queen.” The actor said this summer he will be busy as a part of the Engeman’s children’s theatre and camp. When he first began acting, he worked at the Airport Playhouse in plays such as “Cabaret” (Victor), “Gypsy” (Yonkers) and “A Chorus Line” (Gregory). Burns said he has no formal training in acting, singing or dancing, which Ferretti said she was surprised to hear, especially when it comes to his dancing.

The actress said Burns is an amazing dancer and handles the many dancing numbers in “Mary Poppins” effortlessly.

When they look to the future, both would love to appear in a production of “West Side Story.” Ferretti said playing Maria would be a dream role, while Burns would love to play Riff. Other roles on their wish lists include Finch in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” for Burns, and for Ferretti, another Maria and another Julie Andrews role — Maria in “The Sound of Music.” Both are looking into possibilities for the near future, but nothing definite is lined up right now. “Who knows where the wind will take me?” Burns said.

Ferretti would like to continue balancing work with appearing in regional theater. And while Burns may toy with the idea of Broadway, he said right now he is happy performing at local theaters. When it comes to movies and television, both actors said they haven’t considered auditioning for film roles as they prefer working with live audiences.

“I like the fact that if you make a mistake the show has to keep going. You have to keep telling the story as opposed to ‘we can cut, we go back, we can reshoot,’” said Burns.
Ferretti agreed and added, “There’s something more honest about live theater than there is about anything filmed.”

For now the duo are having a great time with the cast and crew of “Mary Poppins,” who they said are a friendly group to work with as well as extremely talented. Ferretti said the crew backstage works incredibly hard to create a show for the audience “that’s like magic for them.” She said she wishes they could sell seats backstage so people could witness what exactly goes on.

Among the numbers performed during “Mary Poppins,” the two admit to having their favorites. Burns loves “Step in Time” while Ferretti said she has fun singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which she said after rehearsals she can easily spell. She also admits to getting misty-eyed when singing “Feed the Birds.”

When it comes to the excitement of being part of such an endearing story, the actors admit feeling like children at times, and they hope the audiences will enjoy experiencing the magic of “Mary Poppins” with them. Burns said at the end of opening night, he was brought back to his own childhood. “I got emotional when Katie came out to bow. I was standing next to Mary Poppins. It took me back to when I was in Disney World for the first time, and I went to go talk to the woman who I knew was an actress playing Mary Poppins, yet I still got emotional,” said the actor.

Theatergoers have until July 19 to experience the magic of “Mary Poppins” with Ferretti, Burns and the entire cast at the CM Performing Arts Center, 931 Montauk Highway, Oakdale. Tickets range from $20 to $29. For more information, call 218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com.

By Dan Woulfin

Artists, dancers, musicians and art enthusiasts from across Long Island gathered at Northport Village’s waterfront park for the Northport Art Coalition’s annual Art in the Park Festival on Saturday, July 11.

Festivalgoers browsed artist wares, watched performances from the Inner Spirit yoga center and dance and fitness center, and listened to local musicians. Children also had a chance to create their own paintings at a special workshop area.

New exhibit opens at the Port Jefferson Village Center

‘Chaos Was the Law of Nature: Order Was the Dream of Man’ by Iacopo Pasquinelli

By Ellen Barcel

The Port Jefferson Village Center recently unveiled its latest exhibit, Captured! Photographs to Paintings.

The exhibit features enlargements of historic photos by Arthur S. Greene together with over two dozen modern paintings, inspired by Greene’s vision.

Greene, born in England several years after the end of the American Civil War, came to Port Jefferson via Pennsylvania with his wife in the 1890s. After working for the Union Photography Company, he opened up his own studio here and for decades photographed Port Jefferson and its surroundings.

Like 19th century Setauket artist William Sydney Mount who painted local scenes, Greene captured the early 20th century locale, but in photographs: local scenery, houses, events, churches, the waterfront, the farms and businesses, from early cars and gas stations to a chauffeur on the Tinker estate in East Setauket.

Kenneth C. Brady, in his book, “Arthur S. Greene, 1867-1955: The Life and Work of a Long Island Photographer,” noted that “In 1905, capitalizing on the postcard craze that was sweeping the nation, Greene prepared 150 different views of Port Jefferson and vicinity.” Through the first half of the 20th century Greene produced an invaluable body of work that captured pre-World War II Long Island and the early postwar period.

The exhibit was created by the late Michael R. Kutzing, a local artist and former owner of MRK Gallery in Port Jefferson. “Mike would go to the Village Center,” said Denise Kutzing, Mike Kutzing’s widow, “and talk to Ken Brady.” They both thought that the exhibit would be a great idea. Brady, former village historian, had digitally archived over 10,000 historic photos from the area for the village. All photos for the current exhibit are from Brady’s own collection.

‘Playtime’; by Angela Stratton
‘Playtime’; by Angela Stratton

Noted artist Irene Ruddock, who is assisting with the exhibit, said Kutzing long had the idea of using Greene’s historic paintings as inspiration for local artists’ own work. She added that Kutzing went to many art shows in order to select the over two dozen artists invited to participate. He told each that they didn’t need to exactly reproduce Greene’s black-and-white photos but to “Do your vision, your interpretation of the photos.”

With the help of Sue Orifici, who is in charge of Graphic Archival and Special Projects for the Village Center, Kutzing selected 60 photos and put them on his website. It was from those images that each artist was able to select his or her own inspiration.

Kutzing himself didn’t finish his own painting for the exhibit. “He worked right up to the end,” said Ruddock. When he passed last January, she noted, “all of the artists were committed to him. It [the exhibit] was for him, it’s a tribute to him — his legacy.” His widow, Denise, took over the responsibility of preparing the exhibit, assisted by Ruddock (whose painting of the “Gamecock Cottage” will be in the exhibit) and Orifici. Denise Kutzing added “Sue loved his enthusiasm — without her, his vision wouldn’t have happened.”

In addition to the over two dozen Greene photos and modern interpretations by the 28 participating artists, other works by Michael Kutzing himself will be in the exhibit, including his unfinished painting inspired by the Greene photo. Denise Kutzing noted that her husband’s painting was called “Serenity.” “He wanted to make sure it was done. It really was a dream of his.” The inspiration was Greene’s photograph titled “Jones Street, Now Main Street.”

Denise Kutzing noted that her late husband was a surveyor by profession and “a very talented woodworker — very precise. This led to his paintings being very much like photographs.” When he retired, Michael Kutzing enthusiastically began painting. “Painting became his passion. In the beginning he didn’t realize his talent,” she said. He became involved with many artist groups but, “his heart was with the Setauket Artists group.”

“He said that belonging to the Setauket Artists gave him a sense of accomplishment and pride. Within a few years, Mike became our Honored Artist, not only for his beautiful paintings which won many awards, but for his unparalleled desire to elevate our professionalism,” said Ruddock.

Setauket Artist Robert Roehrig noted, “Mike’s attention to detail in the woodwork reminds me of the magnificent detail in his artwork.” Added Neil Watson, executive director of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, Kutzing “was a gifted painter and a wonderful colleague. The museum was fortunate to have Michael as a core member of the Planning Committee for our newest membership initiative for artists, a collaborative arts group. We will miss him.”

The Captured! exhibit is sponsored by the Village of Port Jefferson, the Recreation Department at the Village Center and the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy.

Participating artists include Paul Bachem, Ned Butterfield, Jim Berger, Al Candia, Dennis Coburn, Anthony Davis, Jeanette Dick, Bill A. Dodge, Donna Grossman, Peter Hahn, William Haney, Melissa Imossi, Vito Incorvala, Michael R. Kutzing, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Kirk Larsen, Joe Miller, Jim Molloy, Muriel Musarra, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Doug Reina, Rob Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Angela Stratton, Mary Jane Van Zeijts and Patricia Yantz.

The public is invited to meet the artists at an opening reception on Saturday, July 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhibit will run through Aug. 28.

The Port Jefferson Village Center, 101A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 631-802-2160.

A garden oasis awaits at a house on Bleeker Street, one of the stops on the tour. Photo by Jim Dunn

By Ellen Barcel

One really nice activity for gardeners and non-gardeners alike in the warm weather is enjoying garden tours. A new and special tour of gardens will take place in Port Jefferson this Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date is July 12.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and the Suwasset Garden Club will present the first annual Gardens and Landscapes of Port Jefferson, sponsored by Times Beacon Record Newspapers in celebration of the summer and the 40th anniversary of the newspaper.

A total of ten gardens — nine stops — each unique in its own way, may be visited. There’s a secret garden and a Zen garden complete with waterfall. Another site has a moss rock garden. There are perennials, annuals, hydrangeas, fruits, vegetables, shade gardens and sun gardens.

One location, the Mather House Museum Garden, has two gardens, the Thomas Jefferson Garden, created and maintained by the Suwasset Garden Club, and the Wayne Helmer Herb Garden, created by the Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson and the Herb Society.

While visiting each garden will be a special treat in itself, each location will have something extra to offer. Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, remarked, “We’ve paired up with the Night Herons; there will be (at least) six artists who are going to be painting — watercolorists — at different gardens.” Confirmed artists include Dottie Court, Sunny Bateman, Gail Chase, Ellen Ferrigno, Phyllis Farmer and Barbara Siegel.

Ransome added that all gardens will have refreshments. For example, one Victorian, terraced garden will offer high tea while visitors will be serenaded by harpist Marilyn Levine. One garden has a chocologist — yes, a specialist in chocolate from Chocology Unlimited of Port Jefferson, who will be giving out samples to enjoy. The Garden with a Lemon Kick will have a lemonade stand set up for visitors’ enjoyment. A Cake in Time, owned by Sherry Sobel of Mount Sinai, will donate mini cupcakes for the event, and three gardens will have special raffle baskets.

Members of the Suwasset Garden Club will serve as greeters at each garden, ready to assist and answer any questions that visitors have.

Pat Darling, whose garden is one on the tour, said, “I’m huge on nature … I enjoy utilizing nature, like the moss in the garden and tree stumps.” Describing her garden, she noted, “Entering through a whimsical garden gate, gardens come to life reflecting the passion of an artist.” And yes, two of the Night Heron Artists will be painting at her garden.

Commenting on one of the other stops on the tour, a Victorian house whose porch is filled with red, white and blue flowers — very patriotic so near to Independence Day, Darling said, “the elements are so spectacular . . . (it’s) an incredible porch . . . so gorgeous, magnificent,” noting that the owner always decorates for July 4th.

This is one not to be missed — enjoy the plantings and enjoy the extras.

The cost of the tour is $30. Call 631-473-1414 for tickets. Tickets are also on sale at the chamber office or Eventbrite on the chamber’s website: www.portjeffchamber.com. There is also a map on the website to direct visitors to the various gardens.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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