Arts & Entertainment

Council head mulls creating new lecture series

Marc Courtade photo from Huntington Arts Council

Marc Courtade, the new executive director of the Huntington Arts Council, is rolling up his sleeves and getting ready to work.

Courtade follows Diana Cherryholmes as the new leader of the arts organization and officially stepped in to fill her position on March 2. Cherryholmes, who was at the helm of the Huntington Arts Council for more than 16 years, left to work for Suffolk County.

Before joining the Huntington Arts Council, Courtade was the business manager for Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post for the past 17 years.

“I am delighted to bring my skills, passion and energy to the Huntington Arts Council, and look forward to helping the arts remain a vibrant part of our community,” he said in a statement.

While at Tilles, Courtade was an integral part of the center’s performance season, where he assisted in planning and organizing many of the performances and special events. At Tilles, he also created the pre-performance series, “Performance PLUS!” while simultaneously producing and acting as artistic director for 10 years. Courtade continues to teach musical theater and opera courses for the honors program at LIU and The Hutton House Lectures at Lorber Hall.

“At the moment, I just want to help to continue the good work and move the organization forward … I’m still transitioning and working on a 50th anniversary reception,” he said in a phone interview. “This is the 50th anniversary of the concerts at Heckscher Park, so we’re currently working on finalizing that programming.”

Courtade said that the planning for the 50th anniversary of the concerts in the park is all still in the works, but he is looking to hold a small reception before the anniversary concert on June 27.

Courtade said that over the years he has given many lectures and would like to continue that while at HAC.

“I would love to begin a lecture series here, presentations about the arts,” he said. “Different art genres. I would like to tailor it across a wide variety of art genres. I would give some and I would like to have speakers from the outside as well on arts-related topics.”

While Courtade’s personal focus is in the performing arts, the Huntington Arts Council offers a wide variety of arts, including both performing and visual.

Courtade said that on April 10, HAC will be holding its opening reception of a self-portrait visual arts show entitled, “I see me!” It will be a juried show and the winners will be announced very soon, he said.

In addition to his involvement at Tilles and now at HAC, Courtade has been a speaker for the New York Council for the Humanities since 2007. He is a frequent speaker all over Long Island and the New York-area.

Before Tilles, Courtade worked in development for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and New York City Opera.

'Queensborough,' oil on prepared acid free paper. Image from Gallery North

Gallery North is mourning the loss of illustrator and friend Jeffrey K. Fisher. Beginning Friday, March 27, the gallery honors this dynamic illustrator with a one-man show titled “By Default: The Work of Jeffrey K. Fisher.”

Judith Levy, director of Gallery North, speaks of Fisher with both tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. “I knew Jeff for four and a half years. He helped me with a couple of important exhibitions. He was an exuberant person!”

The name of the show evolved from a joke Fisher had with Levy in which he said he was “only in the Gallery’s shows by default.” It was his tongue-in-cheek way of joking about why his work was included in its shows. Fisher’s passing has left a void in the art community. Levy said the reception and show will “represent the spirit, the energy and the fun of Jeffrey Fisher.”

Fisher, an award-winning artist, cast his spell on everyone he met. Adrian Sinnot, illustrator and friend of Fisher, shared words of praise, which will resonate with those who knew the artist. “He was a giant of a man both physically and artistically. At 6 feet 4 inches he towered over the members of the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.” He continued to say that Jeff was a “prime example of a fellow artist who was always willing to help other artists in the highly competitive professional work they were engaged in.”

Artist Jeffrey K. Fisher at last year's 'The Drawn Word' opening reception. Photo by Jeff Foster
Artist Jeffrey K. Fisher at last year’s ‘The Drawn Word’ opening reception. Photo by Jeff Foster

From professional organizations such as the Society of Illustrators to his formation of the Long Island Drawing Studio in Smithtown, to the Joe Bonham Project, Fisher left behind many people who miss his presence. Amanda Reilly, a freelance illustrator who was a student of Fisher’s for two years, at the Drawing Studio, is grateful for his guidance. “He always found the time to talk to me about my work and I will always remember the support and confidence he gave me. Through his continued criticism, he made me realize that I am always learning and growing.” Reilly laughed about the crazy drawing exercises he would make them do, such as drawing with their nondominate hand or with their feet. Reilly and other members of the studio are proudly renaming the studio “The Jeffrey K. Fisher Studio” to honor the commitment and dedication he shared with the students.

Victor Juhasz, fellow illustrator, met Fisher in the early 2000’s when they were serving on the board of directors for the Society of Illustrators. Juhasz reflected, “Jeff was one of those guys who goofed around but when he talked about art and drawing he was utterly fluent and poetic.” Juhasz and Fisher worked together on the “Joe Bonham Project” where they would spend hours talking to wounded service members about their war experiences while documenting their stories through drawings. “I literally think of him almost every day,” said Juhasz.

Fisher offered so much of his life and passion to the art community and his family. Sinnot added with pride, “[Fisher’s] passing leaves a great hole in the lives of the many thousands of people he touched through his teaching and his art. One of the great things we do as artists is to leave behind a part of ourselves in our work for future generations to share and enjoy.”

“By Default” offers visitors an opportunity to experience an array of work that Fisher created over the years, which according to Levy “includes a variety of illustrations prepared for various books and other publications.”

'Babe Ruth,' ink sketch. Image from Gallery North
‘Babe Ruth,’ ink sketch. Image from Gallery North

“To see one of Jeff’s pieces brings him back to us if only for a moment. If you never had the chance to know Jeff, get to know his work, as he lives and breathes through it,” reflected Sinnot, Fisher’s friend and colleague of 25 years.

Please join Gallery North on Friday, March 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the opening reception, which will not only honor Fisher but also keep alive his humor with live caricaturists and calligraphers drawing for guests.

“By Default” will run from March 27 through April 17. Gallery North is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information contact Gallery North at 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

The cast of "Elephant & Piggie's 'We Are in Play'" at the SCPA. Photo by Samantha Cuomo

Currently in production at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, “Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!'” is based on the popular “Elephant & Piggie” book series by award-winning children’s author Mo Willems, with script and lyrics by Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma.

Directed and choreographed by Melissa Rapelje, with musical direction by Melissa Cowell, the first part of the show follows Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie as they embark on a musical adventure solving problems and learning friendship etiquette with the help of the dancing trio, the Squirelles.

Eventually, the characters realize that they are in a play and engage the audience, having them join in by shouting out funny words like “banana,” clapping and doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory dance.” A nice touch is the conversational bubbles between Gerald and Piggie projected on a large screen on stage.

Bobby Montaniz is perfectly cast as Gerald. With the boundless energy of a young child, he jumps, skips and rolls on the floor, eliciting much laughter from the young audience. His rendition of “Ice Cream Hero” was very entertaining. Montaniz is always wonderful to watch, especially in children’s theater, and this performance is no exception. Piggie is played wonderfully by the talented Courtney Braun whose subtle wit and humor is spot on. The spunky Squirrelles, played by Allie Brault, Hayley Phaneuf and Samantha Foti, and the Ice Cream Penguin, played by Bella Lardaro, are a great supporting cast and do a terrific job.

Costumes by Ronald R. Green III are simple but effective. Montaniz’s gray jacket and pants, Braun’s pink outfit with striped tights and dark brown dresses for the Squirrelles reflect the characters’ animal traits and personalities.

For many young children in the audience, this was their first exposure to live theater, and the cast left quite an impression. Cooper Alberti, 2, of Babyon sat in the balcony with his father after deciding his original seat was a little too close to the stage. Grinning from ear to ear the entire time, he rocked back and forth to the music and clapped enthusiastically. His favorite characters were the Squirrelles and, according to his dad, Cooper loved all the singing and dancing.

Parents, a warning — the play is approximately an hour long with no intermission — so try to hit the bathrooms before the show. Stay after the show for autographs and photos with the cast.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!'” on weekends through April 11 (no show on Easter) with special Spring Break performances from April 6 to April 9 at 10:30 a.m. All tickets are $15. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has received a grant of $135,000 from The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation to support the restoration of the museum’s extensive marine collection, the largest privately assembled collection of sea specimens from the pre-atomic era.

William Vanderbilt (1878-1944) created his Marine Museum, which he called The Hall of Fishes, in 1922. He stocked it with marine specimens collected during voyages to the Galapagos Islands and opened it to the public for a few hours a week. He added to the collection after his circumnavigations of the globe in 1928-29 and 1930-31.

Jennifer Attonito, executive director of the foundation, said, “The Vanderbilt Museum is a Long Island gem and a major anchor of local history. We are proud to help preserve this valuable collection to benefit museum visitors and to help raise awareness of Long Island’s heritage.”

The Gardiner Foundation, established in 1987 in Hampton Bays, supports the study of Long Island history, with an emphasis on Suffolk County. The foundation was inspired by Robert David Lion Gardiner’s personal passion for New York history.

Stephanie Gress, the Vanderbilt’s director of curatorial affairs, said, “The Gardiner Foundation grant will help us to restore and preserve many rare specimens in our Marine Museum that have long needed critical attention. Our marine collection is the foundation for several key Vanderbilt education programs that serve Long Island schools.”

The Vanderbilt marine collection of 13,190 specimens is housed in the Marine Museum, Habitat and Memorial Wing. Of these, she said, 919 are invertebrates in fluid (displayed in “lots” — from two to many in a single display container); 719 dry fish specimens; 1,746 wet fish specimens in lots and 9,806 dry marine invertebrates (shells and corals). Dry specimens are exhibited on the first floor of the Marine Museum, wet specimens on the second floor.

The two largest marine specimens are a 32-foot whale shark — caught in 1935 and restored in 2008 with a federal Save America’s Treasures grant — and an imposing manta ray, caught in 1916 and restored many years ago, with a 16.5-foot wingspan. William K. Vanderbilt II called it the “Sea Devil.”

Gress said cartilaginous fish, such as sharks and rays, which have spines of cartilage instead of bone, are the most difficult to preserve. Another problem is the age of the collection — many of Vanderbilt’s earliest specimens are nearly 100 years old. When preservation fluid (ethanol and distilled water) in specimen containers degrades the wax seals, comes in contact with air and evaporates, specimens can decompose, she said.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

By Heidi Sutton

I always know that spring is right around the corner when Theatre Three presents its adorable annual musical production of “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.” Written by Jeffrey E. Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, suggested by the characters created by Beatrix Potter, this show is a personal favorite of mine and seems to get better every year. Directed by Tazukie Fearon for the second year in a row and accompanied flawlessly on piano by Steve McCoy, it follows the adventures of Peter Rabbit (played by James D. Schultz) and his cousin Benjamin Bunny (played by Fearon) as they sneak into Mr. McGregor’s garden to steal his vegetables.

Like two peas in a pod, Schultz and Fearon work very well together. They know their target audience well and draw the most laughs. Amanda Geraci plays Mrs. Rabbit and charms the audience with her beautiful rendition of “Morning.” Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail, played by Marquéz Catherine Stewart, Jenna Kavaler and Caitlin Nofi (who has a fondness for Trix cereal), respectively, are a terrific supporting cast. Dan Brenner and Sue Anne Dennehy return as Mr. and Mrs. McGregor and shine in their duet, “A Friend.”

Of special note is the constant interaction with the audience — asking them what to do next or answering a child when she asks a question. While being chased by Mr. McGregor, the cast runs up and down the aisles, sitting in chairs to hide, much to the delight of the young theatergoers. A nice touch.

The set is minimal, with just a few props including a scarecrow and a basket of vegetables, allowing your imagination to run wild. Listening to the dialogue, one can envision a garden full of carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, string beans and parsley and understand how two little rabbits could find this forbidden bounty irresistible. Utilizing a trap door on the stage as a rabbit hole is very effective.

Masterfully choreographed by Stewart, the musical numbers, arranged by Kevin F. Story, are all showstoppers, especially “One More Time Around” and “Peter’s Socks,” and the audience is treated to an encore performance of all the songs in a finale mega mix.

James D. Schultz as Peter Rabbit and Tazukie Fearon as Benjamin Bunny in a scene from ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Sophie Jeong, 4, of Coram, came prepared for the show by wearing a pretty pink shirt with a bunny sewn on it and by bringing her favorite stuffed rabbit along. She sang along to all the songs, and, when asked who her favorite character was, she replied without hesitation — “Peter Rabbit.” Her favorite scene? “When the bunnies were eating their lunch [of blackberries, milk and toast].”

Don’t forget to take a picture with the cast in the lobby after the show. Bunny stuffed animals will be sold before the show and during intermission, and booster seats are available. Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” through April 11, perfect for spring break. Up next is “The Littlest Pirate” followed by “Puss-in-Boots” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Tickets are only $10 each. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Jane O’Sullivan creates her romantic stories from home in Setauket. Image from Jane O’Sullivan

By Jenni Culkin

In a green-and-white rustic home that overlooks a small lake in Setauket, resident Jane O’Sullivan recently wrote her first romance novel, “Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures,” which takes place in the Victorian era of Italy.

She published the book under the pen name Lillian Marek and maintains a Facebook page under the same name with hopes of conveying some interesting thoughts, ideas and opinions from readers.

The book has earned a rating of 4.6 stars on Amazon.com. Her book received a similar average rating of 4.5 stars on the Barnes & Noble website.

O’Sullivan, who was once an editor with Times Beacon Record Newspapers, said she always loved to read and write, dating back to when she was just a little girl.

“I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else,” she said, “I read just about anything I could get my hands on. My mother used to say, ‘Will you stop reading and go out and play?’”

O’Sullivan is now a proud wife, mother of two and a grandmother of four, who has lived in Setauket since the year 1974. Before Setauket, O’Sullivan was a resident of Jackson Heights, Queens.

She made the switch from a busy urban life to a quiet suburban life in Setauket after she found out that her hometown would not provide the education that she had in mind for her children.

Jane O’Sullivan photo from the author
Jane O’Sullivan photo from the author

Her parents, who lived in Sound Beach, connected her with a real estate agent who eventually introduced her to her current lakeside house. O’Sullivan affectionately described the area as a “comfortable place to live.” She also said that when she drives through the locale, it almost feels like the countryside to her.

“I believe age is strictly mental,” O’Sullivan said with a smile on her face, “but I am definitely old enough to be retired.”

As O’Sullivan entered her retirement, a friend suggested mystery and romance novels as a new endeavor.

After reading some of the recommended books, including titles such as “Mr. Impossible,” O’Sullivan recalls the desire to try writing her own romance novels.

O’Sullivan said her friends and readers often ask her why she chose to write romance novels.

“Writing romance isn’t much different from writing regular novels, except that you have to make it end happily,” O’Sullivan said. She compared it to solving a mystery at the end of a mystery novel. Mystery novels would be incomplete without naming a culprit at the end just as romance novels would be without a “happily ever after,” she said.

And she is not done just yet. O’Sullivan is set to release three new books, including “Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey,” due out in August.

“It’s an adventure story,” O’Sullivan said of her next book. She added that the story takes place in Assyria and features river pirates, which she said would make the story an interesting read. Lady Emily, she said, is the sister of the main character in her first book in the same general time period.

 

Ramones band member visits Book Revue

Marky Ramone poses with his memoir. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

Long Islanders filled Book Revue storefront in Huntington Tuesday night for a special appearance from Marky Ramone, drummer of the seminal punk band the Ramones.

Born Marc Steven Bell, the 62-year-old Brooklyn native spent 15 years drumming for the iconic band and has played with a variety of musicians dating back to his high school years. He is the only surviving member of the iconic group, and visited the North Shore to take part in a Q&A session before signing memorabilia and copies of his new autobiography, “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone.”

Leading to the night’s event, roughly 100 rabid Ramones fans anxiously awaited Bell’s arrival. Among them was Smithtown resident Cynthia Cone, 42.

Cone said that when she was a teenager, she dated a drummer who turned her on to the Ramones, and it wasn’t long before she was hooked.

“Their shows were so high-energy,” said Cone. “If you listen to their bootlegs, it’s almost like you hear the countdown, and then it takes you a second to register what they’re even playing because they were so raw.”

Despite not achieving the success they deserved while the band’s original members were still alive, Cone said there’s no denying the Ramones’ impact.

“You hear so many bands like Rage Against the Machine, and even hip hop artists [credit] the Ramones. They were just such a huge influence across the board.”

Bell started playing drums in 1971 for the hard rock group known as Dust and would later audition for New York Dolls before working with Wayne “Jayne” County and Backstreet Boys. Later, he played with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, joining the band for the recording of their first record, “Blank Generation.”

In 1978, while drinking cheap beer at the legendary dive bar and venue CBGB, Bell was approached by bassist and soon-to-be band mate Douglas Glenn Colvin, also known as Dee Dee, and was asked to play drums for the band.

Asked about being on the road with the Ramones, Bell shared his experience touring America in the band’s van and likened it to being trapped in a floating mental institution on wheels.

“We had our trusty Ford Econoline 15-passenger van and we all had our assigned seats, Bell said. “We had a lot of quality time together and we were all different individuals — maybe that’s why the music was so great.”

Later, Bell discussed his band’s role in the 1979 Roger Corman-produced cult classic, “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” a musical comedy in which rebellious teens get even with their school principal against the backdrop of Ramones musical performances scattered throughout the film.

“[Film director] Allan Arkush came to New York and saw us play [and] he loved it. We toured our way from the east to west coast in 1979 and the next thing we knew, it was ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,’” Bell said. “Making the movie was interesting [and] it was pretty funny seeing four aliens, me, Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee, in the movie amongst the normals.”

Singer/songwriter Sophie Hintze. Photo by Michael Rosengard, North Island Photography

By Sue Wahlert

2014 was a fabulous year for 17-year-old Setauket resident Sophie Hintze. After a culmination of artistic sufferings and successes, the Ward Melville High School senior was recently courted and signed as a singer/songwriter by BMG Chrysalis, an international company focusing on the management of music publishing and recording rights.

“Sophie is the youngest person that I have committed to. This girl has it!” said Kris Muñoz, senior director, business & legal affairs for BMG Chrysalis. Muñoz continued, “We need to have folks with drive, energy and work ethic. Sophie has all of this and more!” Through a journey that began at home in Setauket, continued at school, and branched out into the world of theater and jazz performances in New York City, Hintze has reached a place most 17-year- olds only dream of.

With the loving support of her parents, sister and others, she began her job with BMG, a company that will nurture her full potential as a songwriter and singer. Dina LaPolt, of LaPolt Law in Los Angeles, who represents Hintze and artists such as Steven Tyler, Mick Fleetwood and Deadmau5, brought Hintze to the attention of music companies after hearing her song, “Better Off Alone.” LaPolt remarked upon meeting Hintze, “She has a star quality that is not something that comes lightly. It has only happened a few times in my career,” similar to when she met Stacy Ann Ferguson, better known as Fergie.

Lise Hintze, Sophie’s mother, recollects, “Being a singer was her dream since she was a little girl.” Sophie talked about her early beginnings with music, “When I was in elementary school, I would secretly write songs in a book, which I still have. I would sing these songs to my dog, Maybelle and my family. I wouldn’t tell them it was mine, and if they reacted, I knew it was something good. To this day, I still do this. Great songs demand attention.”

With her passion for writing, she was already laying the path for her future successes. However, the beginning did not go smoothly for Hintze. In junior high, she was rejected from a school play and it was devastating, albeit a blessing in disguise. Hintze said, “I felt like a failure, but I believed I had the talent and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.”

So with the support of her mom and dad, she turned to theater workshops in New York City to keep her dream alive. Her first stop was Broadway Workshop, a company that develops and produces educational workshops and full-scale productions.

Her first audition with Broadway Workshop, for “Legally Blonde,” was met with immediate success. Hintze recalls, “It was insane. They asked if I was free the next day for a callback!” This encouraged Hintze and she continued with Broadway Workshop into 10th and 11th grades, playing Calliope in the musical comedy “Xanadu” and Miss Gardner in “Carrie.” With a dedicated spirit, Hintze’s mother drove her to New York City every Saturday and Sunday. “Being around the caliber of talent in New York City fueled me. Their support has been overwhelming,” said a grateful Hintze.

During her time with Broadway Workshop, Hintze cemented her desire to become a performer. She also began singing with the Matt Baker Trio at Le Cirque, Somethin’ Jazz Club and the Metropolitan Room, starting at the age of 15. Additionally, she took on the role of Rapunzel in “Into the Woods” at her high school.

Then, in the summer of 2013, she was singing at Frank Melville Memorial Park during one of its Wind Down Sundays concerts, and songwriter/producer Anthony D’Erasmo approached Hintze and asked if she would be interested in recording some of her music. It was during this time she wrote and recorded “Better Off Alone,” a song that became the catalyst for her new career.

This valuable song, which Hintze copyrighted, became the center of a dispute with a music library. The Hintzes reached out to LaPolt for guidance. LaPolt gave them advice, and as an aside, Sophie e-mailed her the recording of “Better Off Alone.” That was the spark that ignited all that was to follow. LaPolt said, “I was like, this is an amazing song!” After sending the song to a few colleagues in the business, it landed in the hands of Kris Muñoz, who said to LaPolt, “Don’t send that song to anyone else!” While LaPolt had other offers for Hintze, a choice was made and Thomas Scherer, executive vice president of writer services at BMG, flew out to the BMG offices in New York City to meet with Hintze.

Scherer echoed the thoughts of both LaPolt and Muñoz, “She has tremendous star quality!” BMG was ready to make a commitment to this young songwriter, to work with her to develop her talents. In August of 2014, Hintze found herself at the offices of BMG in Los Angeles overlooking the Hollywood Hills, where she signed her contract as both a songwriter and an artist.

“We want Sophie to develop into a normal human being,” said Muñoz, referring to Hintze finishing high school and attending college in September at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

BMG’s Muñoz said, “We want to take Sophie’s existing talent and see how she blossoms.” The process involves introducing her to writers and producers to see what kind of music she can produce for other artists. Hintze reiterated BMG’s support, saying, “They are very supportive of me, and I couldn’t ask for a better team.

They are home to some of my biggest inspirations in the industry and I feel honored to be a part of the BMG family. My goal isn’t to be famous — it is to be successful.”

2015 holds great promise for Hintze, with amazing opportunities for learning, creating, and making her mark in the music industry. Check her out at www.sophiehintze.com.

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From left, Daniel Henshall as Caleb Brewster, Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull, Heather Lind as Anna Strong and Seth Numrich as Benjamin Tallmadge. Photo from AMC Networks

The history of the Culper Spy Ring is nothing new to Setauket and North Shore of Long Island residents. This Sunday, April 6, thanks to the new AMC show “Turn,” Setauket and some of its most legendary residents will become household names throughout the country.

Based on Alexander Rose’s 2006 book, “Washington’s Spies,” the show stars Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull, the Setauket farmer turned spy for Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Enlisted in 1778 by Major Benjamin Tallmadge (Seth Numrich), Woodhull along with Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall) and Anna Strong (Heather Lind), among others, worked together to send messages — often in code — about the British troops to Washington.

In a telephone interview, show runner and executive producer, Craig Silverstein — responsible for The CW Television Network series, “Nikita” — said he had heard about the Culper ring before, but didn’t know exactly what they had done until fellow executive producer, Barry Josephson, introduced him to Rose’s book in 2008 while they were working together on Fox’s “Bones.” He thought it would make a great show. “They were very good at what they did,” Silverstein said of the spy ring.

Silverstein, who admitted to not being much of a history buff prior to working on the show, described the show as “a spy thriller,” with a great international cast. He said one of the most surprising things to learn about was how intimately connected the characters were to George Washington.

“There weren’t a ton of layers,” Silverstein said. “[That] brought him more down to earth.”

Interestingly enough, Bev Tyler, the historian for the Three Village Historical Society who runs the SPIES! exhibit at the society’s headquarters, agreed often times films and shows based on the American Revolution make Washington the opposite of what Silverstein described. “They can’t do it without deifying him, without making him larger than life,” Tyler said.

Silverstein said he found it interesting how few American Revolution-based films and television shows exist. He said much of what is out there is “very ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’” referring to children’s-type programming. “The real truth is much more complicated,” he added.

While maintaining historical accuracy was important, Silverstein said writers could take some creative license because a lot of what the spies did is still unknown.

However, in an effort to get the facts right, Rose is working as a consultant on the show. Silverstein said some the crew visited Setauket; Tyler, who said he would definitely be watching on Sunday, took one of the show’s writers on a society walking tour.

Silverstein said he thinks everyone, even those who aren’t history buffs, will enjoy the series as it is an exciting depiction of the American Revolution. “It’s only a world that you thought you knew,” he said.

“Turn” premiers with a special 90-minute episode on Sunday on AMC Networks, Optimum channel 43, at 9 pm.

Northport’s artistic identity on display in some businesses

Campari Ristorante restaurateur Danyell Miller stands in front of one of her favorite curated pieces, ‘Psychoblue’ by local artist Michael Krasowitz. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

Inside the dimly lit dining hall at Campari Ristorante on Northport’s Main Street, Danyell Miller arranges the place setting on one of the dinner tables and takes a moment to admire the artwork of Michael Krasowitz, whose vibrant paintings adorn the room’s walls.

Miller, the new owner of the establishment, makes her way to the head of the room as the sound of a jazz piano drifts through the still air.

Campari is unlike your traditional eatery; it also doubles as an art gallery.

“I’ve always had a vision that if I ever had a public space, I’d want to include a gallery space for artists,” Miller said. “The first month I had it, I had met an artist, and we had a rotating exhibit of local artists every month. There was always somebody new.”

Campari Ristorante isn’t alone: more businesses on Main Street have been dressing their walls with art than before, according to the Northport Arts Coalition. Some of those stores include The Wine Cellar on Main and Caffé Portofino.

Kristy Falango, an employee of Caffé Portofino, admits to not knowing exactly when the coffee house began curating the work of local artists, but that since the practice began, it’s garnered a lot of attention.

“I just think that a lot of people that live in the community like to come in and see pieces of art that represent our town,” Falango said. “It started bringing a lot more people in.”

According to the barista, town residents have several destinations to choose from when they feel like indulging in the arts. Northport has a tradition of embracing the arts, and the village serves as a hub for local artists wanting to introduce their work to the public.

“Anything in the arts is going to enhance the community, and having art in the storefront is putting it out there. It’s putting it out there to the public,” said Isabella Eredita Johnson, founder and former chairwoman of the coalition.

Established in 1998, the goal of the coalition is to create a vibrant hub for the arts and humanities in Northport. The organization works to “inspire and support artists and to help them make connections with other artists and with the larger community,” according to the group’s website.

“I had kind of rounded up a whole group of people from the various arts and we really spearheaded sort of a cultural organization,” said Johnson, “and of course it was filled with musicians, visual artists, poets and singer-songwriters.”

When Johnson resigned as chairwomen in 2006, the coalition had already made significant contributions to the art community in Northport, including Happenings on Main Street, which promotes local street music and gives musical performers the ability to reach a larger audience, and Art in the Park, a free family event featuring artists displaying their photography and fine art pieces.

Down the block from Campari and Caffé Portofino is Wilkes Gallery. The gallery is a prominent fixture in the neighborhood and specializes in custom framing services and the sale of fine art. The business will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. Its long-standing relationship with fine art publishers gives its owner the opportunity to display and sell the work of renowned artists.

Wilkes employee Linda Frey, who’s starting on her 22nd year with the company, stressed the importance of supporting artists on the local level.

“You’ll come down here in the summer and different artists are set up in different corners painting,” Frey said. “Everybody promotes the locals around here as much as they can.”

In the time she’s been working at Wilkes, Frey admits that she’s seen the local art community change, but believes that Northport’s passion for the arts is still alive and well among young people.

“It seems like even the high school is very into the arts; they promote art there and they do a lot of shows there,” said Frey. “This town is just very big on the arts.”

Echoing that sentiment is Dan Paige, the current executive director of the coalition. He believes that by giving back to the community, he and his coordinators are enhancing the level of opportunity for local artists to receive recognition.

“The major thing is helping artists get their art out there, and then by doing that, we’re serving a purpose of bringing the arts to the community,” Paige said.