Historic mansion in St. James to host art exhibit

Historic mansion in St. James to host art exhibit

‘Breakfast Memories’ by Irene Ruddock

By Ellen Barcel

The Suffolk County Parks historic Deepwells Farm and Mansion on Route 25A in St. James will host the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club’s Associates’ and Members’ Non-Juried Art Exhibition from April 12 to 26.

“It’s a new tradition” for the club said board member and co-chair Jeanette Dick of Belle Terre. “This exhibit is an additional undertaking by the club to fulfill their mission to promote the work of women artists. It [will be] a bi-annual event held at different galleries and museums in the tri-state area.” The first was at the museum in Water Mill and the second at a gallery in Connecticut. This one, at Deepwells, will be the third. “It’s a new adventure for us, a new venue,” for the 118-year-old club, she said.

Catharine Lorillard Wolfe was a philanthropist, art collector and one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bequeathing her collection of paintings to it. The art club was formed in 1896 to “provide aid, counsel and exhibition opportunities to young women artists in New York City.” The club, which meets in Grace Church in NYC, has grown over the years with membership spanning the country.

One of the board members of the club, Setauket artist Irene Ruddock said, “It’s so nice meeting women from all over the country and they are good. [The club] is one of the most prestigious [art] organizations.” Ruddock went on to add, “Our own wonderful Jeannette Dick is taking over as president of this organization. It’s an honor for her to be president.”

"Pungent Aroma" watercolor by Eleanor Meier
“Pungent Aroma” watercolor by Eleanor Meier

Added Dick, who referred to herself as currently president-in-training, “It’s a wonderful club with women I greatly admire — a wonderful group of women to work with who are very talented.”

According to Eleanor Meier, co-chair of the exhibit and club board member, Deepwells Mansion was selected as the site for the current exhibit because it’s “a nice venue and close to the St. James railroad station for those coming out from the city.”

The mansion was built in approximately 1845 and has been home to Joel L.G. Smith, a descendent of Richard “Bull” Smith of Smithtown and William L. Gaynor, mayor of New York City from 1910 to 1913. The Greek Revival mansion and part of the farm property was acquired by Suffolk County in 1989 and has been the site of many events including art shows, arts and crafts festivals and holiday boutiques.

Open to professional artists, the show will include a wide variety of media including watercolors, acrylics, oils and etchings. Seventy-four works of art from associates and members of the club will be on display. Noted Dick, “It’s a good sized show with a good mix of media.” She added that the show includes sculpture. Pat Solan of Port Jefferson Station will be showing a sculpture as will Priscilla Heep-Coll from Brooklyn.

Ruddock noted, “The whole point of the show is to give the associates who never had a show a change to exhibit. It’s very hard to get into this club. Some people try for years.” It’s not a juried show, she added. “If you’re an associate [of the club] you can show,” with each artist submitting a work that was “representative of their style.”

Ruddock’s submission, “Breakfast Memories,” is a still life done in pastels of brown eggs and an antique canister set. “It was so much fun to do,” she noted. Of the brown eggs, she said, “each one was different with its speckles. I fell madly in love with a canister set in an antique shop, [a set] that I’d been looking for for years. I took it home and set it up with the eggs to paint. It was exciting … I have so much fun with art.”

"Pecking Order" pastel, by Jeanette Dick
“Pecking Order” pastel, by Jeanette Dick

While the show is open to associates and members across the country, many Long Island artists will be represented including members of the Setauket Artists, including Renee Caine, Patty Yantz, Anne Katz, Paula Pelletier, Patty Schwarz, Flo Kemp, Jane McGraw-Teubner, Jeanette Dick, Irene Ruddock, Eleanor Meier, Angela Stratton, Carole Scinta, Pat Solan, Joan Rockwell and Sheila Breck. Other Long Island artists include Mary Maran, Joyce Bressler, Alexandra Marinaccio, Marion Cohen, Lillian Forziat, Helen Giaquinto, Lucille Berrill Paulson, Liz Jorg Masi, Debra Grossman and Alexandra Albano.

Most of the works are for sale with proceeds to benefit the club’s scholarship programs. Expect a very good show as, said Meier, “the club has high standards.” A reception for artists and invited friends will be held on April 12. The exhibit will be open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

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