A local artist’s work will live on in the community, even after his death.
Michael Kutzing, who lived in Port Jefferson for 45 years and died in 2015, enjoyed painting nearby landscapes and still lifes, especially scenes in the Setauket area. On July 16, Denise Kutzing and her family donated three prints of her late husband’s paintings to the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.
The three pieces the family donated to the library are titled “The Melville Barn,” “Setauket Grist Mill” and “The West Meadow Gamecock House.” The barn and grist mill can be found at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket while the Gamecock house is among the remaining cottages at West Meadow Beach.
Kutzing said her husband, who was a project manager for a land development company, collected maritime art for many years and took up painting, primarily with oil, after his retirement in 2006. He was a self-taught artist who, for more than a year, owned MRK Gallery in Port Jefferson. He was a member of a number of art organizations including The Art League of Long Island and Smithtown Township Arts Council.
When Kutzing saw her husband’s prints at the library, she said she was pleased with how they looked. The Setauket Frame Shop completed the paintings with earth-tone colored matting and wood frames.
“They bring about the essence of the community, and my husband would have been so honored,” Kutzing said.
She said family friend Everett Waters came up with the idea to donate a few prints to the library. Ted Gutmann, library director, said when Kutzing and Waters came to him with the idea he wasn’t familiar with the artist’s work, but after looking at his portfolio he was impressed, especially since many were local, recognizable scenes. He brought the idea to the library board of trustees, and everyone worked together to choose which prints to display.
“They bring about the essence of the community, and my husband would have been so honored.”
— Denise Kutzing
“It’s a good location for it,” Gutmann said. “They look like they belong there, and I think they’re going to attract a lot of attention.”
Waters, a Strong’s Neck resident and former psychology professor at Stony Brook University, said he met the painter when he owned the gallery in Port Jefferson. Waters said he would be amazed that while talking to him, the artist would continue painting, even when creating a detailed piece.
“The level of detail, the colors, the perfection was amazing,” he said.
Waters said Kutzing loved the area, and while he painted other subjects, a lot of the locations were right near the library.
“I thought there should be some way to note the fact that someone had enjoyed the place and seen it in such a way,” Waters said. “Because if you see that someone sees through certain eyes, then maybe you see it more. ‘I should pause. I should go see that barn. When I go to the beach I should see the Gamecock Cottage.’”
The artwork is now displayed outside the Vincent R. O’Leary Community Room on the library’s lower level. Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main St., Setauket.