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Art

Being a hospital patient for any length of time is not likely an experience that engenders tranquility or inner peace for most, but local artists and hospital staff are doing their best to change that.

The 3 North Patient Care Unit at Port Jefferson’s John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, a newly constructed intermediate care unit on the third floor, is now furnished with paintings from artists who donated their work to be displayed for and enjoyed by patients and staff.

The hospital hosted a reception to thank the artists, including Irene Ruddock, president of Setauket Artists, who played a leadership role in getting the idea off the ground.

“The art installation endeavor was the inspiration of Dr. Shug-Hong Young, a cardiologist at Mather Hospital, who purchased one of my paintings which he donated to the hospital’s newest wing,” Ruddock said.

She said Young then took the idea to Mather president, Kenneth Roberts, who liked the concept and requested works featuring Long Island waterways and boats be displayed.

“This is actually a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful meeting of community members and artists with their local community hospital resource,” Roberts said. “We put a brand new wing on with private rooms with computers in the rooms so we don’t have all of the [computers on wheels] or [workstations on wheels] out in the hallways, so nothing is crowded. So we have this brand new nursing station with beautiful finishes, but the one thing we didn’t have was artwork.”

Ruddock was tasked with selecting paintings from her group’s members that fit the bill.

“I chose art that would add to the beauty of the already beautiful space, create a peaceful, serene environment that might provide a sense of spiritual healing,” she said. “I wanted paintings that touch people’s hearts and souls — ones that were memorable and draw you right into the painting.”

Young explained why he donated Ruddock’s initial painting, and why he thought it would brighten up the wing.

“It came to me that if we could bring all of these local artists [works] to the hospital, because many of the artworks reflect local scenes — the beach, the port, the pond — that would make patients feel they are not isolated, they are still connected to the beautiful environment,” he said.

Emily Emma, nurse manager for 3 North who recently transferred to the position, said she asked colleagues in her unit if there was anything she could do to elevate their work and the care they provide to patients, and a common theme emerged in the answers.

“Most of them had said, ‘We would really like some artwork on the walls,’” Emma said. “Patients can’t get enough of them. It’s really a nice peaceful journey to get through their progression of health.”

Jim Molloy, a Miller Place-based artist, was among those who donated a piece to the hospital that he called “Turning Tides.”

“I think that’s what art is about — it’s about brightening up someone’s day,” Molloy said. “If somebody can look at a piece of art and kind of escape for a while, then that makes me feel good, it makes them feel good — it’s perfect.”

Ruddock thanked Roberts, Young and Emma for their efforts in bringing the idea to fruition, as well as Mather employees Nancy Uzo, vice president of public affairs, and Laura Juliano, director of annual giving. Juliano said artist Renée Caine also provided invaluable help during the planning and installation phases of the idea. Caine donated one of her own works.

“By far, the most rewarding aspect of the project was the reaction of the patients, caregivers and staff to the paintings,” Ruddock said. “One staff member said of Michael Kutzing’s painting of a sailing vessel, ‘I mentally take a ride on the boat every day on the Long Island Sound to breathe in the air.’”

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A mural has been painted on the side of a business in Rocky Point depicting some of the hamlet's history. Photo by Kyle Barr

A local artist is using an image of the past to illustrate a brighter future.

A newly finished mural on Broadway in Rocky Point highlights the historic nature of the old hamlet while serving to continue efforts to beautify the downtown.

Natalie Rash, Edith Mahler, Geraldine Luglio and Max Braun work on the mural, which was completed last month. Photo by Julia Vogelle

Retired Miller Place High School art teacher Julia Vogelle spearheaded the project and painted the mural, located just outside Rocky Point Ship and Pack, alongside Edith Mahler, a trustee of the Rocky Point Historical Society. It is painted on the side of Belladonna Hair Design, located at 45 Broadway, and faces the entrance of Rocky Point Ship and Pack next door. Vogelle said several local community members, even those just passing by, came to help with the project. She said she even got several of her ex-students involved, including Geraldine Luglio, Max Braun and Natalie Rash, all recent graduates from Miller Place High School.

“It’s been a wonderful experience working with them,” Vogelle said. “It’s really been an effort of love for Rocky Point.”

The mural depicts several historic elements and landmarks of Rocky Point, such as the Noah Hallock Homestead, Indian Rock, The Hallock Landing shipwreck, the RCA Radio Central station, Tilda’s Clock and the Rocky Point train station. Natalie Stiefel, the President of the Rocky Point Historical Society, gave Vogelle a few suggestions on what to include.

“It would take a mural the entire size of the town to represent all the history of Rocky Point, but they did a really good job,” Stiefel said. “Rocky Point is really such a magical place.”

Vogelle said the mural was in planning since spring 2017, and after many months of work it was finally completed in mid-August.

Julia Vogelle, Geraldine Luglio and Natalie Rush work on a mural in Rocky Point. Photo from Julia Vogelle

The former art teacher is one of the people heading up plans for The Brick Studio in St. James after a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017. The original plan was to locate the studio in Rocky Point in a brick building near the Rocky Point Farmers Market at the corner of Prince and Broadway, but the group was unable to land the deal. Vogelle said this mural project is a way of giving back to the community that originally supported her and the rest of her team.

Steven Badalamenti, who works at Joe’s General Contracting and Masonry, watched as the mural went up over time. He marveled at just how much history there is in the hamlet where he grew up.

“It really did capture the essence of Rocky Point,” Badalamenti said.

The mural was painted with supplies provided by Rocky Point Civic Association in continued efforts to continue to beautify downtown Rocky Point, according to President Charles Bevington.

“Hopefully Rocky Point grows slowly with some dynamic but still within the spirit of the local culture,” Bevington said.

My family has become archeologists in our own home. After 12 years of collecting artwork from the kids’ classes in school, saving report cards and filing away binders from earlier grades, we are sifting through all that material, jettisoning or recycling what we don’t need.

Some of the finds are so remarkable that they stop us in our sorting tracks. My high school daughter isn’t much of a morning person. She often prefers short sounds or gestures in the car on the way to school, rather than actual conversations that might require her to form words.

As we were going through a pile of material, we found a note from her nursery school teacher. She described a charming little girl who often takes a while to get going each morning. That description is so apt today that we realized how much of people’s patterns and personalities form early in life.

Then, sorting further, we found papers from her spectacular first-grade teacher. A young woman with a soft voice and a determined style, her teacher brought out the best in our daughter, even early in the morning.

Our daughter kept a diary in that class, in which she shared stories about the family’s weekend activities. Clearly, her brother was jealous of that writing, as we also found a diary from him in which he thanks her for creating a similar book for him to record his experiences. He shared his thoughts from the weekend, and the rest of the family readily wrote back to him.

His sister also kept handwritten notes from her first-grade teacher. The letters are all clear and distinct, and offer a positive and supportive tone. Her teacher wrote to her, without talking down to her. What a wonderful role model. This teacher, through form and content, offered a ray of sunshine to our daughter even then, which was probably why we kept the papers.

These notes today take on a different meaning for us, as the teacher succumbed to cancer at a young age just a few years after our daughter had the privilege of being in her class. Our daughter was recently in a high school English class in which her first-grade teacher’s husband served as a part-time instructor. She shared some of these notes with him. He was delighted to take them home to his daughter, who was a toddler when
her mother died. His daughter has particularly appreciated seeing her mother’s handwriting and feeling an indirect connection to the encouraging words she offered.

We have also sorted through dozens — OK, hundreds — of pictures that have transported us to earlier memories. We have a photo of our 1-year old son standing on the warning track at the old Yankee Stadium, bunched up in a winter coat on a December day.

We also found numerous pictures of our son on baseball fields of his own, surrounded by younger versions of teammates who have stuck with him through the years, as well as of friends who have gone their separate ways — or have pursued other sports.

Amid all the trophies from sports teams, we discovered certificates indicating that one or both of our children had been successful lunch helpers.

We have unearthed old VHS tapes of movies we watched numerous times as a family, including a few Disney classics and a surprisingly amusing Barbie version of “The Princess and the Pauper.”

In addition to sending us down memory lane, sorting through all the accumulated clutter has made the house seem so much larger, giving us room to add modern memories and memorabilia to our collection.

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In the last few weeks we have been subjected to a constant bombardment of tragic news. The horrific mass killings in Las Vegas is just the latest. We have lived through reports of the sequential hurricanes that have killed, maimed and destroyed lives and property in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. We have agonized for the men, women and children caught in the Mexican earthquakes. And this latest horror of crowd homicide is the worst because it is not a paroxysm of the natural world, something we have to accept, but the act of a crazed human against hundreds of other innocent humans. Imagine the concertgoers’ happy anticipation for an evening of music under the stars with lovers or family only to be killed by a sniper’s bullets. And why?

We ran away from news of the carnage the other night and took refuge in art. The glorious embrace of Giacomo Puccini and his soaring arias of “La Bohème,” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, welcomed us.

Puccini, you may well know, is considered one of the two most famous Italian opera composers of the 19th century, the other being Giuseppe Verdi. What I didn’t know is that he was the offspring of a musical dynasty in Lucca that included his father and the fathers preceding them as far back as his great-great-grandfather. All of these ancestors studied music at Bologna, wrote music for the church and, aided by their genes and family connections, were distinguished in their time.

Puccini’s first opera, “Le Villi,” premiering in 1884, when he was 26, was well enough received, and his subsequent “Manon Lescaut” was a triumph. His personal life, however, was as riveting as his librettos. He eloped with his married, former piano student at the risk of being shunned. They did eventually marry, after another husband killed her womanizing husband. By coincidence, Puccini’s opera premiered the same week as Verdi’s last opera, “Falstaff,” and talk began of Puccini being the natural heir to Verdi. At least that was what George Bernard Shaw is reported to have said.

Puccini’s next three operas are among the most popular and most often produced: “La Bohème,” “Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly.”

When “La Bohème” premiered in Turin in 1896, Arturo Toscanini conducted it, and it was immediately popular. The story is of four young artists, all starving and freezing as they work in a garret in Paris and experience the pleasures and pains of young love. The opera is at turns joyful with the energy of youth and tragic with the premature death from tuberculosis of Mimi, the seamstress, and Rodolfo’s love. As a young man in Milan, Puccini lived the life he wrote about, once sharing a single herring with three others, as portrayed in the opera.

Puccini almost died in a car accident before finishing “Madama Butterfly” but then went on to complete what is now one of the most loved operas in the world. “Tosca” followed; then “La Fanciulla del West,” a plot set in America; “La Rondine;” and a three-act opera, including “Gianni Schicchi,” which contains my favorite aria, “O mio babbino caro.” “Turandot” was his final opera, finished after his death by his associates from his sketches, and offering the memorable, “Nessun dorma.”

Publicity about his personal life continued when his wife accused their maid of having an affair with Puccini, who was known to wander off the reservation. The maid then committed suicide, and an autopsy revealed that she had died a virgin. Puccini’s wife was accused of slander, found guilty and sentenced to five months in jail; but a payment by Puccini spared her that experience.

Ultimately 11 of Puccini’s operas are among the 200 most performed operas in the world, and the abovementioned three are in the top 10. Only Verdi and Mozart have had more operas performed. By his death in 1924, Puccini had earned $4 million from his works.

I hope this excursion in art has helped you, as it did me, to escape at least briefly from the omnipresent bad news.

Miller Place art teacher Julia Vogelle helped form The Brick Studio and Gallery nonprofit. Photo from Julia Vogelle

Who better to bring vibrancy and revitalization to downtown Rocky Point than a group of local artists? With the support of elected officials, a new nonprofit organization is leading the charge to help enrich, educate and electrify the Rocky Point community and surrounding areas.

The Brick Studio and Gallery is an art collective of more than 20 local artists and instructors with aspirations to grow and develop into a full-fledged community studio and hub.

Spearheaded by Miller Place High School art teacher Julia Vogelle and professional ceramicist Justine Moody, the group blossomed around the time Stony Brook University’s Craft Center and ceramics studio closed for renovations in January 2016, leaving potters and artists without a space to do what they love.

Pottery making will be offered at The Brick Studio and Gallery. Photo from Julia Vogelle

Vogelle and Moody, who shared dreams of opening up a cooperative to bring art back into the community, met in the wake of the Craft Center shutdown and enlisted the help of the “homeless” artists to form the organization.

Since then, the project has grown, culminating in a Kickstarter campaign with an ambitious goal of $18,000 to turn a dream into a reality. With 120 backers, their goal has already been exceeded, raising a total of $18,150.

The money will cover the start-up costs to find a location and equip and supply the studio with 14 pottery wheels, two electric kilns, kiln shelves, clay, glazes and ceramic tools. According to the fundraiser page, the studio “has the potential to begin a renaissance in historic Rocky Point, with other artists and artisans joining in bringing life to other empty buildings” and plans to open in early spring.

“My vision is to have this cultural center energize and bring all the money back into the hamlet,” Vogelle said. “Rocky Point has a lot to offer. People 16 and up can come; we’d have services for students, seniors, veterans and anyone who would like to work. I want to look at Broadway in Rocky Point as ‘artist’s row.’”

In addition to pottery, glass and jewelry making, the studio will be a venue for documentary showings, live poetry, trivia nights and  live music.

Moody expanded on the grand vision.

“I think it’s going to become a destination place … I don’t know that Rocky Point has one, and there are a lot of towns here with a tremendous group of creatives who don’t really have a place to call their own,” Moody said.

She’s hoping it could be a place to attract locals during the summer to take lessons, and others from outside the community on Friday nights, saying she envisions big events on weekends and other pop-up events throughout the year.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) believes The Brick has the potential to be a tourist attraction that could boost Rocky Point’s foot traffic and revenue — much-needed since the state built the bypass, which encourages traffic to go around the area, hitting downtown businesses especially hard.

“There are a lot of towns here with a tremendous group of creatives who don’t really have a place to call their own.”

— Justine Moody

“So many of our residents come in from the Long Island Expressway, from Sunrise Highway, and they look to go east from the North Fork, and my hope is that maybe they’ll turn left and go west to experience what Rocky Point and Shoreham have to offer,” Anker said. “There are so many high-level artists that live in the area and this will hopefully give them a way to stay local and promote their craft to the public.”

Anker has been involved in North Shore revitalization plans since 2011, participating with the Rails to Trails project and the clean-up of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and said that art is not just trendy.

“We underestimate how important art is, it needs to be cultivated,” she said. “It’s part of our culture and it has an educational component. It will definitely benefit downtown Rocky Point.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who contributed $100 to the art collective’s Kickstarter campaign, said she’s so excited about the studio and points to Vogelle and Moody’s hard work and dedication.

“They’re very dedicated and committed and they’re not looking for somebody else to solve their problem … grass isn’t growing under feet at all and it’s hard not to pay attention to that,” Bonner said.

As a 30-year Rocky Point resident, the councilwoman is hopeful that the artists can bring people back to downtown Rocky Point and trigger change.

Vogelle feels the same, stating that she believed that the art can bring value to homes and surrounding businesses.

“If you put art into a community, people want to move in,” she said. “If you put music in town, people want to gather around and enjoy it. A cultural center like this always connects with schools in the district and it will also help people realize there’s so much culture that’s hidden. And anyone can get hooked on ceramics — the elderly, veterans, teens. Once you touch mud, you never go back.”

Pat and Dennis Statuch of Port Jefferson hold "Turning Tides," by oil panter Jim Molloy, which they won at the Setauket Artists' Exhibition raffle.
Barbara and Les Wuerfl of Stony Brook hold their new painting "Welcome to the Party" by Irene Ruddock, which they won at the Setauket Artists' Exhibition raffle.
Barbara and Les Wuerfl of Stony Brook hold their new painting “Welcome to the Party” by Irene Ruddock, which they won at the Setauket Artists’ Exhibition raffle.

The Setauket Exhibition raffle winners are Barbara and Les Wuerfl of Stony Brook, who won the painting “Welcome to the Party” by exhibit coordinator, Irene Ruddock; and Pat and Dennis Statuch of Port Jefferson, now proud owners of “Turning Tides” by oil painter Jim Molloy. Congratulations!

Spectators browse through Suffolk County Community College's new photo gallery at the Eastern Campis in Riverhead. Photo by Kevin Redding

Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead held an opening reception last week for its annual Eastern Campus Student Art Exhibit, a show that takes place every fall in the Lyceum Gallery of the Montaukett Learning Resource Center on the Eastern Campus.

Centereach’s Sarah Mullen with her photo, top left, that was featured in the gallery. Photo by Kevin Redding
Centereach’s Sarah Mullen with her photo, top left, that was featured in the gallery. Photo by Kevin Redding

The salon-style show serves to highlight exceptional work created by students in the college’s applied arts programs. This year’s exhibit contains over 60 works that will be displayed in a variety of media and sizes, all of which have been done for classes on campus within the last two years.

Students majoring in photography, graphic design, computer art and interior design were able to submit up to three pieces of their choosing and have the opportunity to leave their often-isolated creative spaces and gauge a reaction of their work from the public..

Ralph Masullo, professor of photographic imagery, said that the gallery has proven to be incredibly valuable for the artists in many ways.

“When you’re an artist and put your work out, you’re basically putting yourself out,” Masullo said. “For students who tend to be very timid about that, it’s their first experience to be exposing themselves as an artist. It’s a good experience for them. Just standing around and listening to comments from strangers is very helpful.”

Sarah Mullen, 22, of Centereach, said that this was her first art exhibit on a college-level, even though she’ll be graduating from SCCC this year with a photography major.

Mullen submitted two photos that will eventually be part of a travel photography book she’s been working on this semester as a special project that highlights lesser-known locations on Long Island. One was taken at Avalon Park in Stony Brook and the other at Prosser Pines in Middle Island. The photo titled “Nature’s Tranquility” of stone steps ascending deeper and deeper into a beautiful forest is so mesmerizing that it became the official image for the reception, appearing on all promotional fliers.

Photos in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery are observed. Photo by Kevin Redding
Photos in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery are observed. Photo by Kevin Redding

“It’s nice to have the exposure here,” Mullen said. “Usually, as an artist, all you’d have besides a gallery is the internet, and it’s cool for someone to come physically see your work on the wall. When it’s on the computer, you can still edit it, you can still change things. Once it’s on the wall, that’s it.”

One of the most striking photos in the gallery came from Kiera Pipe, 19, of Miller Place. Taken at Peconic River Herb Farm in Riverhead, the photo captures a sundress hung up on a line in between two shutters on the top floor of a rustic and worn-down barn. One observer said it was haunting and looked almost ghost-like.

Pipe, who’s a photographic imagery major, said that she likes to see whether or not her work means something to someone else or provokes an emotion of any kind. Constructive criticism, she said, makes her a better artist.

“I’m really new to submitting my work into events like this,” Pipe said. “It’s really interesting to watch other people look at my images, while I’m kind of trying to figure out what they’re thinking. I think it’s really awesome … it’s a good feeling.”

Kiera Pipe, of Miller Place, had her photo hung up in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery. Photo from SCCC
Kiera Pipe, of Miller Place, had her photo hung up in Suffolk County Community College’s new gallery. Photo from SCCC

Growing up on the North Shore, she naturally gravitated toward photography, with a specific focus on landscapes.

“I like all the components that go into it,” she said. “Your eye travels in so many different directions when you’re looking at a landscape. [Growing up] on the water, everything always looks so different. It’s the same place and everything, but the shores and the sky changes so much … it always becomes a different photo.” 

The exhibit is open through Dec. 14 in the Lyceum Gallery, located at 121 Speonk Riverhead Road on the Eastern Campus in Riverhead. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and holidays (gallery closed from Nov. 24 to 27).

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It’s time to raise the bar on communication skills for teachers. I realize there are sensational educators who inspire a cadre of young minds each year. There are also plenty of teachers who are weak communicators, whose work wouldn’t stand up to their own liberal use of the red pen and who have their own rules of grammar that defy any style book.

That seems especially problematic, particularly for language arts teachers who are, presumably, not only educating our sons and daughters about how to read and analyze text, but are also helping them develop their writing style and voice.

The do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do approach may, unwittingly, be preparing students for the unfair world where merit doesn’t count as much as other factors, like connections.

I’m not sure that’s really the lesson we want to teach or the subtext we want to share during these formative years.

I’d like to ask a favor of teachers: Please read your instructions before you give them to your students. You can shape the assignment the way you’d like: asking questions about identity, seeking to understand the perspective of the author, asking for an analysis of the tone of the piece. But please, please, please read over your directions before printing them out, sending them to students or sharing them with parents. It’s not OK for your writing to read like the assembly instructions for a child’s toy.

I know it will take a few more moments and I know that you’re not particularly well paid, but please remember your mission and the difficulty of a double standard. Children can sense hypocrisy quicker than a shark can smell blood in the water.

I realize these missives filled with misdirections may provide a lesson unto themselves. Students may learn that nobody is perfect. While that may be true, are the teachers — who provide confusing directions, who send out assignments rife with poor grammar and misspellings, or who casually make the kinds of mistakes for which they would take major deductions — comfortable enough with themselves and their position to provide students with the opportunity to correct them?

Ideally, learning isn’t just about hearing things, memorizing them, spitting them back out during a test and forgetting them within a week of an exam. As teachers say so often when they meet parents, they want their students to learn to think for themselves and to question the world around them.

If that’s the case, then let’s not pay lip service to those missions. Let’s add a corollary to that and suggest that how teachers communicate is as important as what they communicate.

Let’s also encourage students to ask teachers why their instructions include particular words or employ specific phrases. I recall, many years ago, the first time one of my more self-assured teachers silenced a room when he said, in his booming baritone, “I stand corrected.” The rest of us didn’t know whether to cheer for the boy who challenged him or to duck, worried that a temper tantrum with flying chalk — remember chalk? — might follow.

Maybe schools should hire an editor who can read the instructions to kids and emails to parents. Or, if the budget doesn’t allow a single extra employee, maybe they can engage in the same kind of peer review they utilize in their classrooms.

Ideally, students and teachers can seize the opportunity to learn and improve every year. Teachers create an assignment and then reuse it the next year. If the assignment is unclear, or the directions flawed, the teacher should do his or her homework and revise it.

All I ask is that teachers lead by example.

‘Lily,’ Oil on Linen Board, by Daniel van Benthuysen of Huntington

By Talia Amorosano

On the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 18, in conjunction with the beginning of summer, the juried art exhibition, Of a Botanical Nature, organized by the Smithtown Township Arts Council, opened at the Mills Pond House in St. James. For the first time this year, the general public was afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a gallery full of art representative of the intricacies of local and nonlocal flora. 

‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven
‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven

The exhibit, which will run through July 20, features 60 works of art from 49 artists, 22 of whom hail from various nonlocal areas of the country including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and California. The remaining 27 represent the Long Island and New York City area. 

The artists
Mark Attebery
Ross Barbera *
Arthur Bernstein *
Stephen Brucker
Carol Ceraso *
Lisa Conway
Caryn Coville *
Debra Crawford
Audry Deal-McEver
Granville C. Fairchild *
Margaret Farr
Beverly Fink
Ingrid Finnan
Kathy Folino
Elizabeth Fusco *
Janice Marie Gabriel *
Kristine Gaier
Kelsey Gallagher
Vivian Gattuso *
Maureen Ginipro *
Patricia Greenberg
Stella Grove
Jillian Hauck *
Katherine Hiscox *
Kathleen Hollan
David Jaycox Jr. *
Lynn Kinsela *
Amanda Lebel
Katherine Lechler *
Madeline Lovallo
Patricia Luppino *
Louis R. Mangieri *
Lucy Martin
Kelly McLeod
Gary Mulnix
Lois Perlman
Pat Proniewski
Judith Scillia
Irene Paquette Tetrault *
Monica Ray *
Lynne Rivellese *
Robert Roehrig *
Alisa Shea *
Gisela Skoglund *
Gunter Stern *
Susan Tango *
Daniel van Benthuysen *
Camille Warmington
Sharon Way-Howard *
*Long Island artists

The works that appear in the show were chosen by Juror Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, illustrator and author who currently instructs botanical drawing classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. An accomplished illustrator, her work has been published in The New York Times and Good Housekeeping magazine and exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Regarding Hollender’s selection process, the executive director of STAC, Allison Cruz, said, “She really picked a broad range of artwork based in reality. She was looking more for realism, but she did take a couple of pieces that are more abstract.” Accordingly, Hollender awarded first and second place to artists whose works exemplify a command of a photorealistic style of portraying traditionally botanical subjects: respectively, Colorado-based artist Patricia Greenberg for her pencil drawing, “The Flower Loves the Rain,” and New York City-based artist Ingrid Finnan for her color illustration, “Blue Hubbard Squash.” These two artists will go on to participate in a winner’s show next year,  which will also be held at the Mills Pond House.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Margaret Farr for various botanical illustrations, Gary Mulnix for a larger-than-life wooden sculptural representation of “Lupine” and Lois Perlman for a richly saturated color illustration of a “Parrot Tulip.”

‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai
‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai

According to Cruz, this exhibit features a particularly wide range of artistic mediums. In addition to two-dimensional works in watercolor, acrylic, oil, wash on paper and colored pencil, the show includes six three-dimensional sculptural works made of bronze, black walnut wood, glass mosaic, steel and clay, among other materials.

Subject matter depicted ranges from close-up, scientific-looking views of individual flowers or plants with monochromatic backgrounds (Kelly McLeod’s “Wilted Alstroemeria,” Kathleen Hollan’s “Autumn Leaves”), to still life images of staged indoor plants (Katherine Hiscox’s “From the Garden,” Granville C. Fairchild’s “Reaching to Heaven”), to garden landscapes (Pat Proniewski’s “Morning Azaleas,” Carol Ceraso’s “Spring Affair”), to abstract representations of natural subjects (Lisa Conway’s “Grey Swan,” Arthur Bernstein’s “Sprout”).

However, all of the pieces in some way reflect the organic spontaneity of life in the natural world within the ordered structures of scientific classification, together forming a show that fosters an appreciation for the small examples of natural beauty that often go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Cruz said, “There are a lot of watercolors by the nature of most of the flower illustrations, but it really is a broad range … I have everything in this show except photography and digital art. It’s a beautiful mix of media.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present Of a Botanical Nature at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James through July 20. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (closed July 3). Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit
‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit

Sample tiles were on display at the Community Art Center on June 4. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

A community art event, Make Your Mark, has come to Gallery North. The gallery invites the community — adults, children, families, both professional artists and even those with no artistic background — to come and paint their own six-inch ceramic tile. The tiles may be taken home or used at the gallery in the planned tile wall of the new Community Art Center.

Ceramic tiles have a long history. Once ceramics are fired, they do not deteriorate like wood or cloth. The result is that the art world has tiles created and fired not only hundreds but thousands of years ago. The decorative tile work on the Dome of the Rock (begun in the seventh century) in Jerusalem dates back to the 16th century while Egyptian tile goes back to 4000 B.C. These examples attest to the beauty and longevity of this art form.

Tiles continued to be important in the art world. The Tile Club consisted of over two dozen American artists in the late 19th century, including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Stanford White, John J. Twachtman and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who met periodically to paint ceramic tiles. Even today, decorative ceramic tiles are popular tourist souvenirs.

Judith Levy, executive director of the gallery noted that people shouldn’t be afraid to tackle painting a tile. “I’ve had people say ‘I have an idea, but…’ they aren’t artists. Well, we have helpers, students from the art department at Stony Brook University.” In addition, designs can be traced onto the tiles or stencils can be used. It’s up to the individual.

“We want to create stakeholders in the gallery, new ways of exciting people,” added Levy. Since some of the tiles will be a permanent part of the wall next to the new building, people can come back with their families, year after year to see their tile — basically being a part of the artistic heritage of Gallery North.

On June 4, the first in the series of workshops was held at the gallery. Handmade tile production was demonstrated by sculptor and Long Island artisan Tina Folks. Folks, a ceramic artist for over 25 years, is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. “I knew my medium would be clay from summer camp,” when she was a child. “I fell in love with the medium.”

Folks showed how a rolled out slab of moist red clay is cut into squares, dried and coated with bisque before its first firing. This preparation, getting them ready for the community artists to paint, will be done by Folks. “I have about 200 tiles now in my studio to decorate,” she noted.

“What I love about this [a community art project] is the collaboration. It takes me out of the solitude of my studio. It’s a nice exchange working with other people. It helps me grow as an artist,” said Folks.

Make Your Mark starts with those attending the workshops drawing their designs on a six-inch square of paper. In the weeks to come, they and others who join them will transfer their designs to the tiles to then be fired a second time by Folks. Future workshop dates include June 18, June 26 and July 7. Times will vary to accommodate painters’ schedules. For example, the July 7 workshop will be held in the evening from 6 to 8 p.m. When all the tiles are completed and fired, those intended for the gallery will be installed in the garden wall.

Levy added that the patio next to the art center will be expanded. There will be seating and plantings. The planned wall, referred to as a knee wall, will be about 2½ to 3 feet tall. The community’s tiles will be affixed to the inside of the wall, where those on the patio, as well as those inside the art center, can enjoy them.

The event is a fundraiser for the gallery, to help develop the gallery’s new ceramics program as well as other arts programs. The cost to decorate a tile and have it fired, to be taken home by the artist is $50. To decorate a tile and contribute it to the gallery’s garden wall is $100. Naturally, people are encouraged to do both. The goal is for 300 to 600 tiles to be completed for the wall.

Another option is to sponsor a local, professional artist who would do four tiles (12-inch square) for the garden wall. The contribution for sponsorship is $750. Sponsorship can be shared by more than one individual.

So, to “make your mark” and work on one or more tiles, contact Gallery North. A nonprofit, the gallery is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For further information, call 631-751-2676 or go to www.gallerynorth.org.

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