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Colleen Hanson

‘Cassio’ by Dino Rinaldi

By Melissa Arnold

‘Stable Door’ by Joseph Reboli

Horses, whether ridden, raced, bred or simply beloved, have long been a part of Long Island’s culture. From the Belmont Stakes in Nassau to the Smithtown Hunt and the Old Field Farm in Suffolk, the majestic animals hold a special place in the hearts of many.

Among them was the late artist Joe Reboli, whose 30-year career was defined by bringing both famous places and ordinary views of the Three Village area to life with great care and realism.

The Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook was founded in 2016 to celebrate Reboli’s life and honor the history of the place he called home. Since then, the center has created a number of exhibits blending Reboli’s work with local artists as well as artifacts from Long Island’s past.

On Tuesday, the center opened an exciting  new exhibit, Artistry: The Horse in Art, which will focus on horses and their environment through a variety of mediums. Among the Reboli works in the exhibit is “The Stable Door,” an oil-on-canvas painting.

Roberto Dutesco’s ‘Love’ will be on exhibit at the Reboli Center through Oct. 28.

“Joe had a way of capturing this community that evoked such wonderful feelings from people,” said Reboli Center co-founder Colleen Hanson. “His painting of a stable door in our exhibit was done for [the late publisher] John McKinney. Joe’s ability to paint white was just astounding — there is more to the color white than many people realize; there are so many shades and hues in it and he captured them all.”

In addition to work from Reboli, the exhibit will highlight three other main artists. Roberto Dutesco, a Romanian-born Canadian artist, is well known for his fashion photography. But in 1994, Dutesco began to explore nature photography with a trip to Sable Island, nearly 200 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. There he photographed the island’s breathtaking wild horses. He has returned to the island six times since then with the goal of inspiring greater conservation efforts through his work. 

‘Zidette’ by Dino Rinaldi

Dino Rinaldi is a Port Jefferson native whose winding career has taken him from illustration to advertising and finally painting full time. As a teen, Rinaldi recalls opening up an issue of the local newspaper and seeing a painting of gasoline pumps by Reboli. 

“I looked at it and thought, someday I want to be able to paint like that. It moved me,” said Rinaldi, who now lives in Setauket with his wife and daughter. “To be able to create art for a living is a dream come true.” Keep an eye out for “Zidette,” Rinaldi’s graphite powder-and-pencil drawing.

Elena Hull Cournot, who originally hails from East Setauket, now provides creative arts therapy in the West Village and owns a studio in Brooklyn. Horses are a mainstay of Cournot’s work, who is known for her large commissioned paintings of horses and soulful works created during her time as an artist in residence at the Burren College of Art in Ireland. Like storytellers who seek to capture the personal essence of their subjects, Cournot strives to spend time with each horse she paints. One of those horses was “Indie,” whose oil-on-canvas portrait is featured in the gallery.

The center’s history gallery will focus on events and places that include horses in a prominent role. The Smithtown Hunt is the only surviving foxhound hunt on Long Island. While it was originally a live hunt when it was first held in 1900, it is now exclusively a drag hunt. The Old Field Farm was built by Ward Melville in 1931 and continues to be a hot spot for the equestrian community. 

“Every year, we sit down and talk about what kind of exhibits we’d like to have. We look at different community events that are going on, and then work to determine the artists we might feature and a theme based around that,” Hanson explained. “This is such an interesting and fun show — there are so many people who love horses and have owned or ridden them at some point. They are beautiful, intelligent creatures that have a wide appeal.”

Hanson also joked that her own history was a factor in the decision. In the decade she spent as the director of Gallery North in Setauket, not a single exhibit featured a horse. Thanks to this exhibit, she’s now hung more than 30 horse paintings, drawings and photos.

The center will hold several special free events during the exhibit’s run, each coinciding with Third Friday activities in the area. Dino Rinaldi and Roberto Dutesco will be at the center Aug. 17; Leighton Coleman, Sally Lynch and Edmunde Stewart will be welcomed on Sept. 21; and on Oct. 19 there will be a screening of the documentary “Snowman,” which tells the story of a simple workhorse saved from the slaughterhouse by a Long Island man. Snowman went on to become a national show jumping champion.   

See Artistry: The Horse in Art through Oct. 28 at the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook. Admission is free. For information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org. 

The Reboli Center for Art and History is located in Stony Brook at the former site of the Capital One Bank. File photo

It’s much more than a place to go to appreciate the work of late artist and painter Joe Reboli.

Located at the former site of Capital One Bank across the street from where Reboli grew up in Stony Brook, the Reboli Center for Art and History, which opened a little more than a year ago, blends a collection of art from the prolific painter with works by other local artists, rotated every three months.

Housed in an A-frame white building with blue awnings, the center has showcased the work of artists including Ken Davies, who was Reboli’s teacher and mentor.

Reboli was born and raised on Main Street, not far from where his name is memorialized.

He and his family had a long history in the area. His grandfather ran a business across the street from where the center now stands, and decades later his aunt worked in the same building when it was a bank.

He died in 2004 at age 58 after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Since his death, his wife Lois Reboli had been attending makeshift meetings at coffee and kitchen tables across Three Village with a squad self-identified as The Rebolians, working to make sure Joe Reboli’s story lived on.

“[The center is] hopefully a gift back to the community my husband loved so much,” said Reboli, a former art teacher.

The Reboli Center is named in honer of late Stony Brook artist Joe Reboli. File photo

He was on the board of the Three Village Community Trust and Gallery North. When asked by his wife why he attended those gatherings, she said he told her he loved the community and wanted to support it in some way.

“I didn’t really understand it at that point,” she said. “I did after he got sick, and I just really wanted to give something to the community so they would remember Joe.”

As part of the center’s cultural contributions, free talks are given with local artists, and, after a successful musical debut, the center may be the site of future concerts.

Donna Crinnian, a photographer whose pictures of egrets were featured at the center in the fall, called the center a great addition to the community.

“Everybody in the community likes having it there,” she said. “They get a really nice crowd coming in for the speakers.”

Besides Reboli, the idea for the studio gallery came together with the help of Colleen Hanson, who worked as executive director of Gallery North from January 2000 until her retirement in September 2010. She worked alongside Lois Reboli after Joe passed and also helped launch the first Reboli Wet Paint Festival weekend at Gallery North in 2005.  Hanson also worked with B.J. Intini, a former Gallery North assistant and executive director who is the president of the Farmingville Historical Society.

“I made a vow that we would do something for [Reboli],” Hanson said. “If we were to find a space, it had to be in Three Village and it had to have a Joe-like feeling. Now, I pinch myself and think, ‘This is so cool.’ We love this community. We want it to be even better and richer for everybody, and I see this as a beautiful upbeat place where people want to be.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is credited with helping to make the purchase a reality, Reboli said. He helped the three, self-dubbed the “tres amigas” create a not-for-profit called the Friends of Joseph Reboli, with a mission of collecting, preserving and exhibiting artwork and artifacts related to Joe Reboli. The group filed for federal 501(c)(3) status in 2012.

Reboli had been looking for a suitable place to share her late husband’s work with the public and had been demoralized by a few false starts when she wondered if she would be able to find the right spot.

“If we were to find a space, it had to be in Three Village and it had to have a Joe-like feeling. Now, I pinch myself and think, ‘This is so cool.’”

— Colleen Hanson

It wasn’t until March 2015 when Hanson said she heard of Capital One in Stony Brook potentially leaving the historic landmarked building at a price tag of $1.8 million. Englebright spearheaded securing a $1.3 million state grant that went toward the purchase of the building, and two anonymous $150,000 donations turned the dream into a reality.

“He went to bat to help us get as much funding as we could,” Reboli said of the lawmaker. “He was remarkable.”

She signed the contract Sept. 25, 2015 — her late husband’s 70th birthday.

“It’s everything I hoped for and more,” Englebright said of the center. “I have heard from dozens of people and they are absolutely thrilled that this is a new part of the cultural dimension in our community.”

Englebright said the late artist’s paintings open up a wide range of conversations about the interaction between nature and development. One of his favorites is of three gas pumps in front of a coastal scene on the North Shore.

“He put this scene together that clearly to me is an expression of concern regarding the impact of overdevelopment, on a way of life, and on the beauty of Long Island,”
Englebright said.

In its first full year of operation, the center, which is free for guests, has hosted a range of crowds and events. In May, it welcomed a visit from the Commack High School Art Honor Society. In late October, world-renowned cellist Colin Carr, who has appeared with the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony and is teaching at Stony Brook, performed at a benefit concert.

He said the way the sound worked its way through the building was an unexpected
surprise.

“When I went in there and played the cello briefly as a trial run, it was immediately apparent that this was perfect for the cello,” Carr said. “It’s always exciting to walk into a new place, whether it’s a room or concert hall or even a church, to sit down and start playing and feel that there’s an immediate rapport between me, the instrument and the space.”

Carr is the one who suggested that the center would be a “wonderful place for a small music series.”

Reboli said she is thrilled with the direction the center is taking and suggested the showcase is far beyond what she had imagined when she first discussed highlighting her late husband’s artwork.

On a Friday in late November, the building hit a high-water mark with about 180 guests in attendance, Reboli said.

“I would have been happy with a wall somewhere,” Reboli said. “This has morphed into something that would have been unimaginable before. Never did we expect to have a place like this. This is a miracle.”

From left, photographers Donna Crinnian, Anita Jo Lago and Lorraine Sepulveda and Colleen Hanson, trustee, Reboli Center after the event. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Nature lovers fill Reboli Center The Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook Village hosted a successful Third Friday lecture on Sept. 15. Titled “Photographing Nature,” the event featured three local nature photographers Lorraine Sepulveda, Anita Jo Lago and Donna Crinnian who take their inspiration from the parks, harbors and lakes in the Three Village area. The trio shared their photographs of wildlife taken in the local area with a slide show and offered tips and strategies on how to become a better nature photographer during a Q&A. All three photographers have work on exhibit in the rear galleries of the Reboli Center. For more information, call 631-751-6408.

'Salt Glazed Pitcher' by Ken Davies

By Ellen Barcel

After a remarkable career spanning over 60 years, artist Ken Davies has earned the title of one of the top masters of realistic still life. Now Davies is the star of a special group show at the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook, appropriately titled Ken Davies: Realism in the 20th Century.

The 50-piece exhibit, which is the second show at the newly opened gallery and runs through April 30, focuses on Davies and his students, including Joseph Reboli, Richard Newman, Dennis Coburn and George (Gig) Thompson, all college classmates and lifelong friends of Reboli. In addition, work by Jo-Anne Scavetta and Daniel Patrick Buckley, collaborators of Davies, will be on display.

Davies was Reboli’s teacher, mentor and friend. “When Joe chose a college to go to, he selected Paier [School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut] because of its classical tradition. Ken Davies was the person who wrote the curriculum for Paier,” noted Colleen Hanson, trustee of the Reboli Center.

With many works in private collections as well as museums, Davies, 92, is known for his almost photographic-like quality of painting, taking the ordinary and transforming it to a work of fine art. Close to two dozen of the award-winning artist and former dean of Paier paintings will be on display. “We have paintings of Joe’s alongside of Ken’s to show his influence on Joe’s paintings,” said Hanson.

Ken Davies

Said Lois Reboli, Joseph Reboli’s widow and president of the Reboli Center, “I know my husband thought so highly of Ken Davies. He had such an influence on [Joe’s] paintings. ” She added that it was Davies who recommended Joe Reboli represent New York in the White House commemorative calendar published in 2000.

Reboli’s paintings on display at the current exhibit include three of the Pemaquid Lighthouse, circa 1994 (“Stairlight 1987,” on loan; “Fennel,” on loan; and “Beets,” part of the Reboli Center’s collection). Also on display will be “Shell,” a painting Reboli did as a student at the Paier School. A fifth, “Bellport Gate,” is on loan from Gallery North.

In addition, four of Reboli’s works from private collectors — “Hoses,” “Green Barn,” “West Meadow Beach” and “Screened Window” will be on display and for sale. The commissions from those sales will benefit the center and help finance the purchase of additional paintings for the center’s collection.

Said Hanson, “The reason we chose this to be the second exhibit is to expand people’s understanding and knowledge of Joe as a painter. In our first exhibit, A Sense of Place, we wanted to show both how important the community setting had been in the subject matter of Joe’s paintings and also how relevant the site of the Reboli Center was to Joe’s background, how close it was to his childhood home …”

Hanson went on to explain that Reboli’s aunt was an important part of the bank, the Stony Brook building that now houses the Reboli Center, and that “his grandfathers’ careers (were) involved in the setting — the grist mill, tavern, green grocer, etc.” in Stony Brook Village.

On March 17 from 5 to 7 p.m., as part of the center’s Third Friday series of programs, Long Island artist Dan Pollera will be speaking about his paintings of Long Island, his career, his connection with Reboli and his inspiration as a working artist. A question and answer period will follow.

April’s Third Friday program will feature poet and novelist Claire White. Christina Strassfield of Guild Hall is scheduled to speak in May and in June Deborah Johnson, author of “Joseph Reboli,” a volume published in connection with The Long Island Museum’s exhibit in 1998 will speak. The programs are free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

Johnson’s volume is for sale at the center. Lois Reboli noted that when the center ran out of the books, The Long Island Museum generously donated a number of copies. “We were thrilled with that. They were very kind to us. We’re so grateful to the community for all the support they’ve shown us. We hope to borrow more paintings from community members in the future.” She especially thanked Howard Eskin who recently passed away. “He was wonderful in letting us borrow paintings.”

Future plans include a garden show beginning in May. “We hope to never have the same show twice,” Lois Reboli said, adding that a garden party fundraiser is planned for June. She also noted that Fort Salonga sculptor David Haussler, who recently passed away, just had some sculptures delivered to the center for display. “We’re grateful to have his sculptures on the property… He’s remarkable.”

The Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main Street, Stony Brook is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org for further details.

From left, Doug Reina, B.J. Intini, Pam Brown, Lois Reboli, Colleen Hanson, David Ebner, Robin Clonts and Jim Molloy. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

The Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook presented its first Third Friday event on Dec. 16. Over 75 people attended the standing room only event. “I’m overwhelmed at the positive response from the community and so thankful for their interest in the center and its programs,” said Lois Reboli.

Along with artist Pam Brown, who also hosted the event, the evening featured a Behind the Scenes art talk with Robin Clonts, David Ebner, Jim Molloy and Doug Reina and commenced with a Q-and-A. Due to its immense popularity, the second Third Friday event has already been scheduled for Jan. 20 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Reboli Center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook Village. For more information on upcoming programs, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.ReboliCenter.org.

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