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Long Island Museum

Don Law has carved more than 5000 decoys over the years. Photo from LIM
Sarah Broadwell

Take a break from all the holiday preparations and come on down to Stony Brook for the Long Island Museum’s Open House and Decoy Day celebration on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m!  The day includes decoy carving demonstrations, a discussion about fishing on Long Island and live music.  You’ll meet:

  • Captain Don Law a full-time charter boat captain from Hampton Bays who began carving decoys in the 8th grade!
  • George Rigby, Jr., a descendant of baymen who settled on LI in the early 1900s.
  • Don Bennet, whose family has worked the LI waters for more than 100 years.
  • Sarah Broadwell, a full-time fishing captain with the Viking Fleet based in Montauk, who works with students, teachers and recreational fishermen, lecturing about responsible fishing.
  • Stuart Markus, a fixture on Long Island’s folk and acoustic scene.
  • Traditional folk singer Larry Moser.
  • Max Rowland, banjo master and folk musician, who’s family history includes several sea captains.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND MUSIC FROM 1 – 4 P.M.
Free admission all day.
The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

On Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Elias Pelletreau: Long Island Silversmith & Entrepreneur, an all-day symposium exploring this early American silversmith’s life and work, as well as the Long Island Colonial and Revolutionary War-era in which he lived. Scholars and historians will examine Pelletreau’s fine craftsmanship and his essential role in the complex trade and social worlds in conjunction with the museum’s current Pelletreau exhibit.

Topics of discussion include Pelletreau’s Life and Legacy, Pelletreau’s Larger World, American Craftsmen of the 18th Century and Pelletreau’s work in general from an artist’s point of view. There will be a Q&A session after the program, giving audience members the opportunity to ask specific questions of the presenters.

Presenters for the symposium include Joshua Ruff, director of Collections & Interpretation at The Long Island Museum; Deborah Dependahl Waters, independent historian and decorative arts specialist, and guest curator, Elias Pelletreau: Long Island Silversmith & Entrepreneur; Jennifer Anderson, associate professor of history, Stony Brook University; David Barquist, curator of American Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Eric Messin, silversmith and jeweler, Pelletreau Silver Shop, Southampton.

Fee is $12 adults, $10 students, seniors and museum members which includes symposium and admission to the museum. Optional $10 additional for lunch. Lunch also available off-site at area restaurants. To register for this event, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212 or email bchiarelli@longislandmuseum.org.

RENAISSANCE DOG Long Island Museum educators, from left, Lisa Unander, Emma Backfish, Beth Chiarelli, Kristin Cuomo and Jessica Pastore, pose with artist and star of the day, Dagger II, aka DogVinci, at the Stony Brook museum’s Summer Thursday event on Aug. 16. Dagger painted a work of art and then attendees created their own masterpieces to take home. Join the museum for its final Summer Thursday event of the year, a free outdoor screening of “Back to the Future,” on Sept. 6. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

From left, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Joshua Ruff of The Long Island Museum and town historian Barbara Russell at the Longwood Estate. Photo courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

On Aug. 7, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and town historian Barbara Russell visited the Longwood Estate (circa 1790) in Ridge where they presented two historic paintings to Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretation at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, to be added to the museum’s collection as a long-term loan.

The portraits, painted by Shepard Alonzo Mount, were gifted to the town by Eleanor Smith of California. The subjects are William Sidney Smith (1796–1879) and his wife, Eleanor Jones Smith (1805–1884). A year after their marriage in 1823, the couple came to Longwood Estate and raised 10 children. William Smith served as Brookhaven Supervisor from 1829 to 1834.

“These pieces were donated to the Town of Brookhaven, they still belong to the Town of Brookhaven, but they are coming to the museum and will be stored in our collections to be used occasionally for exhibition purposes,” said Ruff in a recent phone interview. “We agreed in taking them as a long-term loan because we believe they really add to our holdings on Shepard Alonzo Mount.”

Painted in the early 1830s, the two portraits were displayed in the house on the property until the last Smith family owner, Eleanor Northrup Smith, sold the estate and moved to California in the late 1960s. The paintings have been stored in a warehouse since that time. 

Albeit a loan, Ruff is thrilled to be able to add them to the museum’s current collection, which includes more than 25 of Shepard Alonzo Mount’s paintings and several hundred of his drawings and sketches, not to mention the enormous collection of paintings and drawings by his more famous younger brother, William Sidney Mount.  

According to Ruff, these particular portraits are unique in that they precede the portrait paintings the museum has, which are from the later 1830s and 1840s. “They were done just when [Shepard] was starting to launch his career as a portrait artist. This was a phase of his career that we hadn’t really documented before. They are valuable in that sense to us,” he said. “They show him beginning to mature as an artist and improve in his skills.”

Winners honored at art reception on April 20

By Heidi Sutton

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook kicked off its 2018 juried art competition, Wanderlust, with a standing room only artist reception on April 20. 

Amateur and professional artists were invited to submit up to three pieces using the desire to travel as their inspiration. 

Neil Watson, executive director of the LIM, opened the reception by congratulating the artists.“You deserve a huge hand. This is one of the strongest shows that I’ve seen in five years.” 

“I’ve been a museum director for many years in many different kinds of museums and artists are the core … Whether it’s a carriage that’s made by a group of artisans from the wheels to the fabric … or it’s a painting or a photograph, it’s a maker. I applaud all of you for being makers and continuing to do that and push it because I know it’s really hard.”

Watson went on to mention that the works of 39 members of the LIMarts, a collaborative arts group, were in the show and encouraged the other artists in the room to join. “This museum believes in makers,” he said. 

Museum staff members combed through more than 300 entries submitted to come up with 76 final entries. Debbie Wells, co-founder and partner of Artful Circle, served as juror and was tasked with selecting a first-, second-, and third-place winner along with two honorable mentions. Wells was also present at the reception, a first for a juried exhibit reception at the museum.

Before announcing the winners, Lisa Unander, director of education at the museum, encouraged all the visitors to browse the exhibit to see all of the artist’s works. “It’s a fantastic show. We are so happy for the turnout for [all the artists] tonight,” she said.

Smithtown resident Elizabeth Milward captured first place for her hauntingly beautiful black and white photo,  “All Aboard,” which was taken on the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania. “Just beaming with artistic talent” was a comment overhead from one of the visitors.

Barron Krody of Stony Brook nabbed second place for his oil on canvas painting, “Happiness Is …” depicting a young girl with a big smile sitting on a cloud with arms outstretched as if flying. “When I heard about the theme [for the show] the word that came to mind was exuberance,’’ said Krody at the reception. Mission accomplished Mr. Krody. 

Third place was awarded to Julianna Kirk of the hamlet of Brookhaven for her  colored pencil masterpiece, “Prague Street,” which featured a young girl in the foreground.

Two honorable mentions were awarded as well. The first was to Jovanna Hopkins of Dix Hills for her stunning digital photograph of Zabriskie Point in California’s Death Valley. The second was to Ronkonkoma’s Gabriella Grama for a vintage suitcase decorated with mosaic tile titled “Worldy Possessions.” The work of art is adorned with images of all the places she has visited, including Egypt. Said the mosaic artist, “I made this just for the show because I love to travel.”

Juror’s comments:

1stplace  

 Elizabeth Milward

All Aboard, Photography

“This photograph tells the story of wanderlust – the desire to journey. The composition of the two figures facing the tracks into the misty distance is very strong and quite moving. The atmospheric quality is enhanced by their vintage clothing and the soft landscape ahead of them.  Excellent monochromatic layering and use of photographic techniques makes it worthy of first prize.  It exemplifies the theme of the exhibition.”

2ndplace 

Baron Krody

Happiness is…,Oil on Canvas

“The perfect title for this whimsical take on the Wanderlust theme. Beautiful, painterly clouds float throughout the composition. Like a cherry on an ice cream sundae, the young girl is brave, happy and poised to embark on an adventure.  This piece is colorful and imaginative – the viewer does not know what is going to happen next, but there is much optimism for this girl!”

 3rdplace 

 Julianna Kirk

Prague Street, Pencil

“This storybook-style illustration was executed by an artist with superior skills in colored pencil techniques.  The perspective of the buildings and architectural landscape are charming and beautifully drawn.  By adding the red-headed woman in the foreground, it frames the composition so that the viewer is seeing the world as she sees it.  The color choices are interesting – a terracotta palette with touches of green give the piece an old world feel.  One wonders what this woman is dreaming about in this European courtyard scene.”

 Honorable Mentions

 Gabriella Grama

Worldly Possessions, Mosaic on Vintage Suitcase

“Most exhibitions feature art on the walls, but when a piece made of unusual materials is showcased, it always stands out.  This mixed media artwork is an unexpected combination of materials.  The form underneath is a suitcase, symbolizing travel and carrying one’s belongings from place to place.  By covering it with mosaics, it adds a sense of permanence because mosaics are not mobile. They historically, are adhered to walls and decorative objects. The juxtaposition of movement and stability is intriguing.  The travel stickers are both fanciful and well-created as they document the travel itinerary of the suitcase.”

Jovanna Hopkins

Zabriskie-Point, Death Valley, Ca.,Photography

“This photograph takes a vast landscape and reduces it to a viewpoint that is nearly abstract.  Between the intense colors and the varying textures of the rocks and shadows, the viewer must look at this scene for the beauty of the shapes, rather than its reality. The composition forces the eye round and round with just enough time to stop and appreciate nature at its finest. Sometimes ‘wanderlust’ means one wants to keep going, but there are also times where it is necessary to just sit and really look at where you are!”

Whether you’re a world traveler or just a dreamer, don’t miss this beautiful exhibit. The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Wanderlust in the Visitors Center through June 3. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Ray Bonneville
On Sunday, April 15 at 5 p.m. WUSB-FM, The Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, sundaystreet.org and the Long Island Museum will welcome singer-songwriter Ray Bonneville, performing live on the stage of the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room in Stony Brook.  

With a style that sometimes draws comparisons to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois, this blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired “song and groove man” holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. He says he “found his grove” when he moved to New Orleans after serving in Vietnam as a Marine, earning a pilot’s license, and moving to Alaska, then Seattle, and Paris. Ray‘s songs involve gritty narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge set against his soulful guitar and harmonica playing.
Ray has earned many accolades, including a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). His post-Katrina ode, “I Am the Big Easy” received the International Folk Alliance’s 2009 Song of the Year Award, and in 2012 Bonneville won the solo/duet category in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. His songs have been recorded by many other artists, among them Slaid Cleaves and Ellis Paul.
Ray will perform songs from a new album as well as fan favorites from his previous six releases. (www.raybonneville.com).
Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased at the door. Please call the museum at (631) 751-0066 the day of the show to confirm ticket availability. Museum exhibitions close at 5 p.m. and are not included with concert tickets.
The Sunday Street Concert Series is presented by WUSB-FM, sundaystreet.org, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and the Long Island Museum.
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About Sunday Street
The Sunday Street Series began in 2004 at The University Cafe at Stony Brook University, when Charlie Backfish, host of the long-running weekly radio program Sunday Street on WUSB-FM, began presenting concerts with many of the singer/songwriters featured on the program. In its first decade, the series presented 172 concerts with musicians from all over the world performing in an intimate venue. In 2015 the series moved from the University Café to the nearby Long Island Museum, where musicians may take advantage of the museum’s Steinway Boston Grand piano. For more information and a complete concert schedule visit www.sundaystreet.org

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About the Long Island Museum

Located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook, the Long Island Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults and children with an understanding of Long Island’s rich history and diverse cultures. Regular exhibition hours (unless otherwise noted), are Thursday through Saturday,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.  For more information about programs and exhibitions, please call 631-751-0066 or visit the museum website at www.longislandmuseum.org.

‘Dance of the Haymakers’ by William Sydney Mount, 1845

By Heidi Sutton

Now through Sept. 3, The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook presents a delightful treat: a special exhibit titled Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount.

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868) was a renowned artist best known for his genre paintings, although he also painted landscapes and portraits. Born in Setauket, Mount lived in Stony Brook and painted many local scenes. A man of many talents, Mount was also a musician (he played the fiddle and fife), composer and inventor, designing a hollow-back violin that he named the Cradle of Harmony.

‘The Banjo Player,’ 1856, by William Sidney Mount, oil on canvas, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

So many of Mount’s paintings incorporate music into the scene, whether it is dancing or playing a musical instrument so it was only natural to “connect his two major passions in life,” according to the exhibit’s curator, Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretations and chief curator at The LIM.

Currently on view in the Victoria V. Costigan Gallery in the Art Museum on the hill, the fascinating exhibit links Mount’s music and art with more than 20 oil paintings, pencil drawings, musical instruments, original compositions and more.

Of course, it is the incredible oil paintings, drawn from the museum’s unsurpassed collection, that take center stage. “Catching the Tune,” “Dancing on the Barn Floor,” “Just in Tune” and the famous “Dance of the Haymakers,” among others, are displayed in all their glory.

The portraits, some of which are over 160 years old, are as colorful and vibrant as ever. “Both William and his brother, Shepard Alonzo Mount, were really great at painting eyes and giving one the feeling like they are sitting in a room across from you,” commented Ruff, who has a fondness for “The Banjo Player.”

‘Just in Tune,’ 1849, oil on canvas, by William Sidney Mount, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

Situated toward the center of the room is a unique music stand that Mount illustrated with sheet music of early American folk tunes including “Dearest Ellen” and a patriotic Fourth of July song. “These musical pieces were popular in the 19th century,” explained Ruff during a recent tour. The stand was designed to accommodate four musicians at a time and Ruff said that Mount most likely used it. “I would be surprised if he didn’t,” said the curator.

Also on display are some of Mount’s compositions including “In the Cars on the Long Island Railroad” and “The Musings of an Old Bachelor,” as well as musical instruments — a tin whistle, hornpipe, tuning fork — which belonged to the Mount family. A piano owned by Mount’s uncle Micah Hawkins sits in the corner. A General Store owner at Catherine’s Market in lower Manhattan, Hawkins composed music and to some extent was an influence to Mount “but his whole family was passionate about music,” said Ruff.

Along with Mount’s personal violin and initialed case, three prototypes of Mount’s Cradle of Harmony are also on view. “It’s nice that we were able to have all three examples of the violin that he designed and we have the 1852 patent design drawing for the first one,” the curator said.

In the background, a video plays several of Mount’s compositions, initially recorded by violinist Gilbert Ross for the Smithsonian in 1976 on its own Cradle of Harmony, tying the exhibit together perfectly.

“It is amazing how Mount was just able to bring music and art together and combine it. Until you have all [these items] gathered in a gallery you don’t necessarily appreciate just how much he was setting a violin down and picking up a paintbrush,” reflected Ruff. “Where one started and one finished is not always clear … nor should it be. It was just this continuing, constant influence and important part of his life.”

Related programs

Art & Music lecture

The Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, St. James will present a lecture on the Perfect Harmony exhibit with guest speaker, curator Joshua Ruff, on Thursday, April 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Atelier Hall featuring an early American fiddle performance by Director Kevin McEvoy. Suggested donation is $10. For more information, call 631-250-9009.

Mount tribute concert

On Saturday, April 14, The LIM will host a concert by the Manhattan-based Red Skies Music Ensemble at 2 p.m. The group will bring Mount’s music and art to life through visual imagery and theatrical interpretation of songs from the artist’s own collection. One of the musicians will play Mount’s Cradle of Harmony. Followed by a Q&A. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 members and students. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

Hands-On Art

Students in grades K through 4 can take part in an after school program, Hands-On Art, on Thursday, May 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. by visiting the Perfect Harmony exhibit and taking inspiration from William Sidney Mount to combine music and art. $10 per child. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount through Sept. 3. The museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children 5 and under free. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

 

Mose Allison
Evening will honor the music of longtime Smithtown resident

By Kevin Redding

Mose Allison. Photo by Michael Wilson

A reporter once asked the late jazz and blues pianist and singer Mose Allison — regarded among musicians like Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Pete Townshend and Van Morrison as “one of the finest songwriters in 20th century blues” — why he wasn’t more famous.

“Mose, you were a social critic before Bob Dylan, satirical long before Randy Newman and rude before Mick Jagger,” the reporter said. “How come you’re not a big star?” Allison, who was born in Mississippi and moved from New York City to Smithtown in the mid-1960s to raise a family and spent much of his time walking in the local woods and swimming in the Long Island Sound, responded: “Just lucky, I guess.”

On Saturday, March 24, The Long Island Museum, in partnership with WUSB-FM’s Sunday Street Concert Series and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, will give the 2006 Long Island Music Hall of Fame inductee his proper due with The Word From Mose: A Celebration of the Music of Mose Allison, a tribute concert in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room at 7 p.m.

Jack Licitra

The concert, following the tradition of other Sunday Street Series shows organized by Charlie Backfish, Stony Brook University history lecturer and host of the university’s weekly radio program “Sunday Street,” will feature local and outside musicians, who will strum and sing through decades of Allison’s breakthrough material, including his more well-known tracks “Your Mind Is on Vacation,” “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” and “I Don’t Worry About a Thing.”

Allison, who died Nov. 15, 2016, just four days before turning 89, was a four-time Grammy nominee and frequent collaborator with jazz greats Zoot Sims and Stan Getz whose songs spanned more than 30 albums — The Rolling Stones, Diana Krall, The Who, The Pixies and Elvis Costello are among those who have recorded Allison’s songs.

Pete Kennedy

The lineup includes “Sunday Street” regular and New York-based singer-songwriter Pete Kennedy; Pat Wictor, electric and slide guitarist of the group Brother Sun; Jack Licitra, a Sayville-based keyboardist and guitarist as well as the founder of the music-teaching studio South Bay Arts in Bayport; and Abbie Gardner, an acclaimed Dobro player who has toured for many years as part of the trio Red Molly. Some members of Allison’s family, including his daughter and singer-songwriter Amy Allison, will also be in attendance.

The evening will also include a screening of a short BBC documentary on Allison called “Ever Since the World Ended,” featuring interviews with Costello, Morrison, Raitt and Loudon Wainwright III and footage of Allison performing.

“Not only is he such an important artist, Mose Allison was someone who lived in this area for many decades and we thought it was time to do something like this for him,” Backfish said of the decision to honor the musician. “When he wasn’t on tour, which was quite often, he would be back in the area and playing shows at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University or jazz clubs in Port Jefferson.”

Pat Wictor. Photo by John Mazlish

Backfish said he also had the opportunity to interview Allison on his radio program many years ago. “He had such an incredibly rich catalog in so many ways and these artists are going to get together and play both well-known songs of his and the deep tracks,” he said. “I would hope that if people aren’t aware of Mose, they’ll suddenly find someone they will check out and listen to, and for those who know him, this will be a great way to celebrate his music and listen to artists reinterpret his songs.”

Wictor, a longtime Allison fan who, with his band, recorded a version of “Everybody’s Crying Mercy,” said Backfish approached him to participate in the concert for his “affinity” for the man’s work. “I love Mose partly because he cannot be categorized easily,” Wictor said. “He sort of mixed jazz and blues, and social commentary, in a way that nobody else did. And I like his sense of humor in his lyrics, which were always a little sardonic and mischievous. He comes across as a person that doesn’t suffer fools gladly and that’s always enjoyable to me. The songs themselves are very musically interesting, too — blues-based but they always have a unique musical and lyrical quality unlike anything else.”

Abbie Gardner

Kennedy said Allison was unusual among jazz musicians in his time because he wrote a lot of songs with lyrics, while others primarily stuck to instrumental compositions. “Allison actually wrote songs that he sang and that’s what we’re focusing on during the concert,” said Kennedy, who noted that he’s had a lot of fun examining Allison’s songs more closely and learning them in anticipation of the show. “His songs sound totally modern to me now, even the old ones from the 1950s and ’60s. The writing is really clever, really humorous and had a little bit of social commentary to it, but not in a negative way.”

Licitra, too, expressed his excitement over his involvement, calling Allison’s music “the thinking man’s blues.” “I’m really looking forward to giving people a taste of his style of intellectualism and humor,” he said. “And for me, this is all about the group of performers on the bill. I’m a big fan of all of them and so I’m excited about playing with them and seeing how they each interpret Mose’s [work].”

The jazz legend’s son John Allison, who grew up in Smithtown, said while his father was a true “musician’s musician” and beloved in many artist’s circles, he was as low profile as could be at home. “There he was, living in Smithtown, so unassuming that even our neighbors, for 15 years, didn’t know what he did until they saw him on TV with Bonnie Raitt for a PBS concert at Wolf Trap,” John Allison said, laughing. “He just wanted to do his thing. He read books and played music. I’d come home from high school and he’d be listening to some weird Chinese, classical music and just laughing and loving it … [and] sometimes he did tai chi in the living room.”

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Advance tickets to the tribute show are $25 through Friday, March 23 at www.sundaystreet.org with tickets at the door for $30 (cash only). Beer, wine and cider will be available for purchase. For more information, please call 631-751-0066.

‘The Judge’ offers a unique portrait of Kholoud Al-Faquih, above, the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Sharia’a courts.
Popular film festival gives voice to stories that need to be told

By Heidi Sutton

Islamic law, autism, the stock market — these diverse subject matters and more will be explored at length as the Port Jefferson Documentary Series (PJDS) kicks off its spring 2018 season Monday evening, March 19.

Sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, the PJDS will present seven award-winning documentaries on Monday nights through April 30, alternating between two venues — Theatre Three in Port Jefferson and The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with guest speakers.

The documentaries were handpicked by a seven-member film board that includes co-directors Lyn Boland, Barbara Sverd and Wendy Feinberg along with Honey Katz, Phyllis Ross, Lorie Rothstein and Lynn Rein. The “film ladies,” as they are affectionately known, each choose one film to present and then a seventh film is chosen unanimously by the group.

It is a system that has worked well since 2005. “I have learned that almost everybody [on the board] has their fingers on the pulse of some segment of our audience,” said Boland in a recent phone interview. “I think that we all have slightly different ways of judging the films that we are attracted to,” which the co-director says is a good thing. “You really want a balanced season that appeals to a lot of people.”

According to Boland, the goal of the festival has always been the same. “What we want most is to give our community the kind of access to important well-done documentaries that are fresh, shown the way they were created to be shown, on a big screen with a good sound system at an affordable price. A guest speaker will amplify the experience.”

This spring’s exciting lineup was selected after the members attended screenings at DOC NYC and the Hamptons Film Festival. When choosing the selections, Boland said she looks for a story “that really grabs me, that I think is dramatic, important, … a must see film,” adding “It is our hope that [the film selection] is really adding to the public discourse — that this is something people will talk about and think about.”

Kicking off the festival is the Long Island premiere of “The China Hustle.” “[This film] is one of those cool movies that is like a slow reveal — a financial mystery that you just start putting the pieces together as the film goes on and you really see what a ‘hustle’ the whole situation is with these fake Chinese companies that grabbed American investors,” Boland divulged. “It is absolutely fascinating.”

The co-director is most excited about sharing “The Judge” with festivalgoers. The documentary follows Kholoud Al-Faqih and her journey to be the first female judge in a Shari’a court in Palestine. “I think it is particularly appropriate to be screened now during Women’s History Month. [Al-Faqih] is a very mesmerizing figure — practical, smart, stubborn and just totally dedicated. That appealed to me,” said Boland. “[The film shows] how family disputes were negotiated in a Muslim religious court. As a former matrimonial attorney I was amazed how similar the issues were [to the United States] and how similarly they were handled.”

She is also enamored by “This Is Congo.” Skillfully directed by Daniel McCabe, Boland describes it as “an incredibly risky showing about what’s going on in Congo that nobody’s talking about, nobody’s writing about. This is a story that needs to be told and we have to do our part to get some of these things out.” Boland’s favorite part of the evening is the Q&A, which this year will feature for the first time six directors and one screenwriter.

The documentary series wouldn’t be possible without the support of numerous volunteers. Every season, help is needed for each part of the process, from distributing flyers and running the ticket booths to tracking down directors and even recommending new films. “We need volunteers not only to help the evenings go more smoothly but we would really love to have more people on the board,” said Boland. If you love documentary films and would like to volunteer, please call 631-473-5220.

The board was recently notified that the PJDS was chosen by Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s Best of Long Island survey as the Best Film Festival on Long Island, beating out the Stony Brook Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Gold Coast Film Festival for the second year in a row for “its devotion to documentaries — which are evocative, thought provoking, and shed light on often-unrepresented segments of our population.” To Boland, it is affirmation that the group’s tireless work is paying off. “I am just thrilled,” she gushed. “Every time we have our first meeting to start work on the next series … I am just amazed at how everybody hangs in there … just because they really love films and love to bring them to the community. That’s the bottom line.”

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series will be held at 7 p.m. every Monday night from March 19 to April 30 at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson or The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Tickets, sold at the door, are $7 per person. (No credit cards please.) New this year at the Long Island Museum’s screenings is the Cinema and Chardonnay program. For $5, participants can purchase a glass of chardonnay and/or a $1 bag of pretzels and then enjoy the wine and snack while watching the film. For more information, visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

Film schedule

▶ The spring season will kick off with a special screening of “The China Hustle” at Theatre Three on March 19. The documentary exposes a new financial crime perpetrated by Wall Street where investors dumped their money into Chinese businesses that turned out to be fraudulent. The hook of the story is that everyone involved is guilty, including the investor who called out the fraud in the first place. Guest speakers will be Director Jed Rothstein by Skype and Juan Carlos Conesa, chair of Dept. of Economics, Stony Brook University.

▶ “Sammy Davis, Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” to be screened at the Long Island Museum on March 26, is the first major documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress in 20th century America. With interviews from Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak along with photographs, television, film and concert. Moderated by Tom Needham, host of “Sounds of Film” on WUSB, guest speaker will be screenwriter and co-producer Laurence Maslon.

▶ The series continues with “The Judge” on April 2 at the Long Island Museum. The Muslim Shari’a courts in the Middle East have excluded women for centuries, and the influential religious legal system has never appointed a woman as a judge — until Kholoud Al-Faqih came along. The documentary follows the Palestine judge’s brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women and her drop-in visits with clients, friends and family. Guest speaker will be Director Erika Cohn.

▶ “This Is Congo,” to be screened at Theatre Three on April 9, is a riveting, unfiltered immersion into the world’s longest continuing conflict and those who are surviving within it. Following four compelling characters: a whistleblower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor — the film offers viewers a truly Congolese perspective on the problems that plague this lushly beautiful nation. Moderated by Shimelis Gulema, professor of Africana studies and history, SBU, the guest speaker for the evening will be Director Daniel McCabe.

▶ The series continues on April 16 at Theatre Three with an impressionist, fly-on-the-wall portrait of the life and glorious music of Israeli-born Itzhak Perlman, widely considered the greatest living violinist. Titled “Itzhak,” the documentary follows the virtuoso around the world for a year, portraying his huge passion and spirit. Wheelchair-bound from childhood polio, Perlman recounts overcoming obstacles with humor and talent. Featuring archival materials and performance clips, the guest speaker will be Director Alison Chernick.

▶ “Love, Cecil,” which will be screened at the Long Island Museum on April 23, brings to life the glamorous world of fashion/celebrity photographer and stage set designer, Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) through the use of archival footage, interviews and readings from his diaries by actor Rupert Everett. Guest speaker for the evening will be Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland.

▶ The final film for the spring 2018 season, “Mole Man” will be screened at the Long Island Museum on April 30 and follows Ron Heist, a 66-year-old autistic man who built a 50-room structure, consisting solely of scrap materials, on the land behind his parent’s home in Western Pennsylvania. His creation was built without the use of nails or mortar and keeps expanding, as he collects, classifies and displays objects from a deserted cluster of homes in the woods. This is the story of an extraordinary life, a family and the beauty of thinking differently. Director Guy Fiorita will be the guest speaker.

All photos courtesy of the PJDS

‘Lure of the Butterfly,’ c. 1914-15, oil on canvas, private collection

‘My great and absorbing passion is the love of beauty. Beautiful things give me pleasure. As fine art is the application of the principle of aesthetics or beauty, painting has especially appealed to me as an outlet.’

­— Jane Peterson interview with The Garden Magazine, 1922

By Heidi Sutton

After a brief hiatus in January, the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook opens its 2018 season with a new traveling exhibition featuring the works of artist Jane Peterson. Titled Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad, it was organized by the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Conneticut, and was initially on view there from November 2107 to January of this year. The show, which opened last weekend in the Art Museum on the hill, will run through April 22 and will be accompanied by a number of gallery tours, workshops and other public programs.

Jane Peterson sketching on the beach, Jane Peterson Papers, 1907-1981, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Jane Peterson was a modernist painter whose artistic journey provided a vital link between the impressionist and expressionist art movements in the United States. Born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1876, her love of art led her to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and after graduation she studied oil and watercolor painting at the Art Students League in New York City. Peterson went on to have a formidable and successful career as an award-winning artist and was featured in more than 80 solo exhibitions until her death in 1965 at the age of 88. Today her artwork can be found all over the country in various museums, galleries, institutions and in the hands of private collectors. 

For those of you who have never heard of Jane Peterson you are not alone. But her artwork is so extraordinary that the public deserves to be enlightened and that is precisely why this show was created, according to its curator, Cynthia Roznoy of the Mattatuck Museum.

“From the time of her one-person show in Boston in 1909 Peterson exhibited frequently right through the 1950s when she is already in her 70s,” said Roznoy during a recent phone interview. “During the high point of her career from the teens through the 30s she had multiple exhibitions a year. By the 1950s she had one exhibition per year, but that was still a great accomplishment for a woman painter at the turn of the century.”

‘Tiger Lilies’, Mattatuck Museum

According to Roznoy, the idea to create a solo exhibit on Jane Peterson occurred rather serendipitously. While visiting the Liros Gallery in Blue Hill, Maine, in 2013, the director of the Mattatuck Museum, Robert Burns, was immediately drawn to two paintings by Peterson. Intrigued, he purchased one of the works, “Tiger Lilies,” and upon returning to the museum asked Roznoy if she had ever heard of this artist. She had not and after some quick research “we decided it was time to do a show and bring her back to public recognition,” said the curator. 

Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad brings 85 of Peterson’s incredible paintings together for the first time in over 45 years along with photographs and archives that provide a glimpse into her personal life. An enormous undertaking, the process took two years to complete and included the collaboration of over 30 museums including Hofstra University Museum in Hempstead, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Brooklyn Museum as well as many galleries and private collectors nationwide. 

While researching Peterson, Roznoy was most impressed by how evolutionary and versatile she was as an artist. “What I learned about her is her scope of technique,” she said. “I always admire an artist who evolves — who doesn’t do the same sort of paintings all the time … [Peterson] never stopped learning and she loved to study and to learn from other artists and also she always enjoyed expanding her repertoire … her style, her subject matter, her interests all changed as she developed, professionally and personally.” 

‘Tiffany’s Garden,’ c. 1913, watercolor and gouache on paper, Long Island Museum, gift of the Estate of Miriam Godofsky.
Image courtesy of LIM

The decision to turn the show into a traveling exhibit was an easy one for the curator. “There were a couple of reasons. The first one was our perceived notion that she was an artist who deserved to be better known and one way to do that was to travel it. Another one was after 45 years this is the first retrospective exhibition and it is the first museum exhibition and we felt other museums would be interested in doing so. Once we started talking to other institutions, everyone said ‘Great idea! Why didn’t we think of this before?’ So it was like tapping into that zeitgeist where everyone says yes, time to do it, and we were the ones to get it started,” said Roznoy.

Entering the art museum at the LIM, a lovely portrait of Peterson by Elsie Southwick Clark beckons you to explore the life and art of this American master. Divided into several sections, the exhibit explores Peterson’s early years; her travels to Europe as well as Egypt and Turkey; her home cities of New York, Palm Beach and Glouchester, Massachusetts; portraits of women; her floral still lifes; and the grand gardens of Laurelton Hall, Louis C. Tiffany’s Oyster Bay estate. The Long Island Museum contributed Peterson’s “Tiffany’s Garden” to the show. Preferring to work in oil, watercolor, gouache and charcoal, the artist often combined a few of the mediums together to create colorful, vibrant scenes.

As a whole, Roznoy is personally most impressed with Peterson’s Glouchester street scenes. “I think they are the most enchanting works in the exhibition. They’re just beautifully painted, with very intricate composition.” She also enjoyed investigating the Tiffany garden paintings. “The link was very interesting to me because of Tiffany [and] the fact that he would invite artists to Laurelton Hall and Peterson was one of the artists who painted the gardens.” 

‘Girl with Fruit,’ c. 1914, oil on canvas, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Dale B. Finfrock

“It’s just a great exhibit. We are very thrilled to have it,” said Joshua Ruff, curator at the Long Island Museum during a recent tour. “She’s not a name but boy she was good,” he gushed. “It’s always exciting to do a [solo] exhibition about an artist [that people are not familiar with].” Roznoy agreed, saying “It is every curator’s wish to find an underknown artist and to bring them to public attention and there is that whole scholarly pursuit that is so satisfying.”

An accompanying catalog, written by Roznoy and Arlene Katz Nichols with an introduction by J. Jonathan Joseph and a foreword from Burns, is available for sale in the LIM gift shop or at www.mattmuseum.org. After April 22 the exhibit will travel to the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina, from May 13 to July 22 and then head upstate to The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls from Aug. 5 to Oct. 14. 

Roznoy hopes visitors to the exhibit will see Jane Peterson as a conduit to modernism in the early 20th century, gather enjoyment of her work and also experience “a sense of satisfaction in seeing a woman in the early 20th century succeed.”

The Long Island Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children under 6 free. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Images courtesy of Long Island Museum and Mattatuck Museum

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