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Painting

The Shelf at East Main officially opened its doors April 19 and welcomed an array of local artists, who all said they were happy for the rare opportunity to show off their work.

The new consignment-style shop is similar to the typical art gallery, since artists show their work and give a percentage of sales to The Shelf.  But, Diane Walker, the new store owner, said that her operation is different, because it’s intended to be more encouraging to local artists. 

Kyle Kubik, Walker’s son and an artist himself, said people were coming in at the last hour to get their work on display.

“There’s no out of pocket expense to them, and it’s up to us, and them, to promote the venue,” Kubik said.

Walker, a 25-year resident of Mount Sinai, opened the shop to try and give those artists the opportunity to really flesh out their passions in a noncompetitive space, something that gives local artists a leg up in an often cutthroat field.

Now that The Shelf is open, here’s a small helping of some of the artists who have their stuff on display. All had a similar frame of mind, saying that there are very few spaces like the Shelf where they can display their work without an upfront cost or upfront judgment.

The Shelf at East Main, located at 218 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Walker said she expects she will soon start to open up the store for events outside regular hours. More information is available at www.visittheshelf.com.

Kyle Kubik

Walker’s son and an artist specializes in making video game and other pop culture inspired shirts and paraphernalia. He often ran the convention scenes and art shows from Long Island to New York City, and his mother saw the hustle that went into promoting one’s work as an artist. Kubik called it a gamble when one traveled to such events.

A customer holds one of Kyle Kubik’s shirts. Photo by Kyle Barr

“There’s a lot of competition out there, and there’s a high barrier to entry,” he said. “In my experience with conventions, I’ve walked out of events with a few thousand dollars in your pocket. I’ve walked out of events where I’m a thousand short, because I had to travel somewhere. Because of that hot and cold aspect, that’s what’s difficult for artists.”

He added that in some cases, even with quality work, some people simply don’t believe their work is good enough to be on display.

“We have macramé, we have knitted pieces,” he said. “You could put it up and be in a huge pool of people, or you can be in a local place with people in your community.”

More of Kubik’s work can be found at: www.kylevonkubik.tumblr.com/.

Crystal Wyllie

Crystal Wyllie speaks to a shopper. Photo by Kyle Barr

Wyllie, a Setauket resident, has been doing ceramic pottery since her college days, and opened up her own small workshop in her parent’s garage. She first learned about The Shelf from her aunt, the owner of Cardinal Realty in Port Jefferson, just next door to the new shop. 

“There aren’t many places where local artists can show their work in a noncompetitive atmosphere,” Wyllie said. “And I think it’s incredible to see what our community is capable of creating.”

To find more of Wyllie’s work, visit: @crystalmariepottery on Instagram or her website at www.crystalmariepottery.com.

Paul Cammarata 

One of Paul Cammarata’s photos. Photo by Kyle Barr

Cammarata is a local photographer, taking his inspiration from the idyllic sights of Port Jefferson, nearby Stony Brook and beyond. His photographs feature alluring destinations, images of classic cars, still lives and nature.

A graphic designer by trade, Cammarata got back into photography in the last few years after being convinced by a friend and watercolor artist. 

“Galleries can cost an artist a fortune — or you don’t get the right exposure sometimes,” he said. “Hopefully with the way [Walker] worked it out it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Cammarata’s work can be found at: www.fineartamerica.com.

Tracey Elizabeth

Tracey Elizabeth holding her painting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Elizabeth’s day job is photography, but she said her true passion is painting. 

To her, the new store is an opportunity not just for her, but for the community of small-town artists who are still looking to break out. It also gives the chance for the local community to see the creativity of their community.

“I live in Port Jeff, so I like that [Walker’s] using local artists,” she said. “It’s helping local artists, and it being a small town it really needs those small-town artists to be represented.”

Elizabeth’s photography can be found at: www.traceyelizabeth.com.

Paul Motisi 

One of Paul Motisi’s projects. Photo by Kyle Barr

Motisi works in graphic design, producing designs for shirts, album covers and more. He started doing freelance work out of college, and recently he started creating spray-painted stencil portraits and selling them on Etsy. He has portraits of characters from Rocky Balboa to The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” Now his images sit in person inside The Shelf in Port Jefferson. He said many art shows and conventions can be hard to work with.

“Usually those people are very standoffish — they usually want you to jump through hoops, but these people were just so ready to have people involved,” Motisi said. “These places are in short supply.”

Motisi’s work can be found at his website: www.paulmotisi.com, or at his Etsy page at: www.etsy.com/shop/motisistencilart.

The figures painted on the walls and ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson inevitably draw the eyes up, ever up, past the icons of saints and religious figures to the top of the dome several stories from the floor, up to Greek letters surrounding an image of Jesus looking directly down on the pews below.

Religious images and iconography glow in the soft light, which streams down from the apex of the chapel, images that, having started more than a decade ago, have been finally finished after years of painstaking work. 

Between the scaffolding used by the artists who were finishing up their work, images of St. Haralambos, the Nativity of the Theotokos, the baptism and the entrance of the Virgin Mary all adorn the walls, painted on fabric that is adhered to the wall, the kind of sight those of the 6th century must have had on the walls of now-ancient Byzantine churches.

High above the nave’s pews, only a few spots needed to be completed by Feb. 21: a handful of arches above the towering windows and the finishing of some icons. By the weekend, the chapel was completed.

“Although it’s very tedious work, I derive satisfaction in putting up works of art that are immortal and will be present for many years.”

—Dimitris Gkinos

“I’m delighted to put on canvas the life of Christ and the saints, and it’s very enjoyable and rewarding,” said iconographer Dimitris Gkinos. He and most of the other painters, who work for the Greek iconography company, Alevizakis Icons, only speak a little English, but their words were translated by Father Demetrios “Jim” Calogredes, who has seen the iconography go up since he came to the church in 2009.

The iconographers hired to finish the chapel’s paintings are a mix of artists from all over, including the U.S. and Serbia, but mostly Greece. 

“I am from Serbia, and I wanted to become an artist and then an iconographer,” said Dragomir Djekic. “I finished college in Belgrade, Serbia — that’s the university in the capital city — then when I came to the United States, I found other iconographers and started to work.”

The paintings that now adorn the walls and ceiling of the chapel have been in the works since 2002, when the old Greek Orthodox church on Sheep Pasture Road was replaced by the one currently standing. Calogredes said watching the whole project finally come together was long, but worth it in the end. The classic images that now surround the chapel walls are well known to the priest, who is able to read off the stories as if they came straight from the Bible. 

The priest said the chapel is based on the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, which was built by the Byzantine emperor, Justinian I, in the 6th century. That church now exists as a museum in Istanbul, but its re-creation in America is finally coming together with the finishing of the iconography.

“I derive the greatest satisfaction depicting the icon of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child,” said iconographer Christos Palaioxaris, his words translated by Calogredes. “That icon is in the holy mountain in Greece, Mount Athos.”

The work is part religiosity and art, a job that is at times monotonous in getting every detail of the icons right but, in other ways, soul touching.

“Although it’s very tedious work, I derive satisfaction in putting up works of art that are immortal and will be present for many years,” Gkinos said.

Miriam Schapiro’s ‘Berthe Morisot & Me,’ early 1970s

By Melissa Arnold

For the past 95 years, the Heckscher Museum in Huntington has worked to exhibit its varied permanent collection in new and interesting ways.

Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972
Audrey Flack’s ‘Lady Madonna,’ 1972

For the next few months, the museum is highlighting the contributions of female artists in an exhibit entitled You Go Girl! Celebrating Women Artists. Selected from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit will feature 50 women artists from the 19th century through today.

The theme is the latest dreamed up by museum curator Lisa Chalif.

“We wanted to select a group of art that showcases women artists in particular,” Chalif said. “We have art from more than 100 women artists at the museum, but they are only a small percentage of the overall collection.”

Chalif added that many women have faced “significant obstacles” to their success in the visual arts, including getting into galleries.

Museum visitors will have the chance to explore art in a variety of mediums, including print, photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media. The majority of the selections are contemporary and 20th century works and are split into two rooms — one for representational art and the other for abstract art.

Chalif noted that while the exhibit focuses on women’s art, it is not a feminist exhibit. The artists explored subjects of all kinds. “We have a lot of landscape-based work — I think that’s really characteristic of our collection as a whole, and I think that has a lot to do with our location,” she said. “People that live on Long Island are often drawn to the landscape here. There are a lot of abstract styles as well. There is something here that will appeal to everyone.”

Among Chalif’s favorites are works from feminist artist Miriam Schapiro, who founded one of the first feminist art schools in the 1970s, and super-realist painter Audrey Flack’s “Lady Madonna.” “It’s nice to have [a Madonna in the exhibit] because it refers to the most recognized woman in history,” Chalif said.

Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948
Elaine de Kooning’s ‘Black Mountain #6,’ 1948

Many of the artists in the exhibit lived on Long Island or are still in the area today, including Emma Stebbins, Jane Wilson, Barbara Roux, Janet Culbertson and Berenice Abbott. “We were able to have [some of the living artists] come out for the opening,” Chalif said. “They have expressed how thrilled they are to be featured along with artists they’ve had as mentors or personal favorites. It’s gratifying for them and for me.”

Other artists include Elaine de Kooning, Dorothy Dehner, Audrey Flack, Jane Hammond, Mary Nimmo Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Betty Parsons, Miriam Schapiro and Esphyr Slobodkina.   

The Heckscher Museum is also displaying two simultaneous exhibits. The first, entitled Men at Work, focuses on depictions of men doing all kinds of jobs, from construction to academia and religious life. William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, George Grosz, John Rogers, Emma Stebbins and John Sloan are among the featured artists.

The other, called Street Life, depicts life in New York City — its work-a-day life, shopping avenues and iconic transportation system in photographs. Featured artists include Berenice Abbott, N. Jay Jaffee, Martin Lewis, John Sloan, Garry Winogrand, among others.

You Go Girl! will be on display through April 3, while Men at Work and Street Life will be displayed through March 27.

The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave., Huntington. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.

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Ray Calabrese and Mayor Margot Garant smile with Thomas Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Thomas Jefferson will watch over Village Hall visitors in the future, thanks to a donation from the Calabrese family.

“Much to my surprise, there’s nothing for the public viewing of anything of Thomas Jefferson — no statue, no bust, no painting,” Ray Calabrese said at the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees meeting Monday night. “So I decided to do something about it.”

To applause from the audience, he presented Mayor Margot Garant and the board with a painting of Jefferson, the original of which he said was done by Rembrandt Peale in 1805, halfway through the president’s tenure.

Garant said the portrait would hang above the stairs so that as people go between the first and second floors, “they’ll see Thomas.”

‘The Beach is the Place to Be’ by Iacopo Pasquinelli

A perennial favorite on the North Shore, the Setauket Artists’ Exhibition returns to the Setauket Neighborhood House, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Now in its 35th year, the art show will feature the works of 43 local artists in a variety of media.

“I am surprised and very pleased with the longevity and the success of the show,” said artist Flo Kemp, who organized the group of local artists that  became known as the Setauket Artists back in 1980. Ten years ago, she turned the helm over to Irene Ruddock, an exhibiting artist who has continued to uphold all the traditions of the beginning exhibit as well as adding new traditions of her own.

When asked about her ten year tenure, Ruddock said, “It has been an exciting and rewarding experience for me, because I have had the privilege of working with these exceptional artists who have become my friends. I’m also on the board of the Setauket Neighborhood House, whose members are sincerely dedicated to the preservation and welfare of this historic house.” The Setauket Artists will contribute a portion of their profits to the preservation effort.

“When I began, I set goals that I wanted to achieve for the show. The most important was to always seek out the highest quality of art work; paintings that people want to hang in their homes, giving them pleasure each day. ‘Art for a Lifetime’ — that is the Setauket Artists’ motto. We never take our collectors for granted, because we sincerely are grateful when we find the perfect match for a piece of art,” said Ruddock, adding that the group is privileged to have a Joseph Reboli giclee print available for purchase this year, titled “Pumpkin Light.”

‘Pleasant Contemplation’ by Terry McManus
‘Pleasant Contemplation’ by Terry McManus

One of the exhibiting artists, Mary Jane van Zeijts, who will be opening her own teaching studio and gallery at 268 Main Street in Setauket in November, said “I love this group of artists, not only for their work, but as human beings. The Setauket Artists are a beautiful art community.”

The exhibit will be sponsored by Fred Bryant, of Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket, who has believed in and supported the artists for ten years.

This year’s honored judge, Steve Forster, director of Long Island Academy of Fine Art in Glen Cove, will choose winners from the categories of Best in Show, Award of Excellence, Award of Merit, Award of Distinction and Honorable Mention.

Jim Molloy will be the Setauket Artists’ Honored Artist this year, chosen by the artists themselves for his stunning artwork and his contributions to the organization. “[The Setauket Artists’ Exhibition] is the perfect venue for displaying my work and seeing the creative process of the other artists,” he said.

Stop by any time during the exhibit to take a chance on this year’s raffle paintings. Molloy will contribute a giclee of one of his most popular pieces, titled “Vestiges,” along with a soft-ground etching by Flo Kemp titled “Beach Cottages.”

All artwork will be for sale at affordable prices, so consider doing your holiday shopping with the Setauket Artists. The exhibit will open with an artist reception at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket, on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-6208 or visit www.setauketneighborhoodhouse.com.

This version corrects the location of Mary Jane van Zeijts’ future gallery and studio.

‘Northport' by Bob DeSantis

By Melissa Arnold

Nothing defines a Long Island summer more than lazy days at the beach. And even though autumn is settling in now, it’s still easy to imagine the sun on your face and the water lapping at your feet.

Huntington artist Bob DeSantis has made a career of capturing beloved memories on canvas. Now, art enthusiasts of all kinds can imagine themselves in those scenes with an exhibit entitled Being There, currently on view at the Main Art Gallery at the Huntington Public Library.

“Most of my scenic pieces are fairly large, so when you hang them up in your home it’s like looking out your window and seeing, say, Shelter Island. That’s why people buy my paintings — they want to bring those feelings into their homes,” explains DeSantis, 69, who was born in Brooklyn but has spent most of his life on Long Island.

When you see DeSantis’ art for the first time, you might have to do a double take. Many of his paintings are photorealistic — painted in a way that resembles actual photographs.

Art has been a part of DeSantis’ life for almost as long as he can remember — he even listed becoming a professional artist as his future goal in his high school yearbook. He went on to receive an associate’s degree in commercial art from Farmingdale University (now Farmingdale State College) and a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Hofstra University in Hempstead.

‘Donnie Baseball’ by Bob DeSantis
‘Donnie Baseball’ by Bob DeSantis

That varied education enables DeSantis to combine the best practices of both fine art and modern technology, as he works with a combination of oil and acrylic paints as well as an airbrush for a smooth, almost flawless texture.

His lengthy career has included graphic design, commercial and fine art that’s been featured all over the country. His paintings have been displayed in galleries and even on products like phone book covers and light boxes. He also plays several musical instruments and was once a member of the band The Silvertones.

For the past 25 years, he’s worked as an art restorer, helping to correct and repair artwork that’s been damaged through aging or disasters. He has also worked closely with well-known landscape painter Diane Romanello and Civil War artist Mort Kunstler.

While restoration takes up much of his time, DeSantis is always looking for inspiration for his own art.

“I’ll take a ride out to the Hamptons with my camera and if I see something that inspires me, I’ll take photos of it. Then, I might take a photo of a barrel with flowers in it and incorporate that into the scene,” DeSantis explains.

Using the image editing program Photoshop, DeSantis will experiment with combining scenic photos with furniture, people and decorations. Once he’s satisfied with a concept, he’ll paint it on canvas. “I can duplicate anything I see and focus on replicating each little detail exactly, which is what makes it resemble a photograph” he said. “It’s a skill that has served me well, both in restoration and my own artwork.”

While some of DeSantis’ most popular art features Long Island hot spots, he’s also known for his portraits of famous people, particularly athletes.

“Years ago I was working for a company doing sports prints of small children wearing the jersey of a prominent athlete,” he explains, adding that the prints were meant to represent those athletes in their early years. He has done similar work featuring child athletes looking up into the sky at their adult selves.

DeSantis is a loyal Yankees fan, and some of his favorite athletes to paint are the greats from that team, including Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and Joe DiMaggio, among others.

The exhibit at the library will feature more than 20 of DeSantis’ favorite paintings with a variety of subjects, says Laurene Tesoriero, coordinator of the library’s art gallery.

Tesoriero says that the library hosts a number of art exhibits throughout the year. She’s particularly impressed with how realistic DeSantis’ work is.

“[The scenic art] almost looks like [it’s drawn with] pastels. Everything he does is very interesting and draws people in right away. You feel as though you’re a part of the scene,” she says. “And typically you don’t see a lot of sports art around. It’s so crisp and vivid and I think that has a wide appeal.”

Being There will be on display at the Main Art Gallery at the Huntington Public Library, 338 Main Street, Huntington, through Nov. 22. The exhibit may be seen during regular library hours. Admission is free. For more information, contact Laurene Tesoriero at 631-427-5165, ext. 258, or visit www.myhpl.org.

Learn more about artist Bob DeSantis by searching his name at www.Art.com and www.Giclee.com.

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Students from Harbor Ballet Theatre perform a dragon dance at last year’s festival. Photo from PJCC

Dragons will roar as the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce will once again host the Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Mayor Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park, 101 E. Broadway, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This year’s ‘Dragons’ is bigger and better than last year! With the expansion of teams, entertainment and food, this festival has something for everyone,”  said Barbara Ransome, director of operations at the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

“One goal this year was to create a more interactive program for the day for not just the teams but for spectators as well, including bringing in the racing course closer to land for better viewing. Collaborating with more community partners makes this event inclusive to our residents and visitors,” she added. Ransome came up with the idea of creating this festival after attending a similar event in Cape May, N.J., a few years ago.

An opening ceremony will include an Asian color guard along with the blessing of the fleet by Buddhist Monk Bhante Nanda of the Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center, incorporating the traditional eye dotting ceremony to kick off the races.

Twenty-four teams will compete in a 250-meter course in  four dragon boats provided by the High Five Dragon Boat Company and will include representatives from local hospitals, civic groups, businesses and cultural organizations. Each team will be made up of 20 “paddlers,” one steersman and one drummer. Heats will run all day with a culmination  of an awards ceremony at the end of the day.

In addition to the races, there will be a day-long festival featuring numerous performances, including a lion dance, Taiko and Korean drum performances and Asian singing and instrumentals along with educational and cultural displays and vendors. Various Asian delicacies, including pot stickers, lo mein, bánh mì Vietnamese pork sandwiches, sushi, stir-fried noodles, bubble tea and spring rolls, will be available.

Along with traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, there will be dragon sculptures, an opportunity to paint “dragon” eggs and children’s crafts. New this year is a Fortune Cookie raffle sponsored by the Fortunato Breast Health Center, Asian souvenirs, a photo booth, photo opportunities with a friendly dragon and team contests for the best team T-shirt and best costumed drummer.

Sponsors include Confucius Institute of Stony Brook, LONGISLAND.com, New York Community Bank-Roslyn Savings Division, Fortunato Breast Health Center, SCNB Bank, Tritec, News 12, Times Beacon Record Newspapers and Unity SEO Solutions.

The event will be held rain or shine and admission is free. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come enjoy the festivities. For more information, call 631-473-1414 or visit www.portjeffdragonracefest.com.

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‘Icarus’ by Pat Ralph

Featuring rarely seen works, including large figure paintings, monotypes and pastels, Pat Ralph: Under the Radar opens with a reception in the Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery of the Art League of Long Island on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m., and continues through Nov. 1. A gallery tour, led by the artist, will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Trained at the Art Students League in New York, Pat Ralph has lived on Long Island most of her life. She is a realist painter with a diverse body of work that includes landscapes, portraits, self-portraits and still life paintings. While Long Islanders know her mostly by her landscape paintings, this exhibit reveals a history of figurative work shown mainly in New York City and university galleries around the country.

Ralph has had solo exhibits at the Fine Arts Gallery at Southampton College, the Fine Arts Gallery of Suffolk Community College in Selden, Gallery East in East Hampton, Gallery North in Setauket, the Heckscher Museum at the Bryant Library in Roslyn and Noho Gallery in New York City. She also was given a solo exhibit as part of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series, at Douglass College, New Brunswick, N.J., and another at Douglass, as it celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Ralph’s works have been included in group exhibitions at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, Silvermine Guild in New Canaan, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, the Fine Arts Gallery at Southampton College, the Mason Gross Center for the Arts at Rutgers University, the Parrish Art Museum, the University of Delaware, San Jose State University in California and Pace University Gallery, Marymount Manhattan College and the National Academy of Design, all in New York City.

In 1985 Ralph had two paintings, both of which will appear in Under the Radar, in an exhibition titled RAPE, originating at the Hoyt Sherman Gallery of Ohio State University and traveling for three years to nine university galleries, plus the Philadelphia Arts Alliance. Most recently, her painting “Heading West” was featured in 75 @ 75: Treasures from the Collection at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Of Ralph’s paintings, Beryl Smith, in her Women Artists Series catalog essay, wrote, “The timelessness and crystalline quality of her landscapes reflect her interest in light and atmosphere.” Malcolm Preston, in Newsday, remarked, “Her work is in the new realist mode — cool, objective, sharply realized. There is about them a directness and forthrightness uncluttered by sentiment.” Of her work Pat Ralph has said, “In my paintings I seek a stunning image, expressed with clarity and augmented with hints of mystery or wit. My landscapes reflect an interest in light and atmosphere. I am particularly intrigued by the singular light of early morning or late afternoon or evening — the hours in which natural effects are most fleeting, which makes the attempt to capture the moment fraught with paradox.”

The Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery is open free of charge Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Art League is located at 107 East Deer Park Road in Dix Hills. For more information call 631-462-5400 or visit www.artleagueli.org.

Latest William Sidney Mount exhibit features 19th-century children at work and play

‘Walking Out,’ 1854, by William Sidney Mount

By Ellen Barcel

Today, youngsters all seem to be tied to websites, texting, apps and more. They’ve got their headphones on and download the latest music. Until recently, children had to make do without electricity. They played games (nonelectronic), enjoyed music (which people had to make themselves) and danced. School didn’t feature “smart” classrooms.

‘Returning from the Orchard,’ 1862 by William Sidney Mount
‘Returning from the Orchard,’ 1862 by William Sidney Mount

While children today have chores, in the agrarian past children’s jobs were very different: They gathered eggs from their chickens, went fishing and trapping and helped hang the laundry out on the clothesline. Gender conventions were stronger then. Girls played with dolls and boys with trains.

To provide a glimpse into early 19th-century children’s lives on Long Island, the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook has opened a new exhibit, “Young Island,” showing a collection of William Sidney Mount’s paintings that depict children’s lives in the years before, during and just after the Civil War.

Mount was a 19th-century Setauket artist who is known for his paintings of everyday life. In an age before the camera, he also did portraits, many of children. “Catherine Adele Smith,” “Maria Winthrop Seabury,” “Young Girl” and “Tutie [Ruth Hawkins Mount]” are all examples of those many portraits, all part of the current exhibit.

Children teased and played around — yes, they were naughty then too, shown in “Mischievous Drop” and “Boys Wrangling,” and they had work to do. “Returning from the Orchard” shows a young girl who has gathered fruit, “Catching Rabbits” shows boys emptying a trap, and “Boy Hoeing Corn” shows a child working in the field.

The idea for the exhibit was Joshua Ruff’s, director of collections and interpretation. “The idea came from the fact that we often have a Mount exhibit, especially during the school year … We’ve never done an exhibit with children before so it seemed like a good fit,” said Julie Diamond, director of communications at the museum.

“It’s an easy theme to recognize for Mount … when you look through the several thousand drawings we own as well as the more than one hundred oil paintings, children play a significant role in both his genre and portraiture. Mount himself was surrounded by children in daily life, living under the same roof as both of his brothers’ large families. He had many nieces and nephews,” said Ruff.

“Children are featured in his work in a myriad of ways — representing innocence, a young nation’s optimism, political points etc. Since this was also a time that children worked extensively on the American/Long Island farm, there’s that element too. Mount is like a fair number of other American artists of the 19th century — Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson and others — who are using children in both allegorical and realistic ways in their work. So it’s a great theme to explore, even in a fairly small exhibit such as this,” he added.

‘Walking Out,’ 1854, by William Sidney Mount
‘Walking Out,’ 1854, by William Sidney Mount

Selecting the works to be included in the exhibit was a challenge. “Choice of the work was not easy,” said Ruff. “There are literally dozens of excellent drawings and paintings that could have been included, but this is our smaller gallery, so space only allows 18 works,” especially since many of Mount’s paintings are large.

Ruff continued, “I wanted to choose a range of both drawings and paintings, so we have five of the former, 13 of the latter. In some cases, these are works that we have not had out in a while — ‘Boys Snowballing,’ ‘Walking Out,’ and a few more have not been on view for some time. In other cases, such as ‘Girl Sleeping’ and ‘Turning the Leaf’ — these are some of Mount’s best-known works, but are usually not interpreted this way. ‘Turning the Leaf’ is also supported in this exhibit by a lovely small preliminary study Mount did for that painting.”

One of the best known of Mount’s works is “Dance of the Haymakers,” which shows workers in a barn dancing to a fiddler’s music. Outside, a small boy beats time to the music on the side of the barn with sticks. A dog lays on the ground and farm tools are propped up against the side of the barn.

“We wanted to show ‘Dance,’ not only because it relates to the theme, but also because it is going out on national loan to the Detroit Institute of Arts next year. One of the most important aspects of this exhibit for us is that we will be able to use it very well with our educational programming,” said Ruff.

Diamond added that the LIM has programs for school groups, one geared for kindergarten through second grade and another for fourth through sixth grade. “Both use the Mount exhibit as the basis for learning,” about American history.

“Also, it is a very good little family show. In addition to the regular labels/text, there are also labels for families. We hope that it will give people a chance to think about a side of Mount that they may not have considered much before,” said Ruff.

While at the LIM, visit some of its other exhibits, including Hooked@LIM, an outdoor exhibit of yarn bombing, the herb garden, “Gilding the Coasts: the Art and Design of Long Island’s Great Estates” and “Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes.”

“Young Island” is scheduled to run through the end of the year. The LIM, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located in Stony Brook at 1200 Route 25A. It is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

‘The Joy Keeper,’ self-portrait by Christopher Reisman

By Melissa Arnold

Some people say they see the world through rose-colored glasses. Contemporary artist Christopher Reisman sees the world in technicolor.

‘Think Tall' by Christopher Reisman
‘Think Tall’ by Christopher Reisman

His acrylic and mixed-media paintings mostly showcase people and animals with a whimsical, kaleidoscope-like color palette. Some of his paintings are abstract, but for the Rocky Point resident, it’s all about experimentation and play.

A selection of his abstracts and animal portraits will be on display throughout the month of September in an exhibit titled “Paintings by Christopher: All Things Sacred” at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham. The art show will feature paintings, some as large as 48 inches wide by 60 inches high, and several prints.

This is Reisman’s second appearance at the library, says art coordinator Hildegard Kroeger. He had an exhibit there six years ago. “He’s doing a lot more freestyle work now,” Kroeger says. “He’s very colorful and people really pay attention to his work when they stop by.”

Reisman’s talents — which also include sculpture, music and sewing — are more than just hobbies. They have been his lifeblood since he was a toddler.

“I drew on the walls as a child and was always getting big pads of drawing paper from my parents, who were very encouraging,” says Reisman.

His creative streak would lead to an art-intensive high school education and some study at what is now Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, but Reisman’s mostly self-taught. He spent more than 40 years as an art educator in a variety of settings before an illness led him to retire in 2000.

‘The Visit’ by Christopher Reisman
‘The Visit’ by Christopher Reisman

Since then, Reisman has been able to focus fully on enjoying and sharing his gifts, which have healed him inside and out. “Even in the darkest times in my life — and I’ve been through plenty, trust me ­— I was drawing and playing the piano,” Reisman explains. “[Through my illness and later recovery] I’ve learned that we need to learn to let go — whether that’s of a bad habit or an old way of thinking — and if we can do that, we can come to a place of healing. I hope to reach as many people as possible with that.”

Today, Reisman enjoys long hours painting at his home, which he calls the “sanctuary.” The property, which he shares with his partner Robert McDonald and their two cats, Dolly and Joey,  is also home to hundreds of birds, fish and other animals.

The artwork he creates is for more than display. Anywhere from 10 percent to the full value of each sold painting supports charitable interests close to his heart.

Reisman and McDonald have worked together to support a number of animal shelters on Long Island, including SAVES, Inc. (Spay Alter Vaccinate Every Stray) of Riverhead, Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington and Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue & Adoption in Port Jefferson Station, among others.

They are also big supporters of the global Wildlife Conservation Society, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and many cancer benefits that cross their path.

McDonald, who does not have an art background, loves to sit back and watch Reisman’s creative process, which usually begins with several days of research, drafting and prayer.

“It’s like miracle work to me, that [Christopher] can start with a blank canvas and in the course of a few hours or a day have it completely drawn out and ready to be painted,” says McDonald, who has been with Reisman for 16 years. “He’ll say to me, ‘Today I’m going to paint a tiger,’ and the next day it appears. I would never be able to do something like what he does.”

‘Wake Up’ by Christopher Reisman
‘Wake Up’ by Christopher Reisman

Some paintings have specific stories — like his chimpanzees,“The Visit,” inspired by the work of famed primatologist Jane Goodall, or his self-portrait, “The Joy Keeper,” painted at home in his hall of mirrors over an old abstract painting ‘to show the joy we can all feel if we allow it’ — but others are just subjects Reisman or his family members enjoy.

For abstract pieces, Reisman says that he likes “staying spontaneous and moving color around that excites me, without judging.”

The couple believes that sharing their gifts, both physical and emotional, is just the first step toward a healthier, more peaceful world. They are currently searching for a publisher to get the art to a wider audience.

Reisman has gained many fans through the years and  has received rave reviews from his past art exhibits. Newsday art critic Jeanne Paris wrote that his artwork projects “unspoken eloquence in visual imagery that is not to be forgotten,” and “I Had It All the Time” author Alan Cohen stated “Christopher Reisman creates with passion, power and purpose. His heart is in his art. If you look deeply you will see much.” Even “Good Day New York’s” Rosanna Scotto has purchased one of his paintings.

“When people see my work, they’ll see lots of bright, happy colors and find they feel a joy and peacefulness that’s very powerful,” Reisman explains. “I believe that power comes from within each of us. It’s been my mission to turn as many people as possible onto their own innate creativity. I find that it’s very healing.”

Explore some of Christopher Reisman’s artwork from Sept. 1 through Sept. 29 at the North Shore Public Library, 250 Route 25A, Shoreham.

An artist reception, hosted by the Friends of the Library, featuring a larger selection of Reisman’s art, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the library. All are welcome.

For more information about the exhibit, call 631-929-4488. To learn more about Reisman or to purchase his art, visit www.artbychristopher.org.

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