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Paintings

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

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

‘Ziggy Flame Crest,’ oil on board, by Laura Westlake

By Ellen Barcel

Gallery North in Setauket will open Still Life on May 13, an exhibit by nearly two dozen artists both local and farther afield, many from New York City. While some feel that still lifes are static, they’re really not. There’s always the question, “What’s going to happen next?” said Judith Levy, executive director of Gallery North, with “the implied action to follow.”

‘Sunflowers’ by Robert Jessel
‘Sunflowers’ by Robert Jessel

Artist Bruce Lieberman, a member of the Artists Advisory Council of the gallery, said the idea for the show came about when he met Lennart Anderson, an old mentor and friend at an opening.

“He is a great painter and I thought it would be wonderful to show him and the circle of artists, ex-students and friends, those associated with him,” said Lieberman. “Sadly, Lennart passed away and his work became unavailable to us, but the idea remained, morphed and drifted away from Lennart as the driving force. But not really. He still lingers and lingered in the back of my mind throughout the process.”

Added Lieberman, “The director’s vision is to return to the idea of exhibiting the best, most interesting work she can … Judith had a major role in curating the show but the painters I picked are artists I know or whose work I have known and/or been impressed by.”

Some of Lieberman’s works will be shown, including “Blue Eggs and Ham,” “Green Pineapple Shell and Blueberry” and “Cat on an Ocean Table.” He said, “My work is … based on perception but in no way is meant as a mere depiction of reality … I’m interested in how paint lays down and how paintings are constructed — the abstraction inside the work. They usually begin with or contain some symbolism, a story, an idea. Embedded into the still life, this personal symbolism, or narrative falls away as I work.”

'Blue Eggs and Ham’ by Bruce Lieberman
‘Blue Eggs and Ham’ by Bruce Lieberman

Pieces in the show range in size from tiny to quite large. Liz Kolligs of Old Field, known especially for her paintings of horses, has some tiny still lifes just “six to seven inches. They’re of desserts — you want to eat every one of them,” said Levy.

Looking at contemporary artist Robert Franca’s “Bananas,” one a half-eaten banana and a skin, the other a whole piece of fruit, asks the question: ‘Who’s going to eat the second one?’

But there are interesting backstories as well. Franca, who also has two other paintings in the show, “Cantaloupe” and “Apples,” said, “I began the series of fruits/vegetables/food simply enough around 10 years ago. Looking down at the breakfast table one morning, I was suddenly struck by the way the half eaten banana was left on the plate, and the quality of the light, and the fact that I couldn’t have ‘arranged’ it better. When I brought it up to the studio to paint, it looked even better.”

Franca noted the challenge of time imposed by a “perishable subject emphasized the need for economy and expediency in my approach.” He added that at the time of year he was painting, the days were long. “I found I could start painting by 8 a.m. and finish a painting by 5 or 6 p.m. ‘Perception’ is my touchstone. The visual pleasure, the experience of seeing beauty and why it is often fleeting is a mystery worth exploring to me.”

Local artist Eleanor Meier will have two of her watercolors in the show, “Dutch Plate and Tulips” and “Hydrangeas from the Garden.” They have an interesting backstory as well. “The two watercolors that Judith selected,” Meier said, “are of a blue glass water pitcher — a gift from my grandson. They are both about reflections and family memories, because of the objects included.”

‘Bananas’ by Robert Franca
‘Bananas’ by Robert Franca

Meier noted, “they are painted from life, using layers of glazes to deepen the color and yet to emphasize the transparency of the paint. My style revolves around doing the underlying drawing (my passion) carefully and accurately. Then the painting is sheer fun.”

Abstract expressionist Robert De Niro Sr. (1922-1993) will be represented in the show as well. The father of actor Robert De Niro, he married artist Virginia Admiral and moved to a loft in New York’s Greenwich Village, a mecca for artists and writers of the time. In addition to solo exhibits, De Niro’s work is in a number of museums and private collections.

Other artists in the exhibit include Amy Weiskopf, Angela Stratton, Christian White, Don Perlis, Fred Badalamenti, Jacqueline Lima, Joseph Podlesnik, Laura Westlake, Lois Dodd, Mel Pekarsky, Nancy Bueti Randall, Oscar Santiago, Paul Resiki, Randall Rosenthal, Robert Jessel, Robert Kogge, Stephen Brown and Susan Jane Walp.

“Local artists are happy to be in the exhibit … people from the city are happy to be showing in new areas. It’s an exchange. The whole idea is a group of artists from various places … new artists, new techniques,” said Levy, adding that in addition to paintings there will be work from a photographer as well as a three-dimensional sculptor. This is a sharing of “new ideas and new techniques.”

Still Life will run from May 13 through June 19. The opening reception, to which all are invited, will be held on Friday, May 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. An ArTalk will be held on Saturday, May 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. during which some of the artists will be on hand to discuss their work. Both events are free and open to the public, but donations are always welcome.

Gallery North is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. For further information, please call 631-751-2676 or go to www.gallerynorth.org.

This version adds the rescheduled date of the ArTalk at Gallery North.

‘Short Beach Lifeguard Station,’ oil on wood by Christian White

By Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan

The versatility as well as the talent of artist Christian White can be seen in his paintings and works on paper at Gallery North’s current solo exhibit. White comes by his talent naturally and, through training, hard work and self-discipline, has created a body of work over the past 50 years.

His paternal great-grandfather, Stanford White, designed the triumphal arch at Washington Square in Manhattan, among many notable architectural achievements. His paternal grandfather, Lawrence White, was a prominent architect and president of the National Academy of Design. His maternal grandfather, the Dutch artist Joep Nicolas, fostered White’s talent during his early years in Holland, where the young artist studied welding, stained glass and mosaics. He learned the sculptor’s skills while assisting his father, noted sculptor Robert White. His mother, the poet Claire Nicolas White, encouraged his ability to see beauty in the ordinary.

‘Self-Portrait,’ oil on wood by Christian White
‘Self-Portrait,’ oil on wood by Christian White

The title of the current exhibit at Gallery North, “Christian White: Fifty Years of Art,” may be misleading to those expecting to see a retrospective of works produced during the artist’s long and productive career. This is not a retrospective exhibit. Rather, White terms it as “introspective” in that it includes personal pieces — portraits of himself and his family and landscapes of places close to him. It includes paintings, drawings and prints, many of them figurative. In the words of the artist, “Many of the clientele at Gallery North identify me as a landscape painter, not a figure painter, but I’ve been a figurative artist throughout my entire career.”

The works are not hung chronologically, this not being a retrospective exhibition. With but a few exceptions, they were created during the past 15 years. A master of trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) painting, White’s “Alcove,” still life (2001), tempts one to reach out and touch the three-dimensional-appearing brightly painted objects inside the frame of painted pine. In White’s compelling “Self-Portrait” (2003), we meet his rather questioning direct gaze.

But as interesting and attention demanding as these two works are, what we may recall most clearly are paintings that reveal White’s great talent for capturing light and atmosphere — specifically, bright sunlight beating down on a hot summer day. We feel the summer midday heat in the bright blue sky that dominates more than half the canvas above the stretch of sand in “Ocean Beach” (2008). It is devoid of people and, therefore, of shadows, as low whitecaps meet the shore.

“Road/River #9” (2011) is uninhabited, too, and no wonder; the brilliant light, caused by a blazing sun beating down on the unforgiving macadam road, hints at a temperature above 90 degrees. The blues of sky and water and the yellow sand in “Short Beach Lifeguard Station” (2012) take second place to the sun-drenched bright white lifeguard chair, with its occupant painted loosely in attention-getting red as she watches a man — a mere dab of white paint ­— in a motor boat in the distance. Loosely painted small figures of a couple crowd the shade under a bright red and white umbrella, taking cover from the blazing sun.

In “Clematis #2” (2015) White provides closeups of brilliant white and vivid pink flowers as they cast shadows on a bright green lawn sparkling in the noonday sun. Light is a vital element in each of these landscapes.

Christian White: Fifty Years of Art will be on view at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, through July 10. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Don’t miss it. If you go this Sunday afternoon, June 28, you can also catch an ArTalk by the artist, with Franklin Perrell, an art expert and former curator at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. Registration is required for the ArTalk by calling 631-751-2676. For more information, visit www.gallerynorth.org.

By Rita J. Egan

With the inventions of camera phones and social media, capturing the image of family members and friends is easier than ever. Even taking a photo of oneself is as simple as a quick click with a smartphone. Today’s version of the self-portrait, the selfie, has become so popular, reality television star Kim Kardashian has dedicated her soon-to-be released book, “Selfish,” to the art form, and last year the electric dance music DJ duo The Chainsmokers released their song “#Selfie.”

However, before social media and the Kardashians, even prior to the creation of the camera, artists have preserved the images of their fellow human beings and themselves for centuries. To celebrate the art of creating portraits, The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington offers two new portraiture exhibits starting April 25 — Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection.

‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster
‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster

Lisa Chalif, museum curator, said it’s the perfect time for portraiture exhibits in this age of the selfie. “With the increasing use of social media, selfies stick in the news all the time. It’s so visible now, that it seems it sort of lends itself naturally to taking a look at portraiture historically. Before the age of your cell phone and the selfie, how did you get the likeness of yourself? Before the advent of photography really, how did you preserve your likeness?”

The Before Selfies exhibit, which includes both portraits and self-portraits donated by various individuals to the museum throughout the years, features approximately four dozen pieces by artists such as Thomas Anshutz, William Merritt Chase, Henri Matisse and 19th-century Long Island painter William Sidney Mount. Chalif said most of the portraits are from the 16th through 20th centuries with a few pieces from this century, and the pieces include oil paintings, pen and ink drawings on paper, chromogenic prints, bronze and marble sculptures as well as other mediums.

The curator said the exhibit not only focuses on the artists’ depictions of family, friends, public figures and character types but also takes a look at themes such as changing concepts of beauty and different approaches to depicting male and female subjects depending on underlying gender roles.

The Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection exhibit complements the Before Selfies exhibit and features paintings from the museum founder’s private collection, which he donated in 1920.

Chalif said Heckscher had an extensive collection of historical European portraiture. The oil paintings on canvas and wood panels on display at the exhibit are by artists such as Sir William Beechey, George Romney, Antoine Vollon, Nicholas de Largilliere and Franz Wolfgang Rohrich.

When it comes to what she hopes visitors will learn from the exhibits, Chalif said, “A larger understanding of the portrait, of saving your appearance. What are you conveying when you are snapping a selfie, and how does that differ from historical portraiture? Just a larger sense of how to read a portrait, what does it convey beyond what somebody looked like? What can I learn about a period of history or the history of fashion? Just all the different ways that artists might convey something, information beyond somebody’s appearance.”

In honor of the museum’s two portraiture exhibits, there will be a selfie station for visitors where they can create their own portraits. Guests are also encouraged to share their images from the station on Instagram and use the hashtags #hmaselfie and #heckschermuseum.

Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages runs from April 25 through Aug. 9, and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection runs from April 25 through Aug. 2. The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Avenue in Huntington and is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250.

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