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Sungsook Setton

By Melissa Arnold

Art exhibits draw crowds for a host of reasons, often as varied as the people who attend them. For some, it’s the work of a particular artist they enjoy, while for others it may be an intriguing theme or interesting medium.

This month, the Setauket Artists have put together a collection that not only shows off local talent, but does so in a space that is attractive all on its own — the Deepwells Mansion in St. James.

The Setauket Artists hold an annual fall exhibit at the Setauket Neighborhood House, an event that’s become an important part of the area’s culture. “As the exhibit and the number of visitors grew over the years, we found the need to extend our viewing time. We were delighted when the opportunity came along to have an additional show,” said Irene Ruddock, president of the Setauket Artists in a recent interview.

“There will be close to 100 works of art on display including oil, watercolor and pastel paintings, as well as soft-ground etchings, collage and hand-painted photographs and all of them are for sale,” she added. 

Participating artists include Ross Barbera, Eleanor Berger, Catherine Bezas, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Bart Deceglie, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, Marge Governale, William Graf, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Deborah Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, Joanne Liff, Celeste Mauro, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musara, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Demerise Perricone, Denis Ponsot, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Carol Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Patricia Solan, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

“The Setauket Artists have been in existence for 38 years . . . many of their paintings reflect the beauty of Long Island — the rivers, lakes, ocean, and bays that make this island so unique,” said Ruddock. “When curating the show, I look for paintings that touch the soul and bring the beauty of nature or a magical moment to the viewer. Every painting in the exhibit reflects our group’s motto, ‘Art is for a lifetime.’”

 Setauket Artist member Robert Roehrig agreed. “Although there is no particular theme to the exhibition, the Setauket Artists always display many beautiful scenes of our local Long Island landscape,” he said.

“The Deepwells Farm Historical Society is pleased to welcome the Setauket Artists to Deepwells Mansion for their first spring art show,” Denise Davis, a board member for the society, said. “The mansion, which is part of the Suffolk County Parks, was built in 1845 in the 16th century Greek-Revival architecture   for Joel Smith, a descendant of Smithtown’s founder Richard ‘Bull’ Smith. Deepwells is the perfect venue for displaying and sharing with the community the many local scenes of beautiful Long Island,” she added.

The community is invited to an opening reception on May 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. Refreshments and appetizers prepared by the artists will be served.

The exhibit will also include a small boutique gift shop with handmade wares from the Setauket Artists featuring jewelry, cards, scarves and small paintings. The group will continue its tradition of raffling off three different paintings on May 26, the exhibit’s last day. Visitors can enter the raffle throughout the exhibit’s run and do not need to be present to win.  Robert Roehrig, vice president of Setauket Artists, is donating his oil painting titled “Still Afloat,” and Anne Katz and Paula Pelletier will each donate a watercolor painting.

“It’s an exciting new venue for us,” said Setauket Artist member Joan Rockwell. “There will be something for everyone and the show will be open for Mother’s Day weekend too!  We’ll serve refreshments and have a flower for all those special Moms.”

Sponsored by Bryant Funeral Home, the Setauket Artists Spring Exhibit will be on view from May 4 through May 26 at the Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James. The mansion is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.setauketartists.com. Private group or single showings can be arranged by appointment: call 631-365-1312 or email peace2429@optonline.net.

'Harvest's End' by Marge Governale

When autumn arrives, residents of the Three Village area may start to think of the annual fall art show that has become a true community treasure. The Setauket Artists will host its 38th Artists’ Exhibition 2018 from Oct. 28 to Nov. 19 at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. 

‘Last Cottage’ by Fred Mendelsohn

Over 40 award-winning artists will participate in the show this year including Lana Ballot, Ross Barbara, Shain Bard, Eleanor Berger, Rina Betro, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, W.A. Dodge, Marge Governale, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, John Mansueto, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Genia Neuschatz, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Denis Ponsot, Joseph Reboli, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Carole Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Nancy Weeks, Marlene Weinstein, Laura Westlake and Patricia Yantz. 

‘Perfect Day’ by Lana Ballot

The exhibition will kick off with an opening reception on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. All are invited to this free event to enjoy some light refreshments while viewing the beautiful artwork, all of which will be for sale. Take a chance on winning a painting by four Setauket artists, the proceeds of which support the art organization. Marlene Weinstein will offer a photograph titled “Fishing Boat Trio,” John Mansueto will offer an original oil, Muriel Mussara will offer a watercolor titled “Conscience Bay” and Frederic Mendelsohn, this year’s honored artist, will also offer an original oil painting. 

For over 10 years, Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home has sponsored the Setauket Artists, allowing this exhibit to be one of the most attended functions in the Three Village area.  

‘Autumn Reflections’ by John Mansueto

This year’s distinguished guest artist is David Peikon, renowned oil painter and winner of many awards throughout the country. Tom Mason, known for his old master paintings and portraiture, will be the distinguished judge.  

If you miss the first reception, you will have a chance to meet your favorite artists at the second reception at the annual Wine and Cheese Art Event held on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. Many new paintings will be displayed for the evening, just in time for holiday giving.

“Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to attend the receptions or daily viewing to see paintings that are classic and enduring and have given credence to our motto “Art for a lifetime,” said Irene Ruddock, coordinator of the event, adding, “After the exhibit, visit www.SetauketArtists.com to learn about the group’s Art Consultation feature where you may arrange to see paintings in your home before you decide whether or not to purchase them. The paintings of the artists include a wide range of modalities featuring work that is impressionistic, contemporary or traditional, including a portrait artist who will paint the perfect likeness of your loved ones or pet.”

For further information, you may contact  Irene Ruddock at peace2429@optonline.net. or 631-365-1312. For viewing hours at the Setauket Neighborhood House, visit www.setauketartists.com on the Events page.

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Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson with some of the masks he created

A COLORFUL PALATE The North Shore Artists Coalition held its second annual Artists Open Studio Tour on Nov. 11 and 12. Eleven award-winning artists welcomed visitors into their studios to see where the magic happens including, clockwise from top left, Peter Gallasso of Setauket, Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson, Christian White of St. James, Nanci Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook (in her St. James studio), Sungsook Setton of Setauket, and Jim Molloy of Miller Place. Other participating artists included Doug Reina, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Marlene Weinstein, Pam Brown and Kelynn Z. Alder. Guests were able to view artwork for sale, ask questions and enjoy refreshments.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

Abstract artist Peter Galasso’s Setauket studio will be one of the stops on the tour. Photo from Peter Galasso

By Heidi Sutton

The North Shore is teeming with talented artists and local venues like the Mills Pond House Gallery, the Reboli Center for Art and History, The Long Island Museum, Gallery North, the Port Jefferson Village Center and libraries are more than eager to show off their artwork. But what if you could hit the rewind button and observe the artist working on the piece right before your eyes?

That rare opportunity will arise this weekend as the North Shore Artist Coalition hosts its second annual Artist Open Studio Tour.

Doug Reina will be working on a painting during the tour. Photo from Doug Reina

The self-guided event will offer an intimate glimpse into the working studios of 11 award-winning artists living in Miller Place, St. James, Setauket, Port Jefferson and Stony Brook, giving visitors a personal opportunity to meet and talk with artists about their work and the creative process.

The coalition, whose core artist group is Nancy Bueti-Randall, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Jim Molloy, Doug Reina and Pam Brown, formed last year to contribute to the community through exhibitions, open studio tours and educational programs. “Fundamentally we believe the arts improve our lives and enrich our communities culturally, socially and economically. As well our mission is to promote and increase regional awareness of professional artists working in a wide range of styles and studio practices,” said Brown in a recent email.

Artists Peter Galasso, Kelynn Z. Adler, Sungsook Setton, Christian White, Hugh McElroy and Marlene Weinstein were invited to participate in this year’s tour.

Artist Pam Brown’s studio is one of the stops on the tour. Photo from Pam Brown

“Each year we invite artists from the Three Village and surrounding areas [to join us],” Brown explained. “Our goal is to invite more artists each year as the Studio Tour grows.” In addition to the Artist Studio Tour, the group aims to have yearly pop-up exhibitions. This past June, Mary Jane van Zeijts hosted an exhibition at her Setauket studio titled Five @ 268 Art on Main that featured the core group. Upcoming projects include a curated exhibition of the Artists in the Studio Tour. “Currently we are looking for exhibition spaces in our local area,” said Brown.

At each studio, which can be in a backyard barn, garage, house, storefront or outdoor space, visitors will be able to talk freely with the artists and ask questions about their approach and individual styles to making art. “They can visit as long as they like,” said Brown. “Additionally some of the artists will be doing demonstrations and talking directing about their processes and the materials they use.”

Visitors can also expect to see a variety of artwork on display including original paintings, sculptures, ceramics, pastels, photographs, prints and textiles. Additionally, artwork will be for sale.

Brown is hoping to attract even more visitors to this year’s event. “Last year’s Studio Tour was very successful and well-attended, we received positive feedback from local art organizations and other cultural venues, plus we had incredible support from fellow artists, friends and our community at large,” she said.

“It is our hope that people walk away with a deeper meaning and understanding of art, the Artist, and the important role that art plays in our community.”

The North Shore Artist Coalition’s Artist’s Open Studio Tour will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11 and Sunday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine and admission is free. Refreshments will be served at several studios. For a list of the 11 locations, visit www.facebook.com/NorthShoreArtistCoalition. For more information, call 631-834-9036.

'Avalon Garden' by Sungsook Setton

By Irene Ruddock

Sungsook Setton of Setauket is a watercolor and ink artist whose work bridges East and West and has brought her international recognition. She has exhibited in Canada, Korea, Taiwan, England and the United States. Setton twice won Best in Show at the National Juried Exhibition by the Sumi-e Society of America.

Quote: ‘My work, based on East Asian brush painting and Western artistic innovation, can be seen as expressive abstraction, allowing me to harness the spirit of qi.’

When did you begin painting?

Sungsook Setton

From an early age, I was always drawn to art and painted in the traditional western style. However, I began East Asian water and ink brush painting while revisiting Korea searching for my roots. I studied with Chinese and Korean masters who had me practice one stroke at a time for a month until it was perfect. They taught me that, just as musicians play scales and dancers practice steps, watercolor-ink painters practice the basic strokes to prepare for more intricate work. This began my personal journey to meld traditions of eastern and western art into my art.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your teachers?

One of the most important lessons is to achieve tranquility while you paint. Becoming one with the brush is an essential meditative experience that leads to tranquility. Tranquility then leads to qi, which leads to the transcendence necessary for painting.

Can you tell us more about qi?

It is a life force or energy flow. It is a central Chinese principle — the harmony of yin and yang.

‘Flatiron Building’ by Sungsook Setton

What else influences your art?

The most influential classic book for the Chinese water-ink artist is the Qing Dynasty reference “Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden,” which teaches that polished skills lead to a deeper understanding of the wonders of nature. While engaged in painting landscape, it’s almost a spiritual nutrition for me. Surrounded by nature, my mind is calm and clear, and I can focus on my subject. I then use suggestions in my brushwork to interpret forms in their simplest state. By paring back, I hope to reveal and capture the qi of nature. Brush painting represents the perfect meeting between the qi of the artist and the qi of nature.

What is your best advice for people viewing your work?

When viewing the paintings, look also for the empty spaces as well as the positive spaces. The nonpainted area, called ying, is there to allow you to breathe deeply and to grow and to achieve peace.

You have just written a beautiful book titled “The Spirit of the Brush.” Can you explain why you chose the title?

My brush has taken me on a spiritual journey. With my brush, I feel that I am not only a painter, but a dancer and a musician. I sing songs with my brush and dance with it. It is the goal of every watercolor painter to become one with the brush, so the title “The Spirit of the Brush” is fitting for me.

‘West Meadow Beach’ by Sungsook Setton

Tell me more about the book.

It is a story of my personal journey. It is also a book that teaches others how to achieve water-ink paintings by providing information on brush and paper materials. It is a guide for learning how to incorporate this art form into their own unique work — finding their own path, or dao, to where their brush will lead them.

When you say that you sing songs with your brush, how has that transpired?

I’ve spent a lot of time depicting music in my paintings over the years. I was invited to participate in a multimedia performance Brush Voice. During the performance, my abstract expressionist paintings were projected onto a large screen while the Ardesco group played the music at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University. After that, I have done live performances with a jazz musician.

What is your best advice for artists?

My advice for artists is to remember that nature always has new things to teach you!.

Where can we view your paintings and purchase your new book?

Come visit me at my art studio at 22 Mud Road in Setauket where I also teach. I am exhibiting my paintings at the Art League of Long Island with the Long Island Sumi-e Society member show from April 22 to May 7. The exhibition is called The Fragrance of Ink. “The Spirit of the Brush” is coming out in June and may be preordered on Amazon today — bring it to my studio for signing! Book signing schedules will be announced soon! You may contact me at sungsooksetton@gmail.com or www.sungsooksetton.com.