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Talia Amorosano

Above, a battle scene shot at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket last summer.
Film showcased at SBU’s Staller Center for the Arts

By Talia Amorosano

The wait is over. On Sunday, June 24, an integral piece of U.S. and Long Island history will be revisited in the geographic location where much of it actually took place. At 7 p.m., the Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, will host the first major public screening of “One Life to Give,” a film about the friendship and lives of young American heroes Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale, whose actions would lead to the creation of a Revolutionary spy ring based on the North Shore of Long Island.

Presented in the Main Theater, doors will open at 6:45 p.m. After a message from publisher Leah Dunaief, a short behind-the-scenes documentary will be shown followed by the main film screening. After a message from the creators, the evening will conclude with a Q&A with the cast and crew. Admission to the event is free, courtesy of TBR News Media. No reservations are necessary.

Cast and crew gather around a camera to view playback last summer.

The film’s co-producer and writer, Michael Tessler, describes the film as an exploration of historical events with a human focus. “After spending several years researching Benjamin Tallmadge and the other heroes featured in our film, I began to look at them not as detached names in a textbook, but more so as real people, with real stories that deserve to be told,” he said.

 Dave Morrissey, the actor who portrays Tallmadge in the film, describes his character as a “22-year-old kid,” who, despite his relative youth, is “focused” and “grounded,” propelled into action by the death of his brother at the hands of the British. “When something like that happens to you, you turn into a machine … into something else,” said Morrissey. “If you channel the energy and do what’s right, the possibilities are endless.”

By focusing a metaphorical macro lens on the multidimensional characters of Tallmadge and Hale, the film traverses consequential moments of American history: the Battle of Long Island, the anointing of America’s first spy and the events that would lead to the creation of the Culper Spy Ring, a group of men and women who risked their lives and status to gather British intelligence for the Revolutionary cause. 

Though Tessler notes that the film is, at its heart, a drama, he and the film’s director and co-producer Benji Dunaief stress the cast and crew’s commitment to accuracy in their interpretation of historical events. 

“The history comes second to the narrative in most [other film adaptations of historical events],” says Dunaief. “Our approach with this film was the exact opposite. We wanted to see where we could find narrative within [pre-existing] history.” 

“Many of the lines from the film were plucked directly from the diaries of the heroes themselves,” stated Tessler. “We worked closely with historians and Revolutionary War experts to achieve a level of accuracy usually unseen in such a local production.”

The fact that many scenes from the film were shot in the locations where the events of the real-life narrative took place helped give the visuals a sense of truthfulness and the actors a sense of purpose.

“The location took production to the next level. It’s really crazy how closely related the sets we used were to the actual history,” said Dunaief, who specifically recalls filming at a house that contained wood from Tallmadge’s actual home. “It helped to inspire people in the cast to get into character.” 

Morrissey recalls spending a particularly inspiring Fourth of July on Benner’s Farm in East Setauket. “We were filming the war scenes with all the reenactors … in the cabin that we built for the set … in the town where the battles and espionage had really happened. There were fireworks going on in the background while we sang shanty songs. It was amazing.”

The Continental Army shoots off a cannon at Benner’s Farm.

Though locational and historical accuracy played a large role in making filming a success, ultimately, Dunaief and Tessler credit the resonance of “One Life to Give” to an engaged and participatory community. “This was a community effort on all accounts,” says Dunaief, noting the roles that the Benners, Preservation Long Island, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, the Three Village Historical Society and others played to bring “One Life to Give” to fruition. 

The fact that the screening will take place at the Staller Center, in the heart of the community that helped bring the film about, represents a full-circle moment for the cast and crew. “We’re calling it a screening but it is so much more,” said Dunaief. “It is a fantastic example of how the community has stood by this film, from beginning to end.”

“We’re beyond honored and humbled to use a screen that has seen some of the greatest independent films in history,” said Tessler. “Stony Brook University has been a wonderful partner and extremely accommodating as we work to bring our local history to life.” 

Tessler projects confidence that viewers will leave the screening with a similar sense of gratitude. “This story shows a part of our history that I think will make the audience very proud of the place they call home.”

The future of ‘One Life to Give’: 

Michael Tessler and Benji Dunaief plan to show the film at festivals around the country, to conduct a series of screenings on Long Island, and to partner with local historical societies that can use it as an educational tool. Additionally, a sequel to “One Life to Give,” titled “Traitor,” is already in the works. Filming will begin this summer.

All photos by Michael Pawluk Photography

‘Lily,’ Oil on Linen Board, by Daniel van Benthuysen of Huntington

By Talia Amorosano

On the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 18, in conjunction with the beginning of summer, the juried art exhibition, Of a Botanical Nature, organized by the Smithtown Township Arts Council, opened at the Mills Pond House in St. James. For the first time this year, the general public was afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a gallery full of art representative of the intricacies of local and nonlocal flora. 

‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven
‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven

The exhibit, which will run through July 20, features 60 works of art from 49 artists, 22 of whom hail from various nonlocal areas of the country including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and California. The remaining 27 represent the Long Island and New York City area. 

The artists
Mark Attebery
Ross Barbera *
Arthur Bernstein *
Stephen Brucker
Carol Ceraso *
Lisa Conway
Caryn Coville *
Debra Crawford
Audry Deal-McEver
Granville C. Fairchild *
Margaret Farr
Beverly Fink
Ingrid Finnan
Kathy Folino
Elizabeth Fusco *
Janice Marie Gabriel *
Kristine Gaier
Kelsey Gallagher
Vivian Gattuso *
Maureen Ginipro *
Patricia Greenberg
Stella Grove
Jillian Hauck *
Katherine Hiscox *
Kathleen Hollan
David Jaycox Jr. *
Lynn Kinsela *
Amanda Lebel
Katherine Lechler *
Madeline Lovallo
Patricia Luppino *
Louis R. Mangieri *
Lucy Martin
Kelly McLeod
Gary Mulnix
Lois Perlman
Pat Proniewski
Judith Scillia
Irene Paquette Tetrault *
Monica Ray *
Lynne Rivellese *
Robert Roehrig *
Alisa Shea *
Gisela Skoglund *
Gunter Stern *
Susan Tango *
Daniel van Benthuysen *
Camille Warmington
Sharon Way-Howard *
*Long Island artists

The works that appear in the show were chosen by Juror Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, illustrator and author who currently instructs botanical drawing classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. An accomplished illustrator, her work has been published in The New York Times and Good Housekeeping magazine and exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Regarding Hollender’s selection process, the executive director of STAC, Allison Cruz, said, “She really picked a broad range of artwork based in reality. She was looking more for realism, but she did take a couple of pieces that are more abstract.” Accordingly, Hollender awarded first and second place to artists whose works exemplify a command of a photorealistic style of portraying traditionally botanical subjects: respectively, Colorado-based artist Patricia Greenberg for her pencil drawing, “The Flower Loves the Rain,” and New York City-based artist Ingrid Finnan for her color illustration, “Blue Hubbard Squash.” These two artists will go on to participate in a winner’s show next year,  which will also be held at the Mills Pond House.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Margaret Farr for various botanical illustrations, Gary Mulnix for a larger-than-life wooden sculptural representation of “Lupine” and Lois Perlman for a richly saturated color illustration of a “Parrot Tulip.”

‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai
‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai

According to Cruz, this exhibit features a particularly wide range of artistic mediums. In addition to two-dimensional works in watercolor, acrylic, oil, wash on paper and colored pencil, the show includes six three-dimensional sculptural works made of bronze, black walnut wood, glass mosaic, steel and clay, among other materials.

Subject matter depicted ranges from close-up, scientific-looking views of individual flowers or plants with monochromatic backgrounds (Kelly McLeod’s “Wilted Alstroemeria,” Kathleen Hollan’s “Autumn Leaves”), to still life images of staged indoor plants (Katherine Hiscox’s “From the Garden,” Granville C. Fairchild’s “Reaching to Heaven”), to garden landscapes (Pat Proniewski’s “Morning Azaleas,” Carol Ceraso’s “Spring Affair”), to abstract representations of natural subjects (Lisa Conway’s “Grey Swan,” Arthur Bernstein’s “Sprout”).

However, all of the pieces in some way reflect the organic spontaneity of life in the natural world within the ordered structures of scientific classification, together forming a show that fosters an appreciation for the small examples of natural beauty that often go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Cruz said, “There are a lot of watercolors by the nature of most of the flower illustrations, but it really is a broad range … I have everything in this show except photography and digital art. It’s a beautiful mix of media.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present Of a Botanical Nature at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James through July 20. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (closed July 3). Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit
‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit

'Cutchogue Barn’ by George Gough

Update, Feb. 11, 1:10 p.m.: According to the Huntington Arts Council, the opening reception scheduled for Feb. 5, originally postponed due to snow conditions, has been moved to Friday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Main Street Gallery.

The Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery will present its latest exhibit titled “Earth, Air and Water: A Celebration of Tri-State Wildlife and Nature” from Feb. 5 to 27. An opening reception will be held on Feb. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

‘Osprey in the Rain’ by Tom Reichert
‘Osprey in the Rain’ by Tom Reichert

Participating artists in the juried photography show include Talia Amorosano, Irene Andreadis, Debra Baer, Amy Bisagni, Holly Black, Winifred Boyd, Laura Rittenhouse Burke, Terry Canavan, Dorothy M. Chanin, Tom Colligan, Joseph Cutolo, Leonard Digiovanna, Jessie Edelstein, Monica Friedrich, Jay Gammill, Shannon Gannon, Susan Geffken Burton, Phyllis Goodfriend, George Gough, Jovanna Hopkins, Patrick Keeffe, John Killelea, Susan Kozodoy Silkowitz, Julia Lang-Shapiro, Mark Lefkin, Matthew Levine, Elizabeth Milward, Vera Mingovits, Trish Minogue Collins, Howard Pohl, Tom Reichert, Burt Reminick, Spencer Ross, Max Schauder, Harry Schuessler, Ruth Siegel, Don Thiergard, E. Beth Thomas, Susan Tiffen, Mac Titmus, Pamela Waldroup and Joan Weiss.

The exhibit was judged by Andrew Darlow,  a New Jersey-based photographer and digital imaging consultant whose photography has been exhibited internationally and has been featured in numerous magazines and websites. He has lectured and conducted seminars and workshops around the world. Of the 154 pieces of work submitted, Darlow chose 42 photographs to appear in the show.

‘Crab Meadow Sunset’ by Irene Andreadis
‘Crab Meadow Sunset’ by Irene Andreadis

“Photography is like magic. In a fraction of a second, a moment can be captured that will never be repeated exactly the same way again. This is especially true when our images include wildlife and nature,” said Darlow. “The entries for this show truly showcased the natural beauty and splendor of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In addition to many spectacular images of animals, flowers and breathtaking water scenes, I selected some photographs that include people and man-made structures. This balance between the human and natural worlds fascinates me, and I really look forward to viewing the exhibition on the gallery walls,” he added.

Best in show went to “Crab Meadow Sunset” by Irene Andreadis, and honorable mentions  were “Osprey in the Rain” by Tom Reichert and “Cutchogue Barn” by George Gough. Congratulations!

The Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery is located at 213 Main Street in Huntington. It is open Monday to Friday  from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-271-8423 or visit www.huntingtonarts.org.

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By Talia Amorosano

It’s fall, and you know what that means: Winter is around the corner. And we all know what that means is near — that biting cold that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and enjoy a cup of steaming hot-something in front of a cozy fireplace. 

There’s only one problem: You don’t have a fireplace. Or you do, but it doesn’t meet your specific needs. With so many different kinds of fuel, functions and forms, it can be difficult to know which fireplace is the right fit. So if you haven’t already warmed up to the idea of installing a new fireplace in your home, read on to see what each type has to offer.

FUEL OPTIONS

Wood: If you’re into that cozy rustic vibe, a wood-burning fireplace is best at creating the classic woodsy ambiance associated with log cabins and homemade pies.  It gives off that “burning wood” smell (sometimes of hickory or maple) literally, and the sound of crackling logs is the perfect accompaniment to a night of board games with friends around the living room table or a quiet evening alone with a book. On the down side, this kind of fireplace takes lots of work to clean, can clog the chimney and create smoke if not maintained correctly, and while it provides heat in a small space, it sucks the warmth out of other areas of the house.

Gas: According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, the popularity of gas fireplaces is on the rise, probably because of the balance of ease and efficiency that they strike. Gas fireplaces offer more use options than wood fireplaces do, often featuring blowers, timers and fans, which give the user more complete control. On the other hand, while many gas fireplaces feature realistic-looking logs and embers, they don’t replicate the smoky smell or crackling of a real fire, and the option of using fallen trees as free fuel is lost.

Electric: Like wood fireplaces, electric fireplaces function well as space heaters. However, they don’t emit harmful fumes (such as carbon dioxide from wood and carbon monoxide from gas) into the home. They are easy to use, requiring nothing more than a simple plug-in and switch-on to function and aren’t easily corroded; but they will also lose power if your home does, and if used often, can be costly components of an energy bill. If you don’t have time for something high maintenance but like the aesthetic value that a fireplace brings, an electrically powered fireplace might just be for you. 

INSTALLMENT OPTIONS

Wall mounted: These kinds of fireplaces must be attached to a chimney and require major construction if a chimney is not already present. While this can be expensive, it can also add value to a home. They are built into a wall and usually lend themselves to the burning of real wood or gas fuel but can also accommodate electric.

Free standing: Depending on the fuel type, these fireplaces can be attached to a ceiling or completely free standing and can require a vent pipe to act as a chimney.  They usually don’t require much construction and have the appearance of large cabinets.

Portable: Perfect for a home built without space for a huge fireplace, portable fireplaces are small, decorative and typically much less expensive than built-in or free-standing fireplaces.  However, these fireplaces are more aesthetic than functional, typically not able to heat a large area or space.

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Mayor Dee Parrish signs a document at Thursday evening’s Poquott Village board meeting at Poquott Village Hall. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

In the early morning, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, a surprise extreme weather event literally took the North Shore by storm, leaving floods, fallen trees, and power outages in its wake, and causing Village of Poquott officials to declare a State of Emergency.

Nine days later, on Aug. 13, it was clear that effects were still very much being felt in the Three Village area, with uprooted trees and debris lining the roadways up to Poquott Village Hall. There, at 7 p.m., citizens of the village gathered to voice their reactions to board members’ handling of the storm, and to express requests for how the remaining damages should be handled.

A major complaint many meeting attendants shared involved communication between board members and the public. Residents at the meeting voiced concerns of a lag in response time from Poquott Mayor Dee Parrish and her administration, which one trustee took issue with.

“The only way we found out the road had re-opened was to drive down there and look, make a U-turn, and go back.” Trustee Harry Berry said in defense of the accusation. “We heard nothing. First off, there was no power— a lot of people didn’t get their power back until Saturday. There was no Internet, and cellphone coverage was terrible.”

Still, residents argued the village officials could have done more to communicate with the greater Poquott community after the storm.

Indeed, the storm did bring with it increased safety concerns. Village resident Carol Pesek emphasized the importance of future communication in terms of relaying how to avoid some of the unique dangers brought about by the storm. She specifically noted the necessity of avoiding trees touching downed telephone wires.

Parrish said she would note these considerations for the future, and then brought the public commentary section of the meeting to an early close. After this, the board approved resolutions authorizing Parrish to draft and submit a FEMA application requesting financial support to cover storm damages, directing Clerk Joseph Newfield to schedule, and notice accordingly, public bids for cleaning of village drains per the list from the Commission of Environmental and also directing the clerk to schedule, and notice accordingly, public bids for tree clean up and removal in the village from the storm.

A resolution approving a village carting company to conduct an additional pick-up of residential landscaping debris, not to exceed $5,000, was tabled, on the condition that enough debris may be cleared by individual residents to render the additional expense unnecessary.

The Poquott Civic Association and Village of Poquott also held a fundraiser on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 15, at the park on the corner of Washington Street and Chestnut Avenue. Tommy Sullivan, of Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, performed a free, old-time rock n’ roll concert, and attendees donated money and participated in a raffle to raise funds for storm repairs.

With community participation and cooperation between elected officials and constituents, the Three Village area will recover from this storm quickly and, perhaps more importantly, gain the tools and experience necessary to prepare for future incidents of extreme weather.

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Black Cherokee “Hermina” Fashion Boots ($27.99) at Target. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

Summer is mostly over, and according to most retail stores, that means fall (and Christmas) is right around the corner.  While you do still have ample time to go back-to-school shopping, you might as well beat the rush and stock up on these style essentials before you have to race another customer to grab the last purple backpack off the shelf.

1 Statement backpack. A backpack is an obvious back-to-school essential, and I recommend it over a one-shoulder book-bag because two straps provide better weight distribution and make carrying tons of books less of a huge cramp-in-one-shoulder situation and more of a slight-overall-cramp situation (which, trust me, is preferable). Because a backpack is something that will be carried everywhere, in any weather, paired with any outfit, make sure to choose something durable and versatile. Neutral colors like black, white, beige and brown usually lend themselves to interesting patterns that won’t look out of place with most outfits, while solid bright bold colors can add a fun pop to your style without overwhelming the eye.

2 Something black, something blue, something white (condition: new). Unlike the old wedding rhyme, these items don’t really symbolize anything more extensive than a fresh start to a new school year, but hey, that’s still pretty significant. You’d be surprised by how far a few new basics will go. Black and white clothing items go great with any everyday outfit and come in handy for school concerts and formal events, while a standard pair of comfortable blue jeans will become your literal other half when you can’t find anything simple enough to offset a bold shirt.

3 Vest for success. You may be wondering, what’s so functional about a clothing item that covers approximately half of someone’s torso and leaves appendages to freeze in the cold?  First of all, you know all those long-sleeved shirts that you spilled coffee down the front of, the ones that now live in the back of your closet? Well now they can see the light of day again because a vest is perfect for selectively covering unfashionable areas of fashionable shirts. Also, just like fall, a vest represents that not-too-hot, not-too-cold weather, easy to take off and put on again and possible to layer over almost anything. It’s a true fashion essential.

Coral peaches Trans by Jansport backpack with built-in laptop sleeve ($34.24) at Target. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Coral peaches Trans by Jansport backpack with built-in laptop sleeve ($34.24) at Target. Photo by Talia Amorosano

4 The best boots. Give your flip-flops the actual boot by investing in a functional pair of boots.  Sturdy boots made from quality leather come in all shapes and sizes, at least one of which is sure to match your personal style. From cowboy to combat, ankle to knee-high, quality boots keep feet warm and dry, whether they’re accompanied by a dress or denim jeans. In this instance, quality beats quantity. These shoes are a worthwhile investment.

5 Nice sweats. This phrase may sound like an oxymoron, but contrary to popular belief, it is possible to roll out of bed and look like you didn’t just roll out of bed. A pair of nice, comfortable sweats can look stylish if done right.  Sweatpants called Joggers usually have an adjustable drawstring waist, are loose-fitting, tighten around the ankle area and come in many different styles and colors. And a long, cotton maxi-skirt is just as comfortable as old sweatpants but looks dressed up.  Finally, instead of a typical pullover hoodie, opt for a zip-up sweatshirt and pair it with any T-shirt or tank.  With nice sweats like these, you can keep yourself warm and still look cool.

If you’re not sure about what your personal style is or want to change your look, check out the “What should you wear on your first day back to school?” quiz at www.seventeen.com or the “Fall Fashion Guide” on www.Refinery29.com. Happy shopping!

Maddie is a 7-year-old lab/collie mix who loves kids and is a laid-back couch potato. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

He’s gentle and kind and loving, Valerie Sanks, of Rocky Point, explains. He’s got a Frank Sinatra debonair-style class, he’s well mannered, good in the car and loves people, especially children. His name is Bravo and, sorry, ladies, he’s not human. But, he’s still a great catch — or should we say fetch — with the capacity to love unconditionally.  He also isn’t taken, and he could be yours.

Brookhaven Town will be waiving its animal shelter fees on Saturday, Aug. 15, in honor of a Clear the Shelter event that seeks to encourage adoptions of the shelter’s many dogs and cats.

Joe, a volunteer, hangs out with pit bull/lab mix Huckleberry. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Joe, a volunteer, hangs out with pit bull/lab mix Huckleberry. Photo by Talia Amorosano

Sanks, a Brookhaven animal shelter volunteer and dog owner, said dogs like Bravo who have lived in the shelter for extended periods of time often have trouble getting adopted because of factors beyond their control, like age, injury and appearance. 

Bravo, a terrier mix, is estimated to be between 7 and 9 years old and has cropped ears.  He was originally adopted from the shelter in 2011, but when his owners fell on hard times in 2014, he was brought back and is now in need of a new home.  “He has every odd against him for getting a home,” Sanks said, but despite this, “he’s very sweet and very mellow.”

Sanks also volunteers at the Riverhead and Southold towns’ animal shelters and described herself as “a firm believer in town shelters.” She referred to the staff at the Brookhaven shelter as “an incredible group of workers.”

“When a dog needs something, people use their own money to buy it for them,” she said. “Town workers, on their day off, come down to the shelter just to walk the dogs.”

While the town and volunteers are trying to get more people to adopt the animals, Sanks said additional volunteers are always needed.

Bravo, a sweet pit bull/terrier mix, enjoys the outdoors. He was adopted but came back to the shelter when his owners fell on hard times. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Bravo, a sweet pit bull/terrier mix, enjoys the outdoors. He was adopted but came back to the shelter when his owners fell on hard times. Photo by Talia Amorosano

“Volunteering is needed immensely,” she said. “Especially when you have a shelter that could hold 80-plus dogs.”

Volunteers spend outdoor time with the dogs, take them on walks and give them treats, but helping out is not limited to direct interaction with the animals.  Sanks noted that even things as simple as dropping off a jar of peanut butter, a toy or a warm blanket or towel can do a great deal to ensure that these animals remain happy and healthy.

“The most exciting day is when we have a volunteer meeting,” she said. “After the meeting is over, everybody goes to get their dogs and I stand in the parking lot and watch all the volunteers come out. It is the most beautiful thing anyone could ever see.”

Brookhaven’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is located at 300 Horseblock Road, Brookhaven. For more information, visit the center online at brookhaven.org/animalshelter or call 631-451-6950.

‘Bronx’ 2015 by Ruben Natal-San Miguel

By Talia Amorosano

Born in Puerto Rico and currently residing in New York City, photographer, writer and art critic Ruben Natal-San Miguel knows what it is like to experience life in vastly different places. With photography exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Mexico City (among other national and international locations), he has a knack for capturing images that display the human spirit in unique and varied settings.

His visionary eye for capturing people and life has been brought to Long Island’s own Ripe Art Gallery in Huntington. An artist reception was held on Aug. 8. The Rights of Summer  photography exhibit, juried by himself and Sean Corcoran (curator of photography and prints for the Museum of the City of New York), showcases his original photography alongside the work of over 25 other photographers from Long Island to Japan (to Portugal, to Canada, to Missouri, to California).

“Everybody’s summer looks different depending on where and how they live,” said Cherie Via Rexer, owner of Ripe Art Gallery, who has worked with Natal-San Miguel during past exhibitions.

This statement uncovers the main controlling idea of the exhibit, that different people of different socioeconomic classes, cultures, lifestyles and locations experience and celebrate summer differently.  “We wanted to see what summer looked like for the 99 percent as well as the 1 percent,” said Via Rexer, who noted that the Ripe Art Gallery is the perfect place to showcase this theme, based on its location between New York City and the Hamptons.

‘Mercy Playground’ 2014 by Ruben Natal-San Miguel
‘Mercy Playground’ 2014 by Ruben Natal-San Miguel

The result of sorting through over 300 submissions is a final set of 57 images that each convey summer living in a diverse way and showcase “a little bit of everything,” according to Via Rexer.  The styles of the photographs range from portraits to landscapes to abstract, but they all illustrate the Rights of Summer.

A particularly striking photograph that Via Rexer believes embodies the theme of the exhibit is “Bronx,” by Natal-San Miguel, in which a man stands in front of the ocean with the iconic word visibly tattooed across his back. “It shows a beautiful beach that is surrounded by projects and all kinds of living situations,” she said.  “It shows the ocean but visibly zeroes in on a location.”

Also notable are the six established fine art photographers whose work will be on display at the exhibit: Richard Misrach, Christopher Rauschenberg (related to photographer Robert Rauschenberg), Karine Laval, Gillian Laub, Amy Arbus (related to photographer Diane Arbus) and Arlene Gottfried.   

Eleonora Ronconi captured Best in Show with “Corn Stand,” first runner up was “Girl from Palm Springs” by Dolly Faibyshev, second runner up was Robert Herman’s “Heat Wave NYC NY” and third runner up was Luis Carle’s “Abanicos.” Honorable mentions went to Lauren Welles for “Coney Island 1,” Jennifer McClure for “Untitled,” Nancy Oliveri for “Coney Island Venus” and Russ Rowland’s “Brighton Beached 3.”

All are encouraged to view the artwork on display until Sept. 5. This event is sure to excite photography and fine art enthusiasts alike and offers a great opportunity for Long Islanders to view art by both internationally recognized and local photographers.

Ripe Art Gallery is located at 1028 Park Ave., Huntington. For more information, call 631-239-1805 or visit www.ripeartgal.com.

Ward Hooper and Holly Gordon display similar pieces of art — from left, a painting and a photograph — both titled ‘The Boys of Summer.’ Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

When photographer Holly Gordon was asked to describe her relationship with painter Ward Hooper, she relayed a Hopi Native American tale about a paralyzed clown and a blind mudhead who are only able to flee their village when disaster strikes by individually compensating for what the other lacks: the mudhead provides mobility by carrying the clown on his back and the clown provides direction by acting as a set of eyes for the mudhead. “[Ward] was opening up my eyes, and I was using my camera to bring him the visions,” said Gordon. “There’s really such a synergy between us.”

For Hooper and Gordon, who met on Facebook through a mutual friend and typically get together once a week, the term “synergy” applies to both life and art, realms which, according to Gordon, are often indistinguishable from one another. Hooper plays the role of navigator for Gordon, who drives them both to diverse locations along the north shore of Long Island, including Huntington, Northport, Centerport, Kings Park and Cold Spring Harbor, some of which Hooper “hasn’t been to in 20 years.” The result is individual reinterpretations of the same settings made more complete by access to each others pre-existing work.

Sometimes Hooper’s paintings provide the initial inspiration, and other times Gordon’s photographs play this role. “That’s the beauty of our collaboration,” said Hooper. “Holly would show me something and challenge me to create something compatible with what she selected.”

“[When using Ward’s painting as the initial artistic reference] I knew that I was going to have to stretch my vision and stretch my technical skills to make my work even more fluid than it was previously,” said Gordon. “Art is usually a solitary thing, and among some artists you find a certain competition, but Ward and I have just been so supportive in sharing and helping each other grow and evolve and develop and create. It’s been an absolutely magical experience.”

52 of the artistic results of this experience — pairing the new photographic art of Gordon with the watercolor paintings of Hooper — will be on display at the Art League of Long Island’s Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery, from Aug. 8 to 23, in an exhibit appropriately titled The Brush/Lens Project.

“We’re hoping that viewers will be inspired,” said Gordon, “that they will come to see and appreciate the beauty that is right here on Long Island [by viewing art that was largely created in and inspired by Long Island].”

The exhibit will highlight versatile pieces of art, arranged in 26 sets, which encompass all four seasons and a variety of subjects. “We overestimated the number of pieces [that we would be able to include in the exhibit],” said Hooper. “Between the two of us, we have nearly 100 years of art,” continued Gordon, “there’s a book here.”

Both Hooper and Gordon are grateful that they have been afforded the opportunity to work with one another and plan to continue to do so in the future: “When you put yourself out there and you’re not afraid to share and interact, there’s so much beneath the surface to discover,” said Gordon, on her rewarding decision to reach out to Hooper. “Art brought [Holly and me] together,” Hooper emphasized. “We think, on many levels, the same way.”

With Gordon in the driver’s seat and Hooper as navigator, there’s no telling where their artistic visions will lead them next. “There’s no end to this journey. There’s no road map,” said Hooper. “We’ll just see where it takes us.”

The Art League of Long Island is located at 107 E. Deer Park Road, Dix Hills. Hours are Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The community is invited to an art reception on Aug. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. The artists will take part in a Gallery Talk on Aug. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-462-5400 or visit www.artleagueli.net.

Dance students go through a routine together at the Huntington YMCA studio. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

Walking into the dance studio at the Huntington YMCA feels like walking into a family gathering full of distant relatives you’ve never met before. But the vibe is one of comfort and inclusion, especially if you’ve got a penchant for impromptu group renditions of Taylor Swift songs.

Dance students go through a routine together at the Huntington YMCA studio. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Dance students go through a routine together at the Huntington YMCA studio. Photo by Talia Amorosano

The friendly atmosphere inside the studio is natural, according to dance instructor Pam Christy-Allen, after students, teachers and parents have worked together for as long as they have.

“I have the same kids every year, so I build relationships with them,” Christy-Allen said in a recent interview. “As their sweet sixteens have come we’ve been invited to them and they include you like their family. It’s very rewarding.”

Last month, the YMCA’s dance program turned two decades old, a milestone that staff there celebrated. But there’s no resting on laurels — program leaders say they plan to stay on their toes.

In a recent visit to the program, students showed appreciation for their instructors. Thirteen-year-old hip hop, acro and ballet student Samantha Sluka began taking YMCA dance classes at age 3 and said that Debbie Smith, her ballet teacher, has kept her interested in dancing through the years. Sluka said YMCA classes have improved her self-confidence in addition to technical dance skills, and that in the future she “would love to dance on Broadway”.

Mary Dejana, a 17-year-old tap and jazz student, said that she likes lyrical and contemporary dance styles best because they help her express her feelings. She said that the YMCA program has taught her teamwork.

“Under the tutelage of my ballet, modern and pointe teacher Jo-Ann Hertzman and with the many opportunities the YMCA provided, I have come to understand not only more about dance but more about myself and the world around me,” wrote former student Mariah Anton in a letter to the staff at the YMCA. With plans to continue dancing at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Anton wrote that her “experiences at the YMCA have directed [her] to invest back into others through teaching, encouraging, and opening the world to the next generation in the same way that the YMCA invested in [her].”

Students practice using the bar at the YMCA studio. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Students practice using the bar at the YMCA studio. Photo by Talia Amorosano

Citing the Huntington YMCA as a “second home … during [her] childhood and early adulthood,” former student Melanie Carminati, now physical therapist and Pilates instructor in East Northport, called the dance program “a safe haven for artistic growth and creativity” in a written statement. She attributed the environment to the guidance of Edie Cafiero, cultural arts director.

Cafiero stressed the importance of allowing dancers to express their creativity from a young age. “We start with 3-year-olds,” he said. “We make it fun while still using terminology and introducing steps. We let them explore themselves at that age.” She said that classes become more serious as students age and advance, but that they have the option to either hone in on certain dance styles or further expand their horizons and learn new styles.

Among some of the less conventional dance classes offered at the YMCA are Irish step, hip hop, acro, lyrical, contemporary, modern and adult ballet.

When asked what factors have contributed most significantly to the success of the Huntington YMCA dance program, Cafiero pointed to the variety of classes offered and the welcome-all attitude of the staff.

She said she walked into a famous ballet school at age 15 “and they told me I was over the hill before seeing me dance. I never wanted a kid to feel like that. We don’t turn anyone away. If they have the passion to dance we want to nurture it.”

Anyone interested in the Huntington YMCA cultural and performing arts program is invited to contact Cafiero at 631-421-4242, ext. 132.