On Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Long Island Museum and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization in Stony Brook and the Three Village Historical Society and Tri-Spy Tours in Setauket will host a day of spy-related tours and activities for the 4th annual Culper Spy Day.
The event is named for the Culper Spy Ring founded by Benjamin Tallmadge of Setauket, which provided Gen. George Washington with the information he needed to turn the tide of the American Revolution.
Visitors can learn what really happened while enjoying docent-led tours of historic homes, churches and cemeteries, Colonial cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations, reenactments, walking and bicycle tours, Anna Smith Strong’s famed clothesline, invisible ink demonstrations, a children’s book signing, time period music, military drills, a TURN memorabilia live auction and sale, mill grinding demonstrations and many more family-friendly activities in the Three Villages and along the North Shore.
In addition, Revolutionary War artifacts, including George Washington’s original letters to members of his spy ring will be on display in the Stony Brook University Library Special Collections. Ticket holders will have a chance to meet Benjamin Tallmadge, Abraham Woodhull, Samuel Culper Sr. and Anna Smith Strong as well.
The Three Village Inn in Stony Brook will feature a spy breakfast (cost is $10 per person plus tax and tip and reservations are required) and the Country House Restaurant, also in Stony Brook, will serve up a spy-themed lunch (not included in Spy Day ticket price). Call 631-751-0555 for breakfast and 631-751-3332 for lunch reservations. The Three Village Historical Society will also be offering snacks and lunch at its Tavern on the Field.
Build your own Revolutionary War story and see history come to life at this fun-filled event.
Tickets, which may be purchased at www.tvhs.org, are $25 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Children under the age of 6 and veterans will receive free admission. Wristbands for entry and maps with the event listings and a schedule of activities can be picked up at the Three Village Historical Society at 93 North Country Road in Setauket from Sept. 10 through Sept. 15. Tickets are good for admission to most participating organizations for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, and at The Long Island Museum through Sept. 23.
For more information, please visit www.culperspyday.com.
’ My goal is to design a watercolor that is an exciting, moving feast that celebrates my heritage. I paint objects that have deep personal meaning, attempting to push the medium by layering colors so the painting is saturated with richness, depth and clarity.’ — Eleanor Meier
By Irene Ruddock
Setauket artist Eleanor Tyndall Meier is a contemporary realist still life painter. A former art educator, her work has been published in the New York Times, New Art International and Splash: Watercolor Discoveries. Meier has received many awards in juried exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and she is a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society as well as exhibiting with the Rhode Island, Houston and Adirondack Watercolor Societies.
A former president of the Catherine Lorillard Art Club, Meier is currently on the advisory council at Gallery North and the steering committee of The Long Island Museum’s LIMarts, where she was chosen to be August’s 2018 Artist of the Month at the museum’s Visitors Center.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Meier as she prepares to move her art studio to Centerport.
You have a breathtaking array of awards and accomplishments. What do you consider your most meaningful?
After retiring from a career of teaching art to high school students, many of whom are dear friends today, I had the opportunity to paint and make art a daily activity, to exhibit and to develop friendships with other committed artists. Using skills developed as a teacher I now find a special fulfillment in planning research trips to galleries, colleges, museums and other art centers.
How do you design your compositions?
I paint large still life tableaux that are filled with treasured objects arranged on patterned and textured fabrics. The images consist of solid forms that reflect shifting nuances with webs of shadow. Using themes such as kimonos, Delft china, silver Revere bowls, cups and saucers, colored glass, white objects — whatever deeply moves me and excites the mind’s eye. I try to design the arrangements so that the painting will be infused with a sense of myth, mystery and magic.
How do you choose the objects for your paintings?
I use objects that have been passed from generation to generation, objects that have the potential for significance because of past association. They may be grand or humble, glistening or tarnished, but they must animate the surface, breathing energy and vigor into my compositions.
Is there another art form that you enjoy?
Since the human figure is one of the most enduring themes in the visual arts, I find that drawing from the live model inspires all my artistic endeavors. I find it is a needed exercise to sharpen the vision, improve eye-hand coordination and to energize the right side of the brain.
Are there artists from whom you draw your inspiration?
I admire the works of Dine, Demuth, O’Keefe, Rothko, Beal and Freckleton. I have studied Dine’s work, noting that he selects an object that has meaning to him, uses it and transforms it into an exciting icon. I am drawn to the richness and luminous color in Rothko’s paintings, the use of the diagonal in the exciting compositions of Beal and Freckelton, the delicacy of a Demuth apple and the singular focus as found in an O’Keefe flower. I also attend galleries, studios and museums in New York City, Houston, Italy and Geneva — wherever in the world I travel.
Can you tell us about the Catherine Lorillard Art Club?
The organization is a 130-year-old organization of women artists started by a bequest from Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, who was the only female on the board of founders of the Metropolitan Museum. The club exhibits yearly at the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club, attracting world class women artists. As an artist working alone, I find that being involved with this prestigious art organization has given me the opportunity to befriend many dedicated professionals and to share ideas which stimulate the creative process.
You are on the steering committee for LIMarts, an art group associated with The Long Island Museum. What can you tell us about that?
Working with the innovative Neil Watson, executive director of the museum, has been fun. His interest in giving Long Island artists opportunities to exhibit their work has been exciting and inspiring. I am honored to have been chosen to be Artist of the Month and will be exhibiting at The Long Island Museum’s Visitor Center, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook through the month of August.
Soon you will be moving to Centerport. What will you miss most about this area?
I will always be involved in this area. The Three Villages and surrounding towns have become a vibrant area for art on Long Island. The many museums, galleries and artist studios have all raised the presence of art, making it an important center for art exhibits, art talks and art education. It is an exciting community in which to live and I am happy to have a small part in its new presence on the art map of Long Island.
As a leader in the art world, what has art meant to you over the years?
Art has always been my life and passion. I now have the time to paint every day, to exhibit, to work on various art-related committees, to plan art trips to the city and other venues. It makes life happy and fulfilling.
WSHU Public Radio will present a special concert at The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook on Sunday Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Sunday Baroque, the station’s program of Baroque and early music.
Sunday Baroque host and flutist Suzanne Bona and pianist Brenda Moore Miller will perform works by Bach, Handel and more. The concert, which will be held in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room, will be followed by a meet and greet with the musicians. Tickets are $30 and are available online only at www.wshu.org.
By Kyle Barr
This summer, visitors to The Long Island Museum’s Visitors Center can enjoy The Land of Moses: Robert Moses and Modern Long Island, an exhibit dedicated to the legacy of the man responsible for the development of many of Long Island’s bridges, parks, highways and more.
Presenting a major exhibit on Robert Moses meant trying to understand who he truly was, beyond many of the long-held concepts of the controversial 20th-century builder/planner and unelected official.
Though Moses wanted his story to be known through the pages of his own autobiography called “Public Works, A Dangerous Trade,” it was another book, a thick tome titled “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro, that defined his legacy, that of a callous and conceded individual who simply did not care who he ruined in his pursuit of his next, great project.
According to the exhibit’s co-curator, Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretations and chief curator at The LIM, “That became the portrait that Moses spent the rest of his life fighting. He wanted to get things done, and back then the way to get things done was to accumulate power.”
Close to 37 years after his death, Moses remains a controversial figure. In his decades spanning career, he was in charge of cultivating nearly 2.5 million acres of parkland in New York state, building 13 bridges and completing 135 miles of parkway on Long Island. Those parkways, originally intended to be used for “pleasure driving,” now exist as often congested strips of road that connect Long Island’s east and west ends.
Ruff, who organized the show along with Assistant Curator Jonathan Olly, spent the past several months researching and gathering the more than 170 items for use in The Land of Moses exhibit. On display is Moses’ oblong desk and typewriter along with many of the original models used when Moses was in charge of building the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and designing the 1964 World’s Fair along with many paintings, historical photographs and film and audio clips. “What we try to get into with this exhibition is you can go back much earlier in his career and see much controversy, but maybe just not as necessarily at the public level,” said Olly during a recent tour of the exhibit. “He was very press savvy, and he was often able to control the terms of the public perception.”
Moses held sway in multiple unelected positions throughout his reign, from head of the New York City Planning Commission to president of the Long Island State Parks Commission. Ruff said that, at his height, Moses held more power as an unelected public official than most other elected officials at that time.
The “master builder” never shied away from the public space and was quick to get his picture taken with influential figures; and the exhibit shows Moses with many famous people from Walt Disney to President John Kennedy. He wasn’t a man to shy away from controversy either. Quotes from Moses are posted high up on the exhibit’s walls. One reads: “As long as you’re on the side of the parks, you’re on the side of the angels. You can’t lose.” Another reads: “Those who can, build. Those who can’t, criticize.”
Though many perceptions of Moses have been formed from his description in “The Power Broker,” the museum curators wanted to offer a more nuanced, historical view of the man. “His ideas endured — because how do you deal with a lot of people living in a confined space?,” explained Ruff. “They need people to be able to move from one space to another. What about recreation? He was interested in the quality of life for the greatest number of people.”
Though Moses built this lasting infrastructure, he did so sometimes in nefarious ways. Building the roadways as he intended often put the work straight through some poor, yet vibrant, neighborhoods; and while he might have paid to move suburban houses out of the way of progress, he would easily make near-unilateral decision to tear down poor and minority neighborhoods to build his highways.
This ties into many allegations of racism that people like Caro have made of Moses. Ruff and Olly said that reality is more complicated. “It’s been a controversial topic in academia,” Ruff said. “Robert Moses, in some ways, undeniably made some racist decisions in his career and his work, such as putting highways through poor areas. His thought process was it cost less to demolish a poor neighborhood than it was to demolish a rich neighborhood, so it would cost less to the taxpayer.”
There are allegations that Moses specifically built bridges along his parkways too low for buses (which were often used by poorer minority communities) from the city to pass under, just so they wouldn’t walk on Moses’ many beaches and parks. The museum curators don’t put too much credence to that claim. “There’s no evidence that states that this was a decision to make it so poor people couldn’t get to the beaches,” Olly said. “The reason really was about aesthetics and economics. What Moses wanted was this idea of ‘Ribbon Parks,’ for use in pleasure driving. Having buses or public transportation on the roads was unacceptable. He didn’t think this was the road that people in 20, 30 years would be commuting to work on.”
Olly added that buses were able to go to Jones Beach, Heckscher State Park and other parks since the beginning, and there are bus advertisements from the time that prove it.
“In many ways, [‘The Power Broker’] was the last word in many instances in a lot of things Moses — it’s one of the best biographies of an American public official ever written, but on this particular argument its on shaky ground,” Ruff said.
Moses’ power declined in the late 1960s. Perhaps his biggest failure was his inability in the 1970s to finalize the building of a cross-sound bridge from Oyster Bay to the town of Rye up in Westchester County. Many locals protested building the bridge over concerns of increased traffic congestion and potential environmental impacts.
After Caro released his book in 1974, Moses spent the rest of his days contesting the allegations made in the book until his death in 1981 at the age of 92 from heart disease.
Though he remains controversial, Moses made a definite and lasting impact on Long Island. Ruff said that while his public perception changed over time, Moses was the catalyst that really created the Long Island identity. “People like to think about how his career ended — of how Caro’s book changed a lot of the perception about him,” Ruff said. “But he played a leading role in the 20th century, and we wanted to put an emphasis of his work specifically on Long Island.”
Related programs at the LIM
Enjoy a free self-guided tour of The Land of Moses on Thursday, July 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. Sample wine and tasty treats on museum grounds. Coolers and picnics welcome.
Journalist and author Anthony Flint will speak about his book, “Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City,” on Sunday, Aug. 19 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Flint will lead the audience on an introspective journey into the battle between Moses and activist Jane Jacobs. Afterward, visit the Robert Moses exhibition to gain additional insight into Moses’ life and times. This event is free with museum admission.
The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present The Land of Moses: Robert Moses and Modern Long Island in the Visitors Center through Oct. 28. Museum hours are Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 ages 6 to 17. For more information on ticket prices or for more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.
By Beverly C. Tyler
Holiday shopping at the stores that help give our historic communities a sense of place just makes good sense. The upcoming holiday season is a good time to purchase a few of the wonderful gifts and books about the local area and to pay a relaxing visit to a few nearby not-for-profit shops that deserve our special support.
Three Village Historical Society History Center & Gift Shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket
The society’s gift shop was expanded to complement the exhibit SPIES! How a Group of Long Island Patriots Helped George Washington Win the Revolution. There you will find gifts including many books, booklets and pamphlets on local history. A local favorite is “General Washington’s Commando: Benjamin Tallmadge in the Revolutionary War” by Richard F. Welch. I already knew a lot about Tallmadge, but I couldn’t put Welch’s book down. It’s well researched, organized and interesting. Other books of note include “Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring” by Alexander Rose, the consultant for the AMC series “TURN,” a dramatization of the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring. Selene Castrovilla’s books bring the Revolutionary War to life and the illustrations will delight both children and adults. “Upon Secrecy” tells the story of the Long Island-based Culper Spy Ring. “Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette” brings to life the relationship between Washington and Lafayette. Everyone of every age should read this moving account of two real American treasures. Her latest book “Revolutionary Rogues” is the story of the lives and relationships between John Andre, British officer and intelligence chief, and Benedict Arnold, a successful American general who became our most well-known traitor. The gift shop is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the gift shop and exhibits are open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. (Closed Dec. 24 and 31.) For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.
Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket
The gallery is diagonally across the street from the historical society. It is easy to park at one and walk across the street to the other. The entire gallery is a gift shop with many beautiful paintings and gift pieces by local artists for sale. The current exhibit is Deck the Halls. Local artists and artisans have created beautiful paintings, drawings, handmade jewelry, pottery, glass, decorations, bags, cards and much more. Gallery North also is showcasing a diverse range of Long Island art and has Holiday POP-UP Shopping. On Thursdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, from 4 to 7 p.m., join them for a glass of wine and refreshment while you meet the artists and shop. Each Thursday evening a different selection of artists and artisans will be offering their hand-crafted gifts, jewelry, art and more. Gallery North is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. through Dec. 22. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.
Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook
The gift shop in the Visitors Center includes books and prints on The Long Island Museum’s exhibits and permanent collections. There are also jewelry, pottery and hand-blown glass items made by local artists as well as hand-turned wood items by local artist Harry Wicks. The Visitors Center includes a temporary display of Revolutionary War items and the gift shop offers children’s Revolutionary War era gift items. The Visitors Center and gift shop are open Thursday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., closed Dec. 24 and 25. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.
Reboli Center, 64 Main St., Stony Brook.
The Reboli Center opened a year ago in the former bank building on Main Street in Stony Brook. On display are a large collection of wonderful paintings by Joe Reboli. Around the Reboli Center are four sculptures by Long Island artist/sculptor David Haussler. The current exhibit Tis the Season features Reboli paintings of the beauty of winter. In the design shop, there are wonderful art and craft items available to purchase for gifts as well as giclée prints of some Reboli paintings and artwork by Doug Reina, Jim Molloy and Pam Brown as well as David Ebner furniture and interesting items from a variety of artists. Stop in and see all the Reboli Center has to offer. The Reboli Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays have extended hours to 8 p.m. through Dec. 21. For more information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.
St. James General Store, 516 Moriches Road, St. James
This old-fashioned general store is run by the Suffolk County Parks Department, Division of Historical Services. There are two floors of 19th- and 20th-century goods and lots of homemade goodies. They have an extensive collection of old-style candies, many date back to the 19th century. Be sure to try one of their delicious molasses pops.
On the second floor are books on Long Island covering many local communities, and lots of interesting children’s books. This is one good, close-by, independent book store. The back room has an extensive collection of ornaments, some of which are reproductions of antique decorations. Back on the first floor, there is a large selection of toys, dolls and games for children that also harken back to the 19th century. The St. James General Store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 631-854-3740.
There are lots of unusual gifts at these four gift shops. If you are buying a gift for someone, you will undoubtedly find something to suit every taste. There are many other excellent local shops in the Stony Brook Village Shopping Center and Setauket and East Setauket. In the Village of Port Jefferson, along and around Main Street and East Main Street are many delightful and unusual shops and restaurants. A special one in Port Jefferson is Secret Garden Tea Room on Main Street. Have a cup of tea, maybe a scone and jam or a delicious lunch and look over their selection of unusual and tea-based gifts. Open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information or reservations call 631-476-8327 or visit www.thesecretgardentearoom.com.
Finding a special or unusual gift is not only a good idea, it also supports our local businesses and brings us closer together as a community, and you never know who you will run into by shopping locally.
Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.
TIME TO GET CREATIVE
The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will host two holiday workshops on Sunday Dec. 10. The first, Jewelry Making at 11 a.m., will be led by Nancy Golder who will help you create two pieces of jewelry with a bold holiday statement.
The second, Botanical Arrangements at 2 p.m., will be led by members of the North Suffolk Garden Club who will show you how to use seasonal greens and traditional decorations to create a beautiful centerpiece for your garden.
Fees are $25 ($20 members) per workshop or $45 ($35 members) for both and include materials, use of tools and museum admission. Tea and cookies will be served between sessions. To register, please call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.
By Rita J. Egan
Five years after Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of Long Island, and as our country continues to recover from recent hurricanes, the new exhibit, In Harm’s Way, at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook delves into the effect such storms can have on communities.
Nancy Solomon, executive director of Long Island Traditions, an organization dedicated to preserving local traditions and heritage, curated the exhibit. Through artifacts, hands-on activities, photographs and paintings dating back to the 1938 hurricane nicknamed “Long Island Express” and earlier, Solomon has created various vignettes where museum visitors can discover how residents and government agencies prepared and recovered from natural disasters through the decades.
“It’s really about how we have coped and prepared for storms both on a personal level and on a community level through history up to the present and looking forward,” Solomon said.
The curator said In Harm’s Way is an exhibit she’s been working on for a few years. Before Sandy hit Long Island, she was working on an exhibit about boaters and boatyards and talking to those who worked and lived along the coastlines.
“During Sandy I said to myself these people are going to have to cope with a lot of damage and to think forward to how they are going to prepare for this [in the future] since these storms are becoming more frequent,” she said. “And I thought of that while [Sandy] was happening. Chances are there are things they know that other people might benefit from, as well as things they don’t know that we might learn from that have happened over the last 100 years.”
Solomon, who has a M.A. degree in Folklore and American Studies from George Washington University and is an active member of the American Folklore Society, said the title of The Long Island Museum exhibit came about after talking to a fisherman who explained to her that those who work on the water have many ways of monitoring conditions to get out of harm’s way. “Ordinary people have tremendous knowledge, and we can learn from those things,” she said.
Solomon said one story she was told was about a boat captain who noticed the barometer went down one full point in an hour, signifying a tremendous drop in atmospheric pressure, during Hurricane Carol in 1954. While he used a ham radio to alert other captains to head back to shore, they didn’t heed his warning. While his crew made it back safely to Jones Inlet, the others didn’t. Solomon said the story had a big impact on her.
“That was my first major understanding that there are things that you have to pay attention to,” she said. “You have to pay attention to bird migration. You have to pay attention to fish migration because they are natural warning signs that fisherman are keenly aware of as well as people who live in places like Fire Island.”
Visitors to the exhibit will find it separated into three sections. The first — Looking Backwards — includes museum objects and items from personal collections from the 1938 Long Island Express to the 1991 Halloween nor’easter. Among the pieces are damaged items from 1938 including a clock that was mounted high on a garage wall that still bears the watermark from the Long Island Express hurricane.
A second section is dedicated to the hurricanes Irene, Lee and Sandy that occurred in 2011 and 2012 and their impact on Long Island and upstate New York. A featured artifact is a piece of the Long Beach boardwalk. Another piece that is a favorite of Solomon’s is a bay house, built by museum staff member Joseph Esser, where visitors can see what measures one can take to protect themselves when in harm’s way, including the use of bags filled with sand or clamshells.
The last section of the exhibit, Looking Forwards, focuses on solutions such as flood-proof homes and new technologies. There is also an interactive table where museum-goers can build their own home or community, taking into account safety measures for those who live along the coastline.
The museum’s curator Joshua Ruff compared the timely subject of battling storms to how generals and military planners talk about how the last war is still being fought as a new one is starting.
“I think that the exhibition really does a wonderful a job of looking at recent memory and looking at how memories have been guiding experiences for Long Islanders storm after storm after storm,” Ruff said.
Neil Watson, director of the museum, said he is pleased with the collaboration with Long Island Traditions and the exhibit that he said is informative and entertaining due to being visually stimulating. “For our museum to do a show that is focused on Long island and has a global overreach, I think is really terrific,” he said. “It’s what we do. It’s the mission of the museum to have an exhibit of this caliber, especially at this time given what’s happened recently, it’s become almost a timeless problem.”
Watson said the narrative is personal for everybody and the objects included in the exhibit are varied and effective. “They really give you a sense of place,” he said. “They put you in the moment as opposed to looking at a photograph of a house. So, I think in that way it’s a very ambitious installation of the exhibition, and it’s very effective. It’s pretty wonderful in that way.”
Solomon hopes that visitors will think about how waterfront and coastline communities are changing after viewing the exhibit. During her research, she said she learned a lot about the importance of high dunes and how hardening the shoreline may not be the best approach. “I hope they start asking questions of planners and our public agencies about the rationale for doing things and when there might be some better ways,” she said.
The Long Island Museum will host In Harm’s Way until Dec. 31. Special programs include the symposium “In Harm’s Way: Past, Present and Future” Oct. 28, a panel discussion “Learning from our Neighbors” Nov. 12 and the curator’s gallery tour Dec. 3. The museum is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. For more information call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.
The planning process for a new gallery is about to begin at The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced Aug. 3 the museum was awarded $40,000 through NEH’s competitive grant program. The new interactive gallery will be called “A World Before Cars” and plans include developing a simulation ride where visitors can experience how it felt to ride in a carriage.
“The Long Island Museum has continued to do amazing work in preserving this great heritage.”
— Lee Zeldin
Zeldin thanked the NEH for recognizing the museum’s contributions of providing a source of art, history and culture to the community.
“Our local history and culture is so important to us here on Long Island, and The Long Island Museum has continued to do amazing work in preserving this great heritage,” Zeldin said in an email. “The Long Island Museum presented a strong application for this grant when compared with other applicants, and as such were able to get through the rigorous NEH selection process.”
The NEH is an independent federal agency that was established in 1965 and provides grant funding for museums, archives and libraries to promote excellence in the humanities in the country. Zeldin was among the congressmen who voted to fund the agency at $149.8 million this year, which was an increase of $1.9 million from 2016.
Funding organizations such as this is important to Zeldin.
“Our museums, libraries, art galleries, archives, and other related venues serve an incredibly important purpose, and it is imperative that they remain supported through initiatives like these,” the congressman said. “Long Island has a unique and cherished history unlike any other, and securing grants like this for our local institutions is integral in preserving our distinct heritage and attracting visitors to help our local tourism economy.”
Neil Watson, executive director of The Long Island Museum, said in a phone interview he feels the future gallery is the missing element at the museum.
The director said they submitted a proposal in 2016, and while they weren’t awarded a grant last year, they were able to rework and resubmit the proposal for 2017. He said the grant was awarded for the planning necessary to construct the gallery, and the museum will apply for another grant through the NEH to implement the plans. Additional funds will be raised to supplement both grants.
“We don’t know what’s possible yet and that’s what we want to discuss [in] the next nine months to a year.”
— Neil Watson
Watson said the proposal was one that needed time to be honed as the new gallery will incorporate history, interactive features and is object-driven.
The director said the concept for interactive elements was a result of requests from visitors to the museum, which features carriages from various eras.
“What visitors have told us often … is they want to know what it’s like to ride in a carriage,” Watson said.
The director said the planning period will take approximately a year and the gallery will be located on the lower level in a 2,500 square foot space. While they have held preliminary meetings with the architecture company Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, future meetings will include historians, curators, and they will also approach the plans from the educational and public access angles.
“We don’t know what’s possible yet and that’s what we want to discuss [in] the next nine months to a year,” Watson said.
Joshua Ruff, director of collections and chief curator, will be part of the planning process and said he was pleased when he heard the news about the grant.
“I think it’s a terrific thing,” he said. “NEH has been very instrumental in the process to renovate the carriage museum.”
The curator said the planning committee will be taking a long, meticulous look at the proposed plans for the gallery that he said will be rich in content. He said a simulation ride will give museum guests the opportunity to choose the type of horse, carriage and ride they would like to experience and feels it will add a new dimension to the museum.
“I think it will help us to connect with a new, larger audience,” Ruff said.
Watson and Ruff said the gallery will incorporate displays to show the direct correlation between cars and carriages, too.
“[A carriage] was the car before there were cars,” Watson said. “Everybody used it for industry, for everyday life, to get to one place to another. It was like a car. So we want to make that connection through a variety of activities.”
For more information about The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.
By Jill Webb
This summer, the Middle Country Public Library is giving the community a chance to not only admire the beauty of nature but to create something new and exciting within it.
Crochet It! is being hosted by the library as a community-driven art collective in which trees will be wrapped with thousands of colorful crocheted circles. This project will be creating two separate art installations to be displayed at the library for the public to enjoy.
Tracy LaStella, the library’s assistant director for youth services, beamed recalling the nearly 100 people who showed up for the June kick-off, where the library went through its first four boxes of macramé for the trees. Since then, she’s seen people of all ages and backgrounds become participants.
“This is our third drop-in, and they just keep on getting bigger and bigger,” LaStella said.
Carol Hummel, an artist well known for her large-scale installations and global projects, attended the Middle Country Public Library’s kick-off to offer two instructional workshops and will return in September to start the decorations she refers to as “artwork by the people, for the people.”
Since 2004, Hummel has been traveling to do community crocheting projects, also known as yarn-bombing. This is Hummel’s third time doing an installation on Long Island — her first was in Oyster Bay, and the second was at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum after being noticed at a gallery showing in the area.
After the installation at The Long Island Museum, Hummel said the staff told her that they still get 10 people a day, at least, that stop and come to The Long Island Museum to look at the trees. “And then they get exposed to the place,” Hummel said.
Participants not only get pleasure from creating the pieces but also get to enjoy them after they are installed.
“It exposes people to a kind of art — contemporary art — that is different than going into a museum and looking at a painting on a wall,” Hummel said.
Hummel’s role in Crochet It! is planning, designing and figuring out logistics, like how much of each yarn color is needed. Then, the project is turned over to the library’s volunteers to produce pieces, which Hummel and her team will put together in September.
The artist said she enjoys working with Long Islanders, saying that they get many people involved.
Participants have the choice to work individually or attend the drop-in crochet sessions hosted at the library. The Crochet Socials Drop-in Sessions will have instructors present and will be taking place until September.
Instructor Corin LaCicero, 38, walked around the July 12 session, offering assistance to anyone who needed help.
“It’s fun to see them learn, and when they get it they get really excited,” LaCicero said of the participants. She explained that after a few weeks they’re learning how to create things like chains and circles.
LaCicero was taught to crochet by her mother and grandmother at 8 years old. Having the hobby passed down leads her to emphasize the benefits of group sessions.
“Some people might have different techniques than others,” she said. “You might have someone come who’s left-handed and it’s hard to teach, and someone else can help with that.”
The trees will be adorned with orange, blue, yellow and purple yarn in the Nature Explorium at the library’s Centereach building, where the drop-in sessions are held. “We must have over a thousand circles done already, and we need thousands because we’re doing two large trees on the property here,” LaStella said. “My office is just filled with the circles.”
Marianne Ramos-Cody, of Selden, sat in on a drop-in session July 12 for the first time with her two young children nearby.
“I’ve crocheted before, but nothing like this,” Ramos-Cody said as she demonstrates the circular pattern of the crocheting with her son by her side. “He wants to learn, but I gotta learn first to show him.
The library is offering Crochet It! kits to be picked up for any participants to start their work. The kit includes all of the materials necessary for making the circles.
The Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, has given the necessary funds for the project to take off. The Huntington Arts Council administers the project, which will integrate nature and art into the community.
Community involvement is one of the beneficial aspects of the project, and drop-in crochet sessions will be Aug. 9 and 22 and Sept. 6 and 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Centereach location at 101 Eastwood Blvd.
“It’s always nice to experience something that’s so inspirational to everybody who’s working on it,” Hummel said.
She’s excited to be one of the first artists to go viral with yarn-bombing.
“People always say ‘aren’t you afraid people are going to copy you?’ I want them to copy me — I think it’s great,” Hummel said. “Spread joy and art around the world — that’s the best thing you can expect.”