Authors Posts by Melissa Arnold

Melissa Arnold


By Melissa Arnold

As global temperatures continue to climb, we are unfortunately subject to more natural disasters, lack of resources, and personal discomfort. It’s a harsh reality, but it can be hard for some people to grasp.

The Smithtown Township Arts Council (STAC) is tackling the issue of climate change with a dynamic and colorful exhibit called “On the Edge” at the Mills Pond Gallery in Saint James.

Beginning Nov. 6 and running through Dec. 19, “On the Edge” will feature more than 50 works from environmental artists Pam Brown and Kathy Levine. The exhibit is part of a deeper exploration of environmental concerns through the lens of art. 

“For a while now I’ve been wanting to dedicate a year to the issue of climate change and what can be done about it. We read about it and are touched by it every day, but I thought we could explore this issue through art and the beauty of our natural world,” said Allison Cruz, executive director of STAC.

Cruz met Stony Brook-based artist Pam Brown years ago through the local art community, and since then, Brown has served as a juror for several STAC exhibits. Prior to the pandemic, Brown suggested she could put together an environmental-themed exhibit with Levine, her longtime friend and colleague from New York City. 

“Pam’s environmental work makes me think, and it touches my heart. I love the choices she makes,” Cruz said. “I was so excited to see this idea take shape and to meet Kathy. When I saw [Kathy’s] passion for connecting people to the environment and the way she salvages material to create beautiful art, I was hooked.” 

Brown, who focuses on sculpture, said that she spent much of her childhood exploring the woods around her home.

“The environment has always been a topic of interest for me, and art is a barometer for what is happening in the world,” she said. “It’s hard not to be connected to the environment, and it’s a tragedy to see the loss of beauty.”

Brown works with salvaged material that she says has its own story to tell. Everything is made of sheet metal or sheet copper, then hand cut with scissors or shears, stitched, soldered and welded together.

One of her works included in the exhibit is “A Place Called Home,” which depicts a bird inside of a hanging basket on a branch. 

“The bird is calling out, looking for a new place to call home. In the same way, populations around the world are being forced to relocate because of climate changes and disasters in their places of origin,” Brown explained.

Levine is originally from Queens, but had the unique opportunity to grow up in Spain and England, where she was constantly immersed in natural beauty.

At the same time, she was impacted by the energy crisis of the 1970s. Her electricity was cut in the evenings, leaving her to do homework by candlelight.

“I saw the way humans were able to work in harmony with the natural world and have the potential to make it even better,” she recalled, “But I also began to learn just how fragile our connection to the natural world can be, and that our impact can be positive or negative.”

Levine is a mixed media artist, including painting, photography and recycled materials in her work, to name a few. She also makes recycled paper casts of natural objects including leaves and bark, and uses a water-based method of photo transfer. 

One of Levine’s pieces, “Rift,” is a cast paper cross-section of a tree that’s split in half. One half depicts the urban sights of New York, while the other side shows a woodsy and natural scene.

“This kind of work fascinates me. It’s the one thing I feel like I could never get tired of,” Levine said. “It’s inexpensive and tactile, flexible and light, as opposed to other methods of sculpture.” 

While the exhibit will showcase the beauty of our world, Cruz, Brown and Levine all hope that it will inspire viewers to become more active in preventing climate change.

“It can be overwhelming to consider just how large the issue of climate change is, but it’s small changes in your own family that make a big difference, like recycling, composting and using reusable materials as much as possible,” Brown said. 


The Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, Saint James will present “On the Edge” from Nov. 6 through Dec. 19. The public is invited to an opening reception on Nov. 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. Meet the artists and enjoy an Art Talk presented by the Artists and Environmental Art Activists at 3 pm. Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals and optional for those who are vaccinated. 

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free. Please use the rear parking lot off of Mills Pond Road. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit

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'Children of Cadiz' by Bill Graf

By Melissa Arnold

From his early days, Bill Graf was laser-focused on becoming a professional artist. And while he didn’t come from an artistic family, they were still eager to support him.

Artist Bill Graf

“When I was a little kid, I always drew — my mom was a voracious reader and would bring home stacks of books from the library, and I would draw in the margins,” said Graf, 61, of Huntington. “The librarian called our house and that’s how I was found out. My mom bought me two big pads of paper and pencils, and after that, it opened the floodgates.”

That deep love for creating has taken Graf from an art degree to a successful career and, more recently, sharing what he’s learned with others as an art teacher. He has also traveled the world in search of new vistas to capture.

This fall, the Atelier at Flowerfield in Saint James will exhibit more than 50 of Bill Graf’s paintings from the 1980s to current times. The solo exhibit will highlight Graf’s great skill in a variety of media and the beautiful places he’s been fortunate to paint over the years.

After high school, Graf wanted to use his artistic skills in a practical way. He chose to pursue an associate’s degree in advertising art and design from SUNY Farmingdale, but was initially turned down for the program.

“I met with the director of the program to sort of plead my case, and outside the office were these photorealistic pieces from the second-year students,” Graf recalled. “I told the director that I could do that. He doubted me, but he said, ‘Okay, I’ll give you three days to draw something in that style.’ When I came back, he looked at my work and said, ‘You’re in.’”

He went on to work in design, illustration and advertising, and studied in his free time at the Art Students’ League in New York City, where he learned the Frank Reilly system of painting. He also had the opportunity to study in Italy at the prestigious Cecil-Graves Studiomin Florence, Italy. Those experiences made a huge impact not only on his art, but on his career as well: Graf would spend more than 20 years illustrating the covers of various Harlequin novels.

“I would have a description of the hero and heroine, along with a synopsis of the book. Then I would work with models who would serve as references. We would set up the lights and backgrounds that I had chosen, shoot some pictures, then I would take those pictures home with me. I would have about a month to complete the final painting,” he explained.

Ultimately, as Harlequin switched over to photographed covers in 2015, Graf returned to his old passions as a way of coping with loss of his major client. He found renewed joy in watercolor and oil painting. A friend even suggested he try leading a casual paint night, which was a great success.

“I came away from that event with a sense that I could pass on what I’ve learned to others,” he said. “Seeing the enthusiasm of the people that were there, it felt like a good time to start paying it forward.”

Since 2016, Graf has taught a number of workshops in drawing and painting throughout Long Island, including at the Atelier.

“When we first met, I was blown away by Bill’s talent. He’s been able to pick up and excel in so many different media, with an incredible level of detail and a very high standard,” said Gaby Field-Rahman, administrator for the Atelier at Flowerfield. “Bill was also an instrumental part of getting the Atelier online and offering virtual classes during the height of the pandemic. In that way, he was truly a lifesaver for all of us.”

Carol D’Amato of Sound Beach first met Bill at one of his watercolor classes. She was newly widowed at the time and struggling to navigate life without her husband of 58 years.

“My doctor told me very seriously that I needed to make some positive changes or I was going to die of a broken heart. He asked me, ‘What is something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance?’ I admitted that I wanted to try watercolor, and he broke out into this huge grin,” she recalled. “He immediately said that he knew just the thing — that I needed to go to the Atelier and study with Bill Graf.”

During the first class, Graf gently observed that D’Amato didn’t really know how to draw, and told her that if she could learn to draw, he knew she could learn to paint.

“I really was the worst drawer ever! I never knew that I had the capability. I just needed someone who cared to come alongside me and teach me,” D’Amato said. “No one teaches like Bill. He has the ability to make you feel good and find good things in your art, even when you’re doing things wrong. I started with simple shapes and now, amazingly, I can paint nudes.”

As for Graf, he is always striving to grow as an artist and has never lost the passion he found as a young boy.

“It was my lifelong ambition to become a painter. I still have the same enthusiasm for a finished piece as I did with those first drawings when I was a kid,” he said. “I can lose so much time in my art … it’s almost meditative. I’m not looking to be the greatest of them all — I just have a love for seeing ideas come to life and sharing what I’ve learned with others.”

Bill Graf’s solo exhibit is on display now through Oct. 21 at the Atelier at Flowerfield’s Atelier Hall, 2 Flowerfield, Suite 6 & 9, Saint James. A reception will be held Sept. 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 631-250-9009 or visit

By Melissa Arnold

Following a tough year for creatives of all kinds, the return of art exhibitions and concerts is a welcome relief. In Setauket, the community is looking forward to a longtime tradition, Gallery North’s Outdoor Art Show and Music Festival, on Sept. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The festival has run annually on the grounds of Gallery North and along North Country Road since they first opened in 1965. With last year’s event scaled back to Maker’s Markets throughout the month of September for safety reasons, gallery director Ned Puchner can’t wait to kick things off again.

“It’s a really nice time of year to get out and enjoy the weather, the community and all of the very talented artists we have in the area,” he said. “The artists really rely on this event on an annual basis to make sales and meet new people. That’s especially true this year after taking a year off for the pandemic.”

The festival has grown considerably over the years, and now boasts more than 90 artists and vendors who come from around Long Island to exhibit and sell their work. There is truly something for every style and personality, including a diverse collection of original paintings, prints, photography, ceramics, pottery, woodwork, glassware, artisan created jewelry, handmade crafts, decorations, and even clothing. Awards will be granted for Best in Show in a number of categories, and award winners will be featured in a special Winner’s Circle exhibition at Gallery North in 2022.

Around 10 years ago, local musicians were also invited to perform throughout the weekend. This year, Gallery North has partnered with WUSB Radio (90.1/107.3 FM) to help broaden the variety of musicians for the festival. 

“I had approached Ned in the past about doing some music-related events at the gallery, and then the idea sat aside for a while because of the pandemic,” said WUSB general manager Isobel Breheny-Schafer. “This is the first time we’ve been able to work together, and it’s exciting for all of us.”

The station was intentional about including a mix of genres and time periods for both days of the festival. Staff members at WUSB formed a committee who spent time exploring each act’s music before making their final selections.

Five artists will perform each day on the WUSB Music Stage. Expect to hear a variety of eras and genres, including folk originals and covers from Grand Folk Railroad; Steely Dan hits from Night by Night; rockabilly tunes with Kane Daily and decades of chart-toppers from the Dirty Water Dogs and Kristhen, among others. Local DJs will also be on hand to keep the music coming all weekend long.

“Everyone is excited to get involved. It’s a beautiful venue in a beautiful area,” Breheny-Schafer said. “People need things to look forward to, they need social interaction, and the arts have such an important role to play in bringing people together.”

While all the musicians are compensated for the weekend, many offered to play for free to support the station and the gallery, added Breheny-Schafer.  

Artist Gina Mars at Gallery North’s Outdoor Art & Music Festival in 2019. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The art community is equally excited to get back to doing what they love. One of the returning artists, sculptor Gina Mars, is a regular at the festival and this year’s event will mark her first public sale and exhibition since the pandemic began.

“I felt like the pandemic gave me the time to focus more on those things I always wanted to do but never had the chance, like animal sculptures,” said Mars, who lives in Huntington Station. “But so many shows have been canceled, so it was really a year of creating and waiting.”

Mars fell in love with ceramics by accident while taking an art elective in college. Her natural gift led to 30 years of teaching and sculpting along with global exhibitions. This year, she’ll bring a collection of bowls, centerpieces, mugs and animal figures to sell at the festival.

“The Gallery North show is one of the very few shows left that’s truly about craft — everything there has to be made completely by the artist. And everyone involved is so kind and generous. We feel like a family when we come together,” she said. “Being so close to the university gives us the chance to meet amazing people from all over the world. We develop relationships with people who have a genuine appreciation for our work.”

Kids can explore their artistic sides too, with free puppet making and printing demonstrations offered on the patio terrace at the Studio at Gallery North. Food vendors will be available as well including Katie’s Food Truck, Tasty Frosty Ice Cream, and St. James Brewery.

In addition to WUSB, sponsors for the weekend include: Printing Plus, Techmaven, Jos. M. Troffa Materials, Team Ardolino/Realty Connect USA, Glynn, Mercep & Purcell, Stony Brook Vision World, Hamlet Wines & Liquors, Bill and Dina Weisberger, Janice and Jon Gabriel, Ronne Cosel, Judy Gibbons, and Stephanie and Michael Gress.



Saturday, Sept. 11

10 to 11 a.m. — Mike and Mel 

11 a.m. to noon — Kane Daily

Noon to 1 p.m. — Dirty Water Dogs

2 to 4 p.m. — Claudia Jacobs

4 to 5 p.m. ­— International Orange

Sunday, Sept. 12

10 to 11 a.m. — Kristhen 

11 a.m. to noon — Brian Reeder Trio

Noon to 1 p.m. — Danny Kean

1 to 3 p.m. — Night by Night

3 to 5 p.m. — Grand Folk Railroad

List of Exhibitors:

A 1    Gallery North

A 8    Jo Glazebrook — pottery

A 9    Gail Applebaum — glass art

A 10  Gerard Lehner — fiber art/works on paper

A 11  Amy Schwing — jewelry

A 14  Madison Muehl — photography

A 15  Brianna Sander — jewelry/mixed media

A 16  Tamara Hayes — pottery

A 17  Joyce Roll — fiber art

A 19  Jennifer Lucas — mixed media/works on paper

A 20  Douglas Keating — pottery/sculpture

A 21  Patricia Paparo — wood

A 33  Chloe Wang — painting

A 34  Denisse Aneke — jewelry

A 35  Marlene Weinstein — mixed media/works on paper/photography

A 36  Cassie Hussey — works on paper/printmaking/drawing

A 37, 38  Flo Kemp —  works on paper/printmaking/drawing

A 39  Toni Neuschaefer — jewelry

A 40  Simon Zeng — painting

A 41  Matt DiBarnardo —  wood/painting/sculpture

A 46  Russell Spillman  pottery

A 47  Three Village Community Trust

B 2  Emily Bicht — pottery/works on paper

B 3  Donna Glover — jewelry

B 4  Rachel Gressin — jewelry/works on paper

B 5  Don Lindsley — wood

B 6  Joseph Waldeck — jewelry

B 7  Nancy Weeks — painting

C 57  David Arteaga — photography

C 58  Susan Rodgers — jewelry

C 59  Jessica Randall — jewelry

C 60  Joanne Liff — works on paper/ watercolor/pastel

C 61  Renee Fondacaro — soaps/wellness

C 62  Anthony Cavallaro — wood/mixed media

C 63  Laimute Onusaitiene — painting

C 64,65  Linda & Scott Hartman— mixed media/watercolor/paper

C 66  Marlena Urban — painting

C 67  Eva Pere — wood/jewelry

C 68  Joyce Elias — glass art/jewelry

C 69 Peter Robinson Smith — sculpture

C 70  Gina Mars — pottery

C 71  Nancy Pettersen — jewelry

C 72  Christopher Santiago ­— painting

C 73  Jennifer Bardram — mixed media/works on paper

C 74  Kate Ackerman — fiber art

C 75  Daniel McCarthy ­— painting

C 76  Rachel Fournier — jewelry/fiber art

D 86    William Low — painting

D 87    Aja Camerlingo — jewelry

D 88    Michael Waltzer — wood

D 89    Don Dailey — wood

D 90    Four Harbors Audubon Society

D 91    John Mutch — jewelry

D 92    Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Staller Center for the Arts

D 93    Jonathan Zamet — pottery

D 94    Meryle King — fiber art

D 95     Lou Frederick — jewelry

D 96     Lynda Lawrence — mosaics

D 97 Bebe Federmann — pottery

D 98 Cassandra Voulo — works on paper/printmaking/drawing

D 99 Lynn Pisciotta — jewelry/sculpture

D 100 Russell Pulick — pottery

D 101 Ned Butterfield — painting

D 102 Vincent Delisi — mixed media/works on paper

D 103 Stephanie Occhipinti — jewelry

D 104 Andrea Feinberg — jewelry

D 105 Michael Josiah — wood

D 106 Tracy Levine — jewelry

D 112 Jo Wadler — jewelry

D 113 Dawn Jones — glass

D 125 Melanie Wulfrost — pottery

D 126 Jane Ruggiero — jewelry

E 148  Brianna D’Amato — painting

E 149  Susan Alexander — fiber art/mixed media

E 150  Christopher J. Alexander — painting

E 151  Najda Adman — fiber art

E 152  Daphne Frampton — soaps/wellness

E 153  Michael Iacobellis — photography

E 154  Neal Wechsler / Tom Venezia honey/spices

E 155  Barry Saltsberg — wood

E 156  Cathy Buckley — jewelry

E 157  Denise Randall — pottery

E 158  Diane Bard — soaps/wellness

E 159  Justin Cavagnaro — glass art

E 160  Stefanie Deringer — wood/glass/jewelry

E 161  Eric Giles — mixed media

E 162  The Brick Studio and Gallery — pottery

E 163  Joan Friedland — fiber art

E 164  Samantha Moyse — jewelry

E 165  Donna Carey-Zucker — jewelry

E 166  Keith Krejci — photography


The 55th Annual Outdoor Art Show and Music Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the weekend of Sept. 11 and 12 on the grounds and area surrounding Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 631-751-2676.


Shades of Bublé, a three-man tribute to Michael Bublé, heads to the Engeman on July 25.

By Melissa Arnold

It’s been an agonizingly long year for lovers of the arts as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled concerts, closed galleries and darkened theaters everywhere.

At the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, owners Richard T. Dolce and Kevin O’Neill have shouldered the burden of keeping the venue afloat and adapting to ever-changing safety guidelines.

“A part of running a business like this is being aware of risks where people wouldn’t be able to come to the theater,” said O’Neill, the theater’s managing director. “I’d been watching COVID spread since January of 2020, and I knew it was going to get ugly here. The last thing we wanted was to find out after the fact that one of our Saturday matinees ended up being one of those super-spreader events.”

Artistic director Richard T. Dolce recalled his last meeting with actors and the uncertainty they struggled with at the time.

Adam Pascal heads to the Engeman on Aug. 14

“We were in rehearsals for [a Main Stage production] in the city, and I went in on the 13th of March. The day before, Governor Cuomo had shut down Broadway. The show was ready to go on, and I said goodbye to the cast, saying we would take it day by day and see how it went. Not long after, we realized we weren’t going to reopen. It was difficult, because we had no idea what was going on.”

Of course, weeks turned into months of waiting. Fortunately, the theater was able to receive some financial support through federal small business relief loans. The community was eager to help as well.

“Everyone has been so incredibly kind and understanding, and we didn’t have a lot of refund requests — people wanted to continue to support us,” O’Neill said. “We’ve worked hard to build strong relationships with our patrons over the last 14 years, and it really felt like we were in it together.”

With the building unoccupied for the foreseeable future, it was also a good time to do some sprucing up. The Engeman now has a high-tech ventilation system that ionizes and purifies the air, a new stage deck, fresh carpets, new bar equipment and renovated bathrooms.

While the Main Stage productions have been postponed until September, the theater is ready to open again at full capacity for fully-vaccinated patrons on July 9 with a Summer Concert Series featuring a variety of musicians and other performing artists for one or two performances apiece. The series has a little something for everyone, from show tunes to crooners, folk rock and even comedy.

A few highlights include cabaret/jazz artist Carole J. Bufford honoring revolutionary women artists including Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Carole King and Cher in “You Don’t Own Me: Fearless Females of the ‘60s and ‘70s” on July 10; Comedy Nights on July 15, July 24 and Aug. 26; “Shades of Bublé” will make you swoon with a three-man tribute to classic swing icon Michael Bublé on July 25; “Jersey Boys and Girls” will celebrate the best of the Garden State: Frank Sinatra, the Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston and more on Aug. 5 and 6; “Adam Pascal: So Far” welcomes the Broadway veteran for songs and stories from more than 25 years onstage on Aug. 14; and “Rock ‘n’ Radio” will feature more than 80 years of chart-topping pop hits on Aug. 19. 

The theater’s reopening is also a time for families with young children to rejoice, as children’s theater returns on July 24 to Aug. 29 with Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. and teenagers can enjoy Heathers the Musical on July 31 and Aug. 1. Two sessions of Musical Theater Camp are also returning (July 5 to 30 and Aug. 2 to 27).

From the box office to the stage, the Engeman staff is beyond ready for the busy weekend crowds and the energetic crackle of a great performance.

“It feels wonderful to be back at the theater! Although as management we were working from home during the height of the pandemic and we all saw each other on our weekly Zoom meeting, there is something so special about being back together again. It feels like a kind of rebirth,” said box office manager Phyllis Molloy. 

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since we opened the doors. Our patrons are excited that we are back and they are really looking forward to the [summer lineup]. They have wanted to chat and catch up,” said Molloy. “For me, it’s nice to be able to book them into upcoming performances and say ‘See you soon.’ I’m looking forward to the opening evening and seeing all their familiar faces back in the theater.”

The John W. Engeman Theater is located at 250 Main Street, Northport. For the full summer schedule and to purchase tickets, call 631-261-2900 or visit Please note: As of press time, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all patrons 16 and older to enter. 

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METRO photo

By Melissa Arnold

Just about everyone knows the throbbing discomfort of a headache, whether it comes after a long day of work, too little sleep or an oncoming cold. It’s also likely that you’ve heard someone say they have a migraine when the pain becomes severe.

But the truth is that migraine is more than just a bad headache, and the term has taken on a variety of meanings, not all of them accurate.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is an incurable brain disease that affects approximately 40 million people in the United States — that’s 1 in 4 households. In the majority of those cases, at least one close relative has migraines as well, but it’s still uncertain what causes the disease. 

METRO photo

Migraine can come with a wide range of neurological symptoms that differ from person to person and day to day. These symptoms exist on a spectrum from sporadic to chronic, mild to incapacitating, and some people can even experience trouble speaking, weakness and numbness in ways that mimic a stroke.

“Migraine is more than just pain. While the pain is often moderate to severe, one sided and throbbing, there are other characteristics,” said headache specialist Dr. Noah Rosen, director of the Northwell Headache Center in Great Neck. 

“The individual must also have either sensitivity to light and noise or nausea to meet the full definition. This can worsen with movement, and many people also develop associated skin or hair sensitivity. Many people may also experience changes in mood, energy level and appetite. About 20% of migraine patients may also have aura with their migraines, which is a brief, fully reversible neurological deficit. Auras can cause visual changes, sensation changes and sometimes weakness.”

For Cat Charrett-Dykes, migraines have been a regular part of her life since she was 13 years old. She would see sparkles and spots and go through bouts of nausea and vomiting, all while feeling like a knife was stabbing through her head. At school, she had trouble reading and finding the right words. “I felt like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Some of my siblings also had migraine occasionally, but not to the same degree,” said Charrett-Dykes, who lives in Holtsville. 

The attacks were relatively easy to tame until after the birth of her first child. Then, as is common, her migraines became more severe and frequent. She saw countless healthcare providers, who couldn’t agree on a diagnosis: They suggested she had anxiety, allergies, epilepsy. One even asked if her ponytail was too tight.

Unfortunately, getting a proper diagnosis and care can be a problem in the migraine community. The World Health Organization reports that more than half of all people with migraine haven’t seen a doctor for their condition in at least a year. Many more have never been formally diagnosed. While seeing a neurologist can be useful, not all neurologists are experts in headache disorders.

“Only about 700 people in the country are certified headache specialists, and the field of headache medicine is not yet formally recognized by the federal government, so there are limits on the field’s growth despite how common the condition is,” Rosen explained. “During my time as a resident physician I was seeing severely disabled patients with headache disorders end up in the emergency room, yet I had almost no education in that area, in part because of how underserved the condition is. It is often ignored, stigmatized and mistreated.”

Charrett-Dykes waited decades to find someone who understood her. 

“It wasn’t until 2003 that I was finally diagnosed. As soon as the physician’s assistant walked into the room, he took one look at me and turned off the lights,” she recalled. “No one had ever done that before. He said, ‘You have migraines, don’t you? I know that face. My wife has migraines, too.’ It was such a relief.”

Still, a diagnosis is only the beginning of the migraine journey. Treatment is focused on identifying the person’s unique triggers — perhaps certain foods, scents, strenuous activity, or an irregular schedule — along with the precise combination of medications and other options to help ease their symptoms. There is no magic bullet, and finding treatment that helps can be challenging. 

“Trigger identification and avoidance is a great thing to try, but not always possible.  Raising the ‘threshold’ required to set off a migraine can be done with pharmacological or non-pharmacological approaches,” Rosen said. “Of the medications that are available now, some are preventive and some are acute (or abortive). The preventive treatments help avoid getting the headache in the first place. Healthy habits like regulating sleep, diet, hydration and stress can reduce frequency, as can some vitamin supplements, complementary practices like acupuncture, biofeedback, mindfulness and regular cardiovascular exercise.”  

Nancy Harris Bonk

The process of trial and error is exhausting for many people with migraine, including Nancy Harris-Bonk of Albany, who’s tried countless doctors and medications since her first migraine attack as a young teen. At one point, she was taking the highest dose of oxycodone allowed under a doctor’s care and still having 25 or more migraine days each month.

“I just wasn’t recovering, so I went online and started looking for answers,” said Bonk, whose episodic migraines turned chronic after a fall left her with a traumatic brain injury. “I was able to make contact with someone else who had migraine attacks, and it opened a door for me. I learned that I wasn’t alone and that there were treatment options. It made me want to help educate others about migraine disease and how to live with it.”

Downstate, Charrett-Dykes had similar goals. She founded Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc. (CMA) in 2009, a simple chat group that later grew into a multifaceted nonprofit connecting people with resources, specialists, and one another. CMA’s main Facebook group now has 12,000 members around the world, with several smaller groups for specific demographics and topics. They also provide care packages for people with migraine, support caregivers, and lead advocacy efforts.

Bonk eventually qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance, freeing her up to focus on her well-being while acting as a resource for others. She still has about 15 migraine days a month, but medication changes and a knowledgeable healthcare team have made life a lot more manageable, she said. She serves on the board of CMA and works with the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Leadership Council; the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP); and

“Learning all you can about migraine disease, knowing what it is and what it isn’t, can make a big difference when it comes to seeking care and advocating for yourself,” Bonk said. “Forming connections with others who have similar experiences is important so we know we’re not alone. This disease can leave us feeling isolated, frustrated and overwhelmed … talking with others who are going through a similar journey is validating and a great comfort. ”

While each of these organizations has a unique focus, they all share a desire to increase knowledge and awareness of migraine disease.

“The pain of migraine is not like other pain and should not be treated like that. It needs to be discussed and not just treated,” Rosen said. “The stigma of people with migraine having a low pain tolerance is also nonsense. I have been impressed on a daily basis by the strength, resilience and resourcefulness of these patients.”

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. To learn more, visit To connect with others, visit CMA’s website at The Northwell Headache Center has several locations on Long Island and telehealth appointments are available. For information, call 516-325-7000 or visit

Reviewed by Melissa Arnold

Whenever a new president arrives at the gates of the White House, much attention is given to all the members of the First Family, pets included. This year, all eyes have been on President Biden’s two German shepherds, Champ and Major. Major holds the special honor of being the first presidential pet rescued from an animal shelter.

Co-author Jamie Silberhartz

Jamie Silberhartz has had dogs her whole life, from her childhood on Long Island to her busy life now as a California actor and mom. She also has a passion for helping dogs get out of shelters and into their forever homes. Silberhartz and her longtime friend Erica Lee were touched by Major’s story, and set out to write a tale of their own for kids. 

In Major: Presidential Pup, the dog tells his rags-to-riches story in his own words, sharing the adoption process and a message of kindness. Coupled with realistic, sweet illustrations by Tran Dang, this book should be well-liked by young animal fans.  

I recently had the opportunity to interview Silberhartz about her new children’s book.

What was your childhood like? Did you grow up on Long Island?

I lived on Long Island for my entire childhood! I was born and raised in Stony Brook and graduated from Ward Melville High School in 2000. Long Island is the most beautiful place in the world. I have so much love for it.

What did you want to do when you grew up, and what did you end up doing for work?

I always really enjoyed writing as a child — I loved writing stories and poetry. I went to Emerson College in Boston, where I studied writing and acting, but I mostly focused on screenwriting for TV and movies. Emerson has a Los Angeles program, so I was able to move out to California right after I graduated. Acting has been my main profession since college, mostly doing commercials and television shows. I’ve been on shows like “Dexter,” “Without a Trace,” “Private Practice” and “Criminal Minds.” I also did one of the first ever Web-based series for the show “Lost” on ABC. The writing side really took a back seat until recently. 

I imagine the pandemic has been tough on you as an actor.

Yes, it’s been interesting. Fortunately, it did give me time to write a lot more, which wouldn’t have happened if not for the pandemic. Hollywood shut down briefly, but they were considered essential workers in this area. I’ve been home writing and spending time with my two girls, who are 7 and 3. It’s so lovely. We were doing “Zoom school” for a long time — bless all of our teachers! It was also great to have my older daughter around to bounce ideas off of in real time while we were writing this book. Some things you write might not make sense to a child, so that feedback was really great.

Have you always been an animal lover? Have you had pets of your own?

I grew up with Labs. My parents were big lovers of animals and they shared that love with me from an early age. A close friend of our family had a pit bull rescue when I was younger, and they were just big, lovable babies. But it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I actually set foot in an animal shelter. The shelters here are always full, and many of the dogs are owner surrendered. The pandemic has brought out both sides of that situation — some people lost their jobs and felt they could no longer support their dogs, while others saw being home more often as the right time to adopt a dog. 

Is this your first book? What inspired you to write this book?

Yes, it’s our first book! At the heart of it is dog rescue … I’ve been involved with dog rescues here in LA for a long time now, helping to get dogs out of shelters and raising awareness that you can adopt any kind of dog you want. We have a huge population of homeless dogs out here that end up in shelters and in bad situations. 

I had read about Joe Biden fostering and adopting a dog, and then when he won the presidency, that this dog who was brought off the streets as a sick puppy was going to the White House. I thought it was such a cool story with  a great message about how you can rescue any dog. It’s also a metaphor for being able to accomplish anything. I thought it would be great for more people to hear Major’s story. 

Co-author Erica Lee

Tell us about your co-writer, Erica Lee.

Erica is a movie producer that has also never written a book before. She’s produced all the “John Wick” movies along with many others. She and my husband grew up together in Florida, and we’re very close. We both have rescues of our own and loved hearing about Major. 

We are constantly brainstorming together, and we thought it would be great to show his story from the beginning, along with the whole process of fostering and adopting from start to finish. Our president had to take all of the same, normal steps that anyone else has to take when they decide to adopt a dog, and that’s pretty cool.

Many presidents have had dogs or other pets. Was there something particular that drew you to Major?

There have certainly been a lot of presidential pets, and I’ve known and loved them all! They are my own favorite “celebrities.” But there was something about Biden having these big, delicious puppies living a pretty normal life in Delaware.

It was easy to picture them just hanging out, and when Biden was vice president, he would give out little German shepherd stuffed animals. I feel like we know more about Major and Biden’s other dog, Champ. We’ve seen so many pictures of them through the explosion of social media in the last decade.

What was the writing process like for you? Did it take a long time?

When we first started the book, it was totally different from the finished product that’s out now. None of it rhymed. I love reading things that rhyme, and my kids really enjoy that. As someone that oversees stories as they’re being written, Erica was great about identifying lines that weren’t necessary and we each had a part to play.

It was a pretty fast process. We started writing at the end of November 2020 and the book was published on Feb. 10. We self-published because we wanted to keep costs down in order to donate the profits. We also wanted to move quickly to capitalize on the recent inauguration — traditional publishing can take quite a while. Our hardcover publisher was IngramSpark, and we used Amazon for paperback. 

Who illustrated this book? How did you connect?

Our illustrator, Tran Dang, lives overseas. We found her online through the website Fiverr, where we were able to look at some of her other work. It was important for us to work with another woman and for this project to be an all-girl crew, and we just loved her stuff — she’s done a lot of projects with animals that were so sweet. She did an amazing job.

What was it like for you to see the finished product?

It was incredible. Seeing our story come alive exactly how I pictured it was the coolest feeling, and so exciting,

What is the target age group for this book?

I would say that it’s best for kids ages 4 to 8.

What do you hope kids will get out of reading Major’s story?

One of the main themes is that Major isn’t like anybody else; he’s just himself, and his family loves and accepts him just as he is. He leads with kindness. I hope kids read this and know that they don’t have to be someone they’re not, as long as they are kind and try to make the world better.

How are you using your book to support animal welfare?

All of the proceeds from this book are going to benefit dog rescues in Los Angeles, including Dogs Without Borders. I have two dogs of my own from there. We’re not making any profits for ourselves at all. Depending on how the sales go, we would be interested in supporting rescues in other parts of the country, including the wonderful organizations on Long Island. Our main goal is to see more dogs getting out of shelters and into homes. We use the social media pages for the book to promote local dogs in need of homes as well — that’s actually led to a few adoptions already, which is exciting.

How can people get involved with helping dogs in their area?

Aside from adopting and volunteering with local groups, many places are always looking for dog beds and food. I like to donate old comforters. That’s a great way to help out.

Are you thinking about writing more books in the future?

For sure. I’m finishing up a screenplay right now, and looking forward to writing more books about dogs and supporting more shelters and rescues!

Major: Presidential Pup is available at Book Revue in Huntington and online retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To keep up with Jamie and Erica, their book and animals in need, visit

Chris Pendergast passed away last October at the age of 71. Photo from SB

By Melissa Arnold

Each year, 5,000 people in America lose their lives to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative neurological disease that ultimately leads to a loss of muscle control throughout the body. Beloved Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig and physicist Stephen Hawking were well-known for their public struggles with ALS, which often carries a hefty price tag because of the necessary medical care, home equipment and renovation.

Elizabeth Hashagen

The prognosis is unfortunately grim for all who are diagnosed with ALS, with most living less than five years after diagnosis. But some do achieve surprising longevity. Among them was Chris Pendergast, a Suffolk County educator and literal trailblazer who dedicated 27 years of his life to ALS awareness before his death last year.

In 1997, Pendergast founded ALS Ride for Life, a charitable organization known for its annual treks to raise awareness and funding for people with ALS, nicknamed “PALS.” The first Ride for Life in 1998 took more than two weeks as PALS in motorized wheelchairs journeyed from Manhattan to Washington, D.C.

These days, the organization has a more local focus and the ride itself is shorter, covering Long Island only. But regardless of the changes, it was always Pendergast leading the way.

Each year, Ride for Life hosts a benefit honoring those with ALS and others who have made major contributions in the search for a cure. This year’s benefit, held virtually on April 28, will honor Pendergast’s great legacy as the organization looks to the future.

“Chris would want us to have fun as we remember him and to keep on enjoying life,” said Ray Manzoni, chairman and president of Ride for Life. “We want to make sure that the arrow that Chris launched all those years ago continues to fly. He created so much hope, and we still have work to do.”

The event will feature appearances from an eclectic group of performers with a little something for everyone, Manzoni said. Emmy Award-winning anchor Elizabeth Hashagen of News 12 Long Island will emcee the evening. Performers will include musician Mike DelGuidice (on tour now with Billy Joel), comedian Bob Nelson and father-son Tik Tok duo Joe and Frank Mele.

Clinton Kelly

Also appearing for interviews and audience questions are former MLB pitcher and Yankees commentator David Cone; executive producer Elise Doganieri of the CBS reality hit “The Amazing Race,” and TV personality Clinton Kelly.

Kelly, who is best known for his long-running tenures on “What Not to Wear” and “The Chew,” grew up in Port Jefferson Station and graduated from Comsewogue High School. Later in life, he became friends with Christine Pendergast, Chris’ wife of nearly 50 years and a former physical education teacher at Comsewogue.

“[Christine] is a really special person and her marriage to Chris was truly inspirational,” said Kelly, who now hosts “Self-Made Mansions” on HGTV. “Beyond that, a close friend of my family passed away from ALS a few years ago. And so I am happy to bring attention to this disease in any way that I can, as well as raise funds for patient care. I’m hopeful that scientists can find a cure for this debilitating disease sooner than later.”

Chris’ son, 36-year-old Buddy Pendergast, was in the third grade when his father was diagnosed with ALS.

“As a family unit we were definitely put on an entirely different life path,” he recalled. “When my dad came to see that his progression was remarkably slower than other people with ALS, he very naturally turned his energy toward advocacy, just as he had in the past for other causes he was passionate about, particularly education and the environment.”

Mike Delguidice

To date, Ride for Life has raised more than $10 million in funding for research and support, and the organization’s efforts were instrumental to the creation of the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence at Stony Brook University Hospital. But Buddy also admitted his dad would have mixed feelings about the benefit focusing on him this year.

“To be honest, he would have rather focused on other people instead … He was more compelled than anyone I’ve ever met to make a difference, even if it was just for a small community. Ride for Life became one of the most influential ALS organizations, and it’s very much like an extended family, not just one person,” he said. “It’s about remaining hopeful and optimistic in what the future holds. He envisioned a future where all of our hard work will pay off to make ALS a thing of the past.”

The 24th Annual Ride for Life Honoree Recognition Benefit will be held virtually beginning at 7 p.m. on April 28. The event is sponsored by TFCU, Symbio Research, Quontic Bank and The Rohlf Family. Individual tickets are $25, household watch party $100. To buy tickets, participate in raffles or donate to the cause, visit To learn more about Chris and ALS Ride for Life, visit For further information, call 631-444-1292.

Casatiello Photo by Melissa Arnold

By Melissa Arnold

Aside from a five-year stint in Suffolk County, Long Island, I’ve spent all my life in the shadow of Philadelphia, on the Jersey side. South Jersey is full of delightful perks — sprawling farmland that earned us the Garden State nickname; the Shore; Wawa convenience stores; and a melding of diverse cultures.

My Italian-American family has been here for several generations now, long enough to have lost our immigrant relatives and their knowledge of the language. Two things do remain: our family recipes, and the mashed-up, incomprehensible names we have for Italian foods. (Perhaps the most well-known is “gabagool,” our word for capicola made famous in The Sopranos.) 

Each year on Palm Sunday weekend, my grandfather, whom I called Poppy, would visit with football-sized parcels wrapped in aluminum foil under each arm. Inside were stromboli-like breads stuffed with Italian meats and cheeses and rolled up like a jelly roll. Poppy called it gozzadiel. His wife, Eleanor, made them annually for everyone they knew.

It’s been more than a decade since Poppy passed away and the gozzadiel deliveries halted. I could never get the recipe out of Eleanor because she never had one — like most Italian women, she baked with her senses, not measurements. “Just make a pizza dough and put the salami, ham and cheese on it,” she told me good-naturedly. That was all I got, and then eventually she passed, too.  

A few weeks ago, as Palm Sunday approached, my late-night thoughts wandered to the upcoming Easter traditions and to the gozzadiel we mention wistfully each spring. I began to Google intensely from my bed, grasping at straws: “Italian meat bread.” “Rolled Easter bread.” “Gozzadiel in English.” I got lots of recipes, but none of them were right. Google doesn’t speak our broken Italian.

Finally, I landed on a Neapolitan rolled bread called casatiello. Using my rudimentary Italian skills from high school, I spoke the word aloud into the dark. “Ca-sa-ti-ello … Ga-za-diel.” Close enough! But a proper casatiello features chunks of meat, and whole hard-boiled eggs affixed to the top with crosses of dough. Eleanor’s bread had layers of meat, not chunks. And there were no eggs atop ours. But it was a start. And this year, so help me, I was going to make it.

Mind you, I am not one of those crazy people that made a sourdough starter in the heat of last year’s lockdown. I love to cook, but I’m no social media influencer. I know how to follow directions and call my mother. Mostly, I just improvise.

So I did what Eleanor told me — I went to ShopRite and bought a refrigerated pizza dough, nervously plopped it into a bowl with olive oil, covered it up and said a prayer. A few hours later, my husband and I stared at the puffy, risen mound as if it were an infant. “Let’s do this,” he said.

Using a pepperoni bread recipe as a guide, we rolled out the dough in a rectangle as thin as we could, then covered it with my mom’s recommendations of Di Lusso Genoa salami, BelGioioso provolone, and imported ham. More cheese. More prayers. A careful, tight rolling and an eggwash, and finally, the trip to the oven. I read that the inside should reach 160 degrees, which took some trial and error — it needed 30 minutes at 400 degrees, and another 10 minutes covered with foil at 350 degrees (I was nervous).

The result was a perfectly golden behemoth. The next day, we gathered around my parents’ table as my father made the first cut to reveal a beautiful spiral and, miraculously, the exact flavor of our beloved gozzadiel. My dad raised his eyebrows and declared, “This could raise them from the grave. You nailed it!”

I was unprepared for the visceral flood of nostalgia that washed in with those first bites and transported me to another time. This was a true food memory, the kind that happens at tables like mine all over the world to bind families, friends, and communities. And it was glorious.

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum Jennifer Vacca/Zoot Shoot Photographers

By Melissa Arnold

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan is no stranger to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. She’s been on staff at the museum for 11 years now in a variety of roles before being named executive director last year. The California native has spent time living on both coasts, all the while developing a deep love for the arts and culture. Those passions ultimately led her to Long Island and the historic estate she is honored to care for. 

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum
Jennifer Vacca/Zoot Shoot Photographers

How did you get interested in museum work? 

I guess it started when I was a young child. My mother is an artist and we often visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. From that early age I was enthralled with the art of other cultures, which led me to study fine arts and anthropology in college.

What are your major responsibilities? 

Right now, my primary focus is to carefully steer the museum through this extraordinarily difficult time and to see that it thrives into the future. I am directly involved with managing the museum’s day-to-day functions, and work with our incredibly talented staff to develop our programming. Recently, that’s included virtual education, astronomy and natural-history programs, rotating exhibitions, and engaging outdoor events.

What attracted you to the museum and what are some of your favorite things about it now?

I was initially attracted to the cultural aspects and the beauty and history of the estate and the mansion. Those facets represent a unique opportunity to connect a wide range of educational themes and to bring history to life. 

The Vanderbilt is a living museum of a singular era in American history. From the late 19th century to the 1930s, more than 1,200 of the country’s richest and most powerful individuals built sprawling summer estates along the north shore of Long Island, known as the Gold Coast. William K. Vanderbilt II’s Eagle’s Nest is one of the few that remain. 

I love that we’ve become not only a regional destination but also an attraction for international visitors. During the last few years, we welcomed guests from more than 40 countries.

One of my favorite secluded spots on the property is the Wishing Well Garden. It’s a lovely, peaceful place to sit and reflect. My favorite building other than the mansion is the large, Tudor-style boathouse. Its covered porch offers striking panoramic views of the Northport Bay, where Mr. Vanderbilt anchored his yachts and began his voyages.  

Tell me a bit about the museum’s history and what it has to offer. 

Mr. Vanderbilt wanted a summer place far from the bustle of New York City. He found this property and bought it 1910. He told friends that on an early visit, he saw an eagle soaring over his property and decided to call his estate Eagle’s Nest. He built the mansion in stages and finished it in 1936.

He loved the natural world and the oceans, and explored them during voyages on his yacht. He created a marine museum on his estate and called it the Hall of Fishes. It was the first stage of what became his larger museum complex. He opened it to the public on a limited basis in 1922.  

Mr. Vanderbilt circumnavigated the world twice. Not just for pleasure, but also to build his museum. Eventually he amassed the largest collection of privately assembled marine specimens from the pre-atomic era. We have 22 wild-animal habitat dioramas and a collection of more than 40,000 objects. Two collection highlights are a 32-foot whale shark and a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy.

Do you have a favorite event at the museum that you look forward to? 

For years, my highlight of every summer has been Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra, who have performed for 13 years in the Mansion courtyard. The beautiful Spanish architecture makes guests feel as if they’ve been transported to a romantic evening in Latin America. I also really enjoyed our Halloween Wicked Walk and holiday Bright Lights events last year.

What do you feel you’ve brought to the table as director so far? Do you have goals for the museum?  

Steering the Vanderbilt through the pandemic-induced crisis has been a challenge of a lifetime. Safety has been paramount. Beyond that, I firmly believe that my most important job has been to empower and motivate the staff and to create a positive and collaborative environment. We are all protective of this special place. The pandemic shutdown allowed us additional time to concentrate on grant writing and fundraising and to uncover new opportunities. Financial stability is our most important goal, and we aim to build upon innovative programming that will produce essential income. 

A very exciting project is the reclamation of Mr. Vanderbilt’s original nature trails. Hikers can wander through forested sections of the estate and stop at vantage points that offer spectacular views of the bay.

Our virtual astronomy and natural-history education outreach to regional schools has been very successful, and we’re looking to expand that.

Another important goal is to digitize the collections. In doing so, we’ll be able to share more details of Mr. Vanderbilt’s fascinating life and global explorations. We’re starting with the Vanderbilt’s collection of 6,000 photos. 

We are renovating Mr. Vanderbilt’s large, four-bay garage to create an up-to-date version of the existing Vanderbilt Learning Center with enhanced technology.

What else is in the works?

Our restoration projects are moving forward. We’re working on the exterior of Normandy Manor, the mansion facades and bell tower, and Nursery Wing. 

Very important to the museum’s future is the Historic Waterfront Project. We are looking for donors to help us restore the boathouse, granite seawall, seaplane hangar, and esplanade. It has been closed to the public for a long time and is the museum’s greatest current challenge.

How did the museum function last year? Did you offer masked tours, virtual events, etc.? 

All staff that were able to work virtually began to do so immediately. Their support and dedication is how we’re getting through this time. Many are longtime colleagues who know and understand the museum and its operations well. News of a pandemic was certainly shocking, but we pulled together as a strong team and have been navigating these turbulent times very well. 

The museum-education and planetarium staffs began right away to create virtual programming. They made downloadable projects for children that presented intriguing facts about animals and birds in the natural-history collections. We posted the projects on our website so parents could print images for their children to read, color or paint. The planetarium produced astronomy learning videos on topics such as exploring Mars, rockets, black holes, and using a telescope. On June 12, the state allowed the museum to reopen its estate grounds safely. 

We built a large screen and held movie nights in our parking lot; offered exterior architectural tours of the mansion; and bird talks and owl prowls with an ornithologist. We offered mini-wedding ceremonies and elopements. We created a Halloween ‘Wicked Walk,’ and a December holiday ‘Bright Lights’ event with social distancing policies.

In the fall, when we were able to open the buildings at 25% capacity, we offered small-group mansion tours and planetarium shows before closing for the winter months.

What do you have planned this year?

The staff has many projects underway, including an installation in the newly restored Lancaster Room of the exhibition “Alva Belmont: Socialite to Suffragist,” which explores the women’s voting rights activism of Mr. Vanderbilt’s mother, Alva Belmont Vanderbilt. 

Our first big outdoor event for 2021 will be Vandy Land. It’s an outdoor game day for everyone It will open on March 27 and run through April 3. Actors will portray kid-friendly characters, and we’ll have vendors, crafts, musical entertainment, refreshments, and the Easter Bunny. 

As a special Vandy Land attraction, we will commemorate Mr. Vanderbilt’s original estate golf course by building an 18-hole mini-golf course. Everyone who plays in what we’re calling the William K. Vanderbilt Golf Classic will be entered into our big prize drawing. After school vacation is over, we’ll keep the golf course open every Saturday and Sunday during the day through the end of April, and on Thursday through Saturday evenings, too.

Why do you think the Vanderbilt Museum is such a special place? 

The atmosphere is magical. This is one of the only remaining Gold Coast mansions. We offer a glimpse into the past. The mansion has been kept exactly as it was when the Vanderbilts lived here. In particular, the rooms display personal effects — a teapot and cup on a side table next to Rosamond’s bed, books and papers on William’s desk, and open suitcases with clothes in the guest rooms. The impression this creates is that the family is living there, but has stepped out for the afternoon.

When you walk the grounds, the smell of salt air complements the view. You see hawks and osprey soaring overhead, and the striking Spanish architecture of the mansion. The experience is relaxing and soothing. It’s a visual and sensory trip back in time.

Why is it so important to keep this part of Long Island’s history alive? 

The Vanderbilt family and its vast railroad holdings were essential in the development of this country. When you walk through the mansion and museum, you are surrounded by rare fine and decorative art and furnishings, some of it centuries old. It’s a time-machine stroll through a storied era of elite, privileged lives on Long Island’s Gold Coast. 

We are an informal education institution, as Mr. Vanderbilt intended. The museum continues this mission through its education programs and offerings — to the public and to more than 25,000 schoolchildren each year. It’s important to keep this all but vanished history alive for future generations.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, including events, spring hours and admission rates, please visit or call 631-854-5579.

The Mount House by William Sidney Mount, 1854

By Melissa Arnold

Looking at a painting is like a window to another time — the world is frozen, just as the artist remembers it. But of course, nothing stays the same in real life, and the scenes depicted in paintings will often change as well.

With this in mind, Joshua Ruff of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook had an interesting idea: What if they tried to return to the scenes in some of the museum’s paintings to see what they look like now?

The Mount House in Stony Brook as it stands today.

The result is Twin Peeks: Scenes Seen Twice, Paintings and Photographs, an exhibit of works from the museum’s permanent collection laid side-by-side with recent photos of their locales. The unique show opens in the Art Museum’s Main Gallery on March 19. 

Pursuing this idea was the beginning of a months-long adventure for Ruff, Deputy Director, Director of Collections and Interpretations at the LIM and curator for the exhibit. After choosing more than 60 paintings to include in the show, including artwork from the museum’s coveted William Sidney Mount collection, he had to figure out what — or where — the artists were painting.

The Mount House by William Sidney Mount, 1854

“Artists didn’t leave behind GPS coordinates for their work,” he joked. “There are so many scenes in our collection that are real places, but it’s not always conveyed in the title exactly where it is. Landscapes can change dramatically. We wanted to try to get as close as we could to the vantage point of the original painting, while thinking about how artists tell a story of place.”

Using maps from the approximate time period of each piece, Google’s street view feature and some research savvy, Ruff set out with his family and a camera to get the job done. It was far from easy, though — some of the locations are now on private property, inaccessible or unidentifiable. Other abstract or impressionist pieces can offer a vague sense of place without the details required to pinpoint it. Still, he did the best he could.

“We have several examples of historical photographs of certain locations, but more than 90 percent of the photographs were speculative on our part. In some cases, we may not ever be able to crack the code of where the actual spot was,” Ruff explained.

In some cases, he had to enlist the help of some friends. The museum’s conservator, Alexander Katlan, lives part-time in New England and was able to take photos to accompany two paintings by William Trost Richards. And some of the staff at the Freeport Memorial Public Library took to the water to find a match for Charles Henry Miller’s 1885 painting, “Freeport Oyster Houses.”

The site of the Setauket Rubber Factory today at the corner of Route 25A and South Jersey Avenue.

“The oyster industry thrived in Freeport in the 1800s, and our library archives include many photographs from that time, so I knew exactly where we needed to go,” said librarian Regina Feeney. 

To get the right angle for the photo, the team would need a boat. They talked with the owner of a Freeport marina in search of a way to get down the Freeport River, and were ultimately connected with bayman Danny Miller. It was a chilly November day when they set sail, but armed with old maps and a sense of humor, they got the job done. The photo was taken by Jason Velarde.

The Setauket Rubber Factory by Edward Lange;

“I really enjoy now-and-then exhibits because it gives people perspective about how things have changed over time,” Feeney said. “We were happy to make a contribution, and it was fun getting out of the building and enjoying some time on the water together. We had quite the adventure.”

The exhibit is evenly divided among geographic areas, with one third focusing on the East End, one third on the middle Island, and one third on Nassau County, New York City and New England. The paintings feature a range of medium as well, from watercolor to oil and acrylic, and span in time from the 1830s through the 1970s.

“Seeing this collection of paintings really drives home the sense of how the area has evolved — some of the subjects, like the Setauket rubber factory, are gone now. Other areas that were quiet and natural are more developed now. I hope it will be enjoyable for people of all ages to reflect on the past and consider what the future will hold,” Ruff said.

In conjunction with Twin Peeks the Victoria Costigan Gallery in the Art Museum will be home to “Artists Abroad,” a mini exhibit focused on travel and foreign landscapes.

The museum’s collection includes a small, yet compelling group of works by artists who traveled abroad between the 1860s and 1960s. American artists have always been drawn to European art and landscapes. They visited museums and copied famous works of art, and roamed cities and the countryside to paint and sketch scenes of daily life and picturesque views. Sketches in ink and watercolor quickly documented form and color, with some becoming inspiration for future works in oil. 

“Generally when we do an exhibit, the focus is on America or on Long Island. But the works in this exhibit were created abroad and don’t get as many opportunities for exhibition,” said curator Jonathan Olly. “You’ll get to see things you wouldn’t usually get to see here, from the Italian countryside to an Azorian mountain or Cannes as seen from the harbor — it shifts the lens to other places and perspectives.”

“Both of these exhibits are about travel in a time where we haven’t really been able to travel — we’re all a little tired of being inside, and this celebrates the joy of going outside and exploring in a safe way,” said Ruff.


The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook presents Twin Peeks: Scenes Seen Twice, Paintings and Photographs and Artists Abroad when the museum reopens for the season March 19. The exhibits run through Aug. 1. Visitors are also welcome to explore the Carriage Museum; however the History Museum will remain closed. 

Hours are Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Physical distancing will be required and masks are mandatory. The LIM follows CDC-prescribed cleaning protocols for all buildings. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children under six free. Tickets are available at the Carriage Museum entrance, credit cards only please; pre-registration is not required. For more information, visit