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By Tara Mae

A Holocaust survivor’s complicated connection to the SS officer who nursed her through typhoid. An heir to a margarine fortune determined to give away his $25 million inheritance. A whistleblower whose patriotism leads to prison. These are just some of the stories explored when the award-winning Port Jefferson Documentary Series (PJDS) kicks off its Fall 2021 season on Sept. 20. 

Since 2005, the film series has been providing audiences access to films, artists, and stories that may otherwise not be as available to the general public. 

‘In Balanchine’s Classroom’ will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 25.

Sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, the Suffolk County Office of Film and Cultural Affairs, Maia Salon Spa and Wellness, and Covati and Janhsen, CPAs, the PJDS will present seven intriguing documentaries at Theatre Three, located at 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson. 

The documentaries were handpicked by a six-member film board that includes co-directors Lyn Boland, Barbara Sverd and Wendy Feinberg along with Honey Katz, Lorie Rothstein and Lynn Rein. Although the final selections are made by the board, the screening committee also includes four longtime volunteers Denise Livrieri, Yvonne Lieffrig, Debbie Bolvadin, and Mitch Riggio. 

“We run the documentary series as a real democracy. Every film has a showrunner; you pick a film that you are particularly excited about, and everyone votes it in,” explained Lyn Boland.

The films include Love It Was Not, Claydream, Dear Mr. Brody, United States vs. Reality Winner, Not Going Quietly, In Balanchine’s Classroom, and Mission Joy — Finding Happiness in Troubled Times. Screenings will take place 7 p.m. on Mondays, September 20 and 27; October 4, 11, 18, 25; and November 15. (See sidebar).

With the exception of Claydream, the films will be also offered virtually the following day. In addition, an eighth film, Torn, will be only offered virtually on Nov. 8. 

Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with the documentary’s director or producer, who will join the event via personal appearance, Skype call, or, in one case, a pre-recorded Zoom interview. Tom Needham, host of The Sounds of Film on WUSB, will act as emcee. 

“Tom is the consummate interviewer. We are so lucky to have him. He chooses his own very interesting questions which really gets to the heart of each film and the filmmaker’s reasons for making the film,” said Wendy Feinberg.

‘Love It Was Not’ will be screened at Theatre Three on Sept. 20.

Boland believes that this series may be the most diverse series yet. “This season is the most varied season I can remember us presenting. It covers a huge range of topics,” she said. Love It Was Not, a film by Maya Sarfaty, was Boland’s recommendation to the panel.

“It’s a Holocaust story about a prisoner who had an SS officer fall in love with her; a remarkable story,” Boland said. “He secretly nurses her through typhoid, decades later his wife calls her to testify at his Nuremberg trial. Of course this is a dilemma for her…”

Boland is excited to see all the films, especially Dear Mr. Brody, directed by Marc Evans and United States vs. Reality Winner directed by Sonia Kennebeck. 

Dear Mr. Brody is such a nostalgia piece from the 70’s, a period I loved, and it was a story I had never heard. I thought it was very unique and it was sparked by finding the trove of letters sent to him from that period.” 

United States vs. Reality Winner stood out to the co-director for how it explores the difficult decisions individuals in fraught situations may be forced to make. “It is important that the missed stories be told, the stories that really define their times,” she said. “I thought what Reality did was so brave, so right and what she went through for it shows how twisted up motivation and rules can be.” 

‘Dear Mr. Brody’ will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 4.

It’s that sort of authenticity that Boland believes makes documentaries so arresting and engaging. “I think what makes documentaries special is the extra dimension of knowing that they are true…there is no forgetting about the camera, like you do in a feature film. You are really aware that someone had to be there, in that situation, with a camera, and even if it is not dangerous or daring, it is still access, and with access you can make the film. Documentarians don’t always know how a story is going to unfold, but finding the story arc, that makes it a really riveting documentary,” she said. 

Everyone associated with the series is first and foremost a fan of the genre, according to Boland. And while many of the works are discovered by board members at festivals such as the Tribeca Film Festival, they are also being contacted by film distributors. 

“Distributors are reaching out to us more often. We’re not a festival, so we don’t solicit entries the way festivals do. We really feel that we are picking from an already selective group of films when we see them at a film festival. We used to absolutely require that a film had to have won an award or gotten rave critical review; we now trust our own judgement more,” she said. 

A labor of love for all those involved, holding the live screenings and Q&As at Theatre Three is an ongoing partnership.

“We’re providing an opportunity for an arts organization in our community. It is very valuable to screen films that people wouldn’t necessarily get to see in movie theaters; many of them noncommercial. The series offers a truly wonderful service,” said Theatre Three’s Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel.

Film Schedule:

The season begins with a screening of Love It Was Not on Sept. 20. Flamboyant and full of life, Jewish prisoner Helena Citron found herself the subject of an unlikely affection at Auschwitz: Franz Wunsch, a high-ranking SS officer who fell in love with her magnetic singing voice. Their forbidden relationship lasted until her miraculous liberation. Thirty years later, a letter arrived from Wunsch’s wife begging Helena to testify on Wunsch’s behalf in an Austrian court. She was faced with an impossible decision: should she help the man who brutalized so many lives, but saved hers, along with some of the people closest to her? Follow her journey in Love It Was Not. Guest speaker, recorded via Zoom, is Director Maya Sarfaty. This film is sponsored by Temple Isaiah and North Shore Jewish Center.

Up next on Sept. 27 is Claydream which follows the story of Will Vinton, a modern day Walt Disney who picked up a ball of clay and saw a world of potential. Known as the “ Father of Claymation,” leading a team of artists and writers, Vinton revolutionized the animation business during the 80’s and 90’s. But after thirty years of being the unheralded king of clay, Will Vinton’s carefully sculpted American dream came tumbling down. The film takes us on an exciting journey, rich with nostalgia and anchored by a trove of clips from Vinton’s life work, including his iconic, classic California Raisins. Guest Speaker is Director Marq Evans via Skype. *Please note, this film is not available virtually.

Next up on Oct. 4 is Dear Mr. Brody. In 1970, hippie-millionaire Michael Brody Jr., the 21-year-old heir to a margarine fortune, announced to the world that he would personally usher in a new era of peace and love by giving away his twenty-five million dollar inheritance to anyone in need. Instant celebrities, Brody and his young wife Renee were mobbed by the public, scrutinized by the press, and overwhelmed by the crush of personal letters responding to this extraordinary offer. Fifty years later, an enormous cache of these letters are discovered – unopened. 

In this riveting follow-up to his acclaimed film, TOWER, presented by the PJDS in 2016, award-winning director Keith Maitland reveals the incredible story of the countless struggling Americans who sought Brody’s help. Guest Speaker is Melissa Robyn Glassman, Producer and subject in the film.

United States vs. Reality Winner will be screened on Oct. 11. A state of secrets and a ruthless hunt for whistleblowers, the documentary tells the story of 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner who leaked a top secret document to the media about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Guest speaker will be Director Sonia Kennebeck.

The season continues with Not Going Quietly on Oct. 18. When 32-year-old activist and father Ady Barkan is diagnosed with ALS and given four years to live, he finds himself in a deep depression, struggling to connect with his young son, whose presence reminds him of the future he will miss. But, after a chance confrontation on an airplane with Senator Jeff Flake goes viral, Ady decides to embark on a tour of America, using his final breaths to fight for healthcare justice, and ultimately discovering that collective action and speaking truth to power can not only inspire movements, they can offer personal and emotional transformation as well. Guest speaker will be Director Nicholas Bruckman.

Up next on Oct. 25 is In Balanchine’s Classroom which takes us back to the glory years of Balanchine’s New York City Ballet through the remembrances of his former dancers and their quest to fulfill the vision of a genius. Opening the door to his studio, Balanchine’s private laboratory, they reveal new facets of the groundbreaking choreographer: taskmaster, mad scientist, and spiritual teacher. Today, as his former dancers teach a new generation, questions arise: what was the secret of his teaching? Can it be replicated? This film will thrill anyone interested in the intensity of the master-disciple relationship and all who love dance, music, and the creative process. Guest speaker is Director Connie Hochman.

Directed by Max Lowe, Torn will be screened virtually only on Nov. 8. On Oct. 5, 1999, legendary climber Alex Lowe was tragically lost alongside cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges in a deadly avalanche on the slopes of the Tibetan mountain, Shishapangma. Miraculously surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker. After the tragedy, Anker and Alex’s widow, Jennifer, fell in love and married, and Anker stepped in to help raise Alex’s three sons. The film will follow Max Lowe in his quest to understand his iconic late father as he explores family’s complex relationships in the wake of his father’s death. 

Mission Joy — Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, a profound and jubilant exploration of the remarkable friendship between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, closes out the PJDS Fall season on Nov. 15. Inspired by the international bestseller, The Book of Joy, the documentary welcomes viewers into intimate conversations between two men whose resistance against adversity has marked our modern history. Co-Directed by Louis Psihoyos and Peggy Callahan, the documentary reflects upon their personal hardships as well as the burden both men carry as world leaders dedicated to bringing justice to and fighting authoritarianism in their communities. Guest speaker is Co-Director Peggy Callahan via Skype.

The Fall 2021 Port Jefferson Documentary Series will be presented at 7 p.m. on select Monday nights from Sept. 20 to Nov. 15 at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson and virtually the following day.  

Please note COVID-19 protocols will be fully enforced at Theatre Three. All ticket holders must show proof of vaccination status at the door, where it will be checked by two physician volunteers. Minor children too young to be vaccinated must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult, and all audience members must wear masks. 

Live screenings are capped at 100 people while virtual screenings are capped at 50 people. Tickets are $10 per person online or at the door. A film pass to see all the documentaries is $56. To purchase tickets, please visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com. For more information, call 631-473-5220.

 

Festival tickets are on sale now at www.fiddleandfolk.com

By Tara Mae

A celebration of music, community, and nature, the 9th annual Fiddle and Folk Festival at Benner’s Farm will be held on September 12, from noon to 8 p.m. 

Participating musicians will include headliner Chris Smither, Travis McKeveny & The Famous Dr. Scanlon Band, Quarter Horse, Mick Hargreaves with Pete Mancini and Brian Moritz, CB Jacobs & Russ Seeger: Songs from the Black Book, Maria Fairchild and Bill Ayasse, and Jonathan Preddice and Brian Chabza. 

Most of the musicians are locals and have played at previous Fiddle and Folk festivals, according to Benner’s Farm’s co-owner, Bob Benner. The event will also feature artist workshops, and activities for children in the Kids’ Corner, including music, crafts, and more. 

“This is a low-key day with high quality talent,” said Amy Tuttle, program director for the Greater Port Jefferson-Brookhaven Arts Council and a member of the festival committee.

Four festival stages

This year there will be four venues at which to hear the music with each stage offering its own audience experience and ambience. 

The event barn’s Back Porch will serve as the main stage of the festival, offering sets of 45 to 60 minutes long, and align with a traditional festival concert experience while Jam Hollow will be a designated space for musicians to bring their instruments and play together. The Shady Grove stage will offer a more intimate opportunity for artists and audiences to interact, with conversations as well as Q&A sessions. Performances at the Shady Grove stage will be hosted by a to-be-announced radio personality from radio station WUSB.  

This year, the fourth stage is making its Fiddle and Folk debut. The stake bed of a 1924 model-T truck owned by Benner’s Farm co-founder Bob Benner, it will serve as an informal stage for anyone interested in participating in an open-mic. Guests can sign up on site. 

Musical acts

Chris Smither

Making his Fiddle and Folk debut is Chris Smither, a folks/blues singer based out of Massachusetts. Smither is a favorite of both Benner and Claudia Jacobs, a musician and friend of the Benners who helped book the acts. “Bob and I are massive fans,” said Jacobs.

Smither is happy for the opportunity to play at the festival and reconnect with audiences in person, having missed that connection during online, live-stream performances. “You try to build an entity between you, that exists among you. It’s electric; it’s a life-affirming, ephemeral sort of substance,” he said.  

Blue Point resident Travis McKeveny, of Travis McKeveny and The Famous Dr. Scanlon Band, considers his favorite part of playing live to be the “chance to experience the interchange of energy between myself and the audience.” The singer/guitarist is excited to be “…sharing the bill with peers, but especially sharing it with Chris Smither, the headliner, who is one of my songwriting heroes.” 

One of the returning favorites is Quarter Horse, a group that blends elements of rock, folk rock, Americana, and jam band. Quarter Horse, which five years ago had its album release party on Benner’s Farm, feels a connection not only to the people but to the place. 

“We know Ben Benner [Bob’s son] heard us and liked us, and asked us to play at another concert series he did on the farm. We eventually decided to have our album release party there. We’ve all gone to Benner’s Farm, even as kids on school field trips,” drummer John Reizi, of Centereach, said. “There has always been a connection to Benner’s Farm, it’s a really pleasant place. I take my daughter there sometimes; you don’t feel like you’re in suburban Long Island — you’re in a sort of portal.”

Jonathan Preddice, of Port Jefferson Station, echoes the sentiment. “I love spending time at Benner’s Farm. It has a great “down home” feel and sets a great atmosphere for relaxing and listening to good music.” A member of the band Miles to Dayton, the singer/songwriter will be focusing on his solo folk/America work with fiddler Brian Chabza. 

The farm’s environment is part of what appeals to Hicksville resident Maria Fairchild too. A singer and banjo-player, she is drawn back to the farm by “the setting; it is one of the few places to see traditional and roots-based music on Long Island.”

Benner’s Farm

In addition to hosting the Fiddle & Folk Festival, the 15-acre organic farm hosts everything from school field trips to weddings and offers seasonal festivals, summer camp, workshops, and other programs. Bob Benner believes this versatility is part of its appeal. 

“This farm, partly planned, and partly because of the way it is set up, changes its personality depending on what you’re doing. There is a friendliness to this space and we tried to keep the aesthetic beauty,” he said. 

Bob and his wife Jean, purchased the farm in 1977 and over the years have transformed it into a prominent local educational non-profit and one of the last true working farms in the area.

“There are very few farms around here now; we are trying to keep the farm as an agricultural place,” Benner said. “Also because we have educational backgrounds, we opened it up so people can take courses and have festivals and do things on the farm. People can see what the farm is like.”

The Benners were drawn to the farm’s educational potential: first for themselves, and then for the public. “We have absolutely no background in farming, but we could read…we’re learners and teachers,” he added. 

Community outreach began with local pre-school children visiting the farm to learn where their vegetables came from and expanded into educational opportunities for people of all ages. 

Continuing a tradition

Part of Benner’s Farm’s ethos is to support the people of the area and preserve cultural customs for current and future generations. So when Bob Benner learned that the original Fiddle and Folk Festival at the Long Island Museum was being discontinued, he reached out to the people who ran it, volunteered to revive it at the farm, and then assembled his own team to help put it together. 

“I always thought the farm was the perfect place to have a big event, like the ones the Benners and I went to. The timing was right. We pretty much created it together,” said Jacobs. 

Following so many months of isolation, this year’s festival holds particular meaning for everyone involved in it, said Jacobs. “This one is really special. Bob’s great desire for this year was to keep it local. He felt that it should be a big community event. A ‘return to the farm’ in a gathering, communal way,” she added. 

For Bob Benner, hosting and supporting the musicians is a way to honor both his own musical interests and his dedication to the community. 

“I am not a musician, but I like a variety of music…I thought I would have local people because local musicians have been royally impacted by COVID. We’re having local bands and local people singing (open mic) and an incredible visiting headliner who will be playing with a whole bunch of locals…I have never been let down by the bands we have chosen, ” he said.

The 9th annual Fiddle and Folk is supported by Benner’s Farm, Homestead Arts, WUSB, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, and TBR News Media and sponsored by the Folk Music Society of Huntington, Long Island Blues Society, and Jack and Karen Finkenberg. 

Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road in East Setauket. Advance ticket sales are now open: adults are $22 per person, seniors are $17 per person, and children are $10 per person. Tickets on the day of the event are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $12 for kids. To order, visit www.fiddleandfolk.com. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own seating. A full schedule of performances and events will be available online. For more information visit the website or call 631-689-8172. 

Photos courtesy of Bob Benner

A view of the grounds of the Long Island Museum from the Art Museum on the hill.

By Tara Mae

The Long Island Museum (LIM) in Stony Brook unveils three exciting new exhibitions — Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light, Fire & Form: New Directions in Glass and the 8th annual LIMarts Members’ Exhibition, Fragile — this Friday, Aug. 20. All three will be on view through Dec. 19.

Art exhibit, Fragile, showcases work of LIMarts members
Long Island Museum’s Visitor Center and History Museum

Peace may be found in both the practice and presence of art. Fragile explores how art enriches our lives, particularly during times of stress and strife. On display in the recently renovated Cowles Gallery in the History Museum and Visitors Center (pictured on the right), the show features works by 92 members of LIMarts, both amateur and professional, working in different formats and mediums including sculpture, printmaking, oil painting, watercolor, etc. 

“LIMarts is a collaborative arts group designed for artists dedicated to creating a new forum within our cultural community,” said Neil Watson, Executive Director of the LIM. “The group offers space for the exhibition and sale of artwork, varied programming events, lectures and opportunities for social gathering with other artists and the public.”

All LIMarts members were invited to submit one piece for the exhibit, which enables the museum to introduce or amplify the art of local artists to its audience. Although a few of the artists have works already in the museum’s permanent collection, the art included in Fragile is being exhibited for the first time. 

Thanks to a sponsorship by Maryellen and Michael Lubinsky, the museum was able to waive its normal commission; all proceeds from art sales will go directly to the artists. 

There were no confines put on the artists’ interpretations of the theme, but they were constrained by space; each participant’s work had to fit on 12″ x 12″  canvas boards. This restriction enabled creative solutions and unique results. 

“When everybody’s work is the same size, it distills a different type of beauty…they are all on the same panel and figuring it out,” said Joshua Ruff, Deputy Director of the LIM and the show’s curator. “The diversity of approaches and how the exhibit was interpreted are amazing: fragile, as an idea, departure point, and concept.”

During the past 19 months, emotional and physical fragility have been ideas arguably at the forefront of the collective conscience. Most of the submissions were created during this time frame, and these ideas are recurring subjects, especially as they relate to the delicate nature of both the environment and human condition. Yet fragile does not equal weak, and the exhibit is also a testament to how fragility can be infused with fortitude.

“This is not an exhibition of 92 different ways of suffering; rather it shows there is an inner reserve of strength in all of us. You can be vulnerable but have other positive qualities of strength. I think some of the artists were trying to say that you can be fragile but be strong or have a fragile environment that produces great beauty and great strength,” said Ruff.  

Certain artists chose to explore the intersection of fragility and vulnerability by experimenting with new painting styles or artistic techniques. “Some artists were trying new things and you can be vulnerable when you are trying new things,” Ruff explained. “It’s really impressive to see how many ways people approached the subject and how many different points of view and perspectives you see.”

Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light
Wisteria Library Lamp, ca. 1901, Tiffany Studios, NYC

Organized by the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in Queens, Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light will be the first exhibition of its kind at the LIM. This compelling exhibition will include five windows, twenty lamps, and several displays showing how Louis C. Tiffany’s lamps were assembled, and how collectors today can distinguish between authentic lamps and forgeries.

The exhibition features some of the most celebrated of Tiffany’s works. Chosen for their masterful rendering of nature in flowers or landscape scenes, they exemplify the rich and varied glass palette, sensitive color selection, and intricacy of design that was characteristic of Tiffany’s leaded-glass objects. This exhibition also highlights some of the key figures at Tiffany Studios who made essential contributions to the artistry of the windows and lamps— chemist Arthur J. Nash and designers Agnes Northrop and Clara Driscoll.

 

 

Fire & Form: New Directions in Glass
Acesa (Ascend), 2019; by Toots
Zynsky;
Heller
Gallery, NYC

Fire & Form: New Directions in Glass , organized by the Long Island Museum, will feature nearly 50 works from nine contemporary artists, all reinforcing that glass is a sculptural material of near-infinite artistic and narrative possibilities. The artists included in this exhibition represent some of the most renowned names in American contemporary glass: Joseph Cavalieri, Deborah Czeresko, Trefny Dix, Bengt Hokanson, Beth Lipman, Judith Schaechter, Andy Stenerson, Marianne Weil, and Toots Zynsky. These exceptional artists all demonstrate a variety of approaches, methods, and inspirational starting points. Fire & Form will inhabit more than 2,500 square feet in LIM’s History Museum and Visitor’s Center and will  be accompanied by a richly illustrated 30-page catalogue that will be printed as a takeaway for visitors.

Fire & Form and Tiffany Glass are two of the biggest and most beautiful exhibitions we have ever mounted here,” says Joshua Ruff, Deputy Director the LIM and one of the curators of Fire & Form. “The comparison between Tiffany’s approach with some of the striking other work people will see  — modern stained glass, blown glass, and cast glass — will really give people some perspective on how versatile a medium it really is.

IF YOU GO

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. It is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (62 and older), $5 for students (including college students with IDs), $3.50 for people with disabilities (personal care assistants admitted for free), and free for children under the age of six. For more information about the above exhibits or orther programs at the LIM, call 631-751-0066 or visit longislandmuseum.org.

 

By Tara Mae

After a 3 year absence, Local Color returns to Gallery North, a proclamation of the connection between art, artist, and community. On view from Aug. 19 to Sept. 26, the exhibit is presented in conjunction with the North Shore Artists Coalition and includes a reception and Open Studio Tour. 

The beautiful show features artists whose work is both universal and local in impact, meaning, and appeal. 

“[Executive Director] Ned Puchner and I decided to bring Local Color back this year and re-envision it to show through these artists what local culture is about. The exhibit is defining the role artists play in shaping identity of community and showing diversity of how artists define community: creating culture, creating beautiful and impactful work, adding to the identity through their outreach, etc,” said curator Kate Schwarting. 

The show’s art is as varied as its interpretation of theme, featuring oil and acrylic paintings, photography, sculptures, and digital renderings. Thirty artists, from St. James to Mount Sinai, will be featured including Kelynn Alder, Arts.codes (Margaret Schedel and Melissa Clarke), Fred Badalamenti, Joan Branca, Sheila Breck, Pam Brown, Nancy Bueti-Randall, Sue Contessa, Micheal Drakopoulos, Paul Edelson, Peter Galasso, Han Qin, LoVid, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Jim Lecky, Jim Molloy, Carlos Morales, Patricia Morrison, Patricia Paladines, Mel Pekarsky, Alicia R. Peterson, Doug Reina, Joseph Rotella, Angela Stratton, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Lorraine Walsh, Annmarie Waugh, Marlene Weinstein, and Christian White.

“What is so special about this exhibition is that each artist brings a different thing to the exhibition,” explained Schwarting. “A plein air painter captures the essence of a familiar location and allows us to see it in different light; someone else [deals] with a scientific topic that is so difficult to comprehend, but creates art that enables us to know through physical form and visual cues.”   

Several of the participants are also activists who champion social, technological, and environmental awareness and change through their art. 

According to Schwarting, a number of the artists were recruited through the gallery’s association with the North Shore Artists Coalition, while others were invited by her and Puchner. 

Pam Brown, a sculptor who lives in Stony Brook and co-founder of the coalition, helped facilitate the partnership between the group and the gallery. Her piece, Armour, is a sculpture fabricated out of sheet metal, wire, boar bristles, and vinyl. Brown’s efforts in facilitating the relationship between Gallery North and the North Shore Artists Coalition reflect the connection she sees between art and community outreach. 

“Community engagement creates an opportunity for the arts and artists to be seen by their communities — it initiates new ways for the public and artists to build connections between different groups. It brings together communities so they can articulate their own history and culture and to acknowledge that art is taking place in a larger context,” she said. 

For artist Doug Reina of Stony Brook, who has exhibited at Gallery North in the past, showing his work in Local Color is reconnecting with a “fun, summertime tradition.” 

“My work is about sharing the interesting, touching, emotional, funny, beautiful, sad human things that mean something to me with the viewer,” said Reina. His oil painting, titled Boys Night Out, depicts 4 teenage boys sneaking out of the house on a summer night. “The painting is based on real life experiences we had when our son was that age,” he explained.

Interpersonal connection is a recurring subject of the show’s art. This focus extends outward into explorations of our interactions with and responsibility to the world-at-large.

Han Qin of St. James will be entering her cyanotype on paper, White Goddess, which incorporates digital photo editing, drawing, and papermaking. It was inspired by two poems: “The White Goddess” by Robert Graves and “Quiet Night Thoughts” by Li Bai. 

“I started the White Goddess series during my pregnancy and have been developing it until now. Poetry and life experience are the main inspirations. The idea behind the artwork becomes a shared experience that brings people together,” she said.

“We as a people have a long continuous personal storyline. Artwork is the moment on the storyline. My moment connects with others’ moments in their individual storylines; thus, a web of emotional connections builds up. That is a community, too,” said Qin.

Such cultural connections are enhanced through community involvement. In this spirit, exhibiting artists of Local Color will also be featured in an Open Studio Tour hosted by the North Shore Artists Coalition and Gallery North on Sept. 25 and 26, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. 

“With one piece from each of the selected artists in the exhibit itself, the Open Studio Tour allows for an expanded view of the individual artists,” said Schwarting. 

Gallery North, 90 North Coutry Road, Setauket presents Local Color from Aug. 19 to Sept. 26. Join the artists for an opening reception tonight, August 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

Photo by Bob Savage

By Tara Mae

What’s old is new again as Port Jefferson’s Hill Climb returns on Saturday, August 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Continuing in the tradition of the 1910, 1911, and 1925 Port Jefferson hill climbs, this event is an historic tribute that features an antique car parade with about 50 automobiles and a photo exhibit at the Port Jefferson Village Center. 

File photo

“This is a celebration of the history of the hill climbs,” said Bob Laravie, a Port Jefferson Conservancy board member. “The parade starts at the Port Jefferson Village Center, goes up East Broadway hill and hits Belle Terre Road, turns onto North Country Road, and heads back to Main Street, and East Main Street.” 

The parade concludes when they circle back to the Village Center where visitors can view prints of historic photographs by Spooner and Wells. Primarily images of the 1910 Port Jefferson Hill Climb, they are shown courtesy of the Detroit Public Library which now houses them in its collection. 

Hill climbing is one of the oldest forms of motorsports, with the first one taking place in France in 1897. Generally, rather than race each other, cars race the clock as they ascend a peak. Port Jefferson’s version is arguably more a combination of parade and car show rather than a traditional hill climb. 

As each vehicle joins the parade route, the announcer will provide insight and details about the car, its history, and its owner. The cars are driven to a height of about 2,000 feet before beginning their descents.

Participants were recruited from car clubs and car shows, according to Laravie, who is showing the electric car replica he constructed, a Baker Torpedo Kid. The primary requirement for the entries is that they are at least 74 years old, although there are some exceptions. 

“My car is modified for actual hill climbing,” explained Laravie. “I built a replica/tribute to a 1903 electric racecar and they let me in the event …”

In 1910, the Port Jefferson Automobile Club sponsored the first Port Jefferson Hill Climb to promote its cars. “Port Jefferson was a good location for a hill climb; you didn’t need a track or tremendous spectator control. There was a very good turnout the first two years,” Laravie said. A commemorative hill climb was held in 1925. The modern incarnation has been held periodically for the past 50 years and run every 5 years since 2000. Scheduled for 2020, the event was postponed due to the pandemic.

“It is a great piece of Long Island automotive history,” said Howard Kroplick, of East Hills, who is returning for his third Port Jefferson hill climb, having participated in 2010 and 2015. This year, Kroplick will be driving the “Black Beast,” a restored racecar that won the 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cup races and was in the first Indy 500.

“The hill climb has a kind of a legacy about the beginnings of automotive history, not only on Long Island but throughout the United States. We respect history by participating in this event. Also, it’s a lot of fun. It gives [drivers and spectators] the opportunity to utilize these cars and see them in action; most car shows are really stationary,” added Kroplick. 

Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Conservancy, East End Shirt Company, Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry, Blacktop Yacht Club and the Village of Port Jefferson, the Port Jefferson Hill Climb is free to the public with a rain date of Aug. 21. For more information, please call 631-965-0797.

Please note: Parking at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson is reserved for the hill climb’s participants; other public lots are available to spectators.

By Tara Mae

As we sail into the summer season, the Grand Carousel at the Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River offers a ride through nostalgia and a trail to making new memories.

An extension of the East Wind Hotel and Spa, the Shoppes is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year and, according to Marketing Director Charlotte Coté, the carousel has been the focal point since its opening in 2016.    

“Creating a quaint shopping village with specialty stores, food and more, the carousel became the centerpiece enjoyed by individuals of any age,” she said. “The custom indoor heated pavilion not only provides entertainment throughout the year but also protects the beauty and elegance of the carousel from the outdoor elements.”

Purchased specifically for the Shoppes’ indoor pavilion, the carousel was built by Chance Rides Incorporated of Wichita, Kansas in 1993, before residing at the Parmatown Mall in Parma, Ohio. It then sat in storage until it was rescued and shipped to Long Island. 

The handicap accessible ride is designed to resemble the elegance and majesty of carousels from yesteryear. An Americana carousel, it has an oak floor, beveled glass mirrors, a standard pietop with a lighted crown, as well as wildlife and horse designs created by ride manufacturer Bradley & Kaye Amusement Company. 

All jumpers, its animals include twelve galloping horses in the style of “country fair,” adorned with bright colors and jewels, a cat, a zebra, a reindeer, a rooster, a rabbit, and a dragon. The carousel also features a chariot and pipe organ calliope-style music.

A favorite of both the young and the young at heart, the carousel’s appeal is shared by both visitors and staff. 

“Everyone has a memory of riding a carousel and that is what makes it special,” said Coté. “We see many local families returning time and time again with their children. Our operators enjoy seeing the joy in people’s faces, riding the carousel for the first time, and parents and grandparents reminiscing [about] their carousel rides when they were kids,” she added.

For Carousel Manager Robert Cutinella, who said his favorite carousel animal is the reindeer, the public’s appreciation and amusement are the best aspects of the ride.

“What makes our carousel so special is that everyone has big smiles from the time they walk in … picking out an animal (not an easy decision, even for me), enjoying the carousel’s music, and the experience of the ride. It makes everyone feel like a kid again,” he said. 

This appeal perfectly complements the 28 free standing shops. Connected by brick-paved walkways and the carousel’s pavilion, they run the gamut from bespoke tailoring and boutique clothing to fine dining and assorted sweets. 

“We’ve been going to East Wind for Mother’s Day and Easter Day brunches since before I had kids,” frequent visitor Helen Partlow said. “Once we had kids, we would take the whole family, including grandparents, and go to the carousel.”

She enjoys the carousel and shops with her family and showcases them through her role as publisher of Port Jefferson Macaroni Kid, a subset of a national publishing platform for parents. 

“I think it’s a nice place to go when you’re already going somewhere, to add it to your day, or to go for a short visit … I’ll take them to the carousel, have ice cream, and pizza. We also go to the specialty food stores,” Partlow added. 

Tweets Ice Cream Café serves a wide variety of tasty treats, such as classic ice cream flavors, specialty milkshakes, and Starbucks. “The kids get what they like and I get something fancier,” she said. Partlow describes Brezza Pizza Kitchen as one of the “best pizza places.”  

Specialty food shops present niche or specific selections. The Cheese and Spice Market, for instance, has artisanal and farmstead cheeses and charcuterie take-out boxes, platters, and gift baskets. 

Yet out of East Wind’s many options, perhaps what most appeals to Partlow is the carousel. “It represents one of those symbolic things that all kids seem to like, but aren’t always [available],” she said. “It represents a stage of childhood, where they are still into imagination and play. It will be a nice memory that I will look back on as they grow up.” 

Coté sees the carousel as a symbol of the joy the Shoppes at East Wind may bring to the public. “The Shoppes is not just shopping. It is a place where families can come, enjoy the outdoors, grab a bite and have fun for a few hours and the carousel is a welcoming addition to that experience. The carousel is a beacon of happiness at The Shoppes.” 

Located at 5768 Route 25A, Wading River, the Grand Carousel is open seven days a week. Operating hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The price of a ride on the carousel is $5 for one token (one token per ride) or 5 tokens for $20. Current COVID protocols are observed. For more information, visit www.eastwindlongisland.com.

*This article first appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on 06/24/21.

All photos by Heidi Sutton

File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Tara Mae

“We closed on March 16, 2020 and started planning how we would reopen on March 17, 2020.” 

That is how co-founder and Artistic Director of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts Ken Washington described the process of arranging to reopen the theater after it had to close due to the pandemic. 

Located at 2 East Main Street in Smithtown, the theater offers plays, concerts, and educational services to the community.

“We’re scheduling a mix of fun new programs and rescheduling the shows that needed to be postponed, to fulfill those promises to the patrons who stood by us during this time,” said Associate Managing Director Kelly Mucciolo. 

Mainstage Theater

The cast of Green Day’s American Idiot in rehearsal at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Gabriella Fugon

Its first mainstage show since March of 2020, Green Day’s American Idiot, is scheduled to open July 9 and will run every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. through July 31. “Throughout the next six months we will be adding to the schedule … as certain things become available, and audiences become more comfortable gathering in an indoor environment,” explained Washington.

American Idiot provides an opportunity to reunite individuals who share a passion for performance. The rock musical, based on the 2004 Green Day album of the same name, follows the stories of three disaffected young men in a post-9/11 world. 

“Rock music and musicals have always been my favorite part of working in theater.  American Idiot has very powerful music, and some very poignant lyrics that hit a little bit differently when you think about them in the context of the world today,” said resident Musical Director Melissa Coyle. 

The cast of Green Day’s American Idiot in rehearsal at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Gabriella Fugon

Scheduled to open the week the theater was forced to close, American Idiot was selected as the mainstage’s first post-lockdown production because of that fact. “We wanted to honor the ticket holders who have supported us during the pandemic,” Mucciolo said. Although the cast and crew are largely different from the planned 2020 production, most have had previous connections with the Smithtown theater.

“The talented cast has made it very easy to put together this really exciting show. It’s been a fun challenge to present this mostly sung-through show and pull out different story elements within the score and script,” said director Ronald Green III, who has acted in other plays at the theater and has been it’s resident costumer since 2011. 

Although not yet fully published, the new mainstage season strives to be a mix of the missed lost potential of 2020 and the hopeful possibility of 2021. In addition to American Idiot, the theater will offer I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change from Aug. 21 to Sept. 19, with the cast of 2012 largely reprising their roles. And Menopause the Musical touring group returns from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.

Children’s Theater   

For the second summer in a row, children’s theater will be held on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society beginning with Moana Jr. from July 15 to Aug. 14, followed by Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus from Aug. 28 to Sept. 17; and Spookley the Square Pumpkin: The Musical from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31. Kids shows then move home to the Smithtown Performing Arts Center, with Frozen Jr. from Nov. 20 to Jan. 17. 

Moana Jr. was chosen to launch the children’s theater’s new season because it was so well-received in 2020. When surveyed, children’s theater patrons indicated that the show was one that they would most like to see again. 

From left, Zach Podair as Pua, Gabriella Fugon as Moana, and Lorelai Mucciolo as Hei-Hei in last year’s production of Moana Jr.  Photo by Courtney Braun

Jordan Hue and Courtney Braun co-directed both the upcoming production and last year’s run of Moana Jr., a 60-minute adaptation of the Disney film. The coming-of-age tale follows the adventures of Moana and her quest to return the heart of Te Fiti and save the world.

“I think Moana brought us together during a difficult time and gave us a sense of community. We are looking forward to bringing it back to show we made it through the storm and further celebrate,” said Hue. “It’s a fun, dynamic, energetic piece of theater that engages young people and celebrates a culture different from our own, which has great value.”

Similarly, Braun was drawn to the project because of its spirit of inclusivity and message of self-discovery. Additionally, she found solace in being with familiar faces when so much of life was uncertain and so many individuals felt isolated.  

“[It] was an experience that I will never forget — from the community support, actors, family and theater support we have really pushed through some of the most unimaginable times. Moana really provides a lesson for each individual audience member. A journey of self-love and passion for some, the importance of family for others, and most importantly — a strong message of perseverance and overcoming fears,” Braun said. 

Smithtown Performing Arts Center’s arrangement with the historical society permitted children’s theater performances to proceed last summer and run through fall, which in turn fostered an ongoing rapport with actors and audiences, according to Mucciolo. “We were extraordinarily lucky to be able to partner with the Smithtown Historical Society last summer to bring live theater to Smithtown in an outdoor setting with our Kids Performing For Kids productions. Being able to get back with our student performers and connect with our audiences again in an exciting new setting was very emotional,” she said. 

These performances, which fully adhered to social-distancing and mask mandates, enabled a feeling of relative familiarity for audience, actors, and staff.  

“At least once per show a patron would come up to us in tears because they were able to give their children a normal, fun experience in the middle of a scary, uncertain time, and that was a feeling we could all connect to. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences,” Mucciolo added.

Summer camp

A step towards relative normalcy is a relief for patrons, students, and staff. The theater’s summer intensive theater education camp continues this trajectory, offering two sessions: “Historical Musicals” from July 5 to 23, and “Jukebox Musical” from July 26 to Aug. 14. The former addresses musicals that took place or were influenced by significant historical events, while the latter focuses on musicals that create stories around the songs of popular artists. 

Camp is a facet of the theater’s education program, which also has theater arts classes for children. They resumed this past September, with all participants adhering to the appropriate health guidelines.  

“The students were thrilled to return to the theater, and we were ecstatic to see each other again. We offered dance technique classes and musical theater performance classes,” Coyle said. “Despite the restricting CDC guidelines which were adhered to, where the students had to stay physically distant and masked at all times, they were still able to see their friends, work together on and off the stage, and find joy together during this very difficult period.” 

Sharing a purpose with the public was reportedly a primary motivation of Washington’s when he established the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts with his wife, Laura, in 2002. The historic building, which was built in the early 1930s, was originally a single screen cinema house before being purchased by United Artists and transformed into a discount movie theater. By 1999, it was set for demolition. A petition to save it garnered more than 8,000 signatures. 

“We bought and renovated the theater to fulfill the lifelong dream of offering theater arts and entertainment to the community of Smithtown and the surrounding communities,” Washington said.

“This building has always held a lot of memories for the citizens of Smithtown, both for the people who knew it as a movie theatre and for the people who have loved it for eighteen years as a performing arts center,” said Mucciolo. “Bringing patrons back into this building is emotional and special.”

Tickets to mainstage productions are $45 for adults, $40 for seniors. Tickets to Menopause the Musical are $55, $50 seniors. Tickets for children’s theater is $18 per person. Visit www.smithtownpac.org or call 631-724-3700 to order. Box office phone hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. 

From left, Sari Feldman, Jeffrey Hoffman, Meg Bush, Steve McCoy during rehearsal for 'The Fantasticks'. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Summer lineup includes a mainstage production, comedy festival and children’s theater

By Tara Mae

In theaters all over Long Island, the house lights are dimming and seats are waiting to be filled. 

In Port Jefferson, Theatre Three is officially reopening with its children’s theater musical The Adventures of Peter Rabbit on Saturdays from July 10 to Aug. 14; the annual, albeit abbreviated, Long Island Comedy Festival on July 9 and 10, and a special production of The Fantasticks from July 16 to Aug. 15.

When the pandemic closed the theater’s doors last March, all programming moved online and plans for reopening began. “We spent pretty much every day for a year, talking about what we would do when we reopen: if this happens, we’ll do this, if that happens, we’ll do that. We were trying to wrap our heads around the guidelines,” said Jeffrey Sanzel, Executive Artistic Director. “The vaccine was the big first step, then the shifting capacity. It’s an ongoing process, still in progress.”

A perennial favorite, ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit’ returns July 10.

Through its virtual program “Off-Stage/On-Line,” Theatre Three produced theater throughout the lockdown with audiences attending via Zoom. After putting out a call for original short works to be produced as online plays, Sanzel received approximately 1600 submissions. The last play debuted on June 20. Still available through the theater’s YouTube page, the plays range from 5 to 22 minutes and feature 85 works, 76 playwrights, and 156 actors. 

As it invites the public back in, Theatre Three is invoking popular productions to engage its audiences. The Adventures of Peter Rabbit was chosen to relaunch the children’s theater because of its familiarity. 

“We do it every year,” said Sanzel. “We thought it would be a great show to reopen the children’s theater, it’s very popular and great for all ages.” All of the theater’s children’s plays are written in-house, according to Sanzel. “I write the book and frequently the lyrics. I also work with other composers.” 

Theatre Three’s first in-person special event will be the Long Island Comedy Festival, now in its 15th year. Comedian Paul Anthony, founder and director of the festival, started it at Theatre Three. It has since expanded across Long Island. 

“Theatre Three is one of the most iconic theaters on Long Island. We perform at pretty much every theater on Long Island, but Theatre Three, which was originally built as a vaudeville house, has an incredible history and all the elements you could ever want from the theater. Comedians always compliment the acoustics; there is something about the acoustics and feel of the theater, you feel like you’re in Manhattan. On top of that, I have never worked with a more supportive group of people,” said Anthony. 

Comedian Paul Anthony hosts the 15th annual Long Island Comedy Festival on July 9 and 10

This year, the theater is having a condensed version of the festival. “We normally present two weekends of the Festival —one at the beginning of the summer and one at the end,” said Sanzel. “We thought it would be a fun, upbeat way of welcoming people back to the theatre.”

For the theater’s first live mainstage production in approximately 16 months, Sanzel chose to present The Fantasticks. The longest running musical, it played for 42 years off-Broadway and is an allegorical tale about two fathers who trick their children into falling in love by pretending to feud. 

“We wanted to open with something that has name recognition and strong artistic value, but is incredibly entertaining. It has a beautiful message, it has a small cast, and it’s not tech-heavy. We selected it at a time when we did not know that we could open to full capacity,” Sanzel said. “We’re coming out of the pandemic, strong but bruised by the world. I thought that was part of the message of the show. It also has a glorious score … I knew that I could put together a very strong cast. I knew it was the right time. It’s manageable as we’re reopening.” 

Sanzel sought out actors with whom he had previously worked, reaching out to individuals with existing connections to Theatre Three. Meg Bush, of Stony Brook, found that returning to the theater was like coming home. While she was growing up, her mother acted in children’s theater and she took acting classes at before making her official stage debut in Theatre Three’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.

“I’ve been an actor since I was 18, when I did all the touring productions, some mainstage productions, and all of the children’s theater. Jeff breathes life and beauty and humor into each show he directs and moments in between too. He is the life and soul of theater; it’s impossible not to be drawn back. It’s a family,” she said. 

Steve McCcoy and Meg Bush star in The Fantasticks. Photo by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

While Sanzel had artistic and practical reasons for choosing The Fantasticks, Bush,  who plays Luisa/The Girl, views this particular play as both an example and emblem of what makes live theater culturally and emotionally important. “Theater is such a beautifully organic way of producing compassion in everyone who is willing to experience it. We can step into another’s shoes, and open our eyes to the experiences of everyone around us,” she said. “It can be so enlightening and such a gift to see the world outside of our own minds and understand people at their core, without reading it on a page or seeing statistics.” 

Steve McCoy, who plays El Gallo/The Narrator, also has a long history with Theatre Three. Already working as a professional actor, he first appeared onstage in Kiss Me, Kate. Later, when he was exploring the production and administrative elements of creating theater, McCoy took a job as associate artistic director, a position he held for seven years before he returned to acting full-time. “I still consider Theatre Three to be my home away from home. I can’t think of a more appropriate and amazing place to get back on stage. It has literally saved my life at times,” he said. 

The reopening of Theatre Three is a chance for audiences and performers to reconnect with each other in a way the pandemic prevented. “Theater offers great adventure, which we have been lacking for at least the past year,” said Bush. “It’s such a gift.”

Theatre Three is located at 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson. All seats for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit are $10; Long Island Comedy Festival tickets are $35; and tickets to The Fantasticks are $35 adults, $28 seniors, and $20 students. To order, please call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Tara Mae

It’s time to celebrate! In honor of the Heckscher Museum of Art’s 100th anniversary, the museum will present a centennial exhibit, The Heckscher Museum Celebrates 100: Tracing History, Inspiring the Future from June 5 to Jan. 10, 2022. 

The exhibit is both a retrospective and a promise of future endeavors. Grouped chronologically by year, it encompasses the entire museum and features art and artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media, acquired as part of its collection over the years.

“The work in our collection belongs to us. Because of the size of the museum, our permanent collection includes 2300 objects and at any one time we can only show about 100 things. It fills the entire museum; one big show,” said curator Karli Wurzelbacher. “I looked at the museum’s 100 year history and identified four key moments that are important to who we are as an institution.”

These elements are the museum’s founding, its relationship with local artist George Grosz, the influence of Long Island artists Arthur Dove and Helen Torr, and the largest donation ever received by the museum ­— a 363 piece Baker/Pisano collection of American Modernism in multiple forms: sculpture, watercolor, paintings, and pastels.

Founded in 1920 by Anna Atkins Heckscher and August Heckscher, the museum’s original collection was donated by the couple, who built it from scratch and gathered artwork with the museum in mind, according to Wurzelbacher. 

Having emigrated from Germany to escape the Nazis’ rise to power in the 1930s, Grosz lived in Huntington from 1947 until his death in 1959 and became very involved in the work of the Heckscher. 

“He visited the museum, served as a juror for contemporary art shows, taught private art lessons for adults in the community, and then the museum started collecting his works. [Our] collection didn’t start growing until the 1960s when we started adding works, slowly … He is one of the first artists we started collecting,” said Wurzelbacher.

Grosz’ most famous painting, Eclipse of the Sun, is featured in the centennial exhibit and serves perhaps as a symbol for both the artist and museum’s ties to the local community. 

After Grosz painted Eclipse in 1926, it was shown once at a European exhibition. It was then lost to the public for the next 40 years, until a visitor to the museum disclosed that they were in possession of it. The Heckscher’s art director at the time, Eva Gatling, launched a campaign to acquire the painting.

“…Gatling was one of the first female [museum] art directors in the country. She saw the painting and mobilized the community to pitch in and buy the work. About 200 people donated money to purchase work,” Wurzelbacher said. “Students at Huntington High School took up a collection. It’s a fantastic story about the community coming together collectively to buy one of the most important works of the 20th century by a local artist.”

Like Grosz, Arthur Dove and Helen Torr made Long Island their adopted home. The museum, which has the largest collection of Torr’s work, will display archival materials such as paint brushes and paints used by the couple, as well as their artwork. 

Peers of Georgia O’Keefe and figures of American Modernism, they lived on a boat docked in Huntington Harbor during the 1920s to 1930s and purchased a cottage in Centerport that was acquired by the museum in 1998.

“Their artwork, while abstract, distills their experiences living on the Long Island Sound. They are so important in the history of American Modernism and the history of Long Island art. Dove is considered the first American artist to work with abstraction in the 1910s … In 1972, Eva Gatling [organized] the first ever museum exhibition of Helen Torr, whose work is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” said Wurzelbacher. 

Unlike many other museums, the Heckscher owns its entire collection, built up over the years largely through acquisitions and donations. The Baker/Pisano collection, featuring work by O’Keefe and Florine Stettheimer, was donated in 2001. It also contains work by Long Island artists and reflects a connection to the area.  

“In doing this process, it has been remarkable in seeing these deep local ties. We show Long Island and local art, and are able to put it in a national and international context,” Wurzelbacher explained. 

The scope of the exhibit, however, embraces and extends beyond these motifs. “We also have outstanding acquisitions that don’t relate to these themes,” she added. 

“A lot of the show is masterworks of collections … things we exhibit rarely but that we wanted to get out for this occasion, as well as historical ephemera: old photos of previous exhibits and photos of the museum as it looked soon after it opened.”  

In September, about two dozen objects will go off-view and other art will go on-view. Originally intended for 2020, the museum’s centennial plans were postponed due to the pandemic. “I am happy to have the extra time; it allowed us to end the show with recent acquisitions. Had we done the show a year ago, we wouldn’t have been able to include them,” Wurzelbacher said. 

Tickets are available for purchase online at www.heckscher.org. Timed ticketing is required. The museum is open Thursday to Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-380-3230.

By Tara Mae

It runs in the family! The third annual All in the Family art show opened at the Port Jefferson Village Center’s Gallery on June 2. “This particular show is for artists [who] have a family member who is also artistic to show how artistic talent runs in families. It is my most requested show; artists really look forward to it every year. Many contact me and ask when I will be having it,” said Gay Gatta, the exhibit’s organizer and curator.

A number of artists, like Marg Governale of Middle Island, have participated in the show before and appreciate the opportunity to share the experience with siblings, children, and grandchildren. 

“[The] exhibit is really exciting because I get to see not only great art from artists that I know but the talents of their family members … who may not usually exhibit their art. It’s fun to see their excitement and to hear their stories of how and why they are here,” said Governale. 

“It also gives me the opportunity to do something special with a family member, to bring them into my world. In the past my brother, Jeff, has participated in this exhibit. This year my sister, Susan [Carricato], also an aspiring artist, is exhibiting alongside me.”

Governale, who is primarily a landscape painter, chose to submit her landscape oil painting, Summer at Eagle Lake, to the exhibit. Carricato’s piece, A Day at the Vineyard, is an acrylic landscape painting. 

In addition to landscapes, the show features portraits and more abstract works, although there is no overarching stylistic theme to the show. Its concept was developed by Gatta after discussing familial talents with artists and identifying the abilities in her own family. 

“When speaking to the artists, they would mention members of their family that were very talented. I have many in my family as well and thought it would be a unique show and fun for the artists to exhibit with their families,” Gatta said. 

Beyond showcasing talent, the exhibit is a way for inexperienced artists to show their work in a gallery for the first time, according to Gatta. Having it at the gallery also eliminates some of the economic barriers artists may otherwise encounter, making it easier for any interested party to participate. 

“So many [artists] don’t feel their art is good enough for a gallery … This gives them the push they need to show their art and have others critique it positively, so they just might continue to exhibit their artwork. I have always had my shows in free venues … otherwise it can be very costly for an artist to exhibit,” she added. 

For Terry Falquero of Sound Beach, exhibiting art with her daughter, Tabitha Grit, was a realized ambition. 

Falquero’s landscape oil painting, On the Rocks, Please, is a view of the Neversink River in upstate New York. Grit’s entry into the exhibit, Honey Bee, is a mixed media portrait.  

“My daughter Tabitha is also an artist, but rarely exhibits her artwork in this forum. She prefers to show online. Ever since she was a little girl coloring with crayons, I’d dream of us some day showing artwork together. Now with this exhibit, it has finally come true,” she said. 

The Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson will present All in the Family Reunited through June 30. The second floor gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. Join the artists for a COVID-safe reception on Sunday, June 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call 802-2160 or visit www.portjeff.com/gallery/.