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'Cave of Adullam' will be screened at Theatre Three on Oct. 10. Photo courtesy of PJDS
Please note: The movie line-up has been updated.
Line-up spotlights how singular stories impact society

By Tara Mae 

What responsibility to people have to each other and the planet? This question is a recurring theme examined when the award-winning Port Jefferson Documentary Series’ film festival returns this fall. The season kicks off Monday, Sept. 19 and runs on select Mondays through Nov. 21. 

“There is an underlying thread of social responsibility — stand up and do the right thing or at least recognize when things are going wrong and put a spotlight on it —  throughout the whole season. It takes a lot of guts to take such a stance,” said co-Director Lyn Boland.

Screenings will be held in person at 7 p.m. With the exception of Rebellion and Heart and Soul, which will be screened at John F. Kennedy Middle School, 200 Jayne Blvd. in Port Jefferson Station, all documentaries will be shown at Theatre Three, 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson. 

“This series offers a valuable service, We are offering an opportunity for an arts organization in our community. Many of these films are noncommercial; people would not necessarily be able to see them in movie theaters,” said Theatre Three’s Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel. 

‘An Act of Worship’

Sponsored by the Suffolk County Film Commission, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, Maggio Environmental, Maia Salon Spa and Wellness, and Covati and Janhsen, CPAs, the festival, which started in 2005, will present seven thought-provoking documentaries this year.

Evoking questions of personal responsibility, public activism, and corporate accountability, these documentaries explore the private motivations of public figures, community workers, and morally dubious entities who exploit areas of opaque legality for profit. 

Kaepernick & America kicks off the series, exploring the thought process of a man whose actions speak loudly; An Act of Worship amplifies the ingenuity, initiatives, and endurance of female Muslim American activists; The Cave of Adullam chronicles the steadfast dedication of a Black martial arts sensei striving to support at-risk Black youths; Heart and Soul will appeal to rock and roll fans; and Rebellion, American Pain, and The YouTube Effect detail the detrimental impact of a trifecta of concurrent crises: climate change, opioid addiction, and misinformation, respectively. 

“This festival really has something for everybody. I do think that we have some really remarkable films. Quite a number explore current events — things that are so much on everyone’s mind,” Boland added.

Following every screening, Tom Needham, host of The Sounds of Film on WUSB, will emcee a Q&A session with the director or producer of the documentary. Some guests will appear in person while others will appear via Zoom.

The documentaries are selected by the all-female film board: co-directors Lyn Boland, Wendy Feinberg, and Barbara Sverd as well as Honey Katz, Lorie Rothstein, and Lynn Rein. Collectively known as “the film ladies,” each woman nominates a documentary to be included in the series and if approved, arranges for the speaker(s) to participate in the Q&A. 

After its nomination, the board and volunteers review the film to decide whether it makes the cut. The next step can be among the most challenging: securing the rights to show the documentary. This feat is generally negotiated by contacting the film distribution company or reaching out directly to a filmmaker in person at a festival, or through email and phone. Certain documentarians, such as Alex Winter (The Youtube Effect), have previously shown other work at the Port Jefferson Documentary Series, and thus have an existing connection to it. 

Films are largely sourced from festivals like the TriBeca Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival. Board members pay their own travel expenses, tickets, and industry passes.  

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series is a passion project for everyone involved. 

“My favorite parts of this endeavor are attending film festivals, previewing films on the big screen, and meeting the directors and subjects in the films in person. The satisfaction of having previewed dozens of films and finally then narrowing down to seven of the best with guest speakers for each…I love it. To me, it is entertainment,” said co-director Wendy Feinberg.

Individual tickets are $10 each online or at the door. A season pass is $58 and also available online or at the door. 

For further details about the documentaries, booking tickets, or the series in general, visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

Film Schedule
‘Kaepernick & America’

The season begins with a screening of Kaepernick & America at Theatre Three on Sept. 19. The documentary relives the summer of 2016, an election year with unrest rumbling through America, when Colin Kaepernick took a knee and America lost its mind. Kaepernick & America examines the man and his protest, exploring the remarkable conflict stirred by such a symbolic gesture. Guest speaker will be co-director Tommy Walker.

Up next is An Act of Worship on Oct. 3 at Theatre Three. The film weaves a glorious tapestry of personal stories, verité, archival footage, and home movies together, to open a window into the world of Muslim Americans. The film follows three women activists who have come of age since 9/11 and who are part of a new generation of Muslims in America. Guest speakers will be director Nausheen Dadabhoy and producer Sofian Khan.

The award-winning film Cave of Adullam heads to Theatre Three on Oct. 10. The film focuses on martial arts sensei Jason Wilson and his efforts to help often-troubled black youths from Detroit at the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy that he founded in 2008. Guest speaker will be director Laura Checkoway.

■ After a brief hiatus, the series continues with a screening of Rebellion at John F. Kennedy Middle School on Oct. 24. The film gives us an in-depth look into the global environmental movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), established in the United Kingdom, from its beginnings in 2018. Guest spaker will be co-director Maia Kenworthy via Zoom.

■ The festival continues with a a preview screening of Heart and Soul at John F. Kennedy Middle School on Nov. 7. The first-ever Rock & Roll Show at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater electrified the teenagers who waited for hours to see their new idols – Chuck Berry; the Chantels; Frankie Lymon; and a roster of some of the greatest talent of the time. Fourteen-year-old Kenny Vance sat in the balcony mesmerized by a unique style of music that still resonates for him -and many of us- half a century later. The film seeks to solve the question that may never be answered, because, like all art, it is about feelings: What was that particular magic that grabs a heart and never lets it go? Guest speaker will be director Kenny Vance with a vocal harmony performance by Vance & the Planotones.

■ Moving into November, American Pain will be screened at Theatre Three on Nov. 14. A jaw-dropping true crime documentary, the film tells the story of twin brothers and bodybuilders Chris and Jeff George, who operated a franchise of pain clinics in Florida where they handed out pain pills like candy. Director Darren Foster offers an incredibly compelling and shocking story that exposes the tower of corruption that made the George’s enterprise so massively successful. Guest speaker will be producer Carolyn Hepburn.

The Youtube Effect heads to Theatre Three on Nov. 21. The documentary takes viewers on a timely and gripping journey inside the cloistered world of YouTube and parent Google. It investigates YouTube’s rise from humble beginnings in the attic of a pizzeria to its explosion onto the world stage, becoming the largest media platform in history and sparking a cultural revolution, while creating massive controversy in the age of disinformation. The film is a startling but necessary look at a website that has become so intertwined with our daily lives. Guest speaker via Zoom will be director Alex Winter.

*Please note all films begin at 7 p.m.

 

'Right and Left' by William Sidney Mount (1850)

By Tara Mae

Idyllic, intimate scenes of small town life and sublimely serene landscapes. Warmly illuminated faces, too often absent in American fine art, immortalized for generations. William Sidney Mount’s art both embraced and defied the standards of the 19th century. 

Through this prism, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) will present a special program titled “William Sidney Mount and Long Island’s Free People of Color” at the Brewster House (c. 1665) in Setauket on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The cover of Katherine Kirkpatrick and Vivian Nicholson-Mueller’s new book.

The talk by Katherine Kirkpatrick and Vivian Nicholson-Mueller, co-authors of The Art of William Sidney Mount: Long Island People of Color on Canvas, will explore the identities and lives of the 19th century Black, Native-Black and Black-White people who Mount portrayed in many of his works as well as their ties to the Three Village community. 

During the presentation’s two sessions, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m., Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller will discuss researching and writing their book, which delves into some identities of Mount’s most notable subjects: people who are largely missing, erased, otherized, or caricatured in American art of the 1800s.

Each session will be followed by a Q&A segment, book signing, artwork presentation, and tour of the Brewster house. 

“[Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller] put forward research that makes you want to ask more questions and think about who these people were…What were their lives like? Who were the other people that lived here? What were their relationships like?” said WMHO’s President Gloria Rocchio.

The event will be held at the historic Brewster House in Setauket, which Mount painted in ‘Long Island Farmhouses’ (see cover photo)

Among the individuals that the book and presentations will highlight are Henry Brazier, the left-handed fiddler in Right and Left (a portrait that is a stark departure from the racist caricatures of Black fiddlers typical of the time); George Freeman, the lively musician in The Banjo Player; Robbin Mills, the attentive outside audience in The Power of Music; and, Rachel (who’s last name will be discussed at the presentation), the poised fisherwoman in Eel Spearing in Setauket. 

Mount’s portrayal of these people is noteworthy in its normalcy. Rather than racist caricatures, at the time a prevalent American representation of any nonwhite person, he painted people as they were: members of the local community. 

So it is arguably a bit jarring to learn that, despite what much of his art might imply, Mount was not a abolitionist, an incongruous revelation that Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller address in the book and will acknowledge in the talks.  

“Mount was a complex man,” Kirkpatrick said. Despite the multitudes he contained, Mount’s artistic aims appear simpler: inspired by historical paintings he admired, Mount painted what he knew. 

‘Long Island Farmhouses’ by William Sidney Mount (1862-63)

And, Mount knew Long Island, particularly the Brewster house, which is now owned by WMHO and was restored in 1968 to appear as it did in his painting Long Island Farmhouses which is now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mount even parked his mobile studio on the Brewster property while painting other farmhouses.  

Beyond his appreciation for the landscape, Mount was also acquainted with the Brewster house’s inhabitants. George Freeman of The Banjo Player and Rachel, of Eel Spearing in Setauket, who may have been a Brewster, were just two residents that Mount painted, according to Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller. 

While some structures featured in his landscapes, like the Brewster House, have had both their facades and histories preserved, not much has been cohesively published about the people who populated his paintings, many of whom were friends, neighbors, and townspeople. 

‘The Power of Music’
by William Sidney Mount, 1847

Rocchio sees “Color and Canvas…” as a way of correcting the apparent information vacuum. “I am looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to learning more about who lived and worked in the Brewster House…Any time we can bring out new information about the properties that we own, we are incredibly interested in the projects,” Rocchio said. 

It was such a search for knowledge that first drew educator and genealogist Nicholson-Mueller to the project. While on a quest for genealogical discovery, she learned that she is probably a descendant of Mount, the Brewsters, and many of the people he captured on canvas, including Mills, of The Power of Music. 

Having already bonded over a shared loved of history after meeting at the home of a mutual friend, she teamed up with Kirkpatrick, a historical fiction and nonfiction author, who grew up in Stony Brook. 

‘The Banjo Player’ by William Sidney Mount (1856)

“The research was a gift to myself; and it is Vivian’s and my gift to the people of the Three Villages, St. James and Smithtown. The details we put together will broaden people’s perspectives and knowledge of familiar places,” Kirkpatrick said. 

Each woman already had connections to the WMHO and were looking to work on a project together. Kirkpatrick is the author of Redcoats and Petticoats, a children’s book told through a young boy’s perspective about the British occupation of Long Island during the American Revolution and the Culper Spy Ring. Research and other projects have put her in contact with the WMHO over the years. 

Nicholson-Mueller has worked as a volunteer docent for the WMHO at the Thompson House, another historic property it owns. She has also conducted research on the Brewsters and Thompsons.

So, history is both a personal interest and professional passion for Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller. “Color on Canvas…” is a continuation of their efforts to make the past come alive for modern audiences by broadening the palette of people’s understanding.  

“I am hoping that people learn about Mount as an individual; about the lives and history of the people of color who lived in Brookhaven during this period and have heretofore been neglected or ignored,” Nicholson-Mueller said. 

Tickets to “William Sidney Mount and Long Island’s Free People of Color” at the Brewster House are $8 per person; space is limited and anyone interested in attending must register in advance by calling 631-751-2244. 

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There will two additional local events to celebrate the book launch of The Art of William Sidney Mount: Long Island People of Color on Canvas: 

On Sunday, October 2nd, the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A; Stony Brook, will host an Author’s Talk on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. It will include a presentation by Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller as well as a book signing, banjo and fiddle music, refreshments and a gallery tour, where The Banjo Player and Right and Left will be on display. Fee is price of admission. Visit wwwl.longislandmuseum.org.

On Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m., the Three Village Historical Society will host a Zoom lecture with the authors. The event is free for TVHS members, with a $5 suggested donation for nonmembers. Registration is through www.tvhs.org/lecture-series. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

The entrance to Cedar hill Cemetery. Photo by Chris Ryon

By Tara Mae

From slightly spooky to sublimely serene, the Port Jefferson Village Center’s latest exhibit captures the majesty and tranquility of Port Jefferson’s historic Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Titled Cedar Hill Cemetery: Hidden Sanctuary of Our Past, the exhibit of approximately 60 photos offers insight into the still-operational, non-denominational cemetery as seen through the lens of Port Jefferson Historian Chris Ryon and historic photographs from the Library of Congress.  

The Hulse family plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Photo by Chris Ryon

Located on the second floor mezzanine of the Center, the show, which opens Sept. 5, features black and white, color, and near-infrared photographs, evoking different emotions and transcending different periods of time. 

The photos trace the seasons, years, and decades of the cemetery, which was established in the mid-19th century and houses the grave markers for some of the area’s most prominent and historic names, including members of the Woodhull, Roe, and Mather families. 

Ryon, who began regularly photographing the cemetery about ten years ago, curated the exhibit and contributed most of the images, including all of the near-infrared pictures, which require a specially outfitted camera. He said he is fascinated by the distinctive, haunting images it can yield. 

One striking example is the Mather family marker, a 41-ton obelisk that is the largest memorial in Cedar Hill. Standing high above its neighbors, a focal point in any photo, it features the names of John R., prominent shipbuilder, and his son, John Titus, founder of Mather Hospital. 

With the near-infrared, details such as snow covered tombstones and skylines framed by trees and awash in clouds, the hint of the harbor in the background, take on a gothic luster. The cemetery’s gates appear stark and imposing. Names and details of the gravestones are frequently in sharp focus, names clearly visible. 

“I just keep going back to infrared; it is just so ominous looking … green turns white, shadows become more pronounced, etc,” Ryon said, adding that he was drawn to the cemetery as a subject because of his dual appreciation of photography and history. However, he sees the exhibit and cemetery appealing to more than photography and history buffs. 

The gates of cemetery came from the 71st regimental armory on Park Ave. in NYC. Photo from Library of Congress

“This cemetery has everything: photographic interest, history, insight into the lives of people in Port Jefferson … I return because it is a serene, moody place different from our everyday lives,” Ryon explained. “Through this exhibit, we are trying to encourage people to visit the cemetery; they will be rewarded for it.” 

Situated on 23 acres of carefully tended rolling hills (the highest point is 271 feet above sea level), grass roads, and reimagined sheep pasture at the end of Liberty Avenue, Superintendent of the cemetery Ken Boehm described Cedar Hill as “an oasis in the middle of suburbia.”  An additional few acres of untouched wooded property enhances the feeling that the cemetery complements and almost sprouts from the natural world. 

Architectural details, such a somewhat squat, “brick house” that once housed the deceased awaiting burial and now holds landscaping equipment, are testaments to the cemetery’s evolution from privately owned land to publicly accessible final respite. And, of course, historic Cedar Hill Cemetery continues to function as originally intended. 

“Not to sound corny or anything, but we are helping people at the worst time in their lives, so to be able to maintain this place, make it a sanctuary any way we can, is very rewarding,” Boehm said. 

In April of 1859 Hubbard Gildersleeve sold 13 acres of his land to the Cedar Hill Cemetery Association, which had been established on March 30, 1859, with the express purpose of establishing a public cemetery. Prior to this, residents had largely continued the long held custom of burying loved ones in family plots on private property. 

“These larger cemeteries were all established around the same time; there was a change in the way we thought about the dead, and how we wanted to respect them,” Ryon said. 

The Association still exists today and oversees the cemetery’s operations. 

Back row, from left, Nick Hartmann, Will Hatfield, Spencer Woolley, Tom Cove and Ken Boehm. Front row, from left, Nick Koban and Dennis Jourdain. Photo by Chris Ryon

Cedar Hill’s first official burial was of Mary B. Hulse, wife of Charles L. Hulse, who died March 27, 1859. Gravestones, belonging to people who predeceased her, soon joined Mrs. Hulse. 

Since it was considered both disrespectful and unwise to disinter the actual bodies from their more informal resting places, bits of soil from those locations were moved with the markers to their new homes. Families who visited would often picnic and tend the gravesites; photographs from different eras may show them sitting among the graves or looking towards the water. 

People still come to visit their loved ones, do some plantings at the family plots, and take in the views, though they rarely picnic, according to Boehm.

Other modifications, not just in behavior but appearance, have been made over the years. The tall gates, somehow both welcoming and austere, which greet or guard the entrance to the cemetery depending on the time of day, were purchased from a salvage yard in 1971. They once protected the 71st Regiment Armory on Park Avenue in New York City, and need some TLC after so much time on the job. 

“The gates will be restored; people want to restore them. Fundraising and other efforts are in development,” Ryon said. 

This ties into the larger goal of Hidden Sanctuary: to bring more public awareness to its existence and garner more support for its preservation and maintenance. The Cemetery Association and Village of Port Jefferson are discussing plans to create QR codes, implement cemetery tours, and generally invite people to take advantage of all the cemetery has to offer. 

“The exhibit is important to make the public aware of this beautiful sanctuary right in our village. Many do not know it exists. We are hoping to share our cemetery with everyone and take some of the stigma out. We are non-denominational, all are welcome,” President of the Cemetery Association Gail Tilton said.

The Port Jefferson Gallery at the Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson presents Cedar Hill Cemetery: Hidden Sanctuary of Our Past from Sept. 5 to Oct. 31.  Join them for an opening reception on Sunday, Sept. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information about the exhibit, call 631-473-4778 or visit www.portjeff.com/gallery. To learn more about Cedar Hill Cemetery, call 631-371-6113 or visit www.cedarhillcemeterypj.com.

A scene from Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. LucasFilm Ltd. & 20th Century Fox. Image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

By Tara Mae

The force is strong with Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre (CAC), which for the first time in its history will screen George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy for a limited week-long engagement.

From Aug.  26 to Thursday, Sept. 1, the CAC will screen A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983) in chronological order with successive screenings taking place on Friday and Saturday, for fans who want to binge watch the entire trilogy. It is a rare opportunity to watch the movies, each a mega blockbuster in its own right, on the big screen. They are rarely rereleased in theaters, much less shown in sequence, not due to lack of interest but rather lack of opportunity. 

“The original trilogy is rarely presented on the big screen, and for many years it was unavailable to theaters. It was only recently that LucasFilm has started to allow screenings of the original trilogy,” said Nate Close, Director of Marketing and Communications at the CAC.

A New Hope launched director George Lucas and actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford into the stratosphere of popular culture. The two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, chronicled the acute losses and buoying victories in the ongoing battle between good and evil as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and their compatriots fought Darth Vader and the imperial regime. 

The Cinema Arts Centre is screening the trilogy as part of an ongoing effort to reengage audiences and entice them back into the theater. For while Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and company had Darth Vader to battle and ultimately defeat, movie theaters, film centers, and other art institutions are contending with the effects of an ongoing pandemic and other hurdles. 

“The movie theater industry is still in the process of bouncing back from the Covid era, so we thought this was a good time to give fans something that would really excite them and motivate them to come out and see a movie,” Close said. “We hope that people will take advantage of the rare opportunity to see some of their favorite films on the big screen.” 

The trilogy spawned a number of prequels, graphic novels, books, television shows, and an entire alternative universe populated by heroic and villainous archetypes, emotive AI, and adorably ferocious creatures.

“The original Star Wars trilogy is timeless. Nearly everything about the films, from the characters, the music, and the world-building makes them some of the most memorable and entertaining movies ever made,” Close added. ”It’s hard to find another piece of fantasy media that has had such a tremendous impact on our culture. And that all started with the release of George Lucas’s original trilogy.” 

The Star Wars Trilogy screening is just the beginning of an upcoming season that incorporates crowd favorites and comfort watches selected in the spirit of encouraging audiences to return to the theater. A screening of The Godfather on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in honor of the 50th anniversary of its release, is the first in a series of Tuesday film screenings that celebrate the anniversaries of some Hollywood classics including To Kill a Mockingbird on Sept. 20 for its 60th anniversary; Lawrence of Arabia on Oct. 5 for its 60th anniversary; and Singin’ in the Rain on Nov. 20 for its 70th anniversary. And in the spirit of the holidays, the CAC will screen White Christmas on Dec. 13.

Since its reopening the Cinema Arts Centre has organized and presented a number of dynamic events geared towards welcoming diverse audiences, including comedy shows, book signings, a 12-hour horror movie marathon, the Maritime Film Festival, its Anything but Silent series that combines silent films with live accompaniment by organist Ben Model, documentary screenings, the Cult Cafe series, Cinema for Kids, Sunday Schmooze series, and much more. Check out their website at www.cinemaartcentre.org for a full schedule and ticket prices. 

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. For more information, call 631-423-7610.

'Sicilian Blue' by Stan Brodsky

By Tara Mae

Bold colors, rich compositions, lush imagery. Gallery North invites individuals to immerse themselves in the resplendent renderings and impactful art by late contemporary artist Stan Brodsky with Recastings: Stan Brodsky, a memorial retrospective on view from Aug. 11 to Sept. 18. An opening reception will be held on Aug. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

“Stan is a very influential artist to many artists practicing right now in our area. We felt it was important to show his work, keep it being viewed by the public and continuing to influence other artists. He has a great collection of work that is still available. The work itself is timeless and it’s important for it to be out there,” said Curator Kate Schwarting. 

‘Edge of Summer’ by Stan Brodsky

Brodsky, who died in 2019 at the age of 94, was an artist and educator based out of Huntington. Recastings, the third solo exhibit at Gallery North of the artist’s work, is a cultivated exploration of Brodsky’s more abstract art. 

Through his 75 year career, Brodsky created both representational and abstract art. The 1960s and 1970s were mainly periods of representational art, but by the 1980s, Brodsky was incorporating different texture, tones, and styles — developing the abstract techniques he would continue to cultivate for the next 40 years. 

Recastings primarily highlights the pieces he created during this era. The exhibit includes approximately 15 oil on canvas paintings of various sizes as well as large framed works on paper, unframed works on paper, oil on paper, and mixed media pieces, reflecting three hallmarks of his career: a powerful command of color, a profound connection to nature, and the support he provided to other artists. 

Color is a dynamic and defining character in Brodsky’s art, recognized by each individual interviewed for this article, while nature is a recurrent catalyst and muse.

“Stan Brodsky was renowned for his use of color. One critic called his colors ‘unnameable.’ The paintings change with the light, and so provide endless fascination,” Jeanne Hewitt, Brodsky’s widow and Trustee of the Stan Brodsky Trust, said.  

‘Sun and Soil’ by Stan Brodsky

The artist’s distinct use of color showcases the power of his brushstrokes and indicates the impression of the natural world on his work. According to Schwarting, these traits allow a larger audience to relate to Brodsky’s art and are part of what drew her and Gallery North’s Executive Director Ned Puchner to the art that they chose to display. 

“There are all different ways to connect with [Brodsky’s] work His use of color is really incredible —  the color just vibrates, it is so vibrant and electric; his inspiration from nature; and his mark making is exquisite. There are so many details in his pieces, the push and pull, the layering, each one is very complex,” Schwarting said. 

The exhibit is the continuation of a nearly 50 year relationship between Brodsky/his estate and Gallery North. Brodsky exhibited his work nationally and internationally but always maintained and nurtured his ties to the local artistic community of Long Island, including acting as teacher and mentor to many working artists in the area. 

“He encouraged and taught other artists up until a few months before his death…Stan was beloved for the encouragement he offered to other artists, and for the help he offered,” Hewitt said.   

Delving into Brodsky’s imprint on artists, “Stan Clan: Discussion on Brodsky’s Influence,” a panel talk with six of Brodsky’s former students reflecting on how he affected their creative development, will be held on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. 

When asked about this event, Puchner said he was most looking forward to the stories about Brodsky and his philosophy.  

“It seems like he was such a charismatic, emotional person. When watching some of the videos of his previous talks, you see he was not afraid to talk about things like love and the more heightened emotional aspects of the creative process. What elements of his creative process have been picked up by the next generation of his students? How that was imparted to his students and how they and whether they continue to do that themselves will be really interesting,” he added. 

Artist Doug Reina, who recently had a solo exhibit at Gallery North and will be one of the guests at the panel discussion, views Brodsky’s roles as artist and educator to be lasting gifts. “For those who know and appreciate his work, Stan Brodsky will always be remembered as a great painter who combined gorgeous colors, shapes, and compositions in a truly unique way,” he said. “For those lucky to have been his students, he will be remembered for his deep knowledge of painting that he always shared so generously. Perhaps the most important part of his legacy is how he helped so many artists grow, to take chances, to push beyond their limits.”

Reina will be joined at the discussion by fellow artists Susan Rostan, Peter Galasso, Marceil Kazickas, Ellen Hallie Schiff, and Alicia R. Peterson, each of whom studied and/or worked with Brodsky. 

As a complement to the exhibit, on August 24 at 6 p.m., Art of NYC and Long Island, in conjunction with Brodsky’s estate, will provide a presentation at the gallery about art conservation techniques: identifying and treating condition issues in paintings, works on paper, and also sculptures. The exhibit, panel discussion, reception, and presentation are free and open to the public. A photo catalogue with a short essay about Brodsky and his art will be available to visitors. 

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Recastings: Stan Brodsky is sponsored by Nancy Goroff, Jefferson’s Ferry, bid Architecture, and Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

'Untitled' by the Night Heron Artists

By Tara Mae

When people think of watercolors, Claude Monet’s technique is perhaps a person’s primary reference. But watercolor collective Night Heron Artists presents evidence that it is time to expand one’s mental palette with its latest exhibit, Let the Sun Shine, which explores the versatility of the form. The show will be on view on the second floor of the Port Jefferson Village Center through Aug. 24. 

“In my opinion watercolor is very different today than what it was; there are pieces today that are not watery, but more specific and defined,” said Night Heron Treasurer Ellen Ferrigno.

‘Poppy’ by Ellen Ferrigno

Featuring approximately 110 works of art by nearly three dozen artists, the exhibit also includes acrylic, gouache, pastel, and multi-media pieces in addition to the many watercolors. 

“Most artists explore other mediums and it enhances the show, having some pieces that stray from watercolor,” said Night Heron artist Gail Chase. 

Participants submitted on average three pieces to the show and many of them contributed to a collaborative watercolor, a focal point of Let the Sun Shine. The as-of-yet untitled work, a 20”x22” painting of sunflowers, was inspired by the war in Ukraine.

“With a war raging in Ukraine that is threatening its sovereignty, we felt that an awareness of the people’s courage and perseverance in their battle to remain free would best be illustrated through their flower, the sunflower,” said Ferrigno. 

The painting is encompassed by several individual sunflower renderings. This arrangement greets visitors as they come up the stairs to the 2nd floor of the Village Center, where the exhibit is displayed. 

While the artists frequently present one collaborative work in their exhibits —they once made a puzzle for the Port Jefferson Village Center and last year they painted birds on individual canvases that were then placed on a driftwood tree — this is on a different scale. 

“This project was much more involved and a bigger piece as well,” Chase said. Working on it three people at a time, the Night Herons completed the endeavor in about one month, a passion project for the group. 

‘Gaizing Ball’ by Leslie Hand

“People really spent time on this and you can see that; they didn’t just slap paint on the paper. The majority of our members contributed to it,” Ferrigno said.   

Such attention to detail and collaboration are tenets the Night Herons have observed since founder Adelaide Silkworth first invited an assortment of artistically minded people to paint at her house on Night Heron Drive in Stony Brook some 30 years ago. 

When she moved out of state, the Night Herons, having realized that they did not want to stop meeting despite the loss of their mentor, found a new home at the Port Jefferson Village Center. 

An egalitarian group, there are no regular instructors, rather participants share their expertise and knowledge with their compatriots, enabling people to organically improve their skills.  

“We occasionally invite a guest presenter to teach different techniques: landscapes, for example, but generally we assist each other,” Night Heron Mary-Jo Re said. “There are really so many excellent artists and you learn so much.” 

General administrative tasks, such as coordinating visiting artists, updating procedures, and finalizing bylaws, are handled by two co-leaders, the secretary, and treasurer. The Night Heron Artists meet every Thursday on the third floor of the Village Center, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The lighting on the third floor, overlooking harbor, is the best for painting,” Re said. Ferrigno added that it is “a most inspiring view for artists.” 

‘New Beiggnings’ by Gail Chase

There are currently 30 dues-paying members and 3 guests who pay on a per diem basis. Membership is $7.50 a week, paid in 10 week increments. Guests pay $10 per class. “We have artists of all levels, people who are just beginning, people midway though their art journey, and people who are very accomplished,” Chase said.

Having recently moved to a larger room on the third floor, each person now has his or her own table at which to work. The collective, currently seeking new members, prides itself on being a welcoming, inclusive haven for art enthusiasts.

“What I love about the group is how generous everyone is with their expertise: sharing paints, discussing technique, brainstorming ideas for paintings, and critiquing each other’s work,” co-leader Leslie Hand said. “My own work has grown in leaps and bounds due to this group. My mother was a watercolorist and I think she would be proud of how far I have come.” 

Indeed, creative fulfillment and personal connections are perhaps the most profound legacy of the Night Heron Artists and Let the Sun Shine. 

“This whole experience of being a Night Heron is one of the joys and blessings of my life,” Chase said. 

The community is invited to an art reception on Friday, July 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Port Jefferson Village Center is located at 101 E Broadway, Port Jefferson. For more information, cal 631-473-4778 or visit www.portjeff.com/gallery.

Above, a rock wall in a wildflower garden will be featured in this year's tour. Photo from NHS

By Tara Mae

Step into the serene respite of a restorative stroll through historic gardens and finely curated flora with Northport Historical Society’s annual Summer Splendor Garden Tour on Sunday, July 10.

A self-guided tour of seven unique gardens in Eatons Neck, Northport, Fort Salonga, Asharoken, East Northport, and Greenlawn, this annual fundraiser for the society is one of its most popular events, according to Northport Historical Society Events Director Karol Kutzma. 

One of the gardens in the tour. Photo from NHS

“It’s a joy for the horticulturists of the community. We have carefully selected from some of the most distinguished looking gardens to cover a variety of gardening styles. Every garden is different,” she said.

These privately owned and personally curated plantings include explorations of horticultural artistry, such as an organic farm garden, a modern allusion to Long Island’s agricultural past, and a wildflower garden, carefully expanded over the years, inspired by the famed English gardens. 

The organic farm garden complements herb and pollinator plantings with a vernaculture design for an apiary as well as poultry coops, composting structures, and raised beds. The wildflower garden offers a visual banquet, interspersed with birdbaths and a rock wall. 

Another stop on the tour highlights a garden that was developed by slowly introducing native plants over a 10 year period. Pollinators, birds, insects, and other wildlife recognize the plants and use them for food and shelter. Like many on the tour, it is a deer resistant garden. The property also showcases a pond and rain garden. All of these elements are purposed to benefit the ecosystem. 

One of the gardens featured in the tour. Photo from NHS

Other gardens sport a plethora of shade and sun flowers, annuals and perennials, rose bushes, flowering shrubs, colorful trees, hidden paths, and sitting areas for immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, and natural perfumes. Crafted largely by the homeowners themselves, these gardens reflect different areas of interest. 

“This tour is so much fun because visitors get to explore extraordinary gardens they would not normally have access to and get inspired by the gardener’s creativity,” Northport Historical Society Director Caitlyn Shea said. “I am quite impressed with how the community comes together to support and fundraise for the Historical Society.” 

A few of the gardeners will be available to discuss their inspiration and process. Volunteers will be on site at every location to lead guests through the grounds, some of which also feature historic homes. One of the homes will be partially accessible and have a selection of food, drinks, and raffle tickets ready for purchase.

Each of the gardens will be only open to the public between noon and 4 p.m. Patrons will need to drive to the different stops on the tour and avail themselves of street parking. In order to enter the properties, they must present their tickets, which are actually tour booklets that give driving directions, comprehensive descriptions of the gardens, and other details. 

Interested parties may register for the tour online at www.northporthistorical.org. Tickets are $35 for members, $45 for nonmembers, and $50 if purchased the day of the tour. 

Patrons may pick up their ticket booklets at the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport on Friday, July 8 or July 9 between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. or after 11 a.m. on July 10. Raffle donations will be accepted through July 5. 

For more information, please call 631-757-9859.

Bay House owner Brian Warasila will be featured in A World Within a World: Long Island's Bay Houses. Photo by Martha Cooper, 2015

By Tara Mae

We are all islanders here, whether by birth or by choice. Individual relationships with the water may vary, but for many it is a core component of cultural identity: a source of relaxation, recreation, sustenance, and survival. 

The Maritime Film Festival, presented by Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington in conjunction with Long Island Traditions in Port Washington and The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center in Patchogue, explores the flow and ebb of people’s connections to the sea and the lifestyles it provides. 

The festival will feature three films that are anchored in an appreciation of welcoming and weathering the elements of island life. Each documentary will have its own screening and be followed by an audience Q&A session with the filmmakers and others involved in the projects. [See schedule below.]

The festival begins with The Bungalows of Rockaway on Tuesday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m. Narrated by Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons, the film chronicles 100 years in the tragicomic tale of New York’s biggest summer bungalow colony. 

“The Bungalows of Rockaway illustrates, through the detailed, eloquent, diverse voices of historians, bungalow residents, and Rockawayans and the use of archival images, the long history, meaningful to residents past and present and the city as a whole,” said producer Elizabeth Logan Harris who will participate in the post-screening discussion.

A World Within a World: The Bay Houses of Long Island will be screened on Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m. This film explores from historical and contemporary perspectives the lives, histories, and experiences of bay house owners in the Town of North Hempstead. 

“The bay houses have a rich history going back to the 18th century and are a part of Long Island’s heritage that many, including myself, knew little about. Besides their aesthetic beauty — giving unparalleled access to the beauty of the marshlands on the south shore — they also offer a glimpse into a sub-culture of families who maintain and love the houses for many generations,” co-director Greg Blank said. 

Co-director Barbara Weber and folklorist Nancy Solomon, who helped put together the festival, will join Blank to talk about the documentary after the viewing.

The festival concludes with Maiden, on Tuesday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. The documentary is the story of the first all female crew, assembled by British sailor Tracey Edwards, to compete in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race, a 32,000 mile global circumnavigation competition.  

“We were just people racing around the world and trying to win. The social impact was not apparent to us until later and it is incredible how the story resonates 30 years later,” crew member Dawn Riley, now Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing Center, said. 

She and Edwards will reunite to answer questions and reflect on their experiences. 

While Maiden has previously been shown at Cinema Arts Centre, this is the first time The Bungalows of Rockaway and A World Within a World: The Bay Houses of Long Island are being presented there.

“We are thrilled to have such a great range of films,” said Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the Cinema Arts Center.

Nancy Solomon, a folklorist who specializes in maritime culture and Executive Director of Long Island Traditions, a nonprofit that focuses on recording local architecture, organized the film festival as a way to promote and ideally preserve the ethnography of Long Island.

“Long Island is becoming overdeveloped, especially along its coastlines. So the traditions of boat builders, boatyards, fishermen, baymen, bay houses, are in danger. If we don’t start learning about people carrying out these traditions, we are going to lose them,” Solomon said.  “The purpose of this festival is to introduce [audiences] to a very rich heritage of people and places that are part of our cultural identity.” 

She pitched the idea to Skolnick, who hopped on board. 

“It is a true collaboration,” Skolnick said. “At the Cinema, we try to bring great movies from around the world and bring great stories from the local community. These movies fit perfectly with the sort of stories we want to tell.” 

A continuation of a film series that began at Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center in April, Solomon worked closely with both Plaza Cinema and Cinema Arts Centre to create a celebration of coastal culture through cinematic storytelling.

“I want the festival to help educate people about maritime culture of Long Island and how we can preserve it. The films we selected are all about different places in our region and topics relating to struggles of local people,” she said.

The festival was made possible through grants from the Suffolk County Office of Cultural Affairs, Robert L. Gardiner Foundation, and National Endowment of the Arts. 

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Avenue in Huntington. Tickets to the Maritime Film Festival are $17 for the general public and $12 for members of Cinema Arts Centre. For more information about the festival and films, please visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

Film Schedule:

■ The festival kicks off with a screening of The Bungalows of Rockaway on June 14 at 7:30 p.m. Narrated by Academy-Award winner Estelle Parsons, The Bungalows of Rockaway tells 100 years of the tragicomic story of New York City’s largest summer bungalow colony, that of the Rockaways. With enticing vintage postcards, archival photography, Marx Brothers home movies, hilarious boardwalk tales, personal accounts recounted by bungalow residents and Rockawayans alike, all grounded by historians, the film brings viewers close to the highs and lows of a large, thriving, affordable, urban seaside resort. The film, directed by Jennifer Callahan and co-produced by Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris, will be followed by a Q&A with Harris.

■ Up next is A World Within a World: Long Island’s Bay Houses on June 21 at 7:30 p.m. A World Within a World explores the lives, history, and experiences of bay house owners in the Town of Hempstead from both a historical and contemporary perspective. Based on fieldwork by folklorist and maritime ethnographer Nancy Solomon of Long Island Traditions, local filmmakers Barbara Weber and Greg Blank capture the essence of how bay house owners have persevered and endured through severe storms and hurricanes as well as eroding marshlands all while preserving traditions that began in the early 19th century. The film profiles Long Island families who have owned bay houses for over 100 years including the Muller, McNeece, Burchianti, Warasila, Jankoski families. The screening will be followed by a Q&A and discussion with directors Greg Blank and Barbara Weber and folklorist Nancy Solomon.

■ The festival closes with a screening of Maiden on July 12 at 7:30 p.m. In 1989, long dismissed and belittled as the only woman crewmember on the ships where she worked, British sailor Tracy Edwards set out to prove herself in the biggest way possible. She assembled the world’s first all-female international crew and entered the Whitbread Round the World Race, a 32,000 mile global circumnavigation competition that, until then, had been the exclusive domain of male seafarers. The screening will feature a Q&A with Maiden Captain Tracy Edwards and sailor Dawn Riley, Director of Oakcliff Sailing School.

 

Photo by Raina Angelier

By Tara Mae

Communities, both human and otherwise, thrive through connection. Four Harbors Audubon Society celebrates these relationships with a Tree Fest, a community event hosted at Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road in Setauket, on Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will be able to partake in raffles, face painting, arts and crafts, educational exhibits by Avalon Nature Preserve and Living Lands Habitat Garden Design, a live bird presentation by Sweetbriar Nature Center of Smithtown, and other activities.  

During the event, Four Harbors Audubon Society will be giving away native tree and shrub whips procured from the Department of Conservation’s Saratoga Farm. These will include Black Cherry, Pussy Willow, Bare Oak, Beach Plum, Bayberry, Button Bush, and Red Osier Dogwood. In addition, a native plant sale will feature local flora such as shrubs, grasses, and spring/early summer flowering herbaceous plants. 

Board member Sue Avery said that the demand for native plants has increased in recent years as gardeners have become more cognizant of the benefits of growing them. Four Harbors promotes the national Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds initiative, which is an online resource that identifies the best plants for local birds. “We hope to raise awareness on the significance of trees and native plants for our ecosystem and how essential they are for birds,” Avery added.

Native plants are integral to the biosphere and local ecosystems. They provide fruits, berries, and nuts for birds as well as other animals and create a habitat for pollinators and other insects. 

The Tree Fest aligns with the national Audubon Society’s objective of restoring the wildlife and plants that have diminished or disappeared because of climate change, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, pollution, and other environmental factors. 

“Basically, National Audubon and Audubon New York call this type of work bird-friendly communities work,” President of the Audubon Society Joy Cirigliano said.

Creating and supporting a stable environment for birds is incorporated into the Audubon Society’s mission, which recently launched the Bird Oasis Program that encourages residents to construct habitats in their yards to support bird life. 

“Part of the Audubon Society’s work is to restore as much habitat as possible because when birds thrive, people prosper. Everything in the natural world is connected and the health of one goes hand and with the health of the other,” Cirigliano said. 

Throughout the year, the Audubon Society organizes bird walks, installs native plant gardens in public places, and advocates for open spaces. Such a commitment to the local environment and its inhabitants is a trait Three Village Historical Society (TVHS) Director Mari Irizarry recognizes well. 

“Community is at the core of every program we run at TVHS and, we are absolutely thrilled to host Four Harbors Audubon Society on May 28th for their annual Tree Fest,” Irizarry said. “We support Four Harbors Audubon Society mission to protect and preserve birds, wildlife, and the places and resources needed, for today and tomorrow.”

Admission to the Tree Fest is free with a rain date of May 29. For more information, please visit https://4has.org or call 631-675-1803. 

By Tara Mae

Proud portraits. Mixed media meditations. Vibrant colors and muted tones. A true exploration of artistic expression, the 26th annual Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum student exhibition is now on view in Huntington through May 29.

Jurors Karli Wurzelbacher, (Curator, at The Heckscher Museum), and local artist Emily Martin (a weaver, installation artist, and textile designer) had the difficult task of selecting 79 works out of 399 entries from 55 different schools. “It is our most competitive year yet,” said Director of Visitor Experience Kristina Schaaf.

Top awards went to four distinct mixed media works of art. 11th grader Ashley Park of Half Hollow Hills High School West won the  Celebrate Achievement Best in Show award for This is Who I Am; 12th grader Anjali Gauld of Manhasset High School received Second Place for Bowerbird’s Baubles; 12th grader Khizran Fatima of Hicksville High School captured Third Place for Sinf e Aahan (Women of Steel); 12th grader Charlotte Quintero of Hicksville High School received Fourth Place for Tattered Flesh. 

Long Island’s Best is a way to highlight the talent we have in our communities and connect it with the public. People come in and cannot believe that teenagers have created such high caliber art,” said Director of Education and Public Programs Joy Weiner.

The museum is an educational institution at its core and Long Island’s Best is the culmination of its school outreach program. High school art teachers arrange for their students to visit the museum either in person, or since the pandemic began, virtually. 

Educators at the museum guide the students through detailed study and discourse about works of art; students then select the works of art that most appeal to them as   inspiration for their own pieces. Participants include Artist Statements in their submissions, describing their methods, inspirations, and reactions to what they saw in the museum, as well as how it led them to creating their art. 

“Jurors reading about their work in their own words is a huge part of the process; it is so important for students to have to speak about what they are making,” Schaaf said. “The statements are also on view in exhibition. We take what every student has written about their process and ideas and we put it on the walls. Visitors hear from students themselves when they visit and we include little images of works that inspired them.” 

There are two awards that have not yet been determined: Visitors’ Choice, for which museum-goers may vote in person and Virtual Visitors Choice, for which website viewers may vote online. 

In addition to the month-long exhibition in the galleries, Mitchell’s, the Huntington-based retailer, and Firefly Gallery in Northport are currently showing select student works in their stores through May. 

Beyond the immediate satisfaction of having their efforts recognized, guest juror Martin, a finalist in Long Island’s Best when she was a junior at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in 2014, identifies with the impact participating in the exhibit can have on the students. 

“I was always interested in art, but was unsure if it would be something I would pursue until I got into the LI Best show. Being chosen for this exhibit jump started my journey to become an artist,” Martin said. 

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Avenue, Huntington is open Thursday to Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. $5 admission is suggested for adults, free for children under the age of 13. For more information, call 631-380-3230 or visit www.heckscher.org.