By Heidi Sutton
What inspires you? Perhaps the color blue? From now through March 21, the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery in St. James is featuring a unique juried exhibit centered around this calming color. Titled Inspirations in Blue, it highlights the talents of 46 artists from Long Island and beyond with 57 pieces in mediums including acrylic, ink, colored pencil, mixed media, oil, pastel and watercolor.
The call for entries challenged artists to enter artwork that reflected the captivating power of the color blue, and how it has enhanced the subject, theme or mood of the artwork. Allison Cruz, executive director at the Mills Pond Gallery, credits her staff member Irene Tetrault with coming up with the original idea of using a color.
“Blue represents the sky and sea. It is associated with freedom, imagination, sensitivity … I have seen many shows about colors and knowing how common the color blue is, especially in local landscape paintings, but I wanted this exhibit to look just a bit deeper into the color,” she explained.
The result was overwhelming. “We received over 183 pieces for this show! The exhibit was only posted locally,” said Cruz. “Sometimes I wish I had double the space to fill in the gallery so we could accept more work! On a whole, most entries were Long Island artists (or past Long Islanders who heard about the exhibit). There is such an abundance of talent on Long Island and we are so lucky to have so many wonderful spaces to show their work!”
Cruz is pleased with the result. “It is a beautiful show to look at … very pleasing to the eye. Viewers will find exactly what the call for work asked for: entries may range from serene landscapes to vibrant abstracts and anything in between,” she said.
Exhibiting artists include Lucia Alberti (Smithtown), Amal (Port Jefferson), Tina Anthony (Northport), Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Ernest Bellico (East Northport), Karen Bennett (Medford), Ivy Michelle Berg (Smithtown), Marlene Bezich (Middle Island), Joyce Bressler (Commack), Linda Ann Catucci (St. James), Gail L. Chase (Stony Brook), Donna Corvi (Montauk), Karin J. Dutra (Port Jefferson), Paul Jay Edelson (Poquott), Ellen Ferrigno (Port Jefferson), Vivian Gattuso (Ronkonkoma), Rhoda Gordon (Port Jefferson Station), Joyce Greenbaum (Smithtown), Jan Guarino (East Northport), Maria Hansson (Ronkonkoma), David Herman (East Meadow), Katherine Hiscox (Commack), James Kelson (Stony Brook), Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), John Koch (Hauppauge), Liz Kolligs (Glen Cove), Terence McManus (Mount Sinai), Margaret Minardi (Northport), Roni Murillo (Valley Stream), and Gail Neuman (Islip Terrace).
Also exhibiting are Robert Roehrig (East Setauket), Irene Ruddock (Stony Brook), Anita Schnirman (Kings Park), Joan Schwartzman (Maryland), Joan Sicignano (Central Islip), Gisela Skoglund (Kings Park), Mike Stanko (Valley Stream), Irene Tetrault (East Meadow), Susan Trawick (East Setauket), Oxana Uryasev (Port Jefferson), Nicholas Valentino (North Babylon), Mary Ann Vetter (St. James), Don Weber (Freeport), Nancy Weeks (East Setauket), Patty Yantz (Setauket) and Theodora Zavala (East Meadow).
The winners were announced at an artist reception on Feb. 22. First place was awarded to Gail Neuman for “Birches in Blue,” second place went to Karin J. Dutra for “Pria do Norte.” Honorable mentions were Shain Bard for “Birches in Blue Bottle,” Karen Bennett for “Tis the Season,” Marlene Bezich for “Your Colors,” Liz Kolligs for “Little Guide in Deep Winter,” Margaret Minardi for “Summer Blue” and Nicholas Valentino for “Shades of Blue.”
Because of all the positive feedback, Cruz is considering a similar theme in the future. “I’m already thinking about one with a much less common color! We really like to challenge artists to stretch themselves … to try something new.”
The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present Inspirations in Blue through March 21. Up next is Hand Drawn: A Juried Exhibition of Drawings opening April 25. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.