Arts & Entertainment

Some of Toni Frissell’s work includes photographs taken of the Kennedy family. Photo from Leighton H. Coleman III

By Jenni Culkin

The artistic photography of the late North Shore resident Toni Frissell will be on display at the Village Hall in her hometown village of Head of the Harbor from May 29 to June 11. The Village Hall will be featuring some of Frissell’s rarest works from private collections.

Frissell was a prominent photographer on the North Shore of Long Island throughout the 20th century. Her work in photography included fashion pieces, wedding snapshots and various photojournalistic photos.

“She had a very good eye and a sense of style,” said Leighton H. Coleman III, the village historian for the village of Head of the Harbor. “They were very personal and engaging photos.”

Frissell also used her photographic talents to illustrate children’s books throughout the 1940s. According to Coleman, these books have become extremely valuable and highly sought after by collectors.

Frissell’s work was featured in vintage magazines such as Vogue and Life.

“She had her own career and she was a trailblazer in her career,” Coleman said in an interview last week.

Visitors can also expect to learn more about Frissell during their time at the event. A micro-exhibit of the history of the Frissell family, photographs of Frissell by other famous photographers and  a copy of “Toni Frissell: Photographs 1933-1967” authored by her daughter will be available to view throughout the exhibit.

Some of Frissell’s family members and former sitters will be attending the exhibit. Her granddaughter, who followed in Frissell’s footsteps, will be one of the people in attendance.

The Village Hall will begin hosting the historic exhibit on May 29 with an opening reception at 5 p.m. The exhibit will be open to the public every afternoon through June 11.

Benner’s Farm in Setauket held a May Day festival on Sunday, May 3, much to the delight of the local community. The festivities included a dance around a maypole, live music and other activities.

Huntington Town hosted its 15th Annual Tulip Festival on Sunday, May 3, a springtime festival that is a free, family-oriented, floral event in Heckscher Park. It featured tulips, hands-on children’s activity booths and live entertainment. Hundreds of children and their families attended.

Amy Siebert, of Shirley, takes in the tulips at last year’s festival. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Julianne Cuba

On Sunday, May 3, the 15th Annual Huntington Tulip Festival will take place in Heckscher Park in Huntington.

Founded by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and organized by the Town of Huntington, with chief festival sponsorship support from Astoria Bank, the tulip festival will be home to children’s activity booths, art exhibits and live performances. The festival will begin at 11 a.m., rain or shine.

“It’s a small-scale, family-oriented festival that really helps mark the beginning of spring with the blossoming of about 5,000 tulip bulbs,” Cuthbertson said in a phone interview this week.

Presented by the Huntington Arts Council, live performances will begin on the Chapin Rainbow Stage at noon. The Gizmo Guys will take the stage first, with a humor-filled performance appropriate for all ages, according to a town press release.

The Shinnecock American Indian Dancers will take the stage at 1:30 p.m., with a 45-minute dance presentation that will include audience participation. At 2:15 p.m., the Shinnecock American Indian Dancers will lead the re-enactment of the children’s parade that followed the 1920 dedication of Heckscher Park. It will include a new Tulip Festival Hat Contest for children and adults.

Paul Helou, an award-winning songwriter, actor and journalist, will be the final performer on the Chapin Rainbow Stage, at 3 p.m. Helou “performs a [blend] of bluegrass, Americana, roots and folk music for children that are high-energy, interactive events with quality original songs,” according to the press release.

On the same day, the 31st Annual Sheep to Shawl Festival presented by the Huntington Historical Society will take place at the historic Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House Museum and Barn. A free shuttle bus will transport visitors between the festivals.

‘Pathway,’ acrylic and pencil on canvas. Image from Ripe Art

By Ernestine Franco

Local artist Sue Contessa will have a solo show at the Ripe Art Gallery in Huntington from May 9 to 27. Meet the artist at a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on May 9.

The focus of Contessa’s art is the process and ritual of repetitive mark making. The color and depth in the paintings are created by alternating many layers of brush strokes and pencil lines. In discussing how she prepares for a new piece, Contessa said, “I establish criteria such as scale, color, size and placement of the marks. Making [these] decisions first allows me to proceed without interruption. Working this way, the act of painting becomes a form of meditation.”

Contessa is a longtime resident of St. James who has exhibited her work in Manhattan, England, and extensively across Long Island in solo and group exhibitions since the 1990s.

The Ripe Art Gallery is located at 1028 Park Ave., Huntington. For more information on the gallery, call 631-239-1805 or visit www.ripeartgal.com. For more information on the artist or to see more of her  paintings, visit www.suecontessa.com.

Standing in front of Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) at Port Jefferson Free Library's tea party are, from left, Linda Gavin; Earlene O’Hare; Carol Stalzer; Shirley Weiner; Stephanie Costanzo; Lucio Constanzo; Francesca Lutz; and Deborah O’Neil. Photo by Heidi Sutton

In celebration of the 90th anniversary of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary novel “The Great Gatsby,” the Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library held a Gatsby Tea Party fundraiser on Wednesday, April 29.

Guests enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dessert and sipped tea from their favorite teacups. Shirley Weiner presented a lecture on F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary works which was followed by a raffle drawing.

The Port Jefferson Historical Society loaned a period costume exhibit, featuring a flapper dress, a man’s tuxedo and a bridal trousseau, for the occasion.

Proceeds from the event will be used to fund projects at the library such as its Living Heritage programs, Dickens Festival events, music programs, Baby Book Welcome Bags, Vets Memorial Project, family carnival and more.

Chef Paolo Fontana demonstrates how to make pasta. Photo by Sue Wahlert

By Sue Wahlert

Chef Paolo Fontana emulates the true mantra of the Italians and cooking, “Pleasure equals eating.” The executive chef of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Café (SCGP), located on the campus of the State University of Stony Brook, he has created an epicurean delight in the midst of an institution that welcomes brilliant minds from across the world. This isn’t your typical university cafeteria, however. Here you will find the freshest ingredients combined with care to create lunches such as seared lamb loin with Indian spiced chickpea stew or roasted Scottish salmon with ratatouille. Sasha Abanov, deputy director of SCGP said, “This is the best café on campus. It is a great place to take our visitors.”

Aside from the wonderful bounty Fontana and his staff offer during the week, he also hosts the Culinary Master Series, a monthly live cooking demonstration open to the public held in the SCGP Café after hours. This evening event allows individuals who appreciate good food and love to cook to visit with Fontana as he tells stories about his passion and demonstrates techniques he’s learned through years of training and working with other chefs.

On Tuesday, April 7, Fontana held Is It Spring Yet?, the fifth in a series of seasonal cooking demonstrations. Held in the Café, guests are seated facing a large butcher-block table from which they view the Chef creating delicious dishes while being served a glass of sauvignon blanc or merlot wine. With the aid of a large flat-screen monitor and camera documenting the Chef’s work, visitors won’t miss anything he is preparing.

For $35 per person you can attend the SCGP Café’s Culinary Series and be rewarded with Fontana’s themed recipes, a food tasting and the opportunity to interact with the talented Chef. For Is It Spring Yet?, Fontana prepared fresh pasta, hollandaise sauce and panna cotta. Each guest receives a booklet with all the recipes for the evening, and the Chef welcomes questions while he is working.

As the lesson began, Fontana spoke about the “romance of making pasta on the tabletop.” Forming a carefully shaped mound of flour and organic eggs, he gently folded in freshly ground spinach to create beautifully colored pasta. He then demonstrated the kneading process and, after the dough rested, he cut a piece and fed it through a pasta machine attachment to create delicately thin sheets of pasta. He cut the sheets into ribbons of pasta ending the lesson. But there was more! The audience was treated to a dish of paglia e fieno — freshly made pasta with prosciutto, onions and peas coated in a cream sauce.

Like many impassioned chefs, Fontana likes to share stories about how he began his love affair with food. He fondly shared his “first culinary memory,” which was at the age of five when his parents took him to Italy. He recalled being in a wheat field from which stalks of wheat were pulled, soaked in water, rolled in flour and dried to create an original way of making pasta. He praises the use of only the freshest ingredients and the use of locally grown products when available. During the growing season, Fontana and his staff maintain an elaborate garden on the outside patio. It is not uncommon for the Café’s dishes to include homegrown tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lavender and more from their garden.

Two other dishes were demonstrated that evening ­— hollandaise sauce and, for dessert, panna cotta. “The hollandaise sauce is an emulsion sauce,” Fontana explained as he injected some of his scientific cooking knowledge into the lesson. “It is a great way to show your culinary skills,” he smiled. Made of egg yolks, butter and lemon juice, it is a hand-whisked sauce that takes time and concentration. While whisking he joked, “you’ll know if your hollandaise sauce is going wrong if it gets that ‘driveway after it rains’ look!” After a lot of muscle and perseverance by the Chef. the sauce was served to guests over fresh asparagus. Sounds of delight emanated from audience members as they sampled the dish.

The sweetness arrived last in the form of panna cotta, which means “cooked cream.” Using sheets of gelatin, heavy cream and half and half, this is not a dieter’s delight but instead a gift from the heavens. Served with a cherry sauce, this mound of silky smoothness topped off the wonderfully fun and informative evening.

It is evident that Fontana feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to share his gift with others. He credits Abanov as the person who encouraged the idea for these classes. “I am so lucky to be working around such smart people. I feel lucky to teach them something from my world,” said Fontana.

Recently chosen as the 2015 Edible Long Island’s Local Hero, Fontana shares this honor with manager Maria Reuge, dining room manager Julie Pasquier and his kitchen staff.

The last of the Culinary Master’s Series for this season is May 5 at 6 p.m. and is entitled What Else? It’s Cinco de Mayo, a fiesta of Mexican food. For reservations, call 631-632-2281 or purchase tickets online at https://bpt.me/1451646. The Café is located on the second floor of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at SUNY Stony Brook and is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch. Check out its website at https://scgp.stonybrook.edu/cafe or like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scgpcafe.

Children of the late Helen Stein Shack (Karen Shack Reid, Barbara Kelly, Edward Taylor and Sherry Cleary) stand with grand prize winners Leah Cussen and Wendy Wahlert and honorable mention winners Samuel Kim, Sarah Jiang, Karen Jiang and Anny Weisenberg. (Not present: honorable mention winner Kiera Alventosa). Photo from Emma S. Clark Library

By Erin Dueñas

As much as she loves reading books, Leah Cussen said it never occurred to her to try writing one. But leafing through the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library newsletter over the winter, Cussen saw an announcement for the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest, which called on teens in grades seven through 12 to create a children’s book. “I wrote assignments for school and a few stories on my own, but creating a book was new to me,” Cussen said. “It seemed like a cool challenge.”

Taking inspiration from her 5-year- old brother’s bookshelves, Cussen wrote a book called “Lenny the Lion,” a story about a misfit who can’t roar as well as his brothers. Lenny sets out in the jungle looking for a family to fit in with. When he can’t swing from tree to tree like a monkey and reach the top leaves of a tree like a giraffe, Lenny realizes that he belongs with his lion family. “I liked the theme of being true to yourself,” Cussen said. “He realizes that his family loves him no matter what.”

“Lenny the Lion” won the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest, along with the story “Lilabet” written by 17-yearold Wendy Wahlert. “Lilabet” is a story about a colorful young girl who lives in a “black, white and blah” world. Lilabet spreads her color around to change the town. Wahlert said that she got the idea for “Lilabet” based on her own thoughts about living in the suburbs, which she called black and white. “‘Lilabet’ is kind of how I feel. I’m the colorful person in the suburbs where every house is the same as the next,” she said. “There’s a reflection of myself in the story.”

Wahlert said she is more of an artist than a writer, illustrating “Lilabet” with large sweeping swaths of color inspired by paintings she saw at a coffee shop in New York City. “I like pop art, conceptual art,” she said. “I like a graphic and bold style with a flow of simple shapes. I tried to do that and I guess it worked,” she said of her story.

Chosen winners from a dozen entries, both girls received a $500 scholarship and read their books to a roomful of children at an awards reception on April 26. The library printed and bound a copy of each story to be included in its “Local Focus” collection. Both stories will also be turned into e-books. Honorable mention winners included Samuel Kim for his book “Freddy the Fish and the First Day of School,” Anny Weisenberg for “Red Boots for Rainy Days,” Kiera Alventosa for “Heal Our Mother Earth” and sisters Sarah and Karen Jiang for “Pengy Goes on an Adventure.”

This is the first year for the Helen Stein Shack award, according to Shack’s daughter Sherry Cleary, who said that her mother would volunteer to read to kids and teach them to read in her spare time. “My mother loved this library. She would always say to people, ‘You should see my library’ or ‘Let’s go to the library,’” Cleary said. “She used to say if you could read and read for joy, you would have a successful life.”

When Shack passed away more than a year ago, Cleary and her siblings approached the library looking for a way to mark her life and the idea of the book contest came up. “We just wanted to honor her,” she said. “The students in the community rose to the occasion. These are just stunning books.”

Cussen said that winning the contest means a lot. “I want to do writing when I’m older so now I’m thinking what if I could write stories,” she said. “It broadened my ideas for my career in writing.”

Wahlert said being a published author is “pretty awesome.” “It gives me more confidence that people appreciate what I’m doing,” she said.

Library director Ted Gutmann said that all the entries showed great talent and the one word that came to mind in reading the stories was imagination. “Imagination will take you everywhere,” he said. “These kids have the imagination and I hope they never lose it.”

From left, Ray Palen, Gabriella Stevens and Mikal Oltedal in a scene from ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner.’ Photo by Michael Leinoff

By Charles J. Morgan

In the sometimes arcane lexicon of the theatah there is the term “chestnut.” It simply refers to a good or actually immortal play that is done every season everywhere. It has long-standing universal appeal, and is audience friendly even when translated into Gheg, Tusk or Urdu. Such a play is George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” currently playing at the Minstrel Players’ venue in Northport for a limited run.

Set in 1939, the script is literally flooded with references associated with that era …. Haile Selassie, John L. Lewis, “Bubu” (Mahatma Gandhi), Charles Ross and even Noel Coward with a fast-paced output, wise-cracking, display of humor.

Director Ray Palen starred as the impossibly rude Sheridan Whiteside, a cultured, scholarly writer, pundit and author. Homer described Odysseus as speaking “winged words.” Whiteside’s words are winged too … laden with nuclear warheads. He demolishes any opposition with piercing, barbed onslaughts. Palen discharged his role as Whiteside expertly, consistently — like a lovable Falstaff. He is very seldom offstage and manages the signature wheelchair right up to the edge of the apron.

Michelle Torres plays Maggie Cutler, Whiteside’s long-suffering but capable secretary. Torres handled this role with called-up on professional aplomb even in a scene where she “quits” her job. Here she is still underplaying it, but with steely, scarcely concealed anger.

The Minstrels’ dynamic veteran character actress Maris Kastan is Miss Preen, Whiteside’s nurse. She plays out the dutiful nurse like someone hit with a baseball bat, but can’t figure out what hit her. That is until she dramatically resigns with a downstage center speech about going to work in a munitions factory. Kastan, together with Palen, is an outstanding example of getting into the essence of a role, making the acting real.

Banjo, a true slapstick role, is managed neatly by Ralph Carideo. He really eats up the scenery, combining an earthy Rabelaisian Vaudeville humor, delivered with punch and verve. Then we have Alicia James as glamor girl movie star Lorraine Sheldon. She is in love with one person: herself. Every line and move is promotional of a solitary object named Lorraine. She is frivolous, sexy, with a virtual murder streak … all of it with a compelling smile. This is not an easy role, but James handled it with perfection.

A triple role was held by Brian Hartwig. He was the eccentric Professor Metz in topee, tropical jacket and spectacles who delivers a cockroach colony. (Yes, they do eventually escape.) He has a  bit part as Expressman, but bursts into a key role as Beverly Carlton, a knockoff of Noel Coward done to English accent languidity with all the sophistication Noel himself could have brought. Hartwig’s range of talent was palpable. One wishes to see him more on the Minstrels’ playbill.

Constraints of space preclude mention of others in this massive cast, however, Evan Donnellan stood out as Bert Jefferson, Tricia Ieronimo as Mrs. Stanley and Jim Connors as her long-suffering husband. A curtain call bow was taken by Valerie Rowe who undertook the role of Sara the Cook as a last-minute substitute. Well done!

The Minstrel Players may be a little cramped in their present venue, yet they have expanded smoothly with this show. One sees a massively bright future for them. Break a leg, Minstrels!

The Minstrel Players will present “The Man Who Came To Dinner” on May 2 at 8 p.m. and May 3 at 3 p.m. at the Houghton Hall Theatre at Trinity Episcopal Church, 130 Main St., Northport. Tickets are $20 adults, $15 seniors and children. For more information, call 631-732-2926 or visit www.minstrelplayers.org.

Taste of Long Island will feature wine and beer tastings, among other events. Stock photo

By Jenni Culkin

One of Long Island’s most prominant annual culinary events is featuring famous chefs and reviewers as a new addition for its 12th year.

Tonight, Thursday, April 23, the Larkfield in East Northport will be hosting A Taste of Long Island, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. This year, three celebrity chefs, 2013 “MasterChef” winner Luca Manfe, Rob Burmeister from “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Barret Beyer, are going to be attending the event. Throughout the night, the chefs will be available to mingle and chat with the other attendees.

More than 25 restaurants have signed up and the number has been steadily growing, including eateries like California Pizza Kitchen, The Crossroads Cafe, the original Fireside Caterers, Nisen Sushi and many more.

New to this year’s event, the entries from the participating restaurants will be divided into four categories: most creative dish, best table presentation, tastiest dish and people’s choice. The celebrity guests will judge the people’s choice category during the evening.

“There’s wine and beer tasting, there’s going to be entertainment music in every room and amazing raffle baskets,” said Loriann Pineo, executive director of the East Northport Chamber of Commerce, the group organizing the event.

The proceeds from this event will be used to benefit important causes at groups such as Rotary International, Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk and the East Northport Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $75 each. They will be $85 at the door.

Call the East Northport Chamber of Commerce for your tickets at  631-261-3573.