Having fun and celebrating culture

Having fun and celebrating culture

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The first half of 2015 ended locally with a fun and singular lineup of cultural events. Stellar activities this past weekend began with a distinguished gala under a tent at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. In a tribute to the Great Gatsby-era, the elegantly dressed guests at the fundraiser celebrated with a look back at the Roaring ‘20s and F. Scott Fitzgerald, even as they basked in the prominence of the Long Island Museum, with its director, Neil Watson, looking forward to cultural and historic successes to come. Dancing and dining combined with renewed friendships and endless conversation made for a lovely evening.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and an ArTalk, sponsored by Gallery North of Setauket, on famed local artist Christian White. In two parts, the event started at the Gallery with a viewing of some of White’s latest works, entitled “Christian White: Fifty Years of Art.” White, who is 65, began showing his art at Gallery North, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, at a young age.

That is not surprising. The great-grandson of Stanford White, the renowned New York City architect who designed Washington Square Arch in lower Manhattan, among many other landmarks; the grandson of Lawrence White, also a prominent architect; and the son of noted sculptor and St. James resident Robert White; he carries an abundant supply of artistic genes, both on his paternal and maternal sides. His maternal grandfather was the famed Dutch artist Joep Nicolas, with whom White studied welding, stained glass and mosaics as a youngster in Holland. His mother, Claire Nicolas White is a popular and prolific author. And the creative genes continue in his children.

Then the event moved over to the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics on the Stony Brook University campus, where the Iconic Wall was viewed and explained by its creator, Christian White. The brainchild of Nina Douglas, helped by Anthony Phillips, the limestone wall features ancient and modern equations in math and physics spread over an area of 465 square feet. It is a gravity-defying marriage of art and science in the sparkling Simons building, which encourages innovation and collaboration as its mission. In the Center, there followed a talk by Franklin Perrell, the former senior curator at the excellent Nassau County Museum of Art, about the art world in which Christian White grew up and has worked over these past 50 years.

We then went on to an outpouring of love at Theater Three in Port Jefferson Village. Called “A Tale of Two Mayors,” the evening featured singing by some of the talented performers of the theater group interspersed with talks by prominent members of the community, including Dr. Philias Garant, all honoring Mayors Jeanne Garant and Margot Garant. Mother and daughter, these two women have given boundless energy and creativity to village government, making a formidable political dynasty in the process. The event was, in part, a fundraiser for the restoration of the Rocket Ship Park in lower Port, but in its entirety, a show of appreciation for the work of these two talented and committed women. Their lives were profiled and serenaded throughout the two hours of packed theater. It was as if the village were offering the Garants a valentine in June.