Cindy M. Smith was over many years an enthusiastic champion of Long Island artists. She and her husband Warren Strugatch shared the art collecting bug, owning landscapes and abstractions by Ty Stroudsburg, Nan Kemp, Doug Reina and many others. In nice weather, the Stony Brook couple climbed into their white Miata, put the top down, and toured art spaces between Manhattan and Montauk. Whether they bought or not, they offered words of encouragement to artists, praising what they liked and asking where the artists would be exhibiting next.
Over time they struck up many artworld friendships. The pair frequently invited painters and other creative folks to visit them in their sprawling, sun-drenched home off Stony Brook Road where the works they collected went on display.
Cindy gave special encouragement to women artists, her husband said. “I think she realized that many women must work harder to be taken seriously as artists. She was highly empathetic to that. When she bought a painting from a female artist, she felt she was not only saying the right thing, but doing the right thing, too.”
Sadly, Cindy passed away Feb. 15 after a long battle with leukemia. The Long Island Museum has dedicated its current exhibition, “Two Centuries of Women Artists,” to her memory. On June 9th the museum held a reception for “Two Centuries,” which Joshua Ruff, the museum’s deputy director, said was one “Cindy would have loved.”
“We miss her greatly,” Ruff said, “not least because she lived her passion for the arts every day. Without passion, the arts wither. Without inclusivity, the arts deflate. She and Warren helped establish connections to some of the finest artists we have added to our campus is recent years. Their boundless energy boosted our exhibition openings, energized our concerts, and bolstered our community.”
Warren, who sponsored the reception in his wife’s memory, said that he would be leaving their house in Stony Brook as it was now “too big just for me.” A writer and consultant, he is keeping their art trove intact. He plans to transport it and much of the couple’s Midcentury Modern furniture collection to his new apartment in Astoria.
“The walls are pretty tall” in his new apartment, he said. “I’m pretty sure there will be room for all the art we collected. Seeing the art every day helps keep Cindy in mind for me. Her enthusiasm was true and contagious.”
See video footage of the reception below.