By Ellen Barcel
It was just about two years ago that Mindy Carman stopped into the Port Jefferson Village Center to ask about showing her work at the center’s gallery. She was surprised to find out that, first of all, the center was booked two years in advance. Second, the gallery is so large that a group show was suggested to her.
It didn’t take long for Carman to reach out to some of her artist friends and put together Celebrating the Beauty and Spirit of Long Island, a show of approximately 75 pieces that will run from Sept. 2 through Sept. 28. “Two years went by so fast,” said Carman who is now getting ready for the opening.
While the group’s common theme is the beauty of Long Island, each local artist approaches the theme in a very different way. Of the five artists, Carmen herself is a photographer. “Nancy and Charlie are my best friend’s parents,” referring to photographer and watercolorist Nancy Kapp and steel sculptor Charlie Kapp. Rounding out the artists showing their work are Mary Jo Allegra, landscapist in oils, and Moriah Ray, a watercolorist.
Carman noted she “mainly concentrates on capturing the beauty of our everyday surroundings [showing] us amazing images we take for granted living here in the coastal and agricultural towns of eastern Long Island.” This is evident in “Lobster Pot” an ordinary object found along the shore but seen from her very unique perspective.
Carman, who minored in photography in college, graduating from Stony Brook University, added, “capturing the moment in time, there’s something super-neat about that … It’s very gratifying when someone buys [a piece of my work].” She uses both film and digital media to capture that special moment in time. “I put pictures in old boat port holes as a frame,” said Carmen, noting that she also works in multimedia. “I design with sea glass and then pour resin on it.” There will be several of these multimedia pieces in the show as well as her photographs.
Ray, who grew up in Port Jefferson, attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She returned to Long Island with a master’s degree in art. A professional artist who works in art restoration and conservation, Ray will have approximately 15 of her watercolor paintings in the show. “I just love watercolor. It’s my favorite medium,” she said.
Ray did studies of wildflowers in Avalon Park in Stony Brook for some of her works. “I try to keep the light in there, keep it the way the flowers are in the landscaping,” she added. A palette knife is Allegra’s tool in creating her abstract landscapes. Usually a palette knife (a thin, flexible, blunt blade) is used to mix colors of paint on a palette. But some creative artists use the knife to apply paint to the canvas. Allegra, who is an art teacher at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, also teaches children’s and adult’s workshops during the summer in her Sun Porch Studio at her home in Stony Brook. Allegra attended Pratt Institute for undergraduate work and Columbia for a master’s degree in teaching and works primarily in oils.
The paints “move like butter, spreading across the canvas,” with the knife, she said. “I have a love affair with color and shape and how colors relate to each other.” She added, “The shapes in nature are an armature for applying color … I’ll mix a whole variety of colors that appeal to me … a palette of colors I’m attracted to. I let colors decide where they’re going on the canvas.” She added that the personality of each color “changes depending on who they’re hanging out with.” Quilters, stained glass artists and other artisans can relate to this, knowing that colors appear differently depending on what other colors they’re paired with.
Allegra’s canvases are small, in the six- to eight-inch range. Approximately 10 of them will be in the show. “I’m a playful person and my art definitely illustrates that. My hope is that when the people see my paintings they feel that,” she added.
Nancy Kapp, of Sound Beach, once worked in her husband’s ironworking business in addition to her photography and watercolors. “Photography has been my passion my whole life.” Her watercolors “are from my own photos — they’re all original.” Long Island, she said, “that’s my inspiration, the beauty of the area.” Kapp added, “My husband and I, as a couple, are boaters and skiers and that’s reflected in our art.”
Charlie Kapp, an ironworker by profession, “started the artistic side [of ironworking]” just a few years ago. “He does some freestanding work, up to about three feet,” but for the show, only pieces that can be hung on the wall are included, his wife said. “It’s something he always wanted to do.” She added that some of his work is also in a gallery in Vermont.
Ray summed up the show when she said, “Everybody’s pieces are so different. Long Island has such a rich culture.”
An opening reception, to which all are invited, will be held Friday, Sept. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. The Port Jefferson Village Center is located at 101A East Broadway and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free. For further information, call 631-802-2160 or visit www.portjeff.com.