By Talia Amorosano
Kicking off with an artist reception this Saturday, Oct. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James will host its annual STAC Member Artist Showcase in which 55 original pieces of art by 55 just-as-diverse artists will be on display inside the historic building through Jan. 8.
STAC, or Smithtown Township Arts Council, is a group comprised predominantly of Long Island artists, art enthusiasts and arts supporters. The Member Artist Showcase offers a yearly opportunity for STAC members and the community to come together to view pieces of artwork that participating artists have specifically chosen for the show.
“What’s different about this opportunity is that the artists get to choose what piece they are exhibiting in the show, we don’t choose it,” said STAC Director, Allison Cruz. “Usually the juror or curator selects the work, but in this show they get to show what they want to put in.”
Cruz noted that artists sometimes use the opportunity provided by the absence of a selection process or theme to showcase either new or unusual pieces for them; so individual experimentation with different mediums and styles is common.
“This is one of the most diverse shows that we’ve ever seen,” said Cruz. “There are some mounted wall sculptures, mixed-media sculptural pieces, acrylic [paintings], oil [paintings], watercolor [paintings], photography, pencil drawings, really a wide variety.”
The extent of this diversity of medium and style is apparent in comparisons between works by different artists in the show. Justin Greenwald’s oil on canvas painting entitled “Entropy 2015/Color Study” has an abstract expressionistic vibrancy of color, while digital photograph, “Front Porch,” by Smithtown resident Elizabeth Milward captures every shadowy detail of a partially illuminated porch scene in muted grays and blacks.
Stony Brook resident Nicholas Valentino’s mixed media piece, “On the Road Again,” includes a real electric guitar, and “Fiji,” an acrylic painting by David Herman, uses bold blocks of color to create a graphic, immediately eye-catching image of a man holding a snake.
Ronkonkoma resident Vivian Gattuso’s “Autumn Leaves,” Port Jefferson resident Shirley Weiner’s “Apples in the Fall,” East Setauket resident Robert Roehrig’s “Snow in West Meadow Creek” and Nesconset resident Virginia Musantry’s “Winter’s Colors” depict seasonal weather changes appropriate for the fall and winter time period in which the exhibit will be shown.
“When you have local artists it’s always a very well-viewed show,” said Cruz. “We usually get a pretty good turnout [of attendees] during the week.” Some of the works that clearly showcase Long Island life and scenery are Stony Brook resident Franco Jona’s expansive watercolor painting entitled “Stony Brook Harbor,” Setauket resident Patty Yantz’s oil painting, “Harbor Light” and Rocky Point resident Joe Miller’s oil painting, “Afternoon at a Winery.”
However, despite the abundance of local artists and representations of Long Island landscapes, Cruz noted that “This is definitely not a Long Island landscape show, although some years it can be. There are maybe six pieces total [about which] you could say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Long Island. This is a Long Island theme.’ It’s really very eclectic [in terms of subject matter] … we have a little bit of everything.” In addition to Long Island, Brooklyn, New York City, North Carolina and Florida are represented.
Many of the works at the showcase will be available for purchase. Juror James LaMantia (of LaMantia Gallery in Northport), selected four winners, Jeanette Martone, Donna Grossman, Ned Butterfield and Elizabeth Millward, to participate in a future Winners Showcase alongside winners of next year’s Juried Fine Art and Juried Photo Exhibitions. Patty Caracappa received an honorable mention.
The Mills Pond House Gallery is located at 660 Route 25A, St. James. Hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The gallery will be closed on Nov. 11 and 25 to 30 and Dec. 21 to Jan. 3. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.