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Allison Cruz

'Feeling Blue,' acrylic, by Cheryl Cass-Zampiva Image courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery highlights the talents of 67 of its artist members with its annual Member Artist Showcase exhibit of original fine art for sale from June 19 through July 18. Exhibiting artists hail from 40 communities across Long Island as well as New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida.

A wide variety of media is represented including acrylic, digital art, ink etching, mixed media, oil, pastel, photography, plaster & found objects, silk dyes on silk, solar plate etching, torn paper collage, and watercolor.

‘Christmas Cactus’
Photograph
By Kathee Shaff Kelson, Stony Brook
Image courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

“The Member Artist Showcase is an important show to me. We have such an abundance of talent in our membership,” said Allison Cruz, Executive Director of the Mills Pond Gallery. “I love to give artists the opportunity to choose a piece of their work to exhibit. I know artists are usually under many constraints of Juried Exhibits due to requirements of style or medium or size. It is great to give them an opportunity to show something that maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to exhibit due to those constraints or maybe something they have created using a new medium or style. I am always excited to see what they enter!”  

This year’s juror is freelance art consultant and curator Pam J. Brown, the Director and Curator of The Anthony Giordano Gallery at Dowling College for 16 years. Brown will choose four winning artists to participate in a future Winners Exhibit at the gallery.

Participating artists include Marsha Abrams, Lucia Alberti, Tina Anthony, Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Renee Blank, Kyle Blumenthal, Joyce Bressler, Alberto Jorge Carol, Cheryl Cass-Zampiva, Linda Ann Catucci, Carol Ceraso, Rocco Citeno, Donna Corvi, Teresa Cromwell, Tania Degen, Julie Doczi, Beth Drucker, JoAnne Dumas, Karin Dutra, Paul Edelson, Ellen Ferrigno, Donna Gabusi, Vivian Gattuso, Maureen Ginipro, Jan Guarino, Margaret Henning, David Herman, David Jaycox, Jr., Modern Fossils: Judith Marchand & David P. Horowitz, James Kelson, Kathee Shaff Kelson, Myungja Anna Koh, Susan Kozodoy Silkowitz, Ann Legere, Frank Loehr, Terence McManus, Paul Mele, Margaret Minardi, Karen George Mortimore, Annette Napolitano, Diane Oliva, Catherine Rezin, Robin Roberts, Robert Roehrig, Lori Scarlatos, Gia Schifano, Anita G. Schnirman, Joan Schwartzman, Kenneth Schwartzman, Hillary Serota Needle, Faith Skelos, Gisela Skoglund, Mike Stanko, Madeline Stare, John Taylor, Tracy Tekverk, Oxana Uryasev, Nicholas Valentino, Daniel van Benthuysen, Mary Ann Vetter, Pamela Waldroup, Don Weber, M. Ellen Winter, Patty Yantz, and Theodora Zavala.

“This show is about celebrating the talents of our artist members and I feel it does just that,” said Cruz.

The Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James presents its Member Artist Showcase from June 19 to July 18. The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, June 19 from noon to 2 p.m. or 2 to 4 p.m. (reservations are required) to meet the exhibiting artists and view their work. Admission to the gallery is always free. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed Mondays and  Tuesdays and July 3 and 4. Please call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org for more information.

'Love Spark' by Ron Becker

By Heidi Sutton

It’s time to celebrate the best of the best. This Saturday, the Smithtown Township Arts Council opens its annual Winner’s Fine Art Showcase at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James. The show will highlight the talents of seven artists who were prize winners in the gallery’s 2019 and 2020 juried exhibitions. 

It is a show that Allison Cruz, Executive Director of the Mills Pond Gallery, looks forward to every year. 

“I always love the Winners Showcase! It gives us an opportunity to enjoy a larger body of work from these talented prize winning artists,” she said.

‘For My Mother’ by Caryn Coville

“For the artists, it is an excellent opportunity to share work with gallery visitors that they either haven’t shown or maybe was not selected in recent juried exhibitions. For me, this is an opportunity to find out more about the artists … maybe find out that they work in different mediums or styles other than those exhibited in our shows. It is always an adventure!”

This year’s Winners Showcase features artists from Long Island as well as Idaho, Buffalo, Maine and New York City. 

“The out of town artists will show only a few works in this show … we could not expect them to pack and ship many pieces to the gallery,” explained Cruz. “We are grateful for their participation and the opportunity to see what artists across the country are creating! The public can explore a larger body of their work on our website.”

Participating artists and the juried exhibits they were in are: Ron Becker (Deer Park) “Celebrating Creativity”; Caryn Coville (Greenvale) “Hand Drawn”; Lupe Galván (Idaho) “Hand Drawn”; Yuke Li (New York) “Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves”; Joseph A. Miller (Buffalo) “Contemporary Realism”; Holden Willard (Maine) “Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves”; and Patty Yantz (Setauket)  “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Cruz invites the public to come see this amazing exhibit. “There is nothing like standing in front of these original works of art … seeing the brushstrokes … and feeling the passions and the messages in their pieces. Enjoy the exhibit and experience Art’s capacity to bring joy and hope in challenging times.”

Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James presents the Winners Fine Art Showcase from May 8 to June 6. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Social distancing and the use of masks is required and limited numbers of visitors (25) are allowed in the gallery at one time (5 per gallery room). Admission to the gallery is always free. 

For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

Images courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

Winter Scene, Frank Melville Park

By Tara Mae

Art is an expression of personal inspiration, and the Smithtown Township Art Council’s latest exhibit at the Mills Pond Gallery, A Sense of Place, examines how Long Island acts as a muse to local artists. The show opens Feb. 20.

The beautiful exhibit fills four gallery rooms and the center hall gallery on the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion in St. James. A mixed media display, it includes book art, sculptures, acrylic, oil, and watercolor paintings. With 62 works by 48 artists from 32 communities across Long Island, the exhibit is a cross-section of local culture and influences, capturing scenes of nature and community.

“Long Islanders will see art about Long Island … places they see daily or places of their memories. We think the exhibit will help people reconnect with this place where they make and live their lives and hopefully inspire them toward ongoing care and interpretation of these places,” said Executive Director Allison Cruz. 

‘Walks Through Avalon’ by Loretta Oberheim

Increasing awareness about the environment was a goal for both Cruz and a number of the artists. Galvanized by the natural world and forged by remembrance, the art encompasses genres including realistic landscape vistas and abstract or surrealist renderings. How nature and memory intertwine is a recurring theme of the show, expressed through individual perspectives. 

“People will see beautiful forms of art and how artists felt in that time and that space and maybe it will get them to appreciate those places. Maybe this will make them want to venture out. It’s the little places that have been preserved … and the county parks, little gems that need more appreciation. The more that they are highlighted in exhibits, the more people will get to see them” said artist Loretta Oberheim, of Ronkonkoma.

Her abstract expressionist piece, Walks Through Avalon, is a sculpture mounted on canvas and made of alcohol inks on yupo paper. It is Oberheim’s homage to Avalon Nature Preserve in Stony Brook, which she cites as one of her “happy places.” 

The exhibit explores the myriad ways Long Island informs artistic development and depiction. 

“I’m always on the lookout for an interesting or beautiful scene and feel fortunate to live in an area with such picturesque beaches, farms and woodlands,” said artist Robert Roehrig of East Setauket. His two landscape oil paintings, Facing the Sun and Winter Scene, Frank Melville Park, are tributes to local vistas: Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach and Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket, respectively. 

More than just imagery, the show incorporates the artists’ descriptions of their art and what inspired them, details that add insight into the impact of the installation, according to Cruz. “Artists couldn’t just submit the art; they also had to explain the connection they have to Long Island. [I asked them to] tell me what gives you a connection to this island that we live on,” she explained. 

‘Winter Scene, Frank Melville Park’ by Robert Roehrig

It is the second exhibit for which Cruz utilized this process. She previously included written testimonials of the artists’ motivations for the Celebrating Creativity exhibit back in November and was encouraged to do it for this installation after the positive response from visitors.

During the era of COVID-19, the gallery has striven to remain a respite for individuals seeking an escape into artistic beauty. The effort is a continuation of the gallery’s ongoing commitment to engaging the public and providing an escape from the doldrums and despair of the pandemic for both the artists and audience.

Nesconset artist Catherine Rezin’s piece, a watercolor and gouache painting, Along Great River, is a rendering of a photograph her husband took of the bank of the Connetquot River at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. 

“From the perspective of an artist, it is important to be seen, to allow other artists to see my work and to be inspired by their work. For the rest of the public, it is important to be able to go somewhere and retreat from reality, to connect with nature through art and to connect with Long Island through art,” said Rezin.

Participating artists include:

Marsha Abrams (Stony Brook), Lucia Alberti (Smithtown), Tina Anthony (Northport), Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Ron Becker (Deer Park), Joyce Bressler (Commack), Jean Marie Bucich (River Vale NJ), Carol Ceraso (Hauppauge), Rocco Citeno (Sayville), Donna Corvi (Montauk), Gráinne de Buitléar (Belle Terre), Lou Deutsch (Stony Brook), Michael Drakopoulos (Port Jefferson), Karin Dutra (Port Jefferson), Paul Jay Edelson (Poquott), Ellen Ferrigno (Port Jefferson), Dorothy Fortuna (Smithtown), Donna Gabusi (Smithtown), Jan Guarino (East Northport), Margaret Henning (Sayville), Libby Coker Hintz (Blue Point), Irene Ruddock (Stony Brook), James Kelson (Stony Brook), Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), John Koch (Port Jefferson Sta.), Lee Ann Lindgren (Breezy Point), Olivia Mathon (Smithtown), Eileen P. McGann (Island Park), Carissa Millett (Setauket), Hillary Serota Needle (Dix Hills), Loretta Oberheim (Ronkonkoma), Eileen W. Palmer (St. James), Catherine Rezin (Nesconset), Robert Roehrig (East Setauket), Lori Scarlatos (Saint James), Gia Schifano (New Hyde Park), Anita Schnirman (Kings Park), Faith Skelos (Smithtown), Paul Speh (Ronkonkoma), Mike Stanko (Valley Stream), Madeline Stare (Smithtown), Barbara Stein (Port Washington), Nicholas Valentino (North Babylon), M. Ellen Winter (Northport), Mary Jane van Zeijts (Stony Brook), Mary Waka (Ronkonkoma), Patty Yantz (Setauket) and Theodora Zavala (East Meadow)

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present A Sense of Place from Feb. 20 to March 20. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Mask wearing is mandatory and social distancing protocols are strictly observed. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org. 

The Smithtown Township Arts Council is pleased to announce Winners Showcase I, a fine art exhibition featuring five winning artists from 2020 exhibitions. The exhibit is currently on view at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James through Feb. 6.

 Smithtown artist Lucia Alberti enjoys painting landscapes in acrylics. Lucia finds it most comfortable to paint from her imagination, incorporating subjects she finds of interest. This allows Lucia to “create a story in her mind of another place and moment in time, while trying to capture a glimpse of it upon my canvas.” Lucia’s work has been exhibited widely in galleries across Long Island.

Huntington Station artist Shain Bard’s paintings evoke a sense of a moment captured in time that people can all subconsciously relate to. The way the light filters through the leaves of a small forest, the driver’s view of dappled sun shining through the trees on a Sunday drive, or of a snowy sunset on a suburban street.  “Nature and art are within and without us, something close to what I would call ‘home’. It is those moments when we most fully connect to our surroundings, those held-breath moments that I am interested in.”

Northport artist Margaret Minardi’s mixed media paintings juxtapose realism and expressionism. Combining years of classical training with a pure gestural mark making, she is inspired by the Expressionists of the 1950’s collage.  “I am constantly in search of new mediums and processes that can be synthesized into my works. “Important to me is serendipity. Mistakes keep me interested, intellectually challenged, and excited.” Within Margaret’s works, the viewer is constantly challenged to interpret and reinterpret what they see. There is a narrative beneath the surface of all her works. “Each brushstroke is a voice for my inner world.”

Valley Stream artist Mike Stanko, a lifelong Long Islander, has been showing his unique and whimsical art for over 20 years.  From his home in Valley Stream to the world beyond, he finds endless inspiration in the iconic, the familiar as well as the mundane — sunflowers, beach scenes, maybe even a grilled cheese sandwich. His paintings are bold and eye-catching and like the artist, convey joy, a sense of humor and a love of life.

Kings Park artist Pamela Waldroup is a fine art photographer whose work is about “hyper-focusing on the subject to solidify my own experience and provoke a memory, real or imagined, to surface both for the viewer and me.” She will exhibit black & white photographs from her series City Perspectives — Inside and Out. The works in this project “voice my strong desire to capture interactions between human, environmental and industrial elements through a geometric approach found in the repetitive patterns and shapes.” As an art educator, Pamela taught photography (darkroom and digital) and fine arts for 33 years.

The Mills Pond Gallery is located at 660 Route 25A in St. James. Gallery hours are Wed. to Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sat.; Sun. from noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays. Admission to the gallery is free. Masks are mandatory. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present its latest exhibit, Celebrating Creativity: Creative Responses to Challenging Times, from Nov. 7 to Dec. 19 at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James. The fine art exhibition features 86 works by 51 artists

Artists were asked to show what they have been creating during the pandemic and to share with their thoughts and feelings about creating during these challenging times. Some works in the exhibit express the fear and anxiety while others find beauty in nature, or celebrate simple pleasures of everyday life. Some artists created to share memories of past joyful times … some created work specifically about the pandemic. Many shared that the creation of their art helped process their feelings. The common thread … joy in the simple act of creating.

“We encourage [everyone] to visit the gallery … it is a safe space with social distancing and the use of masks required and limited numbers of visitors (20 allowed in the gallery at one time — 4 per gallery room).  Enjoy the exhibit and experience Art’s capacity to bring joy and hope in challenging times,” said Allison Cruz, Executive Director of the Mills Pond Gallery.

Exhibiting artists include Marsha Abrams (Stony Brook), Lucia Alberti (Smithtown), Tina Anthony (Northport), Ryanne Barber (West Babylon), Bonnie Bennett Barbera (Ronkonkoma), Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Ron Becker (Deer Park), Victoria Beckert (Holbrook), Sheri Berman (Dix Hills), Joyce Bressler (Commack), Nan Cao (New York), Carol Ceraso (Hauppauge), Lou Charnon-Deutsch (Stony Brook), Donna Corvi (Montauk), Bernadette De Nyse (Sound Beach), Lou Deutsch (Stony Brook), Doris Diamond (East Setauket), JoAnne Dumas (Wading River), Paul Edelson (Poquott), Ellen Ferrigno (Port Jefferson), Modern Fossils (Frenchtown, NJ), Kathleen Gerlach (Greenlawn), Maureen Ginipro (Smithtown), Jan Guarino (East Northport), Margaret  Henning (Sayville), David Jaycox Jr (Northport), and Anne Katz (Stony Brook)

Also, Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), Julianna Kirk (Brookhaven), John Yannis Koch (Port Jefferson Sta.), Myungia Anna Koh (Stony Brook), Liz Kolligs (Glen Cove), Frank J Loehr (Bethpage), Mary Lor (New York), Martha Mcaleer (Hampton Bays), Kristyn Mehl (Mount Sinai), Diane Oliva (Middle Island), Robin  Roberts (Sayville), Lori Scarlatos (Saint James), Gia Schifano (New Hyde Park), Anita Schnirman (Kings Park), Joan Sicignano (Central Islip), Susan Kozodoy  Silkowitz (Lynbrook), Gisela Skoglund (Kings Park), Mike Stanko (Valley Stream), Madeline Stare (Smithtown), Tracy Tekverk (Kings Park), Victoria Twomey (Northport), Nicholas Valentino (N. Babylon), Mary Ann Vetter (St James), Patricia Yantz (Setauket), and Theodora Zavala (East Meadow)

The Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The gallery will be closed from Nov. 25 to 29. Visit millspondgallery.org or call 631-862-6575 for directions or information.

By Heidi Sutton

When was the last time you went to an art exhibit? When was the last time you strolled through a gallery, taking in the beauty of a painting, a photograph, a sculpture? Yes, virtual exhibits are a creative substitution but we all know it’s not the same. Thankfully, art institutions on the Island are slowly reopening their doors to the public with fresh and exciting art installations to lift our spirits and grant us a reprieve from the stresses of our daily lives.

On Sept 3, the Reboli Center for Art & History in Stony Brook Village launched their new season with Wild and Wonderful featuring the whimsical art of Vicki Sawyer and on Sept. 12, the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s stately Mills Pond Gallery in St. James introduces a juried fine art exhibition titled Contemporary Realism honoring an art movement in which subjects are painted from everyday life. The massive show highlights the works of 64 artists from 11 states who were asked to submit oil paintings “that captured realism through any approach or style.” Exhibiting Long Island artists represent 18 Long Island communities from Floral Park to Aquebogue.

Allison Cruz, executive director of the Mills Pond Gallery, has been cautiously waiting to present this exhibit to the public and is thrilled to reopen the gallery’s doors this Saturday. “The business of art does not really ‘take a vacation.’ Exhibits, calls for entry, shipping of work, jurying the entries all go on for months ahead of the actual exhibit since our juried exhibitions are national calls for entry. So when the pandemic hit, we were already halfway through the process,” said Cruz. The gallery received 162 submissions for the show.

Originally scheduled for July 11 to August 8, Cruz wisely decided to move the show to September and October in hopes the gallery would then be open for visitors,” she said.

Precautions have been taken to provide a safe environment for visitors using the guidelines from the New York State Dept. of Health NY Forward site. “Masks and social distancing are required and temperatures are taken upon arrival with a contactless thermometer,” explained Cruz. “We wipe down all high touch surfaces … ie: door knobs, entry ways, any surfaces touched by visitors, with CDC approved anti-viral wipes. We have constructed a plastic barrier for the office and schedule regular cleanings as required.”

Exhibiting artists include Amal, Shain Bard, Karl Bourke, Renee Brown, Charis J Carmichael Braun, Alberto Carol, Linda Ann Catucci, Sarah Ciampa, Aleta Crawford, William Dodge, Daniel Donato, Caro Dranow, Evee Erb, Megan K. Euell, John Fitzsimmons, Cori Forster, Nicholas Frizalone, Elizabeth Fusco, Symmes Gardner, Ashley Gillin, Emily Halper, Seth Harris, William Karaffa, Donna Kunz, Jane Langley, Thomas Legaspi, PJ Marzullo, Liz Jorg Masi, Kerri McKay, Clifford Miller, Joseph Miller, Joseph A. Miller, Indu Ramkumar, Doug Reina, Michele Riche, Audrey Rodriguez, Robert Roehrig, Oscar Santiago, Gia Schifano, Hannah Steele, Daniel van Benthuysen, Diane Varano, Robert Whistler, Janice Yang, and Patty Yantz.

Winners were chosen by juror Max Ginsberg, one of the most respected and highly accomplished realist painters today. The alla prima (painting directly on canvas without a preliminary drawing) oil painter is often praised for his political and social commentaries and for bringing to life on canvas the struggles of everyday people in his New York City home. His fine art has been exhibited and collected widely and has received countless major awards. The artist has taught art for 60 years and offers workshops around the country and abroad in his commitment to inspire today’s artists to master realism painting.

“I was very fortunate to connect with Max Ginsburg. I have never presented an exhibit of Realism here at Mills Pond and in speaking with Max about the exhibit, we both agreed that the show should be open to all styles of Realism since we shared the goal of encouraging artists to continue to pursue this wonderful style of painting,” said Cruz, adding, “[He] is held in such high regard in the art world and many of our entrants expressed that the reason for entering this exhibit was for the opportunity to have their work under the eye and possible selection by Max.”

Preparing for the exhibit has been a joy for the director. “I love this exhibit for many reasons. The art is technically wonderful … there is a wide variety of subject matter and styles … which is a testament to the skills and passion of our juror. He truly selected works based on their artistic quality and skill level, not simply looking for works that were similar to his own style or social realism subject,” said Cruz.

Best in Show ($1200 cash prize) was awarded to “Look” by Joseph A. Miller of Buffalo; second place ($800 cash prize) went to “My Guest, Lorena” by Hannah Steele of Pennsylvania and third place ($400 cash prize) was awarded to “Blue Beauty” by Liz Jorg Masi of Smithtown.

“Christine” by Charis J. Carmichael Braun of Northport; “Shaded Lily Pond” by Aleta Crawford  of Manhasset; “The Spanish Poet” by Karl Bourke of Huntington Station; “In the Frontline” by Alberto Carol of Florida; and “Father” by Hannah Steele of Pennsylvania received Honorable Mentions.

Cruz is excited to share this unique exhibit with the public. “Personally I have always believed that art is an essential and valuable component of communication. Think about how people from past civilizations communicated about their lives through cave drawings … What future generations learn about our times will partially be communicated through the art of our times. I was so hopeful that the gallery would be able to open to allow visitors to have an additional way of looking at the world … we have television, radio, internet, and for many, art is another method of exploring contemporary issues in the world.”

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present Contemporary Realism from Sept. 12 to Oct. 16. Hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

Mills Pond Gallery. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Mills Pond Gallery takes heart that some communities across the country are beginning to see fewer cases of COVID-19, but we remain concerned about the well-being of our artists, staff, gallery visitors and families in our communities. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to postpone many of our planned gallery exhibitions. Visit our exhibition page for schedules www.millspondgallery.org.

We have posted our Summer Art Classes Program on our website, offering over 30 creative art classes for children ages 5 and up. Class sizes will be kept small to continue social distancing and strict cleaning and disinfecting procedures will continue throughout the summer.

We recognize this is a challenging time for artists, schools, teachers and communities. At the same time, we are encouraged as we see creativity flourishing everywhere as people quickly adjust to a changing reality.  It is certainly reassuring to see so many organizations and families do so much to ensure that arts, culture and creativity remain a part of our lives.

We believe the arts are indispensable in building good character in the citizens of our communities fostering communication, offering new insights on the world and adding to the greater appreciation of both life and society. We look forward to reopening soon, engaging you with the arts so you are able to See What the Arts Can Open Your Eyes To!

We look forward to brighter days, good health and healing for all!

Allison J. Cruz

Executive Director

Mills Pond Gallery

By Heidi Sutton

What inspires you? Perhaps the color blue? From now through March 21, the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery in St. James is featuring a unique juried exhibit centered around this calming color. Titled Inspirations in Blue, it highlights the talents of 46 artists from Long Island and beyond with 57 pieces in mediums including acrylic, ink, colored pencil, mixed media, oil, pastel and watercolor. 

The call for entries challenged artists to enter artwork that reflected the captivating power of the color blue, and how it has enhanced the subject, theme or mood of the artwork. Allison Cruz, executive director at the Mills Pond Gallery, credits her staff member Irene Tetrault with coming up with the original idea of using a color.

“Blue represents the sky and sea. It is associated with freedom, imagination, sensitivity … I have seen many shows about colors and knowing how common the color blue is, especially in local landscape paintings, but I wanted this exhibit to look just a bit deeper into the color,” she explained.

The result was overwhelming. “We received over 183 pieces for this show! The exhibit was only posted locally,” said Cruz. “Sometimes I wish I had double the space to fill in the gallery so we could accept more work! On a whole, most entries were Long Island artists (or past Long Islanders who heard about the exhibit). There is such an abundance of talent on Long Island and we are so lucky to have so many wonderful spaces to show their work!”

Cruz is pleased with the result. “It is a beautiful show to look at … very pleasing to the eye. Viewers will find exactly what the call for work asked for: entries may range from serene landscapes to vibrant abstracts and anything in between,” she said.

Exhibiting artists include Lucia Alberti (Smithtown), Amal (Port Jefferson), Tina Anthony (Northport), Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Ernest Bellico (East Northport), Karen Bennett (Medford), Ivy Michelle Berg (Smithtown), Marlene Bezich (Middle Island), Joyce Bressler (Commack), Linda Ann Catucci (St. James), Gail L. Chase (Stony Brook), Donna Corvi (Montauk), Karin J. Dutra (Port Jefferson), Paul Jay Edelson (Poquott), Ellen Ferrigno (Port Jefferson), Vivian Gattuso (Ronkonkoma), Rhoda Gordon (Port Jefferson Station), Joyce Greenbaum (Smithtown), Jan Guarino (East Northport), Maria Hansson (Ronkonkoma), David Herman (East Meadow), Katherine Hiscox (Commack), James Kelson (Stony Brook), Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), John Koch (Hauppauge), Liz Kolligs (Glen Cove), Terence McManus (Mount Sinai), Margaret Minardi (Northport), Roni Murillo (Valley Stream), and Gail Neuman (Islip Terrace).

Also exhibiting are Robert Roehrig (East Setauket), Irene Ruddock (Stony Brook), Anita Schnirman (Kings Park), Joan Schwartzman (Maryland), Joan Sicignano (Central Islip), Gisela Skoglund (Kings Park), Mike Stanko (Valley Stream), Irene Tetrault (East Meadow), Susan Trawick (East Setauket), Oxana Uryasev (Port Jefferson), Nicholas Valentino (North Babylon), Mary Ann Vetter (St. James), Don Weber (Freeport), Nancy Weeks (East Setauket), Patty Yantz (Setauket) and Theodora Zavala (East Meadow).

The winners were announced at an artist reception on Feb. 22. First place was awarded to Gail Neuman for “Birches in Blue,” second place went to Karin J. Dutra for “Pria do Norte.” Honorable mentions were Shain Bard for “Birches in Blue Bottle,” Karen Bennett for “Tis the Season,” Marlene Bezich for “Your Colors,” Liz Kolligs for “Little Guide in Deep Winter,”  Margaret Minardi for “Summer Blue” and Nicholas Valentino for “Shades of Blue.”

Because of all the positive feedback, Cruz is considering a similar theme in the future. “I’m already thinking about one with a much less common color! We really like to challenge artists to stretch themselves … to try something new.”

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present Inspirations in Blue through March 21. Up next is Hand Drawn:  A Juried Exhibition of Drawings opening April 25. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

By Heidi Sutton

Do you have a case of the winter blues? A surefire cure is a visit to the Winners Fine Art Showcase, currently on view at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James through Feb. 15. The gorgeous exhibit features the works of local artists Ross Barbera, Kyle Blumenthal, Julie Doczi and Liz Kolligs, who won the 2018 Members Showcase, along with Cliff Miller who took first place in the 2019 Water, Water Everywhere exhibit. The artists were selected by juror Dawn Lee, art curator of the Omni Gallery in Uniondale, professor and chair of the art department at St. Joseph’s College, and coordinator of the artist-in-residency program at Fire Island National Seashore. An artist reception was held on Jan. 25.

According to STAC’s Executive Director Allison Cruz, the annual exhibit was created over 30 years ago “to allow the public to experience a larger body of work from winning artists.” Each artist chose from 6 to 14 of their favorite pieces to showcase and then Cruz was tasked with the design aspect, filling four gallery rooms and the center hall on the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion.

“That is my favorite part of the show … those days before when I get to spend time with the works and figure out how each piece might be best presented in what space,” she said. “It’s a challenging puzzle but so satisfying and I really learn so much about the artist during this time.” 

The executive director is proud of the end result. “I think this is an impressive exhibit. There is such a wide variety of painting styles and mediums and techniques by five accomplished artists … and all from Long Island! Viewers should easily connect with the works in this show.”

While completely unintentional, much of the artwork shares a common theme − the beauty of Mother Earth. “I love the threads of nature that run through almost all the works in this show,” said Cruz. “Each artist clearly has a love and respect for the natural world. Although their work is very different in style, medium and color palette, that theme is strong throughout the show. That does not usually happen in a Winners Show but when it does it is just wonderful. It makes for a strong exhibit.” 

A perfect example of this is “Mountain Mallards” by renowned illustrator, portrait artist and muralist Cliff Miller. Beautifully executed, it is sure to be a conversation starter (yes, it is an oil painting; no it is not a photograph!). The Seaford resident has several other pieces in the show including a jaw-dropping Western-themed portrait titled “Desperado” and a humorous oil on gesso panel piece titled “The McDivots,” which features a golfer riding an alligator to the next tee.

Pastel lovers will be drawn to Julie Doczi’s delicate landscapes including “Croatian Stream,” “Connecticut Marsh” and one of the artist’s favorite, “The Lavender Harvester.” In her artist statement, the Port Jefferson Station resident said, “My journey into painting as an adult began when I encountered the medium of pastel. I began to find my view of the world around me opening up in a way never experienced before. It is a joyous experience to put these perceptions onto paper, to capture a scene and ultimately have it achieve its own unique identity.” Doczi’s “First Bloom” depicting a blue morning glory is simply stunning.

If you have a soft heart for horses, you’ll love the large equine oil on canvas paintings of Liz Kolligs including “A Herd of Your Own,” “Reflection” and “Bell – A Portrait.” The artist also has several beautiful wildlife paintings on display including “At the Edge of the Woods” and “Mill Neck Creek.” As a lecturer and demonstrator of equine painting techniques and anatomy throughout Long Island, the Glen Cove resident has truly perfected her art.

Perhaps the most unique art represented in the exhibit is by Kyle Blumenthal, who also has the most pieces in the show. Drawing inspiration from nature, her large 3-D paintings made from fabric, including several from her “All the Future Is in Today” series, explore the ocean and the Earth in an abstract manner. 

“I like to see my work float in midair,” the Stony Brook resident said in a recent interview with TBR News Media. “More and more of my paintings have started to come away from the wall as if to free themselves from restrictions and straight edges.”

Rounding out the exhibit are the massive landscape paintings of Ross Barbera. Created in acrylic on canvas and watercolor on paper, Barbera “strives to create images that communicate a sense of beauty, painterly integrity, and capture specific places in terms of time, light, space and texture,” according to the Ronkonkoma resident’s artist statement. One can’t miss the 48- by 72-inch winter-themed piece, “The Athabasca Glacier, Alberta Canada” or the eye-popping “Bonnie’s Summer Garden.”

“These talented artists are making passionate statements about the things they value in this world but in a gentle way,” said Cruz. “There is so much room for wonder!”

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Winners Showcase through Feb. 15. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

By Melissa Arnold

Did you ever have an imaginary friend or enjoy playing dress-up as a child? If so, then you’ve likely had an alter ego – another side to your personality or self-perception. Some people with alter egos share them openly with the world through socializing, music or writing, while others keep that “other self” a closely guarded secret.

Allison Cruz, executive director of the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James, is constantly dreaming up unique and fresh ideas for exhibitions.

“My personal belief is the gallery is here to serve the art-going public, and my goal is to grow the art-going public. We do a wide variety of exhibits to give people a chance to connect with something of their interest,” she said in a recent interview. “This is a new generation of young artists, and how people view and access art is changing.”

The idea for Cruz’s latest exhibit, Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves, came as she contemplated how young people today have embraced the concept of an alter ego, from multiple Instagram accounts for different facets of their lives to different personas in music and media. The subject intrigued the director, who said alter egos can be seen as dark and hidden or common and ordinary.

Around 10 exhibits are showcased at Mills Pond each year, roughly half of which are juried. Juried exhibits are curated by a guest juror who examines each entry for its artistry and how well it fits the chosen theme, ultimately selecting his or her favorites for exhibition.

“We all think about ourselves in different ways and sometimes consider what we’d rather be like,” said Transformations juror Carol Fabricatore, who lives in Westchester County. “A lot of us have an image of that perfect self or other self. It’s so fascinating to see how artists see themselves.”

Transformations marks Fabricatore’s first time serving as a juror, but she brings with her a lifetime of experience in creating art and spotting artists with great potential.

A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Fabricatore has spent the past 25 years on the Visual Essay faculty of her alma mater, where she also assists with admissions decisions. All the while, she has produced fine art and illustrations for newspapers, magazines, advertising firms and more. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions across the country, including at Mills Pond, where she met Cruz in 2017.

“One of my favorite places to draw is Coney Island, and so I was a part of a Coney Island-themed exhibit Allison had curated,” Fabricatore explained. “She was so easy to talk to, genuinely curious and enthusiastic about my work. She asked right away if I would consider coming back sometime to jury for her. I took great care with my selections, but the process was so much fun.”

Fabricatore pored over digital images of artists’ submissions for the exhibit for more than a week before narrowing the field to 34 artists and a total of 47 pieces created with a variety of media. Each artist portrayed transformation in their own unique way, including representations of animals, masks, transgender people and angels, among others.

Cruz said she was initially apprehensive to pursue the theme but was thrilled with Fabricatore’s selections.

“I know this topic is out of the ordinary for a lot of artists. But I’ve been amazed with what I’ve seen,” she said. “We have reflections of how these artists see themselves at a deeper level. They have a lot to say, and as I read the artists’ statements and learn more about them, I’ve been so impressed with their willingness to share a different part of their personality.”

Northport artist Margaret Minardi is no stranger to alter egos. In fact, she’s seen her own alter ego every day in the face of her identical twin sister, Ellen.

One of Minardi’s submissions, titled “Twins Lost II,” is a colored pencil drawing of two sisters quietly sitting next to each other on a wooded path, their poses mirror images.

“For me, my sister has always excelled in the places where I struggle. We fill in each other’s gaps,” said Minardi, a retired high school art teacher. “[Ellen is] literally my other self. It was an easy subject for me to explore.”

As juror, Fabricatore still has one more job to do. She’ll choose first-, second- and third-place winners to receive awards at the exhibit’s opening reception on Aug. 17.

“As a whole, this is a really strong exhibit because there are so many different takes on the theme, and people are represented from all ages and all over the country. It’s a powerful, deeply personal show and it’s going to be fascinating to see the work all hung together,” she said.

Transformations artists include:

Bill Brunken (PA), D Brian Burns II (Brooklyn), Sarah Cameron (WA), Lisa L. Cangemi (Mineola), Nan Cao (NYC), Maureen Ginipro (Smithtown), Donna Grossman (FL), Alley Horn (Brooklyn), David Jaycox Jr. (Northport), Melanie Kambhampati (Whitesboro), Kathee Shaff Kelson (Stony Brook), Devin P. Kish (MA), Bruce Laird (Port Washington), AnnMarie LeBlanc (PA), Yuke Li (Brooklyn), Linda Louis (S. Huntington), Maria Gabriella Messina (NYC), Sarah Miller (VA), Margaret Minardi (Northport), Roni Murillo (Valley Stream), Anne Darby Parker (SC), Sean Pollock (Stony Brook), Adelyne Rizzo (PA), Jennifer Scuro (New Rochelle), Tod Seitz (OH), Eileen Shaloum (Long Beach), Scott Sherman (NYC), Steven Sherrill (PA), Michael Spencer (Manhasset), Matina Marki Tillman (CT), Yuta Uchida (MN), Nicholas Valentino (North Babylon), Dominique Vargo (MD) and Holden Willard (ME).

Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves will be on view at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James, from Aug. 17 to Sept. 14. An opening reception, featuring many of the artists, an awards ceremony and light refreshments will be held on Aug. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. The gallery is open to the public Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. For further information, visit www.millspondgallery.org or call 631-862-6575.