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Angela Stratton

Above, a painting of Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket by artist John Koch at a previous Wet Paint Festival. Photo courtesy of Gallery North

By Melissa Arnold

It’s been a tough season for the plethora of local events that have either been canceled, postponed or restructured. Thankfully, technology like livestreaming and video chat have made it possible for some events to go on as scheduled, albeit a bit differently.

For the past 16 years, the Wet Paint Festival has given Three Village residents and visitors an up close look at the creative process of local artists as they work. The event was founded to honor the memory of beloved Long Island painter Joe Reboli, who died in 2004.

But inviting artists and community members to gather for creative fun and conversation doesn’t exactly fit in this quarantined, socially distant time. So what to do?

It’s been a baptism by fire of sorts for Ned Puchner of Gallery North in Setauket, which has sponsored the event from its beginnings. Puchner, who became the gallery’s executive director in December, was looking forward to his first Wet Paint Festival. Now, he’s been called upon to dream up an alternative.

“It’s been one of those unique experiences where you get to know people really fast,” Puchner joked. “But I’ve also learned very quickly how much support there is here for the arts and the art community, even despite the pandemic and its challenges. It’s been very encouraging for me to see that outpouring.”

Originally founded by former Gallery North director Colleen Hanson and the Reboli family, the Wet Paint Festival invites artists from Long Island and beyond for a relaxed weekend of plein air (outdoor) painting. The artists paint at the same location from vantage points of their choosing, allowing each put their own spin on well-known scenes and landmarks.

In the past, the festival has been held at West Meadow Beach and the adjoining Old Field Farm, Frank Melville Memorial Park, the Stony Brook railroad, the Thompson House, and Avalon Park & Preserve, among other places.

This year’s event will celebrate each artist’s originality as Wet Paint goes virtual. Painting sessions will be either livestreamed online or pre-recorded from a location the artist selects, whether it’s their own backyard or a public spot. During each session, the artist will talk about their creative process and take questions from viewers, just as they would in person.

To accommodate for the new format, the artists will paint for an entire week, from July 18 through July 25. The completed artwork will then be on display on the Gallery North website throughout the month of August.

The virtual festival is the latest in Gallery North’s ongoing effort to provide engaging online experiences during the pandemic.

“We had the Wet Paint Festival completely planned and were starting to gather sponsors and registrants when we had to close the gallery on March 14. When we closed, we decided to postpone the event, not realizing how long we would be unable to function and be outside,” Puchner explained.

“As time went on, we took it as an opportunity to get creative not only with Wet Paint, but with everything we do,” he said. The gallery began to share daily art activities, host “virtual open studio” events, film screenings, lectures, and opportunities to give and receive feedback on work in progress. As the staff grew more comfortable with video chat platforms such as Zoom, they knew they had to find a way to present the Wet Paint Festival, too.

Angela Stratton of Selden has enjoyed painting at the festival for the past 15 years, and while she’ll miss the connection and camaraderie of the typical event, she’s excited to see what comes of the online version.

“I’m the kind of person that likes to be outside anyway, so getting to paint at the same time is really a double treasure,” said Stratton, an oil painter. “Of course, there can be issues with painting outdoors ­— the sun goes in and out, it can be windy, it can rain — but it gives you the real depth of color you just can’t get from a photo.”

Stratton is still up in the air about where she’ll be painting, but she enjoys the challenge provided by the Old Field lighthouse.

Annette Napolitano, a realist painter who works in both watercolor and oil, would normally go out once a week to paint with a group of friends. She’s participated in Wet Paint for several years now.

“The first time I did the festival, I was so excited to be with the other artists, all of us working in the same place. The world is so big, and it can be a challenge to grab just a piece of it,” said Napolitano, of Rocky Point.

“I think bringing the festival online is a good solution because it’s like a pop-up event — people can come and go as they please. It’s also nice that we have a whole week to work, and it’s going to be fun to see people share their work from different parts of Long Island,” she said.

Puchner hopes that the event will inspire creativity not only in the participating artists, but people at home as well.

“At the center of the arts is expression. Everyone has had different experiences during the pandemic, but it has been significant for all of us,” he said. “There’s a fundamental need to discuss how we’re feeling, and the arts are a safe space for expression of all kinds.”

Livestreamed and recorded artist visits will be available for public viewing the week of July 27 at www.gallerynorth.org. Then, all completed works will be on the site for viewing and purchase throughout the month of August, with commissions split equally between the artist and the gallery. A virtual reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 8 via Zoom; registration is free but required.

For further information, visit www.gallerynorth.org or call 631-751-2676.

*Article from TBR News Media’s Summer Times 2020, free on newstands today.

‘Art is my passion and lifetime adventure;

I relish being able to dedicate each and every day to the art of creating.’

– Angela Stratton

By Irene Ruddock

‘It’s Me’, self portrait by Angela Stratton

Angela Stratton, whose artistry is described as traditional realism, was schooled in the old master’s tradition at the Reilly League of Artists. She was mentored by Cesare Borgia who strongly emphasized portrait and figure drawing, painting from life, working from casts, and copying old masters such as Velazquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt and Rubens. 

After over twenty years of study, Ms. Stratton was asked to supplement Borgia’s teaching responsibilities and has since emerged as an award-winning artist who has exhibited country-wide. Today, she belongs to numerous organizations such as the Catherine Lorillard Wolf Art Club, the Portrait Society of America, the Salmagundi Club, and the Oil Painters of America. She continues to teach and to seek continuous study through workshops, demonstrations, and museum lecture series. 

I recently caught up with the artist to get her views on her prestigious career.

Was there a defining moment when you decided to follow the path of traditional realism?

Yes. I did draw as a child, but my true inspiration came in my early years of employment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wandering the great rooms intrigued by the old master paintings. It was there that I decided to become an artist.   

What do you remember most about the influence of your mentor Cesare Borgia?

He had so such love and enthusiasm for art that it became contagious. But I mostly remember his encouraging me to persevere and to pursue research. He encouraged me to develop my own style and to “be true to myself.” Through the years, I developed a such a strong bond with him and his wife Margy, that she told me I was the daughter they never had. Many years later, I painted her portrait and gave it the title ‘Beautiful Spirit’ as she was truly deserving of that title. 

What artists do you especially admire? 

That is difficult to answer as there are so many great artists with different styles who make each one unique. One of my favorites is John Singer Sargent, whose fluid strokes helped make him the leading portrait painter of his generation. He is often known for his scandalous painting of Madame X.  I also admire William A. Bouguereau for his superb draftsmanship and classical paintings of the female form. His painting of the “Birth of Venus” is often described as the epitome of classical Green and Roman form of the female body.        

You have a wide range of paintings which depict landscapes, portraiture and still life. Which are you most well known for?  

I have always been known for my portraiture and figures, but since retiring, I have been able to put more focus on still life and plein air painting as well. However, portraiture is still my favorite. As people we are all so different and yet so much alike. We all possess a magnificent spirit inside us. I hope to capture that essence whether in a child’s eye or an elderly smile. I enjoy doing commissions and strive to find the magic in each person.   

How do you choose your objects for your still lifes such as the ones in your well known painting Life’s Phases?

Each object in the painting tells a bit about the phases of my life from my childhood love of ice skating, to my toy and doll phase, and to the years when I discovered baseball. When I do still life commissions, I encourage people to bring symbols of their life so I can paint the objects that tell a story representing them in a unique way. In this way, a person can create their own painting.     

In today’s world of abstract, contemporary design, do you think the realistic tradition will survive? 

 I do not think realism will ever disappear with so many museums abundantly displaying wonderful traditional art. Even today there are many art organizations and magazines that continue to emphasize the realistic tradition. 

Are students lacking today if they are not taught a rigorous classic background?  

My belief is that some study on basic drawing techniques are vital regardless of one’s direction. ‘You need to know the rules before you can break them’!  

What awards have meant the most to you? 

All awards are special, but I do remember being extremely excited when I was accepted as a finalist into the 2015 International Art Renewal Center, which is the largest, most prestigious realist art competition in the world.   

Do you have a favorite painting? 

I remember once, while at the Met, I was asked if I needed to rescue one painting, which one would it be? I chose “The Wyndham Sisters” which was painted in 1899 by John Singer Sargent. One cannot help but to be in awe of such a masterpiece which was dubbed “The Three Graces” by the Prince of Wales.    

Where do you exhibit now? 

I am currently exhibiting in the Annual Invitational Exhibition at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James, Figuratively Speaking at the Salmagundi Club in New York City and The Big Picture at the Art League of Long Island located in Dix Hills. I encourage people to visit my website at strattongallery.com.    

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook hosted an artist reception for its latest exhibit, Anything Goes!, on Dec. 6. The exceptional exhibit features artwork created by 104 participating members of LIMarts, the LIM’s special membership initiative for artists. 

Joshua Ruff, deputy director at the Long Island Museum, welcomed the artists and guests to the reception.“It’s quite amazing and impressive how, just within a space of a few miles, we have such incredible talent. I think this is our best show yet − it’s colorful, it’s wonderful.” Most of the artwork is for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the museum’s exhibitions and programs. The show is on view in the museum’s Visitors Center through Jan. 5. 

For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

By Melissa Arnold

Art exhibits draw crowds for a host of reasons, often as varied as the people who attend them. For some, it’s the work of a particular artist they enjoy, while for others it may be an intriguing theme or interesting medium.

This month, the Setauket Artists have put together a collection that not only shows off local talent, but does so in a space that is attractive all on its own — the Deepwells Mansion in St. James.

The Setauket Artists hold an annual fall exhibit at the Setauket Neighborhood House, an event that’s become an important part of the area’s culture. “As the exhibit and the number of visitors grew over the years, we found the need to extend our viewing time. We were delighted when the opportunity came along to have an additional show,” said Irene Ruddock, president of the Setauket Artists in a recent interview.

“There will be close to 100 works of art on display including oil, watercolor and pastel paintings, as well as soft-ground etchings, collage and hand-painted photographs and all of them are for sale,” she added. 

Participating artists include Ross Barbera, Eleanor Berger, Catherine Bezas, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Bart Deceglie, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, Marge Governale, William Graf, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Deborah Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, Joanne Liff, Celeste Mauro, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musara, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Demerise Perricone, Denis Ponsot, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Carol Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Patricia Solan, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

“The Setauket Artists have been in existence for 38 years . . . many of their paintings reflect the beauty of Long Island — the rivers, lakes, ocean, and bays that make this island so unique,” said Ruddock. “When curating the show, I look for paintings that touch the soul and bring the beauty of nature or a magical moment to the viewer. Every painting in the exhibit reflects our group’s motto, ‘Art is for a lifetime.’”

 Setauket Artist member Robert Roehrig agreed. “Although there is no particular theme to the exhibition, the Setauket Artists always display many beautiful scenes of our local Long Island landscape,” he said.

“The Deepwells Farm Historical Society is pleased to welcome the Setauket Artists to Deepwells Mansion for their first spring art show,” Denise Davis, a board member for the society, said. “The mansion, which is part of the Suffolk County Parks, was built in 1845 in the 16th century Greek-Revival architecture   for Joel Smith, a descendant of Smithtown’s founder Richard ‘Bull’ Smith. Deepwells is the perfect venue for displaying and sharing with the community the many local scenes of beautiful Long Island,” she added.

The community is invited to an opening reception on May 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. Refreshments and appetizers prepared by the artists will be served.

The exhibit will also include a small boutique gift shop with handmade wares from the Setauket Artists featuring jewelry, cards, scarves and small paintings. The group will continue its tradition of raffling off three different paintings on May 26, the exhibit’s last day. Visitors can enter the raffle throughout the exhibit’s run and do not need to be present to win.  Robert Roehrig, vice president of Setauket Artists, is donating his oil painting titled “Still Afloat,” and Anne Katz and Paula Pelletier will each donate a watercolor painting.

“It’s an exciting new venue for us,” said Setauket Artist member Joan Rockwell. “There will be something for everyone and the show will be open for Mother’s Day weekend too!  We’ll serve refreshments and have a flower for all those special Moms.”

Sponsored by Bryant Funeral Home, the Setauket Artists Spring Exhibit will be on view from May 4 through May 26 at the Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James. The mansion is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.setauketartists.com. Private group or single showings can be arranged by appointment: call 631-365-1312 or email [email protected]

'Harvest's End' by Marge Governale

When autumn arrives, residents of the Three Village area may start to think of the annual fall art show that has become a true community treasure. The Setauket Artists will host its 38th Artists’ Exhibition 2018 from Oct. 28 to Nov. 19 at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. 

‘Last Cottage’ by Fred Mendelsohn

Over 40 award-winning artists will participate in the show this year including Lana Ballot, Ross Barbara, Shain Bard, Eleanor Berger, Rina Betro, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, W.A. Dodge, Marge Governale, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, John Mansueto, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Genia Neuschatz, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Denis Ponsot, Joseph Reboli, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Carole Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Nancy Weeks, Marlene Weinstein, Laura Westlake and Patricia Yantz. 

‘Perfect Day’ by Lana Ballot

The exhibition will kick off with an opening reception on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. All are invited to this free event to enjoy some light refreshments while viewing the beautiful artwork, all of which will be for sale. Take a chance on winning a painting by four Setauket artists, the proceeds of which support the art organization. Marlene Weinstein will offer a photograph titled “Fishing Boat Trio,” John Mansueto will offer an original oil, Muriel Mussara will offer a watercolor titled “Conscience Bay” and Frederic Mendelsohn, this year’s honored artist, will also offer an original oil painting. 

For over 10 years, Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home has sponsored the Setauket Artists, allowing this exhibit to be one of the most attended functions in the Three Village area.  

‘Autumn Reflections’ by John Mansueto

This year’s distinguished guest artist is David Peikon, renowned oil painter and winner of many awards throughout the country. Tom Mason, known for his old master paintings and portraiture, will be the distinguished judge.  

If you miss the first reception, you will have a chance to meet your favorite artists at the second reception at the annual Wine and Cheese Art Event held on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. Many new paintings will be displayed for the evening, just in time for holiday giving.

“Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to attend the receptions or daily viewing to see paintings that are classic and enduring and have given credence to our motto “Art for a lifetime,” said Irene Ruddock, coordinator of the event, adding, “After the exhibit, visit www.SetauketArtists.com to learn about the group’s Art Consultation feature where you may arrange to see paintings in your home before you decide whether or not to purchase them. The paintings of the artists include a wide range of modalities featuring work that is impressionistic, contemporary or traditional, including a portrait artist who will paint the perfect likeness of your loved ones or pet.”

For further information, you may contact  Irene Ruddock at [email protected] or 631-365-1312. For viewing hours at the Setauket Neighborhood House, visit www.setauketartists.com on the Events page.