We hope you are all healthy and safe as this period of uncertainty continues.
It’s been six weeks since Gov. Cuomo closed all non-essential businesses. We have been watching his daily updates, as well as the national news, to try and get some indication of when live theaters will be safely allowed to open again. While we have not been able to determine when that will be, the one thing we do know is that theaters, along with other large places of assembly, will be among the last businesses to be allowed to open.
As a result of this reality, and with keeping people’s safety and health in mind, we have decided to remain closed through at least June 30. This means, unfortunately, that we will need to postpone “Sister Act” again, which we had tentatively moved to the May 14 through June 28 time slot.
This is merely a postponement.Our plan is to reschedule “Sister Act” for later in the year so you will have an opportunity to see it once we are safely allowed to reopen.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. To be clear, there is nothing you need to do at this time.We will reach out to you with updated schedule information once we know when we can reopen.
We look forward to seeing you back at the theater as soon as it is safe to do so.We will continue to update you when we receive new information. Until then, please stay well.
Born in Puerto Rico and currently residing in New York City, photographer, writer and art critic Ruben Natal-San Miguel knows what it is like to experience life in vastly different places. With photography exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Mexico City (among other national and international locations), he has a knack for capturing images that display the human spirit in unique and varied settings.
His visionary eye for capturing people and life has been brought to Long Island’s own Ripe Art Gallery in Huntington. An artist reception was held on Aug. 8. The Rights of Summerphotography exhibit, juried by himself and Sean Corcoran (curator of photography and prints for the Museum of the City of New York), showcases his original photography alongside the work of over 25 other photographers from Long Island to Japan (to Portugal, to Canada, to Missouri, to California).
“Everybody’s summer looks different depending on where and how they live,” said Cherie Via Rexer, owner of Ripe Art Gallery, who has worked with Natal-San Miguel during past exhibitions.
This statement uncovers the main controlling idea of the exhibit, that different people of different socioeconomic classes, cultures, lifestyles and locations experience and celebrate summer differently.“We wanted to see what summer looked like for the 99 percent as well as the 1 percent,” said Via Rexer, who noted that the Ripe Art Gallery is the perfect place to showcase this theme, based on its location between New York City and the Hamptons.
The result of sorting through over 300 submissions is a final set of 57 images that each convey summer living in a diverse way and showcase “a little bit of everything,” according to Via Rexer.The styles of the photographs range from portraits to landscapes to abstract, but they all illustrate the Rights of Summer.
A particularly striking photograph that Via Rexer believes embodies the theme of the exhibit is “Bronx,” by Natal-San Miguel, in which a man stands in front of the ocean with the iconic word visibly tattooed across his back. “It shows a beautiful beach that is surrounded by projects and all kinds of living situations,” she said.“It shows the ocean but visibly zeroes in on a location.”
Also notable are the six established fine art photographers whose work will be on display at the exhibit: Richard Misrach, Christopher Rauschenberg (related to photographer Robert Rauschenberg), Karine Laval, Gillian Laub, Amy Arbus (related to photographer Diane Arbus) and Arlene Gottfried.
Eleonora Ronconi captured Best in Show with “Corn Stand,” first runner up was “Girl from Palm Springs” by Dolly Faibyshev, second runner up was Robert Herman’s “Heat Wave NYC NY” and third runner up was Luis Carle’s “Abanicos.” Honorable mentions went to Lauren Welles for “Coney Island 1,” Jennifer McClure for “Untitled,” Nancy Oliveri for “Coney Island Venus” and Russ Rowland’s “Brighton Beached 3.”
All are encouraged to view the artwork on display until Sept. 5. This event is sure to excite photography and fine art enthusiasts alike and offers a great opportunity for Long Islanders to view art by both internationally recognized and local photographers.
Ripe Art Gallery is located at 1028 Park Ave., Huntington. For more information, call 631-239-1805 or visit www.ripeartgal.com.
The delightful musical “Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” opened at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts on June 27. Written by Vera Morris with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, the tale follows the original classic closely with a few twists along the way. There are additional characters in the musical version like an apprentice to the fairy godmother, a talking pumpkin and a queen instead of a king. No bibbidi-bobbidi-boo here, just a beautiful fairy godmother in an glitzy evening gown and instead of Lucifer, the mean cat, there is a sweet cat named Attilla. Somehow it all works and makes for a wonderful afternoon of live theater.
Bobby Montaniz, making his directorial debut at the SCPA, has assembled a talented cast of adult actors who put on a great show. Montaniz, a fine actor in his own right, also serves as the choreographer.
Alexa Brin is Cinderella, the poor girl who is forced to do chores all day long for her wicked stepmother and rotten stepsisters and is not allowed to go to the Royal Ball. Her sad predicament is noticed by her fairy godmother’s apprentice, played by Sierra Romano. The apprentice summons the Fairy Godmother, played by Caitlin Nofi, who steps in to make things right.
Tommy Castelli is perfect in the role of the horrid stepmother and he can sure rock those high heels! Stepsisters, Brunhilda and Cleopatra, are played by Julia Bevilacqua and Samantha Foti, respectively.
Eric Schell is the handsome prince. His duet, “Behind the Mask,” with Brin is terrific and his scenes trying to escape the clutches of the stepsisters, who refer to themselves as “Prince Bait,” is fun to watch.
Ryan Cavanaugh plays Attilla the cat, and does a fine job. His waltz with Cinderella in anticipation of the ball is very sweet.
Special mention must be made of Tommy Ranieri, who doubles as Troubadour and Captain. His rendition of “Once Upon a Time,” as the prologue and reprise is simply wonderful. Also, Hans Hendrickson exhibits boundless energy as Majordomo and delivers a wonderful rendition of “Did You Hear the News?”
Hayley Phaneuf as the queen, Andrew Wehnke as Pumpkinhead and the butler, and Bella Lardaro as Mistress Haughty round out the supporting cast.
The colorful costumes by Ronald Green III from Cinderella’s rags to the beautiful ball gowns and are spot on.
Stay after the show to meet with the actors, and take a photo. The back page of the program serves nicely for autographs.
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown will present “Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. through Aug. 23 There are no performances on July 4 and 5. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.
The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) recently announced the winners of the 70th annual Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
Of 60 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books and organizations, the Three Village Historical Society in Setauket was chosen to receive the 2015 Leadership in History Award of Merit for its current exhibit, “Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time.” The Award of Merit is presented for excellence in history programs, projects and people when compared with similar activities nationwide.
“The Leadership in History Awards is AASLH’s highest distinction and the winners represent the best in the field,” Trina Nelson Thomas, the awards chair and director of AASLH said in a statement.
The distinction is one Frank Turano, the curator of the exhibit, is very excited about.
“It’s an honor, a privilege,” he said. “It puts our organization in very elite company. The AASLH does not give out this award in every state every year, so it is a very, very selective award.”
“Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time” explores a particular neighborhood, formed in the mid-nineteenth century, that surrounded the Setauket United Methodist Church on Route 25A and Main Street in Setauket. At its height in the 1930s and 1940s, it was a community of workmen/laborers and businessmen comprised of immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Italy as well as African Americans and Native Americans.
According to Turano, the Chicken Hill community dispersed in the 1960s when the Three Village area became a suburban community.
Asked what the inspiration was for creating this display, Turano said, “This exhibit honors people who have been the backbone of this community for as long as this community existed and people [who] were largely overlooked. They helped build the community, they help maintain the community today, and they largely are taken for granted or overlooked.”
The Chicken Hill exhibit has been warmly received by the community but Turano noticed that the general public “simply did not know that this community existed.”
“If someone spoke of Chicken Hill [in the past], more often than not, it was in disparaging terms and what I wanted to do with this exhibit was have people recognize the significance of that community,” he said.
The exhibit is constantly evolving, as the society is always accepting more memorabilia, stories and photos from the community. Since its inception last June, the Chicken Hill exhibit has now almost three times as many photos in its archives, which have been scanned and placed on digital frames. “We’ve built flexibility into the exhibit,” explained Turano. In addition, the exhibit includes a video featuring stories from residents who grew up in the community and an 1860 Robert Nunns piano recently restored by Michael Costa of Costa Piano Shoppes in Port Jefferson Station.
The award will be presented at a special banquet during the 2015 AASLH annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 18.
“It’s been a privilege working with the people that called Chicken Hill home and I have to thank society Archivist Karen Martin, Carlton “Hub” Edwards and the members of the [Three Village Historical Society] Rhodes committee who provided the information used to put the exhibit together,” Turano said.
“Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time” is currently available for viewing at the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays and by appointment. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.tvhs.org.
The Rad Trads opened the 50th Huntington Summer Arts Festival with a bang on Friday, June 26. This New York-based ensemble energetically played their diverse and brassy repertoire ranging from New Orleans second line to Chicago and delta blues, R&B and rock ’n’ roll. For their finale, they moved off the stage, playing among a clapping and happy audience.
The Huntington Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival is turning 50, and the council is celebrating the anniversary in style.
In honor of the milestone, the arts group will be hosting a 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. During the event, Sandy Chapin, the wife of Harry Chapin and current arts in education chairperson, will be presented with the Huntington Arts Council Harry and Sandy Chapin Arts and Humanitarian Award. The celebration will be held during the opening weekend of the annual festival.
Established in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the council has been hosting a summer arts festival concert series, where Huntington Town residents get to enjoy free music performances from various genres across the nation and the world.
“The town values its long-time partnership with the arts council in funding and presenting the summer arts festival, which continues to be the signature event in the town’s cultural calendar,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a statement.
Award winning musicians, actors, dancers and artists perform at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park from Tuesday through Sunday for 40 nights, with family nights on Tuesday evenings. Musicals like “West Side Story,” “Shrek,” “Nunsense A-men!” and “Peter Pan” will be on this summer. And bands span genres from traditional Dixieland jazz, contemporary folk and classical orchestra to spoken word rap and more.
As the years have gone by, the festival diversified in terms of performers and types of shows, said John Chicherio, the performing arts director at the council and the program director of the summer arts festival.
“The festival has a great mix of styles and genres.”
The Huntington Men’s Chorus and the Huntington Choral Society will kick off the summer arts festival’s first weekend. The groups have performed each year since the festival began.
Chapin is currently the arts in education chairperson for the council. She has been a staunch advocate of the arts for decades, with a strong commitment to arts education — specifically with the Huntington Arts Council Journey program, which she helped launch. The Journey program, established in 1985, is meant to integrate cultural arts into a classroom curriculum. The program runs in six different school districts, including Huntington, Harborfields and Northport-East Northport. Chapin brought her experience as an elementary school teacher to the Journey program to help make it adaptable in the school districts.
Following the celebration at the Heckscher Museum of Art, members of Chapin’s family will perform a concert at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park. Proceeds from this support the mission of the Huntington Arts Council, which is to enrich the quality of life for Long Islanders through cultural art and musical programs.
“The summer arts festival is a great way to visit good friends and enjoy a summer evening,” Chapin said. “It’s hard to say what has been my favorite part since it’s such a diverse festival.”
The sun has set on SPARKBOOM, a grant-funded program run by the Huntington Arts Council that helped foster young and emerging Long Island artists.
The program was discontinued after its grant ran out, according to Maureen Starr, who does public relations for the council. In an email, Starr said the council wasn’t awarded a Regional Economic Development Council grant from New York State this year.
SPARKBOOM was in existence for two years. The program’s last event was held on April 18 in Huntington.
The program’s goals were to showcase local artists from ages 18 to 34 and try to connect them with opportunities and networking on Long Island through a variety of different events and exhibitions. The program was all-inclusive when it came to the type of art forms it would promote — musicians, photographers, painters, visual performers and more participated in events.
The New York State Council on the Arts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the New York State Legislature supported the grant-funded program, along with many other partners.
“We were thinking, what can we do to help emerging artists [who] tend to be underrepresented and are usually recently out of college?” Michelle Carollo said in a phone interview. Carollo was the artistic supervisor for SPARKBOOM.
Carollo helped oversee and organize more than 10 events, which included a holiday party that featured musicians and spoken-word poets, as well as window art and several film screenings with after-parties featuring musicians.
One of her favorite events, Off the Walls, was a block party and street fair in Huntington Station that showcased more than 30 art vendors, a BMX stunt bike show, live Latin dancing and an interactive mural painting.
“This event was unique because we were able to publicize it in two languages, so we were able to attract a much larger audience, and a couple hundred people ended up contributing to the community mural,” she said.
Steven Licardi is a poet who worked with SPARKBOOM and described the experience as “overwhelmingly positive.” He believes that what it did so well was combine art forms and artists on a large scale and show the public how talented Long Island artists are. He also thought that SPARKBOOM was doing successfully what other organizations were either not taking advantage of or not doing as well.
“Long Island has a booming artistic community … I would argue that it’s more than or equally as vibrant and diverse as Manhattan or Brooklyn,” he said in an email. “Long Island is teeming with talented people — particularly young people — who are tempting to redefine and re-imagine what art is.”
Long Island is getting older, and its youth population is smaller than neighboring regions, statistics show.
According to the Long Island Index, the Island’s 55 and older population is growing by about 2 percent per year. The trend started to accelerate in 2007 and is expected to last for another decade. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, 29 percent of residents were over 55 in 2013, up from 25 percent in 2007.
Meanwhile, the number of 25 to 34 year olds was declining through 2007 and has held relatively steady at 11 percent of the population since then. That’s less than other suburban parts of the region and much less than New York City, which stands at 18 percent.
Employment is one of the main reasons young people leave Long Island, according to a Destination LI survey published last year. Nearly 57 percent of millennials were unable to find jobs aligned with their skills on Long Island.
For one young artist, SPARKBOOM helped her advance professionally, she said.
“SPARKBOOM offered me an entryway into performing more meaningful shows on Long Island, a goal I was having difficulty reaching on my own,” Alexa Dexa, a musician who participated in several of the program’s events, said in an email. “As a young artist, it was extremely encouraging to participate in events that fostered a real sense of community, and to be selected on the merit of my work … It was a blessing to have the exposure and funding for my performances that the infrastructure of SPARKBOOM was able to provide,” she said.
Marc Courtade, the executive director of the Huntington Arts Council, said the curtain has closed on the program for the foreseeable future.
“I am sorry to say there are no plans [to keep a program like this going] at the moment,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s unfortunate because it was a very good program, there was really nothing comparable to this program.”
Licardi echoed Couratade’s sentiment.
“The loss of SPARKBOOM is a huge blow to the Long Island arts scene.”
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