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Carol Koch

By Tara Mae

Art traverses the boundaries that reality calls home. Silhouettes illuminated by soft sunlight; seascapes awash in mist; hints of humankind identified by what is left behind, Smithtown Township Arts Council’s latest exhibit at Mills Pond Gallery, Celebrating Nature and Light, explores environmental elements of everyday life. 

On view from Oct. 28 to Dec. 9, the gorgeous show features 66 works of art. All watercolor or gauche, the pieces were created by 49 artists from 28 Long Island communities, as well as the greater state of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and South Dakota. 

Although other exhibits at the Mills Pond Gallery have featured watercolors, Celebrating Nature and Light highlights the medium’s malleability in conveying the nuances of the natural world. 

“I believe that watercolor possesses a radiant quality that best conveys both light and mood. It imparts an airy and transparent quality to the skies while infusing the landscape with a vibrant array of colors,” said juror and watercolorist Joel Popadics, Vice President/Treasurer of the American Watercolor Society.

Shades and tones, whether muted or ebullient, entice the audience to immerse itself in the places portrayed in the paintings. Watercolor blends edges of reality with intrinsic openness of imagination. Realistic scenes are imbued with an ethereal essence that feels both intimate and expansive. 

Such qualities inspired Popadics in choosing the exhibit’s underlying motifs of nature and light. “I’ve always been drawn to watercolor and I have worked with it my entire career. The unpredictable quality of watercolor makes this medium special,” he said. “As a landscape painter, this theme is particularly close to my heart.” 

It is an appreciation shared by Mills Pond Gallery’s Executive Director Allison Cruz. She organizes a few landscape shows a year, but had never before organized a juried watercolor exhibit at the gallery. 

“Landscape is of course a popular subject, especially here on Long Island. Watercolor paints are transparent and fluid, making them a perfect medium for capturing light,” Cruz said. 

The accessibility of watercolor is not limited to locations familiar to locals, but encompasses those vistas that may only be known to the artists themselves. Natural light enhances evocative views that are demurely dappled or boldly bright, accentuating humanity either in the signs of its presence or the abundance of its absence. 

“Art is subjective so it’s important to respect the diversity of artistic expression…I also think it’s fascinating to see the unique personal interpretations that each artist brings to the theme,” Popadics said, a sentiment also shared by Cruz.

“I look at every new exhibit as an opportunity to create new art lovers…to get more people to enjoy art and to help artists get their creations to new audiences,” said Cruz. 

Exhibiting artists include Alexander Kaluzhny, Alisa Shea, Angela Mirro, Ann Shoshkes, Antonio Masi, Brenda L Bechtel, Carol Koch, Catherine Rezin, Christine Verga Maday, Christopher Buckley, Daniel Walworth, Denis Ponsot, Diana Aliberti, Ellen Ferrigno, Felecia Montfort, Gentry L. Croshaw, Gisela Skoglund, Jan Guarino, Jeffrey Van Esselstine , Joan Vera Martorana, Joanne Teets, Joyce Bressler, Karen Bennett, Karen B Davis, Karin Weibert, Kathleen McArdle, Khrystyne Robillard-Smith, Kirsten DiGiovanni, Lisa Claisse, Liz Jorg Masi, Lori Scarlatos, Lynn Staiano, Lynn Liebert, Marsha Abrams, Mary Kiernan, Mary Waka, Myungja Anna Koh, Patricia Morrison, Patty Yantz, Robert Tuska, Roberta Rogers, Robin Foreman, Sally Anne Keller, Susan Toplitz, Susan Herbst, Teresa Cromwell, Tianzhou Zhao, Tracy Tekverk, and Victoria A. Beckert.

The Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving weekend). The public is invited to an opening reception for ‘Celebrating Nature and Light’ on Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. to meet the artists and view their work. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.