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christian white

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Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson with some of the masks he created

A COLORFUL PALATE The North Shore Artists Coalition held its second annual Artists Open Studio Tour on Nov. 11 and 12. Eleven award-winning artists welcomed visitors into their studios to see where the magic happens including, clockwise from top left, Peter Gallasso of Setauket, Hugh McElroy of Port Jefferson, Christian White of St. James, Nanci Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook (in her St. James studio), Sungsook Setton of Setauket, and Jim Molloy of Miller Place. Other participating artists included Doug Reina, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Marlene Weinstein, Pam Brown and Kelynn Z. Alder. Guests were able to view artwork for sale, ask questions and enjoy refreshments.

Photos by Heidi Sutton

Abstract artist Peter Galasso’s Setauket studio will be one of the stops on the tour. Photo from Peter Galasso

By Heidi Sutton

The North Shore is teeming with talented artists and local venues like the Mills Pond House Gallery, the Reboli Center for Art and History, The Long Island Museum, Gallery North, the Port Jefferson Village Center and libraries are more than eager to show off their artwork. But what if you could hit the rewind button and observe the artist working on the piece right before your eyes?

That rare opportunity will arise this weekend as the North Shore Artist Coalition hosts its second annual Artist Open Studio Tour.

Doug Reina will be working on a painting during the tour. Photo from Doug Reina

The self-guided event will offer an intimate glimpse into the working studios of 11 award-winning artists living in Miller Place, St. James, Setauket, Port Jefferson and Stony Brook, giving visitors a personal opportunity to meet and talk with artists about their work and the creative process.

The coalition, whose core artist group is Nancy Bueti-Randall, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Jim Molloy, Doug Reina and Pam Brown, formed last year to contribute to the community through exhibitions, open studio tours and educational programs. “Fundamentally we believe the arts improve our lives and enrich our communities culturally, socially and economically. As well our mission is to promote and increase regional awareness of professional artists working in a wide range of styles and studio practices,” said Brown in a recent email.

Artists Peter Galasso, Kelynn Z. Adler, Sungsook Setton, Christian White, Hugh McElroy and Marlene Weinstein were invited to participate in this year’s tour.

Artist Pam Brown’s studio is one of the stops on the tour. Photo from Pam Brown

“Each year we invite artists from the Three Village and surrounding areas [to join us],” Brown explained. “Our goal is to invite more artists each year as the Studio Tour grows.” In addition to the Artist Studio Tour, the group aims to have yearly pop-up exhibitions. This past June, Mary Jane van Zeijts hosted an exhibition at her Setauket studio titled Five @ 268 Art on Main that featured the core group. Upcoming projects include a curated exhibition of the Artists in the Studio Tour. “Currently we are looking for exhibition spaces in our local area,” said Brown.

At each studio, which can be in a backyard barn, garage, house, storefront or outdoor space, visitors will be able to talk freely with the artists and ask questions about their approach and individual styles to making art. “They can visit as long as they like,” said Brown. “Additionally some of the artists will be doing demonstrations and talking directing about their processes and the materials they use.”

Visitors can also expect to see a variety of artwork on display including original paintings, sculptures, ceramics, pastels, photographs, prints and textiles. Additionally, artwork will be for sale.

Brown is hoping to attract even more visitors to this year’s event. “Last year’s Studio Tour was very successful and well-attended, we received positive feedback from local art organizations and other cultural venues, plus we had incredible support from fellow artists, friends and our community at large,” she said.

“It is our hope that people walk away with a deeper meaning and understanding of art, the Artist, and the important role that art plays in our community.”

The North Shore Artist Coalition’s Artist’s Open Studio Tour will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11 and Sunday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine and admission is free. Refreshments will be served at several studios. For a list of the 11 locations, visit www.facebook.com/NorthShoreArtistCoalition. For more information, call 631-834-9036.

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'NSP Docks' by Christian White

By Irene Ruddock

If you only attend one gallery exhibit this summer, make it the stunning collection of new paintings by Christian White showing at The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James this month. White is a multitalented artist creating works in stone, watercolor, graphite, gouache, trompe l’oeil, egg tempera and, of course, his ever popular luscious color-saturated oils paintings.

Your exhibit of new paintings has been described as ‘breathtaking.’ Do you have a favorite piece?

These paintings are an attempt to find something new in subjects that I have painted often over my career. I never really have a favorite piece, I am more interested in how the paintings look together, and I am very happy with how these look as a group.

You refer to yourself as a colorist. What is your secret to creating such pure, clean color that exudes light and atmosphere so well? How do you prepare for painting large pieces?

I believe that if one uses color, it should have a purpose, that is, a decorative, thematic and expressive function in the picture. I have no real secrets to my color ideas, except that I have studied the subject a great deal. I do have certain ways of preparing colors in advance when working on large pieces, which are partly influenced by certain modernist and abstract painters.

You have such a remarkable heritage with five generations of famous painters, architects, poets, sculptors, etc. Who do you admire and learn from most in your family line?

I learned a great deal from everyone in my family who I knew personally. It is hard to say which part of one’s education is most important; I believe everything one learns contributes to who you are. I admired my father, Robert White, a great deal and spent much of my youth learning from him by example. I also admired my maternal grandfather, Joep Nicolas, a lot. I studied with him briefly in Holland, as well as with my aunt, Sylvia Nicolas, and a Japanese sculptor named Shinkichi Tajiri. Joep had a facility and imagination that I never felt I would attain, so yes, I admired that very much, but all of them had important lessons to give.

Is there a present-day artist who you hold in esteem and would like to meet?

I think I would say the South African artist, William Kentridge. He has an originality which I find engrossing and magical, and although he uses some modern technology, most of his work is just charcoal on paper, I love that he creates such original work with such a simple medium.

‘Japanese Maple #2’ by Christian White

Which is your favorite art museum? Is there an art museum that you would like to visit but haven’t yet?

For most of my life I would have said: The Frick. But now I probably spend more of my time at MoMA. I would love to see the Prado some day.

Japanese Maple #2 appears to be a joyfully abstract painting that exudes the wonder and brilliance of autumn. Can you explain a bit about your abstract paintings vs. your more traditional approach?

That is one of several paintings where I have tried to bring exterior space and structure forward into the room, like a window moved forward perhaps. I do not exactly consider these paintings abstract, although I have borrowed some ideas from abstract painters, and I suppose there is a certain feeling akin to “action painting” in its execution.

‘Harbor, March’ by Christian White

The painting ‘Harbor, March’ created quite a stir. What do you think makes it so universally inviting?

That painting was based on a smaller study that I did on a very warm, still day in March last year. I was trying to describe the unusual color of the air that day. I am often trying to capture a familiar subject in a new light. I think the scale of this one gives it a more specific mood, perhaps.

It’s hard to surpass your superb draftsmanship. Would you consider an exhibit with just your graphite drawings? Do you draw with your brush while painting in oils?

I consider drawing to be the basic skill and language that artists use to communicate. In recent years I have become more interested in producing drawings as objects of art, so yes, someday I may have an exhibit of just drawings. Am I drawing with the brush when I paint? Absolutely.

‘A Clutch of Daffodils’ by Christian White

You are presently teaching at The Atelier. Can you tell us why you were drawn to teach and exhibit there?

I was intrigued by the idea of a school that would give students solid foundational skills, in an organized studio setting. I think an emphasis on teaching drawing skills (not just copying from two dimensions) is crucial, though difficult, toward making better artists.

You’ve said that you were influenced by the Southampton artist, Fairfield Porter, a friend of your father. What did you learn from him?

He was also very close to my mother (they were both art critics). Mostly I was influenced by his work, his ability to make realism look so much like modernism, his insistence on making every color a design decision and the way he simplified the subject, without making it any less immediate. Those were things I wanted to do as well.

The Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, Suite 15, St. James will present the exhibition Christian White: Recent Works through Aug. 31. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sundays. For more information, please call 631-250-9009 or visit www.atelierflowerfield.org.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

ART RECEPTION Despite the torrential downpours, The Atelier at Flowerfield hosted a well-attended art reception for its inaugural exhibition, a show titled Christian White: Recent Work, on July 13. Christian White is a nationally recognized painter and an instructor at The Atelier at Flowerfield, which was founded one year ago and now has over 200 students. The solo exhibit depicts local landscapes and The Atelier method of drawing and painting from life.

Above, the artist (in tan shirt) poses in front of his painting “Japanese Maple #2” with, from left, Tasha Boehm, assistant director of operations; Gaby Field-Rahman, administrator; Diane Moffet, assistant secretary; Margaret McEvoy, director of operations; Kevin McEvoy, president and director of The Atelier; mother Claire Nicolas White; Paul Lamb, chairman of the board; and David Madigan, trustee. The exhibit runs through Aug. 31. The Atelier at Flowerfield is located at 2 Flowerfield, Suite 15 in St. James. For further information, call 631-250-9009 or visit www.atelierflowerfield.org.

‘Still Life with Peaches’ by Christian White. Photo courtesy of Gallery North

By Ellen Barcel

Gallery North will be presenting a new exhibit, one guaranteed to make the viewer both hungry and thirsty. Thirty artists will have their work on display in The Art of Eating opening Feb. 23 and running through Friday, March 17.

‘Mussels’ by Bruce Lieberman. Image courtesy of Gallery North

Judith Levy, executive director of the gallery, noted that the first time she curated The Art of Eating, six years ago, she had been reading food author M.F.K. Fisher’s collection of essays, “The Art of Eating,” when she got the idea to actually display paintings that focused on food.

In that first exhibit, an artist brought in five images of pizza, the last one showing only the leftover crust. “Some people had unique images,” she observed. This time, Levy said, some of the paintings would be “quirky, some extravagant, some really fun … Someone even did a painting of a wine cork. There’s a wide variety of paintings …. Hanging the show is so much fun seeing the pictures communicate with each other.”

Jackie Lima, one of the artists in the show, is currently in Asia. She was so interested in being in the show, she sent a painting, “Thali,” all the way from India when she heard about the upcoming exhibit. Thali, typical Indian fare, features various dishes served on a platter.

‘Carrots and Oranges’ by Denis Ponsot. Image courtesy of Gallery North

Three Village’s own Christian White will be showing two paintings including “Still Life With Peaches,” a tempting display of fruit and thick, crusty bread with beautiful flowers in the background. Setauket artist Eleanor Meier, well known for her still lifes, many with various food themes, will be showing three pieces, “Pepper Parade,” “Pears and a Blue Plate” and “Juicy Sweet.” Bruce Lieberman’s “Mussels” is so appropriate with Long Island’s seafaring history as is Joan Branca’s “Fish for Sale.” Then there’s Denis Ponsot’s “Carrots and Oranges,” and Tim Kennedy’s “Layer Cake,” the perfect ending to this visual meal.

Styles for the 30 artists vary as does the media from oils to acrylics and water colors as well as drawings and hand pulled prints. Expect realism as well as more abstract styles, all inspired by food and beverages.

There are two special events connected with The Art of Eating. An opening reception will be held on Feb. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. to which the public is invited. In keeping with the theme of the exhibit, on March 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. the gallery plans to have a tasting menu, A Little Taste of France, prepared by renown chef Guy Reuge of Mirabelle Tavern at the Three Village Inn. Referred to as “France’s gift to Long Island,” the award-winning chef will have his new book, “A Chef’s Odyssey,” available for purchase at the event and will sign copies. The book, described as “an insider’s tour” of restaurants, also includes some of his favorite recipes. Cost of the tasting menu is $45 per person. Call the gallery or email [email protected] to register (by March 8) and for further details.

Gallery North is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For further information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

Artist Doug Reina in his Setauket studio. Photo from Pam Brown

By Kevin Redding

From the Reboli Center for Art and History and The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook to Gallery North in Setauket, the North Shore community has no shortage of options when it comes to appreciating work from local artists.

But for those who trek through art exhibitions seeking a more in-depth glimpse into the artist’s process and how specific paintings and sculptures came to be, there’s an opportunity to see it all up close and personal this weekend.

The Artists

Pam Brown

26 William Penn Drive

Stony Brook

Nancy Bueti-Randall

574 Moriches Road

St. James

Peter Galasso

28 Gaul Road

South Setauket

Flo Kemp

94 Old Field Road

Setauket

Hugh McElroy

114 Hallett Avenue

Port Jefferson

Jim Molloy

403 Pipe Stave Hollow Road

Miller Place

Doug Reina

290 Main Street

Setauket

Sungsook Setton

22 Mud Road

Setauket

Mary Jane van Zeijts

268 Main Street

Setauket

Fernanda Vargas

11 Robert Townsend Lane

Setauket

Annemarie Waugh

34 Southgate Road

Setauket

Christian White

574 Moriches Road

St. James

Saturday, Nov. 12, and Sunday, Nov. 13, from noon to 5 p.m., the North Shore Artist Coalition will present an Artist Open Studio Tour that will provide the public with a free and intimate look at the studios of 12 local artists all within Three Village and its surrounding areas.

Artist Pam Brown in her studio in Stony Brook. Photo from Pam Brown
Artist Pam Brown in her studio in Stony Brook. Photo from Pam Brown

Those on the self-guided tour will have the opportunity to meet and talk with the artists — mostly painters and sculptors — about their work, range of styles and studio practices. Among the core artist group is sculptor Pam Brown, who, along with painters Doug Reina, Jim Molloy, Mary Jane van Zeijts and Nancy Bueti-Randall, decided to organize the event in an effort to promote professional artists who live on the North Shore. Other award-winning artists including Peter Galasso, Flo Kemp, Sungsook Setton, Fernanda Vargas, Christian White, Annemarie Waugh and Hugh McElroy were invited to participate in this weekend tour.

Brown, who once served as gallery director and curator at Dowling College, said the group wants to contribute to an already thriving art community and help identify the area as a cultural hub. Since the event is brand new, the artists are still unsure what kind of audience they should expect. Working in a creative field, Brown said that artists are always trying to build their audience, and so the group hopes to see a lot of people interested in observing their process — including kids.

“I think it’s a great way for them [kids] to see artists making a living,” said Brown. “Everyone on the tour is very social and friendly, and it will definitely be a comfortable ‘meet-and-greet’ situation. You can come by, meet the artists, see their studio practice and get the inside story as to the what, where, why and how of their work. Overall it’s a win-win for the community.”

According to Brown, there will be a wide variety of styles and techniques on display, depending on whose studio you’re in. As a sculptor, for instance, she will be working on a new piece and demonstrating copper fabrications.

Reina, who primarily paints the people and landscapes of Long Island from his studio in Setauket, has two commissions to work on during the tour. He also plans to have samples of his work on display, some of which will be for sale. With a background in teaching, he hopes anybody who might be interested in getting started in painting will come and talk to him about it. For him, having people around while he’s working will be a very welcome change of pace.

“It’s a pretty solitary lifestyle for me,” said Reina. “To get any good work done I have to close the door, put on some good music, and work. But I do like people … you need to have a little bit of a reaction every once in awhile to what you’re doing. It’s no good if it’s just a one-way street. You want people to enjoy [what you’re doing], to see what you’re up to, to comment on it, and to get excited about it.”

Even though purchase of any art piece on sale is encouraged, Brown insists that the main mission of the event is to “create an audience and appreciation” for these community artists. “We would love to see this tour happen on a yearly basis and have it continue to grow,” she said.

Admission is free and refreshments will be served at various studios. For further information, please call 631-834-9036.

All related information about the North Shore Artist Coalition, the Studio Artists and the Artist Open Studio Tour Map may be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthShoreArtistCoalition.

‘Short Beach Lifeguard Station,’ oil on wood by Christian White

By Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan

The versatility as well as the talent of artist Christian White can be seen in his paintings and works on paper at Gallery North’s current solo exhibit. White comes by his talent naturally and, through training, hard work and self-discipline, has created a body of work over the past 50 years.

His paternal great-grandfather, Stanford White, designed the triumphal arch at Washington Square in Manhattan, among many notable architectural achievements. His paternal grandfather, Lawrence White, was a prominent architect and president of the National Academy of Design. His maternal grandfather, the Dutch artist Joep Nicolas, fostered White’s talent during his early years in Holland, where the young artist studied welding, stained glass and mosaics. He learned the sculptor’s skills while assisting his father, noted sculptor Robert White. His mother, the poet Claire Nicolas White, encouraged his ability to see beauty in the ordinary.

‘Self-Portrait,’ oil on wood by Christian White
‘Self-Portrait,’ oil on wood by Christian White

The title of the current exhibit at Gallery North, “Christian White: Fifty Years of Art,” may be misleading to those expecting to see a retrospective of works produced during the artist’s long and productive career. This is not a retrospective exhibit. Rather, White terms it as “introspective” in that it includes personal pieces — portraits of himself and his family and landscapes of places close to him. It includes paintings, drawings and prints, many of them figurative. In the words of the artist, “Many of the clientele at Gallery North identify me as a landscape painter, not a figure painter, but I’ve been a figurative artist throughout my entire career.”

The works are not hung chronologically, this not being a retrospective exhibition. With but a few exceptions, they were created during the past 15 years. A master of trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) painting, White’s “Alcove,” still life (2001), tempts one to reach out and touch the three-dimensional-appearing brightly painted objects inside the frame of painted pine. In White’s compelling “Self-Portrait” (2003), we meet his rather questioning direct gaze.

But as interesting and attention demanding as these two works are, what we may recall most clearly are paintings that reveal White’s great talent for capturing light and atmosphere — specifically, bright sunlight beating down on a hot summer day. We feel the summer midday heat in the bright blue sky that dominates more than half the canvas above the stretch of sand in “Ocean Beach” (2008). It is devoid of people and, therefore, of shadows, as low whitecaps meet the shore.

“Road/River #9” (2011) is uninhabited, too, and no wonder; the brilliant light, caused by a blazing sun beating down on the unforgiving macadam road, hints at a temperature above 90 degrees. The blues of sky and water and the yellow sand in “Short Beach Lifeguard Station” (2012) take second place to the sun-drenched bright white lifeguard chair, with its occupant painted loosely in attention-getting red as she watches a man — a mere dab of white paint ­— in a motor boat in the distance. Loosely painted small figures of a couple crowd the shade under a bright red and white umbrella, taking cover from the blazing sun.

In “Clematis #2” (2015) White provides closeups of brilliant white and vivid pink flowers as they cast shadows on a bright green lawn sparkling in the noonday sun. Light is a vital element in each of these landscapes.

Christian White: Fifty Years of Art will be on view at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, through July 10. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Don’t miss it. If you go this Sunday afternoon, June 28, you can also catch an ArTalk by the artist, with Franklin Perrell, an art expert and former curator at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. Registration is required for the ArTalk by calling 631-751-2676. For more information, visit www.gallerynorth.org.