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Cliff Miller

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.

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 Heidi Sutton

First-place winner – ‘The McDivits’ by Cliff Miller ‘‘Amazing skill and humor make this piece our 1st place winner; technically gorgeous, with surprise subject matter; the expressions on both gator and golfer show these two thinking as one.’

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook unveiled its annual juried art competition last Friday to rave reviews.

Designed to complement one of the museum’s current exhibits, Walt Whitman’s Arcadia: Long Island Through the Eyes of a Poet & Painters, this year’s theme encouraged amateur and professional artists to take inspiration from the written word — whether it be a poem, a quote, a song or a passage in a book, and turn it into something visual. The resulting exhibit is a wonder to behold.

Titled I Sing the Body Electric after a poem by Walt Whitman from his 1855 collection, “Leaves of Grass,” the show features 78 exquisite pieces of art in a variety of mediums including watercolor, pastel, oil, acrylic, sculpture, mixed media and photography, all beautifully displayed in the museum’s Visitors Center.

 

The exhibit was judged by Ripe Art Gallery President Cherie Rexer; Jessica Valentin, artist and owner of Muñecca Arthouse; and artist Beth Giacummo. The winners were announced at an opening reception.

Second-place winner –
‘Orion’s Sapphire’ by Marsha Solomon
‘Color and composition rightfully inspired by the cosmos; the swirls and droplets are a fitting homage to the beauty of space. Striking! Exciting in its simplicity.’

“I’ve been [at this museum] six years and this is the best juried art show I’ve seen here and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” gushed Neil Watson, executive director at the LIM.

“From the start we all felt this [exhibit] was going to be something really spectacular,” added Lisa Unander, director of education at the LIM, before sharing the judges’ comments and presenting the awards.

Cliff Miller of Seaford captured first place with his oil on gesso panel piece titled “The McDivits,” which was inspired by Anthony Robbins’ quote, “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” Second place was awarded to Marsha Solomon of Baldwin for her acrylic on canvas piece titled “Orion’s Sapphire.” Melissa Imossi of Madison, Connecticut, won third place for “Shadowlands,” an oil painting on aluminum, which was inspired by the film of the same name about the relationship between C.S. Lewis and poet Joy Davidman. (See the judges’ comments under each image.)

In addition, each juror individually selected a piece for honorable mention. Giacummo’s choice was “Passerine,” a diorama by Ellen Wiener of Southold. “The main element perched like a passerine reminds the viewer that our relationship with art can strengthen our stance,” she explained. Rexer chose Helena Weber of Bay Shore’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider,” created in soft pastels. “I love it because it feels like it could belong in the Long Island Museum’s collection,” she said.

Third-place winner – ‘Shadowlands’
by Melissa Imossi
‘Epitome of Long Island light — a palette of delightful color. Stunning light captured; amazing technique and feels very local to Stony Brook; the blur and light in this landscape won me over.’

Valentin selected James Keller of St. James’ delicate abstract photograph “Sinuous,” which was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s quote, “Moonlight is sculpture …” 

“This work … spoke to me so strongly. The mood and light are stunning. I’m in love,” she said.

While the artists were inspired by the written word, visitors to this exhibit are sure to be inspired by their achievements. Don’t miss this wonderful show.

WHEN TO GO: The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present I Sing the Body Electric through July 7. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors and $5 students ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 and members are admitted for free. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Art reception photos by Julie Diamond/Long Island Museum