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Drigo Morin

In perfect timing with Earth Day, the Smithtown Township Arts Council presents Surrounded by Water, a juried art exhibit at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James featuring the work of 94 artists from 53 communities in New York whose work shows us the elegance, power, and fragility of the Long Island waters that are a source of beauty and wonder. The show runs from April 20 to May 18. 

From ponds, streams and bays to oceans, the waters of Long Island have long provided artists endless possibilities in which to seek their muse. Artists were invited to submit works that will stir memories and curiosities about our beautiful Long Island waters, inspiring gallery visitors to reflect on their relationship to the water that shapes nearly every aspect of their lives and how we must all work to protect it.

Mediums include oil, acrylic, colored pencil, conté, gouache, ink, mixed media, pastel, pencil, photography, and watercolor. Prizes will be awarded for Best in Show along with second and third prize.

Exhibiting artists include Adam Smith,  Al Candia, Anastasia Eswar, Angela Stratton, Anthony Davis,Barbara Bilotta, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Barbara Keenan, Barry Feuerstein, Bart DeCeglie, Bernice Corbin, Carissa Millett, Carol Ceraso, Carol Koch, Catherine Rezin, Christine MacDonagh, Christopher Buckley, Daniel van Benthuysen, Diana Aliberti, Diane Oliva, Dominique Treboux, Drigo Morin, Ellen Ferrigno, Frederic Mendelsohn, George Junker, Gia Horton, Hillary Serota Needle, Howie Pohl, Irene Vitale, Jacques Garant, James Fingado, James Kelson, Jan Guarino, Jane McGraw-Teubner, Jared Glennon, Jeanette Martone,  Jim Minet, Joan Rockwell, JoAnn Gushue, JoAnne Dumas, John Mansueto, John Taylor, Judith Musaro, Judy Pagano, Judy Stone, Karen Davis, Karen Mortimore, Kathee Shaff Kelson, Katheryn Laible, Khrystyne Robillard-Smith, Kusuma Bheemineni, Linda Hartman, Lisa Marie Scrima-Castelli, Lori Scarlatos, Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Lynn Staiano, Margaret Governale, Mark Levine, Marsha Abrams, Mary Kiernan, Matthew Lombardo, Melanie Reim, Mike Stanko, Myungja Anna Koh, Nancy Wernersbach, Oscar Santiago, Patricia DiGiovanni, Patricia Venturino, Patti Peterson, Patty Yantz, Paul Edelson, Regina Halliday, Renee Caine, Robert Berson, Robert Roehrig, Robert Wallkam, Sally Anne Keller, Scott Hartman, Sheila Breck, Sheniqua Young, Stacey Schuman, Susan Guihan Guasp, Terry Tramantano, Theodora Zavala, Tianzhou Zhao, Tina Anthony, Tracy Mahler Tekverk, Vanessa Pineda Fox, Vicki Field, Vivian Hershfield, Whitney Bell, and William Reed.

The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, April 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. to meet the exhibiting artists and view their work. 

Mills Pond Gallery is located at 660 Route 25A, Saint James. Hours of operation are Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. (closed May 12). Admission to the gallery is always free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.


By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

By Tara Mae

Art, nurtured and nourished by nature, is a sustenance that sustains the soul. The Firefly Artists’ newest exhibit, I Never Saw a Poem As Lovely As a Tree, is the harvest grown from a sort of artistic cross-pollination featuring works inspired by Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees.”

Through painting, sculpture, glasswork, pen and ink drawings, collage, and other mediums, the show, which opened at the Northport gallery on Oct. 18 and runs through Nov. 16, roots itself in the aspect of nature that is its muse. The juried exhibit features the works of approximately 32 visiting artists as well as 20 Firefly members. 

The theme serves as a creative catalyst and reverence for the surrounding environment. 

“An artist came in with a fire in her eyes about ‘Trees,’ and that became the prompt. It was a fantastic subject for so many folks…We get inspiration from everywhere; we are nothing if not creative,” said Firefly Artists Managing Partner Katheryn Laible.

Inspiration found in nature may actually be planted by memory or emotion. As a course of communication, art transcends both distance and time. Beth Atkinson, a  managing partner emeritus, who maintained her Firefly membership when she moved to North Carolina, thought of the poem during a Zoom brainstorming session with her colleagues. Her father, an art teacher and artist in his own right, would recite it when she as a child. 

“We have so many fabulous artists on Long Island, and we have quite a few artists who work with landscapes and nature…I started to think about many of our artists at Firefly — almost all of them have pieces that apply,” Atkinson said.

‘Trees’ is a verbal manifestation of the esteem so many local artists have for the natural world; the Firefly Artists put out an open call to any interested participants, and received an enthusiastic response. This resulting effort broadens the scope of the art and is also an opportunity to introduce new creators to the space.  

“We like to do juried art exhibitions; they are how we have gotten many new members for our gallery. ‘Trees’ felt universal enough that we would have plenty of interest and be able to choose best pieces for the show,” she added. 

Across many different mediums, an artistic arboretum grew from the chosen entries. Though they vary in style and genre, the creative copse they form immerses viewers in verdant vibrancy. 

“This is a beautiful exhibition. We are so blessed on Long Island to have such a robust and talented community of artists. Getting to showcase them is a privilege,” Laible said. 

By spotlighting the work of nonmembers, the gallery branches out into a larger artistic network and makes inroads establishing lasting relationships; many members began as guests artists. 

Current members, six of whom anonymously juried I Never…, did not submit their work for selection, but their art is present elsewhere in the gallery and excavates the essence of the poem.

“Trees are taken for granted,” Firefly member Carol Procopio said. “The tree that inspired my piece sits on my front lawn; I have known it since 1965. Every day when I take my dog out, I look at that tree and it amazes me.”

Instead of poetry in motion, the exhibited pieces employ the studied application of appreciation. Like “Trees,” they require the audience to recognize that beauty, even when familiar, is never banal. 

“Living on Long Island, near the water and near one of the cultural centers of the world gives me a huge ‘canvas’ to work with as an artist. There’s nothing like an historic tour of Northport or a stroll through lower Manhattan to fire up the imagination,” Firefly member Ann Fox said.  

Love for location, whether present or conjured from remembrance, is a shared attribute of the Firefly artists. The community they foster is not necessarily bound by proximity but rather attributed to shared artistic passion. 

Formed in 2011, originally all members lived on Long Island. But, as some of them moved away, they remained connected to the gallery. “Most of Firefly artists stay with us a very long time, even me, who now lives in North Carolina; I just ship my work to Firefly” Atkinson said. 

Comprised of current and retired art teachers, art enthusiasts, parents, and grandparents, members belong to the gallery as long as they pay their dues.

Membership fees go to practical matters such as rent — the gallery is located in the historic former residence of The Northport Hardware Company — and philanthropic pursuits such as scholarships. No one associated with the gallery takes a salary. Three managing partners, Laible, Drigo Morin, and Jennifer Lau, oversee and organize operations. 

“Firefly is one of those places that has been a savior for many of our artists; they needed a community and we gave them that. I think the best part is that we try to make money, not so much for the gallery but rather for our artists and our local artists,” Atkinson said. 

Art, at its core, is an intimate conversation conducted on a communal level. It is a language of emotion and consideration. A project of true passion, the Firefly Artists seeks to plant seeds of understanding in order to cultivate wisdom through wonder. With I Never…, visitors are invited to partake in casual contemplation.  

“I love watching people come in and experience the art, especially when they bring their kids in. It really nice way to connect with all different people…” Laible said. 

A reception for the exhibit will be held on Saturday, November 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. Located at 90 Main Street, Northport, the gallery is open Monday to Wednesday from  11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-651-5545 or visit https://thefireflyartists.com.

Up next at the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery is Figurative/Narrative, a juried fine art exhibition featuring 58 works from 36 artists from 10 states including CA, FL, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, SD, TX, VA and 14 Long Island communities. The show opens June 3.

Through figurative or narrative paintings, artists give shape and character to the stories and people of our lives. Whether real or imagined, their art invites us to connect and engage with their characters and stories. We invite viewers to enjoy the expressions of the portraits or the illustrated scenes and imagine the untold stories of the lives of the subjects.

Exhibition juror Zimou Tan’s exhibit called for entries that celebrate contemporary realism and figurative and narrative paintings. Zimou is an Art Renewal Center Living Master (true masters in the visual arts…training and inspiring the next generation of artists, scholars, and teachers, to protect, preserve and perpetuate traditional painting techniques). Zimou noted that selected artists captured the essence of the human form and communicated compelling stories through their art.

Exhibiting artists include Diana Aliberti, James Xavier Barbour, Joanna Burch, Mónica Carmona, Yen-Ching Chang, Teresa Cromwell, Collin Douma, Christine Dupuis, Andrew Elsten, Ryan Flannery, Connie Gisi, Hank Grebe, Jennifer Hartzler, Gia Horton, Tyler Hughes, Julia Jenkins, Natreka Kelly, Frank Loehr, Avrel Menkes, Drigo Morin, Diane Motroni, Susan Perrish, Kai Lun Qu, William Dunham Reed, Anita Schnirman, Barret Schumacher, Eileen Shaloum, Angela Stratton, Mark Sweeney, Tracy Tekverk, Robert Tuska, Zoë Walker, Joseph Weinreb, Ashley Williams, Ni Zhu and Doug Zider.

Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James presents Figurative/Narrative from June 3 to July 1. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. 

The community is invited to an opening reception on June 3 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.


The Northport Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting to mark the official grand re-opening of The Firefly Artists art gallery at its new larger location at 162 Main St. in Northport on Oct. 17. 

The celebration was attended by chamber President Jim Izzo, Northport town trustees Mercy Smith and Tom Kehoe, Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, Firefly artists, members of the community, friends and family. The event also kicked off the gallery’s fall exhibit, Autumn Works, featuring the work of the Firefly artists, on view through Nov. 30. 

“Northport is a wonderful community, and it is a privilege to get to work with so many wonderful local artists and other businesses right here on Main Street,” said Katheryn Laible, a Firefly artist who recently became one of the group’s managing partners, in a press release. 

For more information, call 631-651-5545 or visit www.thefireflyartists.com.