By Tara Mae
As a reprieve from the gray of winter and the tedious, yet terrifying drudgery of a pandemic, Gallery North’s latest exhibit, Filtered Light, offers a glimpse of brightness and hope. Featuring the work of two local artists, Ty Stroudsburg and Marceil Kazickas, the show, which opens Jan. 14, explores the connection between the realistic beauty and abstract wonder of nature, especially as it exists on Long Island.
Open to the public in person and available for online viewing, the collection consists of mostly oil paintings, a form both artists prefer.
“Oil paint is seductive, sensual, and uplifting,” said Kazickas during a recent interview, adding that the medium enables textures, movement, and depth that can be harder to achieve by other means, such as acrylic paint. Several pastel sketches are also included.
These creations are related by certain themes — an appreciation of the outdoors and an examination of light, color, and texture. The exhibit features abstract expressionist pieces and images inspired by the vibrant landscapes of the region.
This venture is the culmination of Gallery North’s commitment to connecting and maintaining relationships with its patrons and the art community during the pandemic, according to Kazickas. Although the pieces in the exhibit were largely made before the pandemic, the art reflects the outside world’s current altered state of reality, merging the tangible with the ephemeral.
“Ty, because she has been working continuously for 50 years, and Marceil, who was very influenced by [late artist] Stan Brodsky, are very influenced by the ideas of abstract expressionism: nature is embodied in the human, who is a reflection of nature and our role within it,” explained Gallery North’s Executive Director Ned Puchner.
Both artists cite nature and color as primary sources of inspiration, but they approach it differently. Stroudsburg’s work is somewhat abstract, but her paintings are based in landscape form and normally have horizon lines.
“My work is still based on plant forms and things I see in the environment. My big focus has always been color. If I put my foot on the brake when I am driving around, it is because something is very colorful and has grabbed my attention. Color is the jumping off point for my canvas,” Stroudsburg said.
Kazickas’ featured artwork, all abstract, is rooted in vertical sight lines and the beauty found beyond her front door. “I am painting a feeling [but] am inspired by Long Island; there is a vista everywhere … Mother Nature is so spectacular,” said the artist, who resides in Sands Point.
Kazickas starts first with dark hues and then adds bright colors. “Most of my paintings are about dark and light and the magic that happens when they play against each other,” she explained. Having endured chronic pain for many years, Kazickas sees this process as a reflection of the bleakness of constant agony transformed into the relief experiences in creating art. “My paintings are full of color because it’s what I need to see,” she added.
The versatility of the art in the exhibit extends beyond the lights and shadows to the unmistakable texture and expansive scope of the images. Movement on the canvases is expressed through the strong brush strokes. The vibrancy catches the eye, whether in person or on a screen, according to Assistant Curator Kate Schwarting.
Stroudsburg has been exhibiting her art since the 1960s and had an existing relationship with the gallery. She moved from the South Fork of the Island to Southold on the North fork in 1985, drawn to the “non-social atmosphere.” Her work was already being displayed across the island, at institutions like the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington , as well as galleries in New York City and throughout the country.
Attracted to the art community of Stony Brook and Setauket, Stroudsburg met and connected with former Gallery North Executive Director Colleen Hanson. She facilitated an exhibit of Stroudsburg’s work at the gallery and helped arrange for her art to be on display at Stony Brook University Hospital, where four of her large canvases reside. Stroudsburg networked with galleries and other artists, among them the late Joseph Reboli.
Kazickas has exhibited her work at the Art Guild and at galleries throughout Long Island. She studied at the Roslyn School of Painting and began working as an artist more recently. Her art first caught the attention of Schwarting after she participated in many of the gallery’s ongoing virtual events.
“I met Marceil through some of our virtual programs,” said Schwarting. “We realized that Marceil’s work was a perfect combination with Ty’s work. The art is slightly different, but there is a conversation that happens between the works that makes sense.”
Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket presents Filtered Light from Jan. 14 through Feb. 25. The exhibit will be open to the public during the gallery’s normal hours, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Social distancing will be observed and masks are mandatory for entry. Additionally the full show will be available online at www.gallerynorth.org. A virtual reception will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, please call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.