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Kelynn Z. Adler

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.

'Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade'. Image from STAC
STAC’s latest exhibit invokes a Brooklyn state of mind

By Susan Risoli

Ladies and gentlemen and kids who like oddities — step right up for Greetings from Coney Island, an art exhibit running through June 25 at the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s (STAC) Mills Pond Gallery in St. James. Artists Kelynn Z. Alder, Carol Fabricatore, Candy Heiland and Marie Roberts show us all sides of Coney Island — easy days in the sun, mysterious nights under carnival lights, complex sideshow freaks, simple pleasures of food and fresh air. Sometimes these themes merge in a unique boardwalk alchemy, and the artists capture that too.

Kelynn Z. Alder

‘Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade’. Image from STAC

Kelynn Z. Alder’s “Neptune and Bambi’s Wedding Procession, Mermaid Parade” (oil painting on canvas) presents a couple in mermaid regalia, surrounded by a crowd of jubilant friends. The colors bring to mind the gravel in the bottom of a fish tank — lime-green, pinks, coral, oranges. The artist echoes them throughout the active scene — over here in a multicolored ice cream bar, over there in a celebrant’s lipstick. Gazing at this large painting is like a wild dream you know you should wake up from, but it’s too fascinating to leave just yet. And despite the artifice of the subjects’ costumes, their joy is genuine. In this parade of illusion, Alder paints happiness as real as the relief of misfits who finally found a welcoming tribe.

Carol Fabricatore

Carol Fabricatore renders two views of the same boardwalk sideshow. Her thorough treatment creates more questions than answers about what’s really going on. Her charcoal and acrylic “Snake Charmer” seems to be a fairly straightforward look at a carnival barker, swaying like a cobra while he drums up an audience for the charmer standing nearby with a snake around her waist. That boy in the corner, though … we wonder who he is, and where his parents are.

‘Coney Island Dog’ by Kelynn Z. Alder. Image from STAC

We meet up with this crew again, elsewhere in the exhibit, in Fabricatore’s “Boardwalk Barkers” (also charcoal and acrylic). This time we see the woman’s apparent ecstasy, as she nuzzles the snake. Her foot is raised coquettishly. Her behavior might all be part of her snake charmer performance, but how can we be sure? The crowd of bystanders gathered in front of her are just as uncertain as we are.

Here Fabricatore gives us an engrossing character study of their faces and body language. One lady has her hand on her chin, looking like the jury is still out on what in the heck is happening here. Boys in the crowd look unsettled — and transfixed. Even the guy pushing a baby in a stroller has stopped to take a look (and we wonder what sort of dreams that baby will have tonight). The drawing is mostly black and white, and the sparseness of its lines allows us to really focus on and study the individual reactions of each person in the crowd.

Candy Heiland

Candy Heiland is inspired by the color, light and dynamics of Coney Island at night. The children have all gone home now (or probably should have). Her oil pastels on paper have black backgrounds and are distinctive in their use of purple and mauve and crimson, rather than the circus colors we might associate with the carnival atmosphere. Her images are a world of oversized clown heads, or hallucinogenic eyes like the ones in “Spookarama Doors.” The Nathan’s Famous restaurant sign is bathed in moonlight and spotlight under Heiland’s treatment.

There is plenty of movement in Heiland’s work. We know the roulette wheels she represents are in reality hanging on a wall in the gallery, but still we feel the wheels spinning. The same is true of her carousel horses. This is not a happy carousel full of laughing families. These carousel horses are alive with disturbing and disturbed expressions on their painted faces, and we feel their urgent straining.

Marie Roberts

‘Coney Island Circus’ by Marie Roberts. Image from STAC

Brooklyn native Marie Roberts has a personal history with Coney Island: Her uncle Lester worked there, for the Dreamland Circus Sideshow, in the 1920s. Sideshow freaks dropped by the family home. Her work in the exhibit invites us to join her in hanging out with the fire eaters, the sword-swallowers, a contortionist or two. Her use of strokes of vivid color is abstract in some of her images, the afternoon light giving a different twist to yellow, red and blue.

She is more direct and realist in other paintings — so real that we can almost taste the zeppole and smell the funnel cake, and hear the vendor say, “What’ll you have?” Roberts juxtaposes children in adult settings, some working in carnival booths, some eating ice cream and taking it all in, some not human at all but frolicking baby mermaids.

‘Sword Swallower’ by Kelynn Z. Adler. Image from STAC

Her black outlines are bold and sure, but the mystery that swirls in like fog from the Atlantic Ocean is very much present in her work. There’s a lot going on here that requires a second and third look. As do the other artists in the show, Roberts reminds us that Coney Island is always a treat for the senses even as it pulls back the curtain just enough to leave us wanting more.

The Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James will present Greetings from Coney Island through June 25. There will be an opening reception at the Gallery June 10, 4 to 6 p.m., with an opportunity to meet the artists and see Coney Island performance artist Wendy Blades, who will share her sword-swallowing talents. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.