By Rita J. Egan
Adorned with stunning landscapes, Long Island is home to countless artists who capture the area’s charm in their own beautiful, creative ways. To celebrate the splendor of our area and the immense talent of landscape artists, the Smithtown Township Arts Council will be hosting an invitational exhibit, Loving the Landscape We Call Home, at the Mills Pond Gallery opening April 9.
On display at the exhibit will be landscape paintings of eight artists that live on Long Island, according to gallery director Allison Cruz. She said in the past the gallery’s exhibits, both invitational and juried, have included artists from all over the nation but she said occasionally she likes to concentrate on local artists.
The director said it’s difficult narrowing down which artists to feature in such an art show, especially when each has his or her own individual style. “There are many, many, many Long Island artists who all paint their local landscapes. There are hundreds to choose from and one is better than the next,” she said.
Cruz said the artwork includes oil paints, watercolors, pastels, acrylics and more and features various recognizable landscapes found on the island including winter, beach and forest scenes.
The gallery director said that in addition to an assortment of styles, mediums and scenery at the exhibit, each artist will have at least five pieces of artwork on display. “They’ll be able to show a real difference even within their own work,” she said.
One of the featured artists will be Stony Brook resident Franco Jona who said he was surprised and honored when he was notified that his work was going to be included in the exhibit. The former professor, who taught physics to engineering students at Stony Brook University for more than four decades, has been painting for several years capturing the scenic sights around his home.
“I was always attracted to the natural scenes in the vicinity, around Stony Brook and Setauket and so on,” the artist said. Jona hopes that visitors to the exhibit will enjoy how he sees the local landscapes that he creates with realism in watercolors and oil pastels. “I like to represent nature the way I see it,” he said.
John Mansueto, who lives in Islip Hamlet, is also pleased his work will be on display at the gallery. Originally an illustrator who also worked for the Fire Island Tide Newspaper, the now full-time artist paints landscapes in acrylics and, in the past, also created work in watercolors, a medium he plans to return to in the future.
“Usually the subject speaks to me,” he said, explaining that he can tell whether a landscape would be better recreated in watercolors or acrylics. His paintings include various scenes from the South Shore, North Shore, as well as eastern Long Island.
Mansueto said he appreciates when art lovers not only enjoy his paintings but also recognize the spots he has painted. He added exhibits like the one at the Mills Pond Gallery also provide him a chance to learn about other artists.
“You see what techniques they are using and how they’re doing it, which is probably going to be different from the way I do it. You dissect it,” he said.
The exhibit will also include works from artists Shain Bard (Huntington Station), Katherine Hiscox (Commack), Rob Roehrig (East Setauket), Mary Webb (E. Northport), Burton A. Woods (Mount Sinai) and Patty Yantz (Setauket).
Cruz said, with a good cross section of Long Island landscapes, she thinks visitors will gain a new perspective of the area as well as artistically capturing its beauty. “I think when they see this show all together they are going to get an appreciation that there are many different ways to see the creative parts of where you live and many different types of ways to paint it,” she said.
The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present the Loving the Landscape We Call Home exhibit, funded in part by the Town of Smithtown, at the Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James, from April 9 to May 4. Art lovers can meet the exhibiting artists at a reception held at the gallery on Saturday, April 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, please call 631-862-6575 or visit www. stacarts.org.