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Margaret Minardi

The Smithtown Township Arts Council is pleased to announce Winners Showcase I, a fine art exhibition featuring five winning artists from 2020 exhibitions. The exhibit is currently on view at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James through Feb. 6.

 Smithtown artist Lucia Alberti enjoys painting landscapes in acrylics. Lucia finds it most comfortable to paint from her imagination, incorporating subjects she finds of interest. This allows Lucia to “create a story in her mind of another place and moment in time, while trying to capture a glimpse of it upon my canvas.” Lucia’s work has been exhibited widely in galleries across Long Island.

Huntington Station artist Shain Bard’s paintings evoke a sense of a moment captured in time that people can all subconsciously relate to. The way the light filters through the leaves of a small forest, the driver’s view of dappled sun shining through the trees on a Sunday drive, or of a snowy sunset on a suburban street.  “Nature and art are within and without us, something close to what I would call ‘home’. It is those moments when we most fully connect to our surroundings, those held-breath moments that I am interested in.”

Northport artist Margaret Minardi’s mixed media paintings juxtapose realism and expressionism. Combining years of classical training with a pure gestural mark making, she is inspired by the Expressionists of the 1950’s collage.  “I am constantly in search of new mediums and processes that can be synthesized into my works. “Important to me is serendipity. Mistakes keep me interested, intellectually challenged, and excited.” Within Margaret’s works, the viewer is constantly challenged to interpret and reinterpret what they see. There is a narrative beneath the surface of all her works. “Each brushstroke is a voice for my inner world.”

Valley Stream artist Mike Stanko, a lifelong Long Islander, has been showing his unique and whimsical art for over 20 years.  From his home in Valley Stream to the world beyond, he finds endless inspiration in the iconic, the familiar as well as the mundane — sunflowers, beach scenes, maybe even a grilled cheese sandwich. His paintings are bold and eye-catching and like the artist, convey joy, a sense of humor and a love of life.

Kings Park artist Pamela Waldroup is a fine art photographer whose work is about “hyper-focusing on the subject to solidify my own experience and provoke a memory, real or imagined, to surface both for the viewer and me.” She will exhibit black & white photographs from her series City Perspectives — Inside and Out. The works in this project “voice my strong desire to capture interactions between human, environmental and industrial elements through a geometric approach found in the repetitive patterns and shapes.” As an art educator, Pamela taught photography (darkroom and digital) and fine arts for 33 years.

The Mills Pond Gallery is located at 660 Route 25A in St. James. Gallery hours are Wed. to Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sat.; Sun. from noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays. Admission to the gallery is free. Masks are mandatory. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

‘Sinking Feeling’ by Margaret Minardi. Image from STAC

By Susan Risoli

‘One Nation Under Surveillance,’ fiberglass and epoxy, by Anthony Freda. Photo from STAC

When the everyday state of things starts to look different, what happens then? Who defines what’s “real” and what isn’t? Visitors to the Connecting Art to Life exhibit, which opens this Saturday at the Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James, may find themselves asking these questions.

And that’s just fine with Smithtown Township Arts Council Executive Director Allison Cruz, who said in a recent interview she hopes the exhibit, which features the work of artists Margaret Minardi and Anthony Freda, will start a conversation about the meeting of life and art.

This is the first time Cruz invited only two artists to be part of a Mills Pond show. She was moved by the determination of these two to keep on expressing themselves through their individual projects. “Anthony and Margaret teach and have families,” Cruz said. “Yet they both said to me, ‘It doesn’t matter how busy I am. I have to make art.’”

Cruz came up with the show’s title Connecting Art to Life, inspired by the ways Freda and Minardi take isolated aspects of daily living and translate that into something to which people can respond. It’s a process similar to the purpose of an art space, she said. “I think people are intimidated by the thought of going to an art gallery,” Cruz explained, “but really it’s a place to get information about what’s going on in your world right now.” Take it all in, “then do with it what you will.”

Margaret Minardi

Artist Margaret Minardi

 

Margaret Minardi’s world changed through her desire to become pregnant. She adopted two children after a personal journey that resulted in an infertility diagnosis. Her series of pieces in the Mills Pond House Gallery show were inspired by Minardi becoming a mother.

The works were rendered in colored pencil some years ago, after she discovered she could no longer use oil paint because she’d become allergic to it. She turned the potential setback into a mission to continue with colored pencil, “even though I didn’t know if I could erase, or blend color over color. Hour after hour I practiced.” These days, her media include collage and acrylic paint, she said.

Growing up in Trinidad left Minardi with lasting memories of “the specific color of water in the Caribbean.” Her pieces on exhibit at the Mills Pond House are done in aquamarine blue, and many of the figures “are in fishtanks, or some water situation.” The work juxtaposes realism with expressionism, presenting a story through many layers. The artist invites her viewers to interpret what’s going on beneath the surface of her pieces.

Minardi is about to retire after 30 years of teaching drawing and painting in the Northport-East Northport school district. “I’ve been so lucky,” she said. “I get to be around art from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep.” She doesn’t always know what a project is going to turn into and is sometimes surprised by the result, she said, “but it’s just important that I keep my pencil on the paper at all times. If you keep your hand moving, it becomes something important that comes from deep within.”

Anthony Freda

‘Solution’ by Anthony Freda

Anthony Freda’s 28 pieces in the Mills Pond House Gallery show are collage, his own paintings on found surfaces, limited edition prints and sculpture. As a Mount Sinai resident who grew up in Port Jefferson, he wanted to connect with a local art community and said this show seemed a good way to do it. Freda, an editorial illustrator and adjunct faculty member for the Fashion Institute of Technology, said throughout his career “I try to be honest and think about how I can best represent that with my art.”

Freda is drawn to themes of war and peace, freedom, civil liberties and encroachments upon them. “Things that impact society as a whole and impact me personally are things I want to comment on,” he said. Bombs, birds, pinup girls, reassuring American ephemera repurposed with contemporary social commentary, all can be found in his work. Humor infuses many of his pieces.

News about current events can be “provocative and emotional,” Freda said, and he’s trying to bring it all together and process it. “We’re all bombarded with memes, and disparate ideas, and news,” he said, so people will bring their own ideas when they see his work. Though some people avoid the news, saying it overwhelms them, Freda’s commentary continues. “Sometimes the truth is not popular,” he said. “Sometimes my work is not popular, but that’s almost irrelevant.” For him, it’s about defining the era he lives in, “in the way I want to define it, while trying to be honest and objective.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James will present Connecting Art to Life from April 22 through May 13. There will be an opening reception April 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Sam Juliet’ by Margaret Minardi
‘Sam Juliet’ by Margaret Minardi
‘Sam Juliet’ by Margaret Minardi

We all recognize that the works of William Shakespeare continue to inspire us. In recognition of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Huntington Arts Council invited artists to submit work, literal or abstract, which was inspired by the line “A rose by any other name” from Juliet’s balcony scene in “Romeo and Juliet.” Barbara Applegate, director of the Steinberg Museum of Art at Hillwood/LIU Post, juried the exhibit.

Participating artists include Shain Bard, Christine Ardito, Joanna Gazzola, Jeff Grinspan, Ellen Hallie Schiff, Shelley Holtzman, Chrysoula Highland, Yossi Manor, Pamela Waldroup, Jackie Stevens, Jan Guarino, Michael Fairchild, Michael Chait, Holly Black, Chris Ann Ambery, Brian Grandfield, Terry Canavan, Frances Ianarella, Joanne Schenendorf, Margaret Minardi, John Killelea, Vera Mingovits, William Grabowski, Jim Finlayson, Susan Sterber, Rodee Hansen, Karen Levine, Randy Ilowite, Jessica Henry, John Moore, Geraldine Hoffman, Linda Adelstein Watson, Caryn Coville, Richard Gardner, Robbii Wessen, Renee Caine, Alisa Shea, Jason Trentacoste and Jovanna Hopkins.

Best in Show was awarded to Margaret Minardi for “Sam Juliet,” and honorable mentions were given to Christine Ardito for  “Roses for Anna” and William Grabowski for “Side Show.”

“A Rose by Any Other Name” will be on exhibit at the HAC’s Main Street Gallery, 213 Main St., Huntington from March 24 to April 16 with an artist reception on April 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. and a curated talk with Barbara Applegate on April 14 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend these free events. For more information, call 631-271-8423.

‘Side Show’ by William Grabowski
‘Side Show’ by William Grabowski