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Mills Pond House Gallery

'Light Spilling Down the Street' by Shain Bard

By Heidi Sutton

‘Grace Safe Inside’ by Margaret Minardi

As the days get shorter and cooler air settles in on Long Island, a perennial favorite, the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Member Artist Showcase, returns to the Mill Pond House Gallery in St. James. Featuring original artwork by 64 STAC member artists, the juried exhibit will be on display throughout the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion through Dec. 10. Many of the works at the showcase will be available for purchase.

“I love this show,” gushed STAC director Allison Cruz during a recent guided tour. “There are so many artists and such diverse artwork. Every year it is so different.” Indeed, there are many different kinds of medium represented this year including digital photography, pen and ink, acrylic, pencil, watercolor, oil, pastel, sculpture and mixed-media.

While typically a juror or curator selects works for an exhibit, the Member Artist Showcase is unique in that it allows the artists to choose what piece they would like to exhibit in the show. “I give them the opportunity to show maybe something new they are working on or something they wouldn’t be able to show somewhere else,” said Cruz.

“We have a lot of artists from different communities across Long Island [in the exhibit],” as well as North Carolina, Florida, Alaska and New York City, Cruz said.

This year’s show was juried by artist Pam Brown. A resident of Stony Brook, Brown taught sculpture and was the director and curator of The Anthony Giordano Gallery at Dowling College in Oakdale for 16 years. She currently maintains a studio and works as a freelance art consultant and curator.

“I was very impressed with the overall level of professionalism and diversity of the artwork submitted for the Members Exhibition,” said Brown. “The exhibition as a whole is engaging because the artwork is conceptually interesting with a variety of forms and styles that are unique and in some cases exquisitely executed.”

‘Awakening’ by Rosemary Wilson Sloggatt

While finding the task difficult “because art is subjective,” Brown eventually selected four equal winners — Margaret Minardi’s “Grace Safe Inside” (colored pencil and acrylic collage); Robert Roehrig’s oil painting, “Fossil Town”; Shain Bard’s autumn scene, “Light Spilling Down the Street” (oil); and Rosemary Wilson Sloggatt for her acrylic painting, “Awakening.”

“Those members get an opportunity to participate in our upcoming Winners Showcase exhibit along with our juried winners,” said Cruz. “It’s a very nice opportunity; they get to show a couple of pieces,” she added.

“Each artist that I selected demonstrated a high level of skill and insight to their area of concentration,” said Brown. “Rosemary Wilson Sloggatt’s large black and white painting of a woman gazing into her refrigerator is striking. To me the painting is about yearning, her arms and hands are reaching into the light, her face is illuminated and she is seeking in the middle of the night for something more.”

She continued, “Margaret Minardi’s ‘Grace Safe Inside’ is incredibly detailed and beautifully rendered. The patterns and colors are complex and meticulously painted. Robert Roehrig’s painting of ‘Fossil Town’ is a unique and precisely painted landscape of an industrial site, which has a small-town wistful feeling. Shain Bard’s painting of early morning on a tree-lined street with parked cars is alluring and is defined by the light that is pouring into the backdrop with muted colors and freely painted forms.”

Pamela Waldroup’s digital pigment print, “Leather Man” and Jeanette Martone’s “Mercado,” pencil and ink on paper received Honorable Mentions. “I liked their story, as well I was struck by their individuality and personal style of making art,” said Brown.

To Cruz, that is music to her ears. “To me this is an important show. We are here to support creativity among people. It’s an important part of what we are.”

Participating artists include: Aldo Arena, Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Renee Blank, Kyle Blumenthal, Chevalier Daniel C. Boyer, Joyce Bressler, Suzanne R. Brodsky, Renee Caine, Jim Capone, Cheryl Cass-Zampiva, Carol Ceraso, Teresa Cromwell, Julie Doczi, Granville Fairchild, Essie Freilach, Donna Gabusi, Vivian Gattuso, Maureen Ginipro, Justin Greenwald, Donna Grossman, Jan Guarino, Diann Haist, Diane Henderson, Katherine Hiscox, Lori Horowitz, David Jaycox Jr., Anne Katz, Lynn Kinsella, John Koch, Susan Kozodoy-Silkowitz, Rasma Kupers Dos, Patricia Lind-Gonzalez, Linda Louis, Kathryn Lynn, Steven Macanka, Jane Manning, Jeanette Martone, Bobbi Mastrangelo, Terence McManus, Anne Miller, Margaret Minardi, Rebecca Molinari, Karen George Mortimore, Diane Oliva, Alicia R. Peterson, Kara Lee Reyes, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Michael Sauer, Lori Scarlatos, Gisela Skoglund, Rosemary Wilson Sloggatt, Sílvia Soares Boyer, Gunter Stern, Hui Hui Su-Kennedy, Nicholas Valentino, Mary Ann Vetter, Pamela Waldroup, Shirley Weiner, Constance Sloggatt Wolf and Patty Yantz.

The Mills Pond House Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Member Artist Showcase through Dec. 10. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

'Downward Dog' by Dan McCarthy

By Talia Amorosano

In conjunction with the start of the last month of summer the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James will host an exhibit devoted to the creative depiction of the nonhuman creatures who share our Earth.

Entitled Animals in Art — Our Partners on the Planet, the show kicks off with an artist reception on Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. The exhibit is juried and judged by renown art collector, Tim Newton, founder and curator of American Masters, a contemporary art exhibition and sale annually hosted by NYC’s Salmagundi Club. Prizewinners will be announced on opening day.

The exhibition will showcase 55 works by 39 artists from 16 states in a variety of media including pencil and ink, acrylic, oil, watercolor, bronze and pastel. Regardless of chosen medium or style, all of the works convey an appreciation for and attention to the unique lives and experiences of animals.

'A Perfect Perch' by Sharon Way-Howard
‘A Perfect Perch’ by Sharon Way-Howard

One of the 11 participating artists from Long Island is Sharon Way-Howard of Sayville, a frequent exhibitor at the Mills Pond House who describes her 36- by 30-inch watercolor painting of an osprey atop a sailboat, “A Perfect Perch,” as a work of art within her wheelhouse: “I tend to do a lot of marine-based art; birds, boats, shoreline creatures … I had done this piece a year and a half ago and it fit the description of the show perfectly.” She describes this particular painting as the result of her prolonged observation of one particular bird. “[My studio] overlooks a beautiful canal and there’s a sailboat two houses out from us,” she said. “That osprey comes almost every day and sits on that perch. I’ve observed him for many days and in order to help me with the painting I took many many photographs of him as well.”

Way-Howard, who was the first woman elected to hold the office of chair of the Art Committee of the Salmagundi Club, referred to juror Tim Newton as “an avid collector of art and sponsor of artists” who “really believes in the power of living artists.” She cited her work at the Salmagundi Club, plein air experience and bird-watching and boating-filled upbringing in Bay Shore as influences for her work.

To participating artist James Berger of Holtsville, the Animals in Art exhibit presented an opportunity to elicit artistic beauty from a deeply personal experience of loss. His 22- by 36-inch oil-on-panel painting of a wolf entitled “Twilight’s Preyer” was largely inspired by the death of Berger’s art teacher of over 15 years, Frank Covino, who resided in Vermont and had mastered the art of classical painting while working with the likes of Norman Rockwell. “[Frank] got sick and it bummed me out enough for a little over a year that I wasn’t doing anything art-wise at all,” said Berger. “It was depressing.”

'Twilight's Preyer' by James Berger
‘Twilight’s Preyer’ by James Berger

When Berger received word of the Animals in Art exhibit, he initially wanted to submit an older piece, but eventually came to the conclusion that the piece would not be a good fit. This realization prompted him to begin work on his first new piece in over a year, inspired by an old photograph of wolves at a zoo. “I felt like something was pushing me into the exhibit,” said Berger. “You get this feeling like someone is looking over your shoulder — that’s how I felt — as weird as that sounds — throughout the entire creation of this piece … I feel when I back away and I look at that painting it was [Frank] through me and its him through me saying, ‘You can do it. You can totally do it’.”

As further homage to his instructor, Berger painted his piece in the classical style with a progression of layers: sketch, underpainting, painting and gesso. He also added marble dust to areas of the piece, bringing more texture, weight, novelty and value to his one-of-a-kind labor of love. “I personally enjoy the freedom of painting animals,” said Berger, who described the art of depicting wildlife as different from that of portraying people, who tend to be judgmental regarding images of themselves. In the immediate future, Berger plans to continue painting (largely in the classical style) and hopes to someday showcase his work in a local solo exhibit.

In addition to Sharon Way-Howard and James Berger, participating Long Island artists include Marlene Bezich (Middle Island), Maureen Ginipro (Smithtown), Donna Grossman (Smithtown), David Jaycox Jr. (Northport), Elizabeth Kolligs (Glen Cove), Jeanette Martone (Bay Shore), Dan McCarthy (Selden), Terence McManus (Mount Sinai) and Margaret Minardi (Northport).

Animals in Art — Our Partners on the Planet will be on view at the Mills Pond House Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James, from July 30 to Aug. 28. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For further information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.