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Nature student art exhibit

'View from Second Stone Bridge' by Mary Jane van Zeijts

By Melissa Arnold

Landscapes and natural scenes are among the most popular subjects in visual art, and it’s easy to understand why. The natural world is simple and complex, calm and powerful, beautiful and intimidating.

At Studio 268 in Setauket, more than 50 student artists aged 7 through 16 have been working hard to capture their favorite parts of the natural world through art. Their work will be on display at the studio from Dec. 5 through Dec. 23.

Mary Jane van Zeijts opened the studio five years ago with the intention of teaching and selling art. Today, she offers classes for both adults and children with a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. While the pandemic has been tough for everyone, van Zeijts said she’s grateful that the studio remains open.

“Over the summer when nonessential businesses were closed, we had classes outdoors in various locations — Frank Melville Memorial Park, West Meadow Beach, Stony Brook Village Green, people’s gardens. They were safe, beautiful, welcoming places for us to be and we are very grateful for both this community and for the opportunity to be together and continue on,” van Zeijts said.

The exhibit, titled Nature, features work from van Zeijts’ afternoon students, all of whom are under 18. The collection includes a diverse array of media, including paintings, drawings, pastels, collage and printmaking. All pieces in the exhibit will be available for purchase to support each artist.

You could win this beautiful pastel painting!

Additionally, van Zeijts will be holding a raffle for one of her own pieces, “View from Second Stone Bridge,” with custom walnut framing done by Jonathan Busko. The 34″ by 24″ pastel painting depicts Conscience Bay in Setauket in November at high tide. All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation. Raffle tickets are $20 each, or 3 for $50.

This exhibit offers a special opportunity to appreciate the work of up-and-coming Long Island artists who are already showing great skill and talent.

“The artists in the studio are deeply creative — they are willing to learn and make mistakes more often and with less fear than myself. I love their stories and enjoy them sharing their lives with me,” van Zeijts said.

“These artists are searching for their style, medium and particular joys in making art. It is incredible to see them grasp that joy when it is realized and hold onto it. Just as we all learn where we fit, it is a privilege to watch a beginning artist grow into their own space of contentment and pride in their art,” she added.

“The students in this group are supportive of each other and act with honesty and humor … They remind me that, like all of life, art is a process — one that can be challenging, but also full of joy.”

Studio 268 is located at 268 Main Street, Setauket. Public viewing hours for Nature are Saturdays,  Dec. 5, 6, 12, and 19 from noon to 5 p.m. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing when visiting the studio. For more information, call 631-220-4529.