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Reboli Center Artisan of the Month

An item from the Pursuits Jewelry Collection

For the month of September, the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook Village is showcasing the beautiful work of jewelry designer Vanassa Chan, founder of Pursuits.

A love of design, architecture and fashion is reflected in Vanassa Chan’s Pursuits jewelry designs. It is understandable since she earned her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design in the United Kingdom, and worked for many years as a designer in Canada. Her background in interior architecture has clearly influenced her jewelry lines and can be seen in the way they are created.

An item from the Pursuits Jewelry Collection

Every season’s collection begins with hand drawn designs with brass maquettes, and undergoes many stages of testing to produce a finished item that is bold and striking. “Our pieces are meticulously formed, and finished with care, in small batches in our Toronto studio,” said Chan.

Each collection has a name – the F.S. Collection is the largest with both necklaces and earrings. True to the designer’s intent, these pieces carry Chan’s signature sleekness and are created with versatility in mind. “Each design is our unique take on geometry and is finished with our signature matte plating,” added Chan.

The bold Orb shapes define the O Collection, which are minimal in design, but emphasized with pops of energy and color. Each necklace has a personality all of its own and is stylish and professional.

The 9S Sterling Collection features fine jewelry made of 925 sterling, The glamourous pieces are refined, delicate and dainty.

Pursuits newest collection is the Q Collection. These necklaces are bold and eye-catching with resin buttons and metallic accents strung on a rubber cord with a simple pop-clasp. While they look chunky, they are comfortable to wear every day.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Vanassa at a trade show in Manhattan and was impressed by her unique collections and their abstract qualities. Her desire to create a line with architectural elements, while including a feminine look was interesting.  I thought our patrons and visitors would appreciate her work,” said Lois Reboli, president and founder of the Reboli Center.

Vanassa Chan’s Pursuit jewelry is available at the Reboli Center, 64 Main Street, Stony Brook, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information please call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org



Fresh Water Pearl Flower Earrings by Jeanette Leonard

For the month of August, the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook Village is showcasing the work of beach glass and jewelry designer Jeanette Leonard.

It is not surprising that Leonard, who grew up on the North Shore in Lloyd Harbor and now resides on the South Shore in Blue Point, has found a passion in designing jewelry from nature’s beach glass.

Hand Drilled Beach Pottery Necklace by Jeanette Leonard

A graduate of FIT, Leonard received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and focused on women’s tailoring (coats and suits) and knitwear. She spent a semester in England studying knitwear. Jeanette worked in Manhattan for ten years as a technical designer and then as a fashion designer. During this time, she would design and embellish tops for women. She frequented the bead stores and started making jewelry.

Leonard began wire-wrapping sea glass after a friend found a piece of sea glass and asked her to make a piece of jewelry for his girlfriend. After a period of trial and error, she successfully mastered the art of wire wrapping beach glass into jewelry.

“I am inspired by the ocean and the treasures found there. I find natural things most beautiful just the way they are in their natural state. To create pieces from fresh water pearl, genuine sea glass, beach pottery, shells and coral gives me an easy jumping off point for my designs. I love the colors that sea glass can be, I love the frosted look the ocean turns into, I love the iridescent luster that pearl and shells have. For me the imperfect is perfect,” she said.

Wire Wrapped Sea Glass Necklace by Jeanette Leonard

Leonard sources her beach glass and pearls form some Long Island beaches, mostly brown, white and green, but the blue and other unusual colors are purchased online. The driftwood is also from Long Island beaches and some is bought in California.

“As an artist, it means a great deal to be on display at the Reboli Center and to be the Artist of the Month!” 

Leonard is the founder of Blue Harbor Jewelry and, the Gallery Director at the Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts (BAFA) in Sayville, where she arranges for artists or groups to exhibit their work each month. She also sells her jewelry at art shows.

“This is the first time that the Reboli Center is offering beach glass jewelry at the Design Shop and it is a perfect fit, as we are located on Stony Brook Harbor. Jeanette’s designs are beautiful and the pieces so exquisite, we are thrilled to exhibit her work during August,” said Lois Reboli, founder and president of the Reboli Center.

The Reboli Center for Art and History, located at 64 Main Street, Stony Brook, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information please call 631-752-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.


Gwen Beloti

For the month of May, the Reboli Center for Art and History is showcasing the beautiful work of jewelry designer Gwen Beloti.

Gwen Beloti

A love of fashion and accessories resulted in a career in the jewelry business for Beloti. A native of Brooklyn, she is a certified fashion apparel designer and a self- taught jewelry creator. For many years she was an apparel designer and in 2019 started to pursue jewelry design after taking several classes in jewelry assembly.

Her jewelry designs are of high quality and perfect for everyday wear.

“The aesthetic is the balance of minimalism and subtle statement. Our pieces are inclusive with extended sizes available and customization options,” said Beloti.

The jewelry designer is inspired by many things she sees in the city, by shapes, art and the jewelry she has collected over the years. When something sparks an idea, she tries to get it down on paper or on the computer and work on it until it comes to fruition. “I’ve learned to be patient with the process because the piece is never the best it can be at the first attempt, and it gets better with time, thought, consideration and iteration,” she said.

Beloti’s jewelry is in gold because she loves its luster and hues. The first piece she created was a gold necklace with Brooklyn spelled across that front, which she still wears today. For the first time, the summer 2023 Gwen Beloti Jewelry line will include a new collection featuring diamonds.

Recently, the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative with the National Diamond Council selected Beloti to be one of six designers to create a fine jewelry collection of gold and diamonds to be showcased at JCK in Las Vegas, the largest jewelry show in the world.

The Gwen Beloti Jewelry Collection

Although jewelry has been her passion and career, Beloti has a master’s in Psychology and started college when she was 16. She has always had a great appreciation for education and many of her teachers have had a lasting impact on her. She believes in giving back to her community and started a program where local residents nominate a special educator for a golden recognition. Those selected are presented with a piece from the Gwen Beloti Jewelry line, as a token of appreciation for the work they do. Each year, she also donates a portion of her sales to the nonprofit organization Little Dresses for Africa, which provides assistance to young girls throughout Africa.

“I met Gwen at a trade show and was so impressed by her collection and her enthusiasm for creating something beautiful that would make her customers feel special and appreciated,” said Lois Reboli, a founder of the Reboli Center.

On May 19, at the Reboli Center’s Third Friday, Gwen will discuss her artistic journey, craft and career. The talk is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 7:30 p.m. There is no fee and no reservations are required. Light refreshments will be served. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Gwen Beloti’s jewelry is available at the Reboli Center, located at 64 Main Street, Stony Brook. Operating hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org

Pictured are designer Gwen Beloti and the Gwen Beloti Jewelry Collection

'Barred Owl Family' by John Houle

If you are interested in seeing some unique artwork, then stop by the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook during the month of March to see the “Burnt Offerings” by Connecticut artist John Houle.

“His work is absolutely amazing and to watch him create a piece of art through pyrography is an incredible experience,” said Lois Reboli, a founder and president of the Reboli Center, who saw his work and a demonstration at a show in Massachusetts.

Artist John Houle

Houle’s “Burnt Offerings” are created by woodburning or pyrography – a form of scrimshaw on wood and the details are crafted by etching or burning the wood with heat from a wood burning tool. According to the artist, “Pyrography is the art of burning or etching a design into wood, leather or in some cases, gourds. The time the burner is in contact with the wood determines how dark the piece will be. I use two burners. One has a constant temperature of around 900 degrees. The other has a rheostat that allows temperatures of up to 2000 degrees. I only use the hotter one about five percent of the time. Many woodburners have a variety of tips. I only use two.” He adds that a slip of the hand cannot be corrected.

As far as his technique, Houle said, “I treat all my works just as if I am drawing with a pencil … a very hot one! Some woodburners will trace a design and transfer it to the wood and then burn the lines as they appear on the wood. I never have, and would never trace. All my works are done freehand. I prefer to use birch wood, which is a light color and does not have large knots. During the pandemic, birch was hard to find so I started using bamboo, which is readily available. I then enhance my work with a wax of acrylic and then apply three coats of UV resistant polyurethane to protect it.”

Houle frames most of his artwork and makes his own frames out of pine although some pieces have been mounted on such exotic woods as cherry, spalted maple and black walnut.

By John Houle

Houle started as an oil painter. In fact, he won his first regional contest in second grade and continued to enter contests throughout college. At Central Connecticut College he studied under Jacques Rommel, specializing in oils. He amassed many regional awards. When John painted, he constantly would go back and rework something in the painting. He always wanted to improve his artwork. About 50 years ago he received a gift of a woodburner with a note saying, “See if you can paint over this…” and he never went back to oil painting.

After retiring as a trainer and developer of sales and service seminars, Houle now focuses on woodburning full time. He noted that one of his favorite things to do at shows is to start a piece from scratch in front of a group and over a period of time, complete it. He thinks it is important for people to understand his technique so he tries to do live demonstrations at his shows if electricity is available.

About being the Reboli Center’s March Artisan of the Month, John said, “I am very humbled, and appreciate the opportunity to show woodburning as fine art, especially in such a beautiful gallery. I love Joe Reboli’s work and it is wonderful to see how his memory is being honored at the Center.”

The Reboli Center, 64 Main Street, Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.

For the month of February, the Reboli Center for Art and History is showcasing the diverse collection of jewelry including necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets created by Tracy Levine.

Levine has been making jewelry since 1984, when she started her company, Hanging Dreams, and has been a regular vendor at Gallery North’s Outdoor Art Show since that time. She grew up in East Setauket and graduated from Boston University. A mental health counselor at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan where she lives, Levine manages to balance creating jewelry with her health career. 

“I am inspired by all things beautiful and my designs are driven by an eclectic mix of materials that are old and new, precious and semi-precious stones, oxidized sterling silver as well as 18 and 22K gold,” she said. Levine aspires to create pieces as unique as the individuals who wear them.

Lois Reboli, the president and founder of the Reboli Center, was impressed by her unique and beautiful creations and thought they would be a perfect fit for the Center’s Design Shop especially around Valentine’s Day. 

The Reboli Center, 64 Main Street, Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.

Renee Fondacaro

The Reboli Center’s October Artisan of the Month is Renee Fondacaro: candlemaker and founder of Old Field Apothecary. Fondacaro founded the company in 2020, with the goal of creating beautiful, clean, naturally scented candles and home accessories.

Old Field Apothecary candle

An artisan and registered nurse with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Oneonta and a Nursing degree from Syracuse University, Fondacaro creates natural, handmade products with ingredients sourced sustainably. As a two-time cancer survivor, this aspect of her business is very important to her.

“Our mission at Old Field Apothecary is to create hand poured, small batch candles, wax melts and home accessories with captivating scents, beautiful minimalist designs, and the best ingredients.  All products are made from a luxurious vegan wax blend made of natural coconut and apricot. Coconut and apricot waxes are gluten free, toxin free, paraben free, phthalate free, and come from renewable sources. The entire blend utilizes only FDA approved waxes,” said Fondacaro.  In addition, all candles have a crackling wooden wick and each candle is wicked, poured and labeled by hand.

Lois Reboli, a founder of the Reboli Center, said, “Renee has had a pop-up store at the Center in the past and it is wonderful that she is the Artisan for October. With the holidays just around the corner, this is an excellent opportunity for residents to shop for their homes, as well as for gifts for family and friends.”

The Reboli Center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-5pm and on Sunday from 1pm-5pm. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707 or visit www.ReboliCenter.org

Ceramic pieces by Julia Vogelle

The Reboli Center’s August Artisan is ceramic artist Julia Vogelle.

A ceramic piece by Julia Vogelle

Julia Vogelle is a multi-faceted artist who creates a wide range of ceramics, sculpture, drawings and paintings, as well as jewelry. She has a Master’s in Fine Art /Education from C.W. Post University and a Bachelor’s in Fine Art from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  Raised on Long Island, she  lives in Miller Place and taught art to students in k-12 for 32 years in the Miller Place school district.

Vogelle is one of the founders of the Brick Clay Studio in St. James and currently the President. The studio was established in 2017 and offers pottery classes and a gallery.

“As most of my work is in clay, I begin with slabs and then incorporate wheel work. I decorate slabs with lace and stamped patterns. In addition, I like to draw either directly into the clay surface or with oxides and glazes,” said Vogelle. She notes that all platters and pottery are dinnerware and dishwasher safe.

A ceramic piece by Julia Vogelle

“I’m very honored to be recognized as the August Artisan of the month at the Reboli Center. Being a resident and lifelong artist on the North Shore of Long Island, I have very strong ties to the community. While I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Joe Reboli, my husband Michael Vogelle interviewed Joe for the program “Working Artists,” she said.

Lois Reboli, president and one of the founders of The Reboli Center said, “Julia’s work is truly amazing and her being our August Artisan of the Month will certainly compliment the work on display at the Center.”

The Reboli Center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.

Birdhouse by Chris Kelsch
Birdhouse by Chris Kelsch

The Reboli Center for Art & History’s July artisan of the month is Chris Kelsch.

Chris Kelsch, born and raised in Stony Brook, creates incredible birdhouses, in a wide range of unique woods. He developed his distinctive style over years of education, experimentation, and adventures.

Chris credits his shop teacher, Dean Jenkins, with inspiring his passion for woodworking. After serving in the military, Chris attended Delhi Technical College where he studied carpentry and woodworking.

After college, Chris joined the team of woodworkers at Tanglewood Conservatories in Maryland where they design and build custom high-end conservatories and greenhouses from exotic hardwoods. His role was to focus on the intricate architectural aspects such as corbels, pilasters and detailed window frames to house the stained glass windows.

His fondness for exotic woods led him to discover a mill in Pennsylvania that provides Martin Guitar with beautiful rare woods. He also found amazing antique barn woods.

Birdhouse by Chris Kelsch

When Chris retired in 2017, he started making bird, bat, butterfly and bee houses.  “I enjoy creating safe houses for wildlife,” he explains. I love using rare wood and antique barn wood as they create solid birdhouses. The stability of these woods ensures a solid and quality house. I also appreciate how beautiful grains contrast with the patina of barn wood.” He noted that some of the barn wood he uses is 300 years old.

“I am thrilled to be able to display my work at the Reboli Center,” Chris said. Joe Reboli was a big part of my life as my older brothers were friends with him. In fact, my mother referred to Joe as her ‘other’ son. The Reboli Center is close to my heart, and all involved are beautiful people with a beautiful mission.”

Lois Reboli, president and founder of The Reboli Center said, “I have known Chris a long time and love his work. His birdhouses are so beautiful and unique that it is a pleasure to sell his pieces in the Design Shop and to have him as our July artisan.”

The Reboli center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707.

Kyle Blumenthal at work.

The Reboli Center’s June Artisan of the month is Kyle Blumenthal.

Kyle Blumenthal at work.

The Stony Brook resident is a painter as well as an artisan who creates hand painted silk scarves, which will be on display during June at the Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook. In addition, she has several paintings in the Reboli Center’s current “Bloom” exhibit.

Blumenthal is an experienced and New York State licensed Art Education specialist. She studied Illustration and Advertising at the High School of Art and Design. She holds a BFA in Painting and Art Education from Pratt Institute, and a MA and MFA in Painting from Long Island University. She has served as part of the Art/Art History faculty at Empire State College and was recognized for her artistic achievements in 2010, when New York Foundation for the Arts named her a Mark Fellow.

Currently, Blumenthal teaches painting at the National Art League and leads a portfolio program (which she created) at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, New York. Her work has been written about in Arts Magazine, Newsday, The New York Times and Art News. Kyle simultaneously works in many disciplines. Primarily painting with oil on canvas she has also worked as a Designer of Theatrical Installations for dance. She incorporates the ethereal superimposed upon the material as a concept she strives to convey in her work. The artist cultivates a large flower garden at her home, which supplies inspiration and resource for her creative works.

Kyle Blumenthal’s sunflower silk scarf

Blumenthal has exhibited her work at such venues as the Harkness House Gallery, Museum of American Illustration, and the Kean Mason Gallery in Manhattan, The Long Island Museum, Islip Art Museum, Guild Hall, Mills Pond Gallery and Staller Center on Long Island, and Sodarco Gallery in Montreal.

 “I am honored to have been selected as The Reboli Center’s June Artisan. As an artist living in Stony Brook for many years, I feel this brings that sense of community which is important to me. I remember Joseph Reboli picking up frames from the Setauket frame shop as I was also there at the same time getting tips on how to make my own frames. I remember that his were custom ordered and it was the latest framing for oil paintings. Once again it is the kindness extended to artists and the community that carries on,” said Blumenthal.

Lois Reboli, a founder and president of the Reboli Center said, “Kyle’s work is exquisite, and her scarves are just beautiful. Her silk scarves are very popular in our design shop so we are very happy to have her as our June Artisan.”

The Reboli center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707.

A butter dish by Hannah Niswonger

For the month of March, the Reboli Center for Art & History in Stony Brook’s featured artisan is potter Hannah Niswonger.

Artist Hannah Niswonger

“Hannah Niswonger’s whimsical work is so striking, colorful, cheerful and unique, we’re thrilled to welcome her as the Reboli Center’s March Artisan. We’re sure everyone will be delighted by her creative mix of vibrant designs and realistic animal portraits in her pottery. They are so adorable and colorful that they make you feel so happy,” said Lois Reboli, president and a founder of The Reboli Center.

Niswonger fell in love with clay while in college at Wesleyan in Middletown, Connecticut, where she earned a BA in studio art.  Hannah received a MFA in ceramic sculpture from Alfred University in Alfred, New York. She is currently teaching at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and has taught courses in ceramics at Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Hannah frequently teaches sculpture classes.  She gives workshops nationally, as well as exhibiting in galleries throughout the United States. Hannah also participates in juried craft shows, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art Show, the Smithsonian Craft Show and CraftBoston. A resident of Melrose, Massachusetts, she lives there with her husband, three children, one dog and two rabbits.

Plates designed by Hannah Niswonger

According to Hannah, “I build functional pots out of white stoneware. My tools are simple: a knife, a serrated metal rib, a sponge, a brush. All of my work is hand-built from slabs of clay. I love working with slabs like fabric; the pots are sewn together, scored along the edges, nipped and tucked together to make rounded forms from sheets of clay. Using a Chinese calligraphy brush, I paint bone dry pots with under-glaze stains, which act like an ink wash or watercolors on the absorbent surface of the clay. I scratch and carve into the drawings, adding and removing details. The pin tool is both pencil and eraser, adding white to the drawing. I use wax to create motifs that are reminiscent of printed patterns.”

In addition to creating functional pottery of plates, cups, bowls, teapots, serving pieces with images of animals, birds, and fish, Hannah also makes prints, drawings, sculpture and tile pieces. “I love developing new patterns and strategies for adding layers of image and color to clay. This has allowed me to bring printmaking into the ceramic studio. Pattern and color anchor my animals to the pots. They serve as frames, and backgrounds, so that the animals exist in their own narrow space around the pots,” added Hannah.

The Reboli Center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707.