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Reboli Center for Art and History

Gallery North’s Ned Puchner joined state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and the Reboli Center’s Lois Reboli for a special announcement regarding the oil painting ‘Bellport Gate’ by Joseph Reboli. Photo from Steve Englebright's office

The Reboli Center is celebrating a homecoming.

Joseph Reboli’s 1985 “Bellport Gate” painting will soon join the artist’s collection at the Stony Brook center that bears his name.

Gallery North’s Kate Schwarting, Ned Puchner and Nancy Goroff joined state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and the Reboli Center’s B.J. Intini and Lois Reboli for a special announcement regarding the oil painting ‘Bellport Gate’ by Joseph Reboli. Photo by Rita J. Egan

At a small gathering at Gallery North in Setauket, an announcement was made that the oil painting would be permanently gifted to the Reboli Center for Art & History. The event included Reboli’s widow, Lois; state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket); Gallery North’s Executive Director Ned Puchner, board of trustees President Nancy Goroff and curator Kate Schwarting; also B.J. Intini, vice president of the Reboli Center’s board of trustees.

Gallery North in Setauket has owned the painting since 2007. When “Bellport Gate” became available for sale in Chicago, the gallery became the steward of the artwork due to a state grant secured by Englebright for $10,000. Additional donations to secure the purchase were raised with $5,000 from Lois Reboli, who is the founder and president of the Reboli Center, and $100 each from friends and neighbors of the Rebolis as well as other community members. The fundraiser became known as the Reboli 100 Fund.

The Reboli Center didn’t open until 2016, and since Joseph Reboli once sat on the board of Gallery North and his first art shows were there, many felt that this spot was an appropriate home for “Bellport Gate.”

Lois Reboli remembered when she first saw the painting at Gallery North.

“It was hanging right there on that wall in the other room, and when I saw it, I almost felt like I could see Joe in front of it,” she said. “It’s something that we really needed to keep in the community, and we’re very grateful that Gallery North had it — and that we’re going to be able to have it.”

Reboli added that the plan is to keep it on display most of the time. Her husband was inspired by a white gate featuring wrought iron hardware in Bellport when creating the painting. The gate was crafted in the 1800s by blacksmith Joseph Merritt Shaw.

“I think Joe just found a lot of different things interesting, but I think he liked the fact that there was a lot of depth to it,” Reboli said, adding that she believed he loved the coloring and light.

Goroff agreed.

“One of the things that is a characteristic of Joe Reboli’s paintings is the attention to light and finding interesting light,” Goroff said. “You see that very well here in this painting.”

Lois Reboli thanked Englebright for his help in facilitating the original purchase and transfer of the painting, as well as Reboli 100 for raising funds. She also thanked Gallery North for being willing to give the painting to the Reboli Center.

Englebright said the collaboration was heartening.

“It’s wonderful that these two major art centers for our community are cooperating and collaborating and coming together,” he said. “Ned has called this the beginning of an arts summit for the community. I think that’s quite accurate, and it’s something that really is going to reinforce the identity of the community.”

Puchner said it was a pleasure working with everyone at the Reboli Center.

“We see the arts community as a family, we want everyone to work together,” he said. “As the title of this painting sort of suggests, we’re hoping that it opens the gate to more collaboration within the arts community moving forward.”

Englebright added Joseph Reboli had a strong sense of place and credited the artist for being one of the reasons the area is considered an arts destination.

“Assembling his collection is really heartening, and the symbolism, for all practical purposes, means that this community is enhanced, still,” the assemblyman said. “Even though Joe Reboli is no longer with us, he continues to be a gift to the community.”

The painting is scheduled to be moved to the Reboli Center at the end of the month.

Samples of Mark Strayer’s work

A retired toy designer fires up a new career as a ceramic artist

The Reboli Center for Art and History’s September Aristan of the Month, Mark Strayer, has had a long career as an Industrial Designer, designing toys and furniture for manufacturers. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from California State University and is a native Californian who now resides in Lamar, Missouri. While a designer at Fisher-Price Toys, employees were encouraged to learn other creative disciplines so that they could utilize that experience in their designs. He enrolled in a ceramics class at the Buffalo Clay Art Studio in Buffalo, NY. Little did he know then that this decision would create another career path.

Samples of Mark Strayer’s work

The work that will be on exhibit and for sale at The Reboli Center for Art and History will feature miniature houses, buildings, trees and other designs. He uses the Japanese technique of Raku for firing. Raku is a low heat firing process where the heat in the kiln reaches to about 1800 degrees within a short period of time. The pottery is removed when glowing red and placed into a container with combustible materials, such as sawdust and newspaper, to give them color.

According to Mark, “My ceramic business, North Star Pottery, is a place of experimentation and having fun with clay. My work is primarily functional ware, but I also love small architectural forms using the Raku process of firing.” He added, “Clay is an amazing material, natural, fluid and organic to touch, and my ability to transfer a lump of clay into beautiful and useful objects gives me joy. Being the artist of the month at the Reboli Center is a milestone in my career.”

Samples of Mark Strayer’s work

Lois Reboli, president and one of the founders of The Reboli Center said, ““I am thrilled to showcase Mark’s unique and intriguing creations. The shapes, style, and color of his pieces are fascinating. Another founder of the Reboli Center, Secretary Colleen Hanson, serendipitously discovered Mark when she relocated to Missouri. It’s wonderful when looking for art we discover such fabulous artisans, like Mark Strayer.”

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 p.m. to 5 p.m. 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.

Artist statement:

I paint as if in a dream highlighting my everyday experiences in poetic color and form with emotion. My subjects range from still life, landscapes, and portraits in the photorealistic style and futuristic visionary paintings with a surreal edge.’

By Irene Ruddock

In this interview, you will gain insight on a remarkable artist; a photorealist and visionary explorer who seeks to discover the inner world through art. Born deaf, Charles Wildbank achieved degrees from Yale, Pratt, and Columbia. After a few years of teaching deaf students, Wildbank burst upon the art world with his Fifth Avenue window showcases in New York City, portraits of David Hockney and Luciano Pavarotti and his famed eight foot tall rendering of the Cartier diamond. Read on to be amazed and uplifted by his fascinating career and inner depth that has transformed this artist’s vision and ours along with it. 

Tell us about your beginning forays in the world of art? How did being deaf affect your choosing art as your life’s work?

There were hardly any options when it came to communicating as a deaf child other than pointing or drawing sketches to have others understand me. This was followed by strong approvals and eventually requests for some art from me. That is how my art career blossomed since I got adept at rendering just about anything.

How do you hear now? How did you learn to speak so well which is a difficult obstacle for the deaf?

Without wearing a hearing device, I am deaf as a stone, oblivious to all sounds. My parents, in realizing my lack of hearing as a toddler, brought home a rather large amplifier with headphones. For me, it was one of the best gifts. Music would be one of my first sounds. Also, I would wear them in front of a black and white television watching cartoons. This was followed shortly with a large new hearing aid which I could wear strapped around my chest for play outside. This helped me learn to speak and listen and not just read lips. 

It was only recently that I received a pair of cochlear implants. That is when I first picked up the sound of fizz when opening a bottle of Perrier water! Every morning since, i woke up to a cacophony of bird songs outside.

For the most part, I enjoy painting in complete silence. Music is always my love as it was my first sound. For instance, I get so moved by the vocal range of one of Maria Callas’ arias, only possible through my cochlear implants. I am so grateful for this timely modern technology. Also, I am grateful for the closed captioning, for through this, I hear most everything, I am still learning how to listen and recognize language by ear. In retrospect, all those years of speech therapy after school hours were worth it!

Being understood has been a very challenging feat for me and it was though family and friends who would help me enunciate new words. It was perhaps through my willingness to accept feedback without feeling criticized which may have been an essential key to this day.

As a former teacher, I was most impressed by your heartfelt desire for parents to encourage children in their passions and gifts. Can you tell us about your family and the importance of their support in your life’s choice of art.

The idea of praising children for any accomplishment became the norm in my family and it is likely not just love, but the side benefit of children giving back. All my siblings had many talents and in turn received their nourishment and it made us all so proud. I’d wish this for every child in this world as it has such a transforming effect on their overall being. Literally, vices such as bullyism and wars would vanish. One cannot underestimate the power of the arts in our love starved world of today. All it would take is some beautiful architecture, some color in the room, some fashion, some life changing art, or a song to make one’s life turn around for the better!

How has your art progressed since the initial foray into the art world?  

Though I was mostly self-taught, attending art college landed me into such a creative and stimulating environment among like peers. We visited many museums and galleries and took opportunities to remain inspired such as meeting older professional artists. My art output increased among the local art fairs in the Hamptons due to the delightfully growing demand for my art. 

Can you describe the exemplary ‘Hado Series?’ 

After many years of paving out a career in such hyper- real fashion on Fifth Avenue, I wished to make a leap of imagination by adding a touch of surrealism in my newer work. Since many of my dreams contain a common element of water with giant waves throughout, I adopted this Japanese word HADO, which means “wave”.  To achieve this subliminal oceanic effect, I incorporated some of my photographs with  digital tools such as photoshop. I do anything I wished with my more mundane images thus transforming them into another realm from my imaginative choosing. This is followed by using these final images as notes as I paint from my laptop onto a very large canvas. This visual show can observed in my recent “Tempest” and “Emergence” murals.

A lot of us are lost when it comes to understanding digital art, yet you have achieved remarkable work that is not remote or cold in feeling but touches the soul. Can you explain this?

Instead of a computer mouse, I use a special stylus digital pen and tablet with my laptop in creating new images. My photo diaries are uploaded for this purpose, and I often start with a dream in mind’s eye and find elements in reality that I can morph into the composition on the screen. This would take many hours to achieve to my satisfaction. Finally, a grid is laid upon the approved image and sketched by hand onto a new blank canvas. Digitally I can add and take away elements that do not belong and amplify to match any given emotion or whim. Once sketched upon the canvas in pencil, I proceed to paint and brush onto that canvas  with acrylic paint. This process usually take several months to complete.

Your portraits of everyday people are as mesmerizing as your famous portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What is it that draws you to a person?

Portraits are a very dear subject for me, particularly large ones. Whenever someone visually grabs my attention for any reason, I usually make a request for a pose which often goes rewarded. Perhaps it is their hair or certain attitude that I find appealing.  Essentially, I look for that timeless feeling. 

Your commission to paint for the ocean liner The Queen Mary 2 had to be an exciting honor. 

For those murals on board the QM2, I was approached by agents representing Cunard Lines in Amsterdam by e-mail because my website must have captured their strong interest. There were requirements to be met and one interesting one was that the murals had to be flame proof. After some search online then, I was able to locate a canvas manufacturer that makes this Trevira (TM) brand and ordered 10-foot-wide rolls 40 feet long from Nurnberg, Germany. The ship’s insurance company in London requested my canvas sample and it passed the flame test. These tall murals depict coastal scenes of England and America and are now hung by the elevators on board the QM2. Fans having sailed on board would thoughtfully send me selfies confirming they have admired these murals. Such gestures would make my day.

You are presently showing your work at the Reboli Center’s Bloom exhibit in Stony Brook. What piece do you have on exhibit there? 

Originally, I was going to include my latest “Grand Florale” at this Reboli  Exhibition “Bloom”, however, fortunately and unfortunately, I had sold the mural, all 11 feet of it to a private collector. I decided to exhibit one of my favorites titled, “The Path” which depicts one of my refreshing walks by the beach path covered with rugosa roses in bloom.

How can the public view your work ? 

Visit my latest website, http://wildbankfineart.com and facebook page under “Charles Wildbank” and view my story on the Reboli Center website. Also, I welcome visitors to my studio in Jamesport to see my work in person or to join a group for art lessons by appointment.

Shop local for your sweetheart!

Stop by the Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook on Saturday, Feb. 12 between the hours of 11 a.m. and  5 p.m. for a Valentine’s Day pop-up shopping event with some of your favorite local artisans including Jessica Randall of Jessica Randall Studios, Renee Fondacaro of Old Field Apothecary along with Laura Peters, Russell Pulick and Julia Vogelle of The Brick Clay Studio and Gallery. For more information, call 631-751-7707.

‘76’, photograph by Joseph Reboli

Through March 27, The Reboli Center for Art & History in Stony Brook will for the first time feature the photographs of the late artist Joseph Reboli and several well-known Long Island and New York based photographers including Donna Crinnian, Jeremy Dennis, Vanessa Fischer, Daniel Jones, Jacques LeBlanc, Timothy McCarthy, Jessica Neilson, Patricia Paladines, Matthew Raynor, Paul Scala, Leonid Shishov, Corinne Tousey, Marlene Weinstein, and Jo-Anne Wilson in a new exhibit is titled Through the Lens.

Photo by Jeremy Dennis

In conjunction with the exhibit, the History Room will feature a companion show focusing on the life and work of nature photographer, Howard Eskin, a patron of the arts and dear friend of Joseph Reboli, who also collected many of his paintings.  Eskin concentrated on photographing nature, and many of his pictures were published by the Audubon Society. In addition, there will be a slideshow depicting the evolution of photography from when the first recorded photograph was taken in the early 1800s.

“Just as Joe’s paintings glowed with illuminous light, so do his photographs. Joe was not widely known for his photography, but he really enjoyed it and I am happy to share that side of him. I have known the Eskin family for a longtime, and am very proud to document Howard’s life and work as part of this new exhibit,” said Lois Reboli, a founder and president of the Reboli Center.

The Reboli Center is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook, and is open Tuesday through 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 go to www.ReboliCenter.org.

During February, The Reboli Center for Art & History in Stony Brook is proud to display the stunning botanical and cast glass jewelry created by Michael Michaud Design, as well as by his son Michael Vincent Michaud. According to Four Seasons Design Group, which represents the two companies, “The cast glass processes very much like the lost wax process of casting metal into jewelry. The glass is melted into a mold and then cooled and cleaned reproducing the shapes and colors to be placed into the metal bezels. During the process some air may be trapped in with the solidifying of the glass. It is those bubbles inside that make each piece unique and one of a kind.”

The Michael Michaud Design collection reflects his exceptional knowledge of jewelry making and his love of nature. He started as an apprentice mold cutter in 1973 and worked his way towards being a master precious metal caster and moldmaker. While a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen, he learned many of the techniques that he still uses today to create his designs of nature in metal. Michaud worked for some of American’s leading jewelry designers before starting his own company.

Michael Vincent Michaud, the son of renowned jewelry designer Michael Michaud, studied with some of the finest glass artists at various institutions including the prestigious Corning and Urban glass programs. He was inspired by his father’s high craftsmanship and love of “art glass.” He was fortunate to begin his career at his father’s studio and collaborated with him to create glass elements for jewelry collections licensed by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This experience enabled him and his brother Shane, who handles the business side, to create their own company, Michael Vincent Michaud, in 2011.

Their jewelry collection consists of pendants, necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, brooches and table art such as serving pieces, utensils, trivets and napkin rings.

“For the first time, The Reboli Center is delighted to showcase artisans who are a father and son.  Our Design Shop features some of the jewelry created by Michael Michaud Design, as well as by his son, Michael Vincent Michaud. Their jewelry is exquisitely detailed and so luminous when it catches the light,” said Lois Reboli, a founder and president of the Reboli Center.

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 to 5 p.m. Admission is free and for more information, please call 631-751-7707.

The Reboli Center for Art and History in Stony Brook presents its winter holiday exhibit, “Celebrate the Season,” from Nov. 4 through Jan. 23, 2022. 

The show will feature the artwork of a variety of artists, including paintings by the late artist, Joseph Reboli, the Setauket-based artist for whom the Center is named. 

Participating artists include Mireille Bellajonas, Lucille Betti-Nash, Grainne de Buitlear, Al Candia, Donna Crinnian, Julie Doczi, David Ebner, Pamela Herbst, Tyler Hughes, Melissa Imossi, Joanne Liff, John Mansueto, Esther Marie, Jim Molloy, Dan O’Sullivan, Vicki Sawyer, Gia Schifano, Carl Siege, Jodi Stills, Angela Stratton, Mike Stanko, Ty Stroudsberg, Joseph Reboli, Doug Reina, Corinne Tousey, Hal Usher, Mary Jane van Zeijts, Marlene Weinstein, Charles Wildbank, and Patricia Yantz. 

“We are thrilled to have so many Long Island artists in the show,” said Lois Reboli, a founder of the Reboli Center.

In addition, the Reboli Center’s Design Shop will once again be the envy of Santa’s workshop as it is decorated for the holidays and filled with beautiful and handcrafted gifts for people of all ages. In the seasonally-festive shop, you will find jewelry, felted ornaments, artisan crafts, art books, children’s toys, scarves, mittens, hats, prints and more. Reboli gift certificates are also available in any denomination. Free gift wrapping is available while you enjoy the holiday spirit at the Center.

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 to 5pm. Admission is free. For more information, please call 631-751-7707. 

Be sure to visit the Center’s website at www.ReboliCenter.org for holiday hours, pop-up shops and special events.

As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to fall we turn our attention to the sights and sounds of autumn. In celebration of the season, the Reboli Center for Art and History presents Autumn Shadows, a beautiful exhibit featuring artwork by Joseph Reboli, Laura Westlake, Vicki Sawyer and more that include some beguiling and bewitching crows and ravens in paintings, drawings, ceramics and jewelry.

The show will run from September 28 to Oct. 31.

Some of Joseph Reboli’s paintings are on loan from private collectors, and are rarely exhibited, providing a great opportunity for Reboli fans to see some of his work for the first time. 

Laura Westlake is a native Long Islander, who grew up in Stony Brook and now lives in Orient with her artist husband, Dominic Di Lorenzo. Having studied at Santa Barbara City College in California and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, she spent 15 years working in commercial illustration for television, magazine and print ads, portraiture and book illustration. 

Westlake excels in both color pencil and oil paints and has been exhibiting in galleries for over 35 years. Her love of birds and nature complements the work of internationally known artist, Vicki Sawyer, another show participant.

Celebrated for her incredibly imaginative and whimsical art, Vicki Sawyer, former Stony Brook artist and designer, has had two shows at the Reboli Center in recent years. Growing up in farm country, she spent years studying and admiring birds and animals. 

Sawyer works in acrylic and incorporates vegetables, twigs and flowers to adorn her whimsical creatures with hats, necklaces and other decorative accessories. Her paintings are definitely one of a kind. Her notecards, calendars and other home decor items are on sale in the Reboli Design Shop.

Other participating artists include Kevin McEvoy, Linda Giacalone, Laura Peters, Barbara Glynn Prodanuik and more. The Center’s History Room will continue on with an interesting exhibition curated by Tricia Foley, The Legacy of Leslie Marchant, which showcases the life and accomplishments of the accomplished Long Island builder.

“We are thrilled to have such a high caliber of artists participating in Autumn Shadows,” said Lois Reboli, a founder of the Reboli Center. “They each bring a distinct element of talent and creativity that supplement each other’s work.”

The Reboli Center for Art and History is located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook. The gallery is open Tuesday through 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.

Flowers are hand-painted on a bowl by Donna McGee.
Potter Donna McGee in her studio

The Reboli Center for Art & History’s September Artisan of the Month, Donna McGee, designs and creates one-of-a-kind functional and decorative pieces in stoneware and earthenware, and puts her signature mark on each piece with her original drawings of fields, flowers, farm life and faces.

“Her unique vases, bowls, pots and platters often feature scenes from the views outside of her studio windows. The Reboli Center is thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the pottery of Donna McGee, whose work is so distinctive and appealing,” said Lois Reboli, a founder of the Reboli Center.

For most of her life, Donna has focused on art. Since her youth she has been a frequent visitor to museums and galleries, than first as an artist and now as a potter. She studied art at Southern Illinois University and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Re-creation, Art and Society. In her twenties, she went to Europe and studied clay at the Jacob Cramer Centre for the Arts in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

According to Donna, “I took one class in pottery in college and hated it. A couple of years later, I took another class and decided that this was what I wanted to do. I am mostly self-taught and have always had confidence in my drawings and creativity – that is what propels me. I make pieces that are both functional, as well as decorative, because I am a realist and want my work to be used.”

Once she calculated that she made about 1000 pots per year. While her work is her own, she does take some commissions.  Her process involves making the item either wheel thrown or slab built, and then painting the background color on it while the clay is still wet. After the first firing, she paints the details, applies a transparent glaze, and fires the piece again. “My work is known for its variety of drawings and paintings,” she added.

Donna McGee’s work is on display during the month of September and admission to the Reboli Center for Art & History, 64 Main St., Stony Brook is free. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit the Center’s website at www.rebolicenter.org or call 631-751-7707.