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Ron Becker

By Melissa Arnold

With its many beaches, parks, lakes and farmland, it’s easy to see that Long Island is full of natural beauty. For the local art community, the variety of landscapes provide a constant source of inspiration.

Of course, nature is always changing, but not only with the seasons. Global warming continues to affect all of us, driving home the message that nothing is guaranteed and that we must work together to protect our world.

The Smithtown Township Arts Council (STAC) is reflecting on climate change and the environment through an extended series of exhibits at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James that began this past fall. Their next exhibit, Long Island Landscapes: From Awe to Action, invites viewers to appreciate the beauty of this area while considering what they might do to preserve it. The show opens Feb. 5.

“I like to do a local, landscape-based exhibit each year, and I wanted to see if there was a way to connect it to the theme of climate change,” said Allison Cruz, executive director at the Mills Pond Gallery. “Art is a method of communication, a way to help people see things and make connections in new ways. We can read the newspaper or watch the news to see that the ice caps are melting and the world is heating up, but to see these artistic expressions of our area makes you realize we might not have them forever.”

The exhibit features 60 works from 53 Long Island artists. A variety of styles and mediums will be on display, including acrylic, watercolor, oil, graphite and charcoal.

Each artist also took time to reflect on what the natural world and environmental conservation means to them.

Anita Simmons of Commack finds her inspiration while going for a drive, walking through area parks or spending the day at the beach. A retired accountant and the daughter of an avid gardener, Simmons grew up next to sprawling fields of corn and potatoes — crops that are no longer as common on Long Island.

“My paintings are an emotional response to what can be seen in the natural landscape of Long Island, which I have enjoyed all my life,” she said. “My dad would plant morning glories that grew up our chimney every year, and I have always loved them. When I saw the morning glories at Schneider Farm in Melville, I just had to photograph them to paint later.”

Ellen Ferrigno often paints scenes very close to her home in Port Jefferson. Protecting the environment has been a part of her life for many years, and she eventually became a Cornell Cooperative Master Gardener to increase her own understanding and educate others about the natural world.

“What supports nature’s environment is a community as well as individual efforts. Therefore, I paint these scenes as reminders of what nature’s beauty is,” she explained. “During the early part of the pandemic, I researched and painted the plants in my gardens that attract beneficial insects, provide a soothing tea or feed the birds. I often included a narrative to educate the art viewers. I also found myself increasing my gardens, putting out feeders for the birds and attracting the bees.”

Cruz and STAC have partnered with a number of local environmental organizations to provide information, literature and ways for visitors to support their cause. They include The Nature Conservancy, Defend H2O, Save the Sound, The Sierra Club, Higher Ground, The Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, the Seatuck Environmental Association, Save the Great South Bay, Long Island Water, and Group for the East End.

“We have so many wonderful locally-focused groups that work hard every day to protect and preserve our environment here,” said Cruz. “This isn’t just about appreciating beautiful art — we also want to bring attention to all the good these groups are doing and encourage visitors to get involved.” 

Along with Simmons and Ferrigno, artists participating in this exhibit include Marsha Abrams, Lucia Alberti, Tina Anthony, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Claudia Bedell, Sheila Breck, Joyce Bressler, Renee Caine, Carol Ceraso, Patricia Cisek, Tobi Cohen, Donna Corvi, Lou Deutsch, Julie Doczi, Karin Dutra, Dorothy Fortuna, Donna Gabusi, Vivian Gattuso, Jan Guarino, Regina Halliday, David Herman, Wendy Hildreth-Spence, Gia Horton Schifano, John Hunt, Lynn Kinsella, Liz Kolligs, Lynn Liebert, E Craig Marcin, Avrel Menkes, Annette Napolitano, Catherine Rezin, Robert Roehrig, Oscar Santiago, Hillary Serota Needle, Gisela Skoglund, Lynn Staiano, Madeline Stare, Angela Stratton, John Taylor, Tracy Tekverk, Christine Tudor, Nicholas Valentino, Daniel van Benthuysen, Mary Ann Vetter, Mary Waka, Robert Wallkam, Patty Yantz, and Theodora Zavala.

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Long Island Landscapes: From Awe to Action is on view at the Mill Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, Saint James from Feb. 5 through Feb. 26 Proof of vaccination and masks are required to visit. Meet the artists at an opening reception at the gallery on Feb. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. For more information about the exhibit and what you can do to protect the environment, call 631- 862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

As autumn arrives on the North Shore, so does a perennial favorite, the Setauket Artists exhibition. Now in its 41st year, the beloved show returns to the Setauket Neighborhood House on Oct. 24 with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Over 40 local artists will be participating this year along with guest artist and nationally known oil painter David Peikon.

Peikon is showcasing his stunning painting of an east end farm which displays the naturalism of his landscapes. “Capturing nature in all its infinite beauty is a never-ending challenge. I endeavor to create paintings that pull the viewer into the space as if they were alongside me,” he said.

This year’s Honored Artist, Patricia Yantz, will exhibit five of her latest paintings. “The artists chose Patricia because of the superior quality of her acrylic and pastels paintings and years of dedication to the organization. She works tirelessly on various committees and has become our newly elected recording secretary,” said Irene Ruddock, President of the Setauket Artists. 

The cover artist is John Mansueto, a Parsons School of Design graduate in Fine Arts, who exhibits in New York City, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. “I love to explore Long Island and when I saw the sunflowers in the crates at Riverhead’s Briermere Farm, I knew I had to paint it,” he said.  

The works of pastel artist Jane McGraw Teubner will be on view as well.

“The Setauket Artists are honored to include Jane McGraw Teubner, PSA, MA, Master’s Circle who has been accepted into the permanent collection of the Salmagundi Art Club, won the silver medal from Allied Artist of America, was accepted into the Pastel Journals best one hundred and will soon be award the title Eminent Pastelist from the International Pastel Society,” said Ms. Ruddock. 

The only photographer in the show is the incomparable Marlene Weinstein who is exhibiting her hand-painted and mixed media pieces to the delight of her ardent followers. This year, the group is happy to welcome back Laurence Johnston, another fine artist who explains that he is “influenced by the light that living near the water brings and elevates the ordinary to the sublime.” Look for his beautifully painted oil Setauket Spring hanging over the fireplace in the entry hall. 

For lovers of contemporary art, Shelia Breck will awe you with her Matisse-like painting of Katey and Paul Edelson’s soft and sensual colors will bring you into the peaceful world he endeavors to capture. Celeste Mauro will wow you with her creative impressionistic acrylic and collage paintings. 

For nostalgia and history, you will enjoy Carol Link Scinta’s Rainy Day at the Setauket Neighborhood House and The Setauket Diner as well as William Graf’s luminous local watercolors of a Stony Brook sunset and Frank Melville Memorial Park. 

Flo Kemp usually creates soft-ground etchings, but this time she offers a very large, softly hued oil painting aptly titled Purple Mountain Melody. Frederic  Mendelsohn, who enjoys painting the bucolic waterways of Long Island, presents his oil piece titled Stony Brook Harbor and you are sure to be enchanted by Renee Caine’s  oil painting Enchanted Evening. 

Ruddock is excited for the opening. “As coordinator of the exhibit, I try to attract outstanding artists and I am thrilled with the quality of the paintings in this show. All of your favorite Setauket Artists will be there — Al Candia, Muriel Musarra, Rob Roehrig, Eleanor Meier, and so many more who will be showcasing their latest local paintings and looking forward to seeing you,” she said.

The reception is in-person, but a tent (with electric warmer) will be provided for viewers to wait until the number of people in the house matches the New York State guidelines. Refreshments will be served and raffles for paintings by Anthony Davis, Anne Katz, and Celeste Mauro offer a variety of styles and mediums: oil, watercolor and acrylic/collage paintings will draw you into the excitement of this annual autumn community event.

The artists deeply appreciate Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home, who has been their generous sponsor for 16 years. Explains Ms. Ruddock, “Every single year, the art group uses the donation Fred gives us in a productive way that enhances our show, and, over time, has made it what it is. The artist are grateful indeed!” 

Participating artists include:

Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Rina Betro, Kyle Blumenthal, Sheila Breck, Joyce Bressler, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Paul J. Edelson, Marge Governale, William Graf, Laurence Johnston, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Joanne Liff, John Mansueto, Celeste Mauro, Judith Mausner, Lorraine McCormick, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, David Peikon, Paula Pelletier, Cathy Rezin, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Carole Link Scinta, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Susan Trawick, Marie Lourdes Velez, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

The Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket presents the 41st annual Setauket Artists Exhibition from Oct. 24 to Nov. 14 daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Open Halloween, closed Nov. 6 and 7). Face masks are required. For more information, visit www.setauketartists.com or email [email protected] 

 

'Feeling Blue,' acrylic, by Cheryl Cass-Zampiva Image courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery highlights the talents of 67 of its artist members with its annual Member Artist Showcase exhibit of original fine art for sale from June 19 through July 18. Exhibiting artists hail from 40 communities across Long Island as well as New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina and Florida.

A wide variety of media is represented including acrylic, digital art, ink etching, mixed media, oil, pastel, photography, plaster & found objects, silk dyes on silk, solar plate etching, torn paper collage, and watercolor.

‘Christmas Cactus’
Photograph
By Kathee Shaff Kelson, Stony Brook
Image courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

“The Member Artist Showcase is an important show to me. We have such an abundance of talent in our membership,” said Allison Cruz, Executive Director of the Mills Pond Gallery. “I love to give artists the opportunity to choose a piece of their work to exhibit. I know artists are usually under many constraints of Juried Exhibits due to requirements of style or medium or size. It is great to give them an opportunity to show something that maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to exhibit due to those constraints or maybe something they have created using a new medium or style. I am always excited to see what they enter!”  

This year’s juror is freelance art consultant and curator Pam J. Brown, the Director and Curator of The Anthony Giordano Gallery at Dowling College for 16 years. Brown will choose four winning artists to participate in a future Winners Exhibit at the gallery.

Participating artists include Marsha Abrams, Lucia Alberti, Tina Anthony, Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Renee Blank, Kyle Blumenthal, Joyce Bressler, Alberto Jorge Carol, Cheryl Cass-Zampiva, Linda Ann Catucci, Carol Ceraso, Rocco Citeno, Donna Corvi, Teresa Cromwell, Tania Degen, Julie Doczi, Beth Drucker, JoAnne Dumas, Karin Dutra, Paul Edelson, Ellen Ferrigno, Donna Gabusi, Vivian Gattuso, Maureen Ginipro, Jan Guarino, Margaret Henning, David Herman, David Jaycox, Jr., Modern Fossils: Judith Marchand & David P. Horowitz, James Kelson, Kathee Shaff Kelson, Myungja Anna Koh, Susan Kozodoy Silkowitz, Ann Legere, Frank Loehr, Terence McManus, Paul Mele, Margaret Minardi, Karen George Mortimore, Annette Napolitano, Diane Oliva, Catherine Rezin, Robin Roberts, Robert Roehrig, Lori Scarlatos, Gia Schifano, Anita G. Schnirman, Joan Schwartzman, Kenneth Schwartzman, Hillary Serota Needle, Faith Skelos, Gisela Skoglund, Mike Stanko, Madeline Stare, John Taylor, Tracy Tekverk, Oxana Uryasev, Nicholas Valentino, Daniel van Benthuysen, Mary Ann Vetter, Pamela Waldroup, Don Weber, M. Ellen Winter, Patty Yantz, and Theodora Zavala.

“This show is about celebrating the talents of our artist members and I feel it does just that,” said Cruz.

The Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James presents its Member Artist Showcase from June 19 to July 18. The public is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, June 19 from noon to 2 p.m. or 2 to 4 p.m. (reservations are required) to meet the exhibiting artists and view their work. Admission to the gallery is always free. 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. The gallery is closed Mondays and  Tuesdays and July 3 and 4. Please call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org for more information.

By Heidi Sutton

As the warmer weather finally arrives on the North Shore, the community is invited to enjoy a spring art exhibit by the Setauket Artists at the historic Deepwells Mansion in St. James. The show opens this Sunday, May 16 with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. 

“The Setauket Artists are thrilled to be invited back to Deepwells,” said the group’s president Irene Ruddock. “We are looking forward to taking a deep and grateful breath for the wonderful opportunity to exhibit our paintings.” 

Participating artists include Ross Barbera, Shain Bard, Ron Becker, Joan Bloom, Kyle Blumenthal, Sheila Breck, Joyce Bressler, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Bart DeCeglie, Julie Doczi, William A. Dodge, Paul J. Edelson, Marge Governale, William Graf, Melissa Imossi, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Joanne Liff, John Mansueto, Celeste Mauro, Judith Mausner, Lorraine McCormick, Jane McGraw Teubner, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Paula Pelletier, Russell Pulick, Jessica Randall, Cathy Rezin, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Oscar Santiago, Carole Link Scinta, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Susan Trawick, Marie Lourdes Velez, Marlene Weinstein, Ellen Winter and Patricia Yantz. 

According to Ms. Ruddock, the art group has planned several special events in conjunction with the exhibit.

“This year, we have some private artist studios upstairs which is exciting! Artists such as Al Candia, Fred Mendelsohn, and Rob Roehrig are exhibiting additional paintings as well as joining us in the show,” she said. 

In addition there will be a gift shop featuring pottery by Russell Pulick and jewelry by Jessica Randall and Ross Barbera. Smaller works, cards, and books written by the artists will also be available and three paintings will be raffled off.

“We welcome the public to the opening reception on Sunday, May 16 to enjoy some light refreshments, view the paintings, meet the artists and to stroll the beautiful grounds of Deepwells Mansion,” added Ms. Ruddock.

The Setauket Artists’ Spring Art Exhibit will be held at Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James from May 16 to June 6. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. Visit www.setauketartists.com for additional exhibit events. COVID restrictions apply. For more information, call 631-365-1312 or email [email protected]

'Love Spark' by Ron Becker

By Heidi Sutton

It’s time to celebrate the best of the best. This Saturday, the Smithtown Township Arts Council opens its annual Winner’s Fine Art Showcase at the Mills Pond Gallery in St. James. The show will highlight the talents of seven artists who were prize winners in the gallery’s 2019 and 2020 juried exhibitions. 

It is a show that Allison Cruz, Executive Director of the Mills Pond Gallery, looks forward to every year. 

“I always love the Winners Showcase! It gives us an opportunity to enjoy a larger body of work from these talented prize winning artists,” she said.

‘For My Mother’ by Caryn Coville

“For the artists, it is an excellent opportunity to share work with gallery visitors that they either haven’t shown or maybe was not selected in recent juried exhibitions. For me, this is an opportunity to find out more about the artists … maybe find out that they work in different mediums or styles other than those exhibited in our shows. It is always an adventure!”

This year’s Winners Showcase features artists from Long Island as well as Idaho, Buffalo, Maine and New York City. 

“The out of town artists will show only a few works in this show … we could not expect them to pack and ship many pieces to the gallery,” explained Cruz. “We are grateful for their participation and the opportunity to see what artists across the country are creating! The public can explore a larger body of their work on our website.”

Participating artists and the juried exhibits they were in are: Ron Becker (Deer Park) “Celebrating Creativity”; Caryn Coville (Greenvale) “Hand Drawn”; Lupe Galván (Idaho) “Hand Drawn”; Yuke Li (New York) “Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves”; Joseph A. Miller (Buffalo) “Contemporary Realism”; Holden Willard (Maine) “Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves”; and Patty Yantz (Setauket)  “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Cruz invites the public to come see this amazing exhibit. “There is nothing like standing in front of these original works of art … seeing the brushstrokes … and feeling the passions and the messages in their pieces. Enjoy the exhibit and experience Art’s capacity to bring joy and hope in challenging times.”

Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James presents the Winners Fine Art Showcase from May 8 to June 6. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Social distancing and the use of masks is required and limited numbers of visitors (25) are allowed in the gallery at one time (5 per gallery room). Admission to the gallery is always free. 

For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org.

Images courtesy of Mills Pond Gallery

By Irene Ruddock

Ron Becker

Ron Becker’s talent as a muralist was expressed at any early age where he designed and painted murals at his elementary, junior, and high school. Later, after he received a degree in art from Niagara County Community College (NCCC), he went on to be an art display director. His life took a dramatic turn when he successfully pursued a professional career in entertainment: modeling, acting, singing and dancing in summer stock, television and nightclubs.

Ron eventually began a 27-year career as Director of Therapeutic Recreation in hospitals and nursing homes, where he combined all of his skills in the arts. Today, he is immersed in the fine art world exhibiting leadership skills that have led him to become a former president of the Deer Park Arts Council, while currently serving on the Community Advisory Board of Suffolk County for the Arts, as well as board member on the Babylon Citizens Council of the Arts. Being a lover of the outdoors all his life, he started painting landscapes and nature scenes in oil and acrylic and, today, devotes much of his time to exhibiting in art shows and galleries on Long Island.

How did your art career evolve when you were young? 

Raised in western New York, my talent was supported and nurtured by my parents and teachers. I was asked by my fourth and eighth grade teachers to make murals using pastels, and stayed after school to work on them. I attended a summer art camp in Niagara Falls in ninth grade and as a senior in high school I attended a summer camp for artists near Watertown, New York. These opportunities helped expand my confidence and artistic talent. Finally, I attended NCCC and received my Associate’s degree with a major in art, helping to solidify techniques in drawing and painting. 

Your career as a muralist has spanned your entire life. What project was most rewarding? 

Overseeing murals in Deer Park allowed me to work with the Long Island Railroad, Deer Park Community Association and eight other artists, to complete twelve large mural boards under the Long Island Railroad  train trestle. It was very rewarding to help give artists a voice and give something lasting to the community. Painting murals in primary and elementary schools through the Eastern BOCES services gave me the opportunity to work with young artists and show them how a mural is done, start to finish. Their joy and ongoing interest was infectious. Painting murals in hospitals was a gift as well, seeing the therapeutic outcomes for the patients.

Are you working on anything right now?

I was recently involved with Splashes of Hope, an organization dedicated to creating art to transform spaces by painting murals in health care facilities, comforting patients during their healing process. I was asked to paint a ceiling tile of the Coindre Hall Boathouse, next to the home and art studio for Splashes of Hope, located on the grounds of West Neck Farm in Huntington. The finished tile will be installed in the ceiling above a bed on one of the units in Huntington Hospital. I encourage artists who want to paint, with a humanitarian purpose, to contact Splashes of Hope at www.splashesofhope.org.

I have learned that you work extensively for charities that supports the arts. Can you tell me about that?  

I became president of the Deer Park Arts Council, a non-profit charity that advocates for and supports the visual and performing arts in the Deer Park School District. I worked with the board to spearhead a variety of fundraising events to offer summer workshops and programs for students to expand their training in the arts, as well as offering financial scholarships to outgoing seniors.

Ron Becker with ‘Joyous Abandon’

What is your most recent charitable  contribution?  

Since I spent twenty-seven years as Director of Therapeutic Recreation at nursing homes and hospital, I fully understand the therapeutic value art has for the disabled or sick. Therefore, when I was asked to donate a painting for Mather Hospital’s newly renovated oncology wing, I chose a painting of wild horses galloping on the shore titled Joyous Abandon.  

Tell me about your years as Director of Therapeutic Recreation at nursing homes and hospitals. 

While Director of Recreation at two city hospitals, outside of my managerial duties, I taught the residents drawing and painting. I was amazed at their progress, joy, and commitment, which inspired me to curate exhibits and work with galleries to exhibit the resident’s work. The facilities also had auditoriums with stages, so I would create backdrops and environments for concerts and special events.

How did you become interested in the impact of art as a tool of social change? 

While on a retreat at Chapel House, I got a vision of doing an exhibit on social justice issues after listening to the song “God Weeps.” The first topic I selected was unjust incarceration. After completing my first three pieces, I was introduced to Bartholomew Crawford, a writer who is presently incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, and reached out to collaborate.

How did the two of you proceed? 

After sharing the exhibit’s intent, Mr. Crawford agreed to send me four written pieces about his prison experience. I integrated them into a collection of visual and narrative pieces to help tell the experience of life behind bars. Four years of working on this has resulted in an exhibit entitled “My Block.” The exhibition will be housed in the jail of Babylon Old Town Hall, which was in service from 1918 to 1958, and is on the National Historical Register. The show will be rescheduled later this year when guidelines are relaxed and allow for public exhibits.

Can you explain what iconography is and what drew you to work in this genre?  

Iconography is the practice of creating icons in the ancient method used by monks centuries ago. Its main mediums are egg tempera and gold leaf on a board covered with linen and a plaster/gesso mix. I wanted to integrate my faith and spirituality into my art on some level and met Janine Manheim, an iconographer, at a local art gallery. She had an icon on display that intrigued me, so since that initial meeting, I have been attending her classes.

Could you explain a bit more about the process of egg tempera as a painting medium? 

Egg tempera is a recipe of egg yolk and water mixed with mineral pigment color. It creates a translucent look that I strive to create as shown in my icon, Mother of Tenderness. 

Why did you decide to devote your time to fine art creating landscapes in oil and acrylic? 

I love to interpret the beauty all around us, hoping to motivate others to slow down and see and feel what I experience in nature. Painting is relaxing and allows me to express my inner self, visually. A year before retiring, I turned half my garage into a studio, experimenting with different techniques in both oil and acrylic to help find my voice. Taking photographs while on trips or here on Long Island, I began to interpret what visually excited me. Once I felt confident in sharing some of my work with the public, I began to show my work in outdoor art fairs and in member shows on Long Island. 

What has been your best experience so far?  

I had a one- man show, “An Artist’s Nature,” at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in 2019, allowing me to exhibit 43 pieces I had created over the last several years. It was an amazing experience to see all of my work in one space, that could really present my artistic style. I also exhibited at the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association, an ethnically diverse group of artists dedicated to enhancing cultural developments through the arts. Due to the success of these shows, I have ventured into exhibiting at several galleries on the Island.  I now sell my work through my website www.rbeckerart.com.