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Sherwood-Jayne Farm

Embark on a journey with our reporter to Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket, capturing the intensity of protesters rallying against Preservation Long Island’s plan to remove its farm animals. Then, delve into municipal land-use policy as we dissect the Brookhaven Town Board’s consideration of a zone change for the Jefferson Plaza shopping center in Port Jefferson Station.

But that’s not all — dive into the excitement of Ward Melville and Earl L. Vandermeulen high schools’ postseason volleyball runs with our sportswriter. Then, join us in reflecting on the crucial role of local election inspectors and the urgent need for more volunteers to uphold our democratic process.

Caretaker informed minutes before animals due to be taken away

Locals confront Preservation Long Island on Wednesday, Nov. 8, during the nonprofit’s attempted removal of the animals at Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

Local residents rallied outside Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket Wednesday, Nov. 8, when representatives from Preservation Long Island — the nonprofit that owns the farm and its animals — made an unexpected attempt to remove the elderly pony and four sheep that live there.

The impromptu protest was confrontational and tense, with caretaker Susanna Gatz visibly distressed, and PLI executive director Alexandra Wolfe expressing frustration. Suffolk County police officers who cleared the 20 or so people out of the pasture area as requested by Wolfe also worked to maintain a calm atmosphere where possible.

In the end, the sheep and pony were spooked amid the tension, so the Save-A-Pet representative engaged to move the animals wouldn’t do so while they were agitated, and left the scene.

PLI has long planned to rehome its animals, but paused for review in August after significant community outcry. Gatz has lived on the property and cared for the sheep and pony for more than eight years. She and other local residents have been hoping the sheep and pony could live out the rest of their lives there.

On Nov. 8, Wolfe told Gatz the animals would leave just minutes before a Save-A-Pet van arrived to transport them.

Gatz said she felt blindsided. “To show up here today with a 15-minute notice to start moving the animals is not fair.”

Suffolk County Legislator-elect Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) attempted to help mediate and said he had a productive start to a conversation with Wolfe. He explained that the animals are an important educational and cultural resource for the community, but that he also understands PLI is essentially a collection of small museums and not in the business of caring for live creatures.

“She’s unhappy because the ownership that they have of these animals is not part of their mission,” he said, but added, “There has to be a solution other than removing the animals.”

Englebright said Wolfe expressed willingness for the idea of a separate organization owning and taking charge of animals on the property — though as police cleared people out of the pasture area and the protest grew heated with sobs, yelling and even a bit of shoving, Wolfe told the crowd she did not want the current animals to be part of any discussion.

Gatz’s sister, Sharon Philbrick, pulled three of her children out of school so they could come say goodbye to the animals, but police were no longer allowing people to go near the barn by the time they arrived. The kids were crying, and one ran past police officers to get close. “They’ve been around these animals their whole lives.” Philbrick said, adding that they’d held the sheep when they were little lambs. “The animals know them.”

PLI explained in a fact sheet provided to TBR News Media that the sheep are slated to get a private enclosure at Berkshire Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit farm in Massachusetts that rescues and rehabilitates “abused and neglected companion and farm animals,” according to its website.

Snowball, the old white pony, PLI’s fact sheet indicated, would move to a private farm “a short distance away from the Sherwood-Jayne Farm,” and would have access to another elderly pony and 24-hour veterinary care. 

PLI provided a statement Thursday suggesting it still planned to move the animals, without indicating when.

“Regrettably, the emotions of our property custodian and some protesters disrupted the attempt to gently move the animals yesterday, and that effort had to be paused. We continue to believe that Berkshire Farm Sanctuary will provide the humane and caring environment we seek for the grazing animals,” the statement read.

Compliance issues for Sherwood-Jayne

In an additional layer of complication for PLI, a Sept. 8 letter from the county procured by TBR News Media informed them the property is out of compliance with the Farmland Preservation Development Rights Program. Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven purchased development rights to the 10.6-acre farm parcel in 2003, requiring Sherwood-Jayne to maintain a working commercial farm. The county also owns the 36 acres directly north of the property.

A county statute about the program stipulates “no owner shall leave agricultural land uncultivated and not engage in agricultural production … for more than two consecutive years.”

The letter also informed PLI it needs to apply for special-use permits to host events like the recent Baseball on the Farm, and the nonprofit also needs to discontinue the practice of allowing nearby schools and camps to use the field for overflow parking.

According to PLI’s fact sheet, the organization met with Mikael Kerr, the county’s farmland and open space supervisor, Sept. 30 to talk through options of bringing the property into compliance with the program.

PLI has not provided details about those options, but it will need to create a plan to put forward for approval by the county’s farmland committee.

Though there was no indication the current animals staying at the farm would hinder that process, the effort to move the animals last Wednesday made clear the organization is so far not interested in rethinking the decision.

“We have made arrangements to rehome our animals to a private sanctuary, where they will peacefully live out the rest of their days in a beautiful, park-like environment,” PLI said in a statement.

But some area residents think the animals should stay. One protester, Judy Wilson, who has helped feed the animals during times Gatz needed coverage, twisted a lock of the pony’s coarse white tail she found in the grass as she watched the situation unfold.

“What has happened today is atrocious,” she said. “The animals don’t need rescuing.”

Herb Mones, land use chair of the Three Village Civic Association, also came to the farm to show support. He took issue with the way the nonprofit handled a delicate situation, because the last the community heard, the plan to move the animals was on pause.

“We are quite shocked that something like this would happen by any organization that depends upon Long Island communities’ support,” said Mones, who is also president of the Three Village Community Trust, another organization that acquires and preserves local properties of historical importance. “These are really actions that go beyond anything that’s reasonable. It just amazes me.”

Gatz said she was touched that so many neighbors and friends stopped by — some who noticed the commotion while driving by and others who got calls to support the effort to keep the animals at the farm.

“People love this place, and they care about these animals,” she said. “I want them to stay here. This is their home, and I don’t know why [PLI] doesn’t understand that.”

Gavin Marlborough practices his swing with a solid wood bat. Photo by Mallie Kim

By Mallie Jane Kim

Fans of America’s “old ball game” watched a historical treat in Setauket Saturday, Sept. 16, when the New York Mutuals faced off against the Brooklyn Atlantics on the back field of Sherwood-Jayne Farm using 19th century-era baseball rules.

The two hobby teams from all over Long Island and beyond, hosted at Sherwood-Jayne by Preservation Long Island and The Long Island Museum, represented real baseball teams from the 1800s and played using replica uniforms and equipment. That means swinging heavy wooden bats and catching baseballs with no gloves.

The event was part of Preservation Long Island’s efforts to connect with the community and allow neighbors to engage with one of their historical properties, alongside their local partner organization, The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.

Two historical baseball teams face off in the upper field of Sherwood-Jayne Farm.
Photo by Mallie Kim

Elizabeth Abrams, PLI’s assistant director for operations and programs, said the event was a success. “We got a lot of folks who’ve never been here before,” she said. “It is great that we’re exposing our organizations to new people.”

Abrams said it was important to PLI, which is a small nonprofit based in Cold Spring Harbor, to make the event open to as many people as possible, and their partnership with LIM as well as some in-kind donations allowed them to offer the event free of charge.

“When we have the ability to put on a larger event, we want to make it as open and accessible as possible for the community that we’re in,” she added.

Among the approximately 240 guests at the event, John and Rebecca Wygand of Shoreham brought their four children to enjoy the game. “A little history for the kids,” Rebecca said, adding, “We’re baseball fans, you know.”

The Wygands said they were supporting both teams, impressed that the players were working so hard and without gloves — jamming fingers is an occupational hazard — and in the case of one player, without shoes.

But Rebecca Wygand balked when her husband suggested they also support both present-day New York teams, the Mets and the Yankees. “No, just Yankees,” she said. “You can keep the Mets for yourself. No thank you.”

The Wygand family enjoys the baseball game at Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Saturday, Sept. 16. Photo by Mallie Kim

In the end, a tie between the Mutuals and Atlantics pushed the game into the 10th inning, with the Atlantics taking the win, 12-11.

At a display with historical baseball artifacts near the field, visitors could hold old baseballs and try out a real wooden bat. Gavin Marlborough, 7, a Nassakeag Elementary School student who plays on the Three Village intramural baseball league, enjoyed watching the game.

“I like to watch old-fashioned baseball,” he said, noting the jerseys were very different from those used today — they look like white bibs buttoned on to white shirts.

For his own future, though, Gavin said he prefers modern baseball. The wooden bat, he said, is “too heavy.”

On the main lawn next to the house, live music provided a backdrop for visitors enjoying food, drinks, tavern-style iron puzzles and a bounce house for children.

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm House is currently open on Saturdays for docent-led tours, and the grounds are open year round from dawn until dusk for “hikers, joggers, bird-watchers and nature lovers,” according to the PLI website.

Photo from LIM

It’s time to play ball! Preservation Long Island and the Long Island Museum have teamed up to host Baseball on the Farm featuring an authentic 19th-century ballgame with the New York Mutual Base Ball Club against the Atlantics.  With live music, games, prizes, food and more, this one-day special event will take place on the grounds of historic Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road in East Setauket on Saturday, Sept. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. Rain date is Sept, 17.

Baseball on the Farm is a FREE community event for the whole family featuring an authentic 19th-century ballgame pitting the New York Mutuals Base Ball Club against the Atlantics Base Ball Club, games and craft activities, prizes including Long Island Ducks signed baseball and 4-pack of tickets for 2024, bounce house, live music by The Other Two and food and beverages (available for purchase) from Exotic Bowls, Maui Chop House and Root + Branch Brewing.

Advance registration is recommended. For more information and to reserve tickets visit: https://preservationlongisland.org/baseball-on-the-farm/

This special day of vintage baseball at Preservation Long Island’s Sherwood-Jayne Farm in Setauket is a collaboration inspired by two exhibitions currently on view at The Long Island Museum in nearby Stony Brook:

Picturing America’s Pastime (May 18-October 15, 2023): Since the 19th century, baseball and photography have grown up together.  This exhibition of 51 historic photographs has been developed by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museums, the world’s premiere repository of baseball photographs.

Home Fields: Baseball Stadiums of Long Island and New York City (May 18-October 15, 2023): This exhibition features exciting objects from several private collectors of historic baseball memorabilia.  Many original items from Ebbetts Field (the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers) Polo Stadium, and Yankee Stadium are on view.

Photo by Raymond Janis
Members of the North Country Peace Group advocate against nuclear proliferation on Saturday, Aug. 5. Photo courtesy Myrna Gordon

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The North Country Peace Group observed the 78th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at our weekly vigil in Setauket on Saturday, Aug. 5. 

This is a time for our community to gather in mourning, remembrance and in solidarity with all people affected by the destructive power of nuclear weapons at every level of their development, testing and use. It is also a time for us to amplify the call that nuclear weapons must never be used.

Myrna Gordon

North Country Peace Group

Fare hikes don’t help Port Jeff LIRR riders

Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] and MTA Chairman Janno Lieber’s boosting of the new MTA One Metro New York fare collection system does little for Port Jefferson Branch riders on the Long Island Rail Road. 

In 2017, the MTA awarded a $573 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to replace the Metro Card. OMNY was originally promised to be completed between 2019 and 2023. 

The cost of OMNY has grown to $645 million. The project is currently $130 million over budget. The MTA has never made public any detailed recovery schedule from the contractor. Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will not reach substantial completion until late 2025.

In 2022, the MTA lost over $600 million to fare evasion. There is no indication in 2023 that this financial loss will be significantly reduced. Neither Hochul nor Lieber is able to explain how OMNY will end routine fare evasion as it continues to flourish today.

Another critical failure that Hochul, Lieber or their predecessors never acknowledge, is the inability to come to agreement for integration of OMNY with NJ Transit, Port Authority Trans Hudson subway and NYC Economic Development Corporation Private Ferry fare collection systems.

Larry Penner

Great Nec

Sherwood-Jayne Farm animals represent our local history

The recent upheaval at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket has primarily been focused on the current animals and myself, but it should really be about preserving our local history. 

History isn’t something that just is, it is something that was and then becomes. The organization, Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, was founded in 1948 by many people, including Mr. Howard Sherwood. He did this to bequeath his property, the Jayne Farm, to it. 

Sherwood’s vision was to preserve a bucolic farm setting and educate the community about its history. He started a flock of sheep in 1933 and had blankets woven from their wool. 

Preservation Long Island, formerly known as SPLIA, has since kept a flock as a tribute to him. Current PLI executive director, Alexandra Wolfe, was quoted in the July 27 TBR article written by Mallie Jane Kim as saying, “The animals serve as a visual respite for people on the road, but they don’t really connect the property to what we do.” 

Historically, livestock were an integral part of life. Horses and cattle were used for plowing, poultry for eggs and meat, everyone had a family cow and sheep were kept for their wool. Our ancestors didn’t hop on their phones to order a new shirt and have it show up in two days on their doorstep. 

The sheep were shorn, the wool washed, carded, spun, woven into fabric and sewn into clothes. So how does getting rid of the resident sheep help to connect the property better to history? It doesn’t. What it does is take away from it. 

A visual respite is what people love about this farm. The animals draw their attention. So let them be drawn in, and then educate them about what life was like. Let’s build the flock back to what it was and really teach about the “sheep-to-shawl” process. 

People love farms because they show a different way of life. This farm was preserved for the community. Let’s teach the community about the place they live in and what makes it so special. Let’s allow the locals to learn the old ways of life. Let’s bring life back to the farm instead of taking it away. 

What we do in the days, weeks, months and years ahead will impact our children’s children. Please help preserve our local history. The current animals and I will thank you and all the ones to come will as well.

Susanna B. Gatz

Caretaker, Sherwood-Jayne Farm

East Setauket


The animals will stay at the farm – for now

File photo by Nancy Trump

Grazing animals on the Sherwood-Jayne historic farm in East Setauket will keep their home — for now.

After area residents protested plans to rehome the elderly pony and four sheep, mourning the slated loss of the bucolic, historical scene on Old Post Road, Preservation Long Island is pausing the process pending consultation with local stakeholders. 

PLI, a nonprofit that preserves historic buildings and uses them to inform and engage the public, owns the Sherwood-Jayne property and had decided the animals were not central to their mission, especially since they also brought possible increased liability. The society’s executive director, Alexandra Wolfe, was hoping to find appropriate new homes for the animals this summer. 

After news of the plans spread, frequent farm visitor Kaleigh Wilson of Rocky Point started an online petition. Wilson, who used to work at neighboring Benner’s Farm, has been visiting Sherwood-Jayne Farm as long as she can remember and knows the property’s caretaker Susanna Gatz well. 

“We didn’t really know what to do about it or how to push back,” Wilson said. So she tried the petition. “I was hoping to create the space for community members to speak up.”

She created the Change.org petition on a Friday night and sent it out by text to people she knew cared about the farm, she said, and by Saturday morning there were already 500 signatures. By press time, the petition had nearly 2,400 supporters.

Wilson said she hopes PLI will ultimately decide to change course, as she doesn’t understand how removing the animals and Gatz could enhance the preservation of the space. “Susanna’s living this legacy in this space that it was meant to be lived,” the petitioner said, pointing out that Gatz, who cares for the animals and the property, processes raw wool from the sheep into fabric — according to the virtual tour of Sherwood-Jayne available on PLI’s website, Howard Sherwood also used wool from the property’s sheep to have blankets made. “It’s not just the animals — it’s her practicing a slower way of life that’s so important that we keep alive.”

Gatz had previously been asked to move by early fall, but Wolfe at PLI said they haven’t made any decisions regarding the property’s custodian just yet.

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) also stepped in, speaking directly with Wolfe to encourage PLI to seek out a local advisory board. [See op-ed.]

Kornreich is grateful PLI has decided to hit pause. “I think it shows responsive stewardship that they are listening and responding to community concern,” he said.

The intensity of response surprised PLI, which is involved in some local history-related events, like Culper Spy Day with the Three Village Historical Society, and which has had partnerships with The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and Gallery North in East Setauket. Wolfe at PLI said the organization hopes to consult its local partners before deciding how to move forward.

File photo from the Town of Brookhaven website
By Jonathan Kornreich 

Over the years, residents of Long Island have unfortunately become accustomed to the sight of our farms, meadows and forests being paved over and replaced by housing developments with ironic names that refer back to what was lost.

On the other hand, we are fortunate to have numerous historical societies, land trusts and other civic organizations, as well as public ownership of historically and environmentally significant parcels, serving as a counterbalance in the struggle to protect our way of life and to preserve the special places that make our community such a desirable place to live. These local organizations are part of the fabric of our community. Their board members, directors, staff and volunteers are our friends and neighbors — local residents who understand our past and are invested in our future.

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Old Post Road in East Setauket is a jewel of the community. Built around 1730, the site was an operational farm for more than 150 years. For many residents, a drive down Old Post Road meant a view of the bucolic farm setting which includes historic structures, fields, meadows, pasture and of course, a peaceful flock of sheep and an old pony named Snowball. Even if it was only a momentary glimpse of the animals in passing, generations of residents have been reminded that elements of our agrarian past still survive, and not just in names like Sheep Pasture Road or Sherwood-Jayne Farm.

Sherwood-Jayne is owned by an organization called Preservation Long Island. It owns four historic properties: two in Huntington, one in Sag Harbor and the one in East Setauket. According to their website, their mission is to “celebrate and preserve Long Island’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage through advocacy, education and stewardship of historic sites and collections.” This is a vital function, and one which is best done in partnership and consultation with the local community.

Recently, the community became aware of a proposal by PLI to discontinue the residency of the animals at Sherwood-Jayne. Coming from an organization dedicated to the preservation of our cultural heritage, this proposal was difficult for many people to accept, and the negative public reaction has been understandable.

After consulting with a number of highly involved residents about the matter, we agreed that PLI should consider recruiting an advisory board of local residents to help explore ways to build bridges between their organization and our community. This would go a long way to addressing the perception that PLI is not really a local organization, and dispel some of the mystery about their intentions, which I believe are good and worth supporting. 

In a frank conversation with PLI’s executive director, Alexandra Wolfe, I communicated these concerns and feedback on behalf of the community. She indicated that PLI would put a pause on any action related to the animals while they reevaluate their plans and work on developing a sustainable course of action that prioritizes the well-being of the animals while being sensitive to the cultural context of the property.

I am grateful to Preservation Long Island for their responsiveness to the concerns of our residents. More than that, I am thankful to them for their excellent stewardship of our cultural heritage. I look forward to seeing them expand their presence in our community and continue building strong working relationships with our existing organizations.


Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) is Town of Brookhaven councilmember for District 1.  

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm House in East Setauket where animals currently graze in the roadside fields. Photo by Mallie Kim

By Mallie Jane Kim

East Setauket’s historic Sherwood-Jayne Farm will bid farewell to its grazing animals this summer as nonprofit Preservation Long Island seeks to focus its programming to align closer with its mission.

“The animals serve as a visual respite for people on the road, but they don’t really connect the property to what we do,” said Alexandra Wolfe, executive director of PLI, an organization that works to preserve the cultural heritage of the region by preserving historic buildings and using them to engage and inform the public. “We have to think about how we use the Sherwood-Jayne property in ways that are more education-based and talk about history in ways that are more focused on Setauket and Long Island.”

Snowball the horse and four sheep currently live on the grounds of the Sherwood-Jayne Farm. Photo by Nancy Trump

Going forward, Wolfe said, the organization wants to engage the community with history — more than just maintaining small museums or a beautiful farm tableau. “We want to think about interpretation as a very interactive experience,” she said. “Try not to just tell the public about history, but get them to interact with the property.”

But the property’s caretaker and some community members are upset about the change. 

“What they’re doing is ruthless and insensitive,” said caretaker Susanna Gatz, a doula who coaches and supports women through childbirth, and who has lived in the farm’s carriage house apartment for eight years, managing the property and the animals. 

Gatz said she is sad both to say goodbye to the animals and to lose her home. PLI hopes to install an employee in the carriage house, according to Wolfe, someone who can represent the society and the house’s history while keeping an eye on the property.

The farm hosts an aging white pony Snowball — some 40 years old — and four sheep in the fields on Old Post Road next to the 18th century farmhouse, all managed by Gatz, whose goats and chickens also live on the property.

The current flock of sheep was established in 1933 by Howard Sherwood, founder of the organization that later became PLI, according to information in a virtual tour of the property available on the nonprofit’s website. The tour text explains the organization has been maintaining the flock “as a tribute to Sherwood and to preserve the working nature of the farmstead.”

PLI asked Gatz to discontinue the breeding program about three years ago. 

Gatz, who mows, mends fences and liaises with the community, calls the work “heart led” for the amount of time, energy and care she puts into it. Gatz is currently nursing a sheep back to health from injuries it sustained on an unsanctioned romp in the woods, and she looks out for the nearly deaf-and-blind Snowball, giving her the extra care she needs, like approaching upwind so she can smell Gatz is coming.

Snowball may not survive a move, according to Gatz, and the sheep were born on the farm. “My wish would be for the animals to live out their lives in the place they know best,” she said.

Longtime neighbor of the farm, Nancy Trump, believes getting rid of the animals is a loss to the community. “It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “They represent a part of society that’s just dwindling away.”

Trump passes the farm at least twice a day, and she brings her grandchildren to greet the animals and take pictures of them as the seasons change. “I don’t know how you have a farm without the animals,” she said.

Gatz agreed. People stop by often to watch the animals graze, she said. A bus full of children passes by daily during the school year, honking while the children wave out the window. “I could set my watch to it,” Gatz said. “It was really cute.”

Other passersby have expressed concern about the animals, in particular the ancient — in pony years — Snowball, who has lost most of her teeth, causing her to drool and her tongue to loll out. According to Wolfe, PLI hears from citizens upset about the pony’s condition. 

“It’s not that she’s sick or neglected,” Wolfe said, noting that Gatz takes excellent care of the pony. “Things like that become problematic. People who don’t understand call, and you have to explain.”

Wolfe added that the animals bring in extra liability, as well, especially with people who may not stay on the outside of the fence.

She said she hopes to finalize the animals’ new homes by the end of the month, and she is dedicated to finding good placements for Snowball and the sheep. “I want to make sure they are cared for,” she said, adding that she’s careful to vet good Samaritans who aren’t prepared for the undertaking of farm animals. “I want to make sure that whatever life they have left, there is quality of life.”

The Sherwood-Jayne House is open for public visits on Saturdays this summer, and the grounds, including nature trails around the property, are open to visitors year round from dawn until dusk.


Save the date! Join Preservation Long Island and the Long Island Museum for an Artoberfest, an afternoon of food, beer, music by Buddy Merriam & Backroads, arts and crafts, and games at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road, East Setauket on Saturday, Oct. 22 from noon to 5 p.m. The event is a celebration of the art of Edward Lange (1846-1912), whose works are currently on view at the Long Island Museum through Dec. 18.  Rain date is Oct. 23. Tickets are $20/over 21, $10/under 21, free for ages 5 and under. To order tickets, visit www.preservationlongisland.org. For more information, call 631-692-4664.

This year's Wet Paint Festival will be held at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket. Photo courtesy of Preservation Long Island

By Melissa Arnold

Since 2004, Gallery North’s annual Wet Paint Festival has invited artists from far and wide to revel in nature’s beauty. For a week or a weekend, artists enjoy each other’s company and a healthy dose of plein air painting — the tricky, constantly changing art of working outdoors.

This year’s festival, scheduled for June 4 and 5, will be held at the historic and picturesque Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Old Post Road in East Setauket and seeks to build upon past events where visitors can watch the artists work and ask questions about their creative process. There will also be the opportunity to tour the Sherwood-Jayne House, go bird watching, enjoy live music and more.

An artist paints plein air at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm. Photo from Preservation Long Island

“The landscape of the show has changed in a variety of ways over the years, not just in location but in the way it’s structured,” said Ned Puchner, executive director of Gallery North. “During the pandemic, people could paint remotely for a two-week period. Last year, we had a few different locations to choose from. This year, we’re returning to the traditional style of having a specific site where everyone will come together and paint for a weekend, with some additional activities for the public to enjoy.”

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm was originally slated to host the Wet Paint Festival in 2020, and planning for the event was nearly complete when the pandemic shut things down.  

“Gallery North reached out to us a few years ago looking to change up the festival from the way it was done in the past,” said Elizabeth Abrams, Assistant Director of Operations and Programs for Preservation Long Island, which cares for the property. “We used to team up with the gallery for an apple festival, and considering we are just down the street from each other, it was natural for us to work together again.”

Preservation Long Island is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting Long Island’s history and culture. Founded in 1948, their focus is on education, advocacy, and the stewardship of historic buildings and artifacts.

Abrams explained that the Sherwood-Jayne House was built in 1730 as an early colonial, lean-to salt box dwelling. The house and surrounding farmland were cared for by the Jayne family for more than 150 years. In 1908, it was acquired by the founder of Preservation Long Island, Howard Sherwood, who lived in the home and displayed a variety of antiques there.

Throughout the weekend, the Sherwood-Jayne House will be open for tours with Preservation Long Island curator Lauren Brincat. Keep an eye out for the Tallmadge wall panels, and the incredibly beautiful wall mural in the parlor that’s meant to look like wallpaper — they are very rare to see, especially on Long Island, Abrams added.

“The house contains a large portion of Howard Sherwood’s personal antique collection and other bits of history from colonial Long Island. This area had a foundational role in American history — exploring the house and its collections are a unique way to learn more about that important time period,” she said.

There will be plenty of outdoor inspiration for the artists at the festival as well. The property is also home to a variety of outbuildings and trails, gorgeous old-growth walnut trees, an apple orchard, and all kinds of wildlife. 

The Four Harbors Audubon Society will lead tours exploring the wildlife and ecology of the area, with a particular focus on local birds. If the barn is open, you might be lucky enough to meet some goats, a few sheep, or an old, sweet white horse named Snowball.

Visitors are free to wander the grounds at their leisure, watch the artists work or ask questions, Puchner said. For those who are feeling shy or not sure what to ask, an artist will offer a guided tour and lead discussions once each day.

“The whole objective of the Wet Paint Festival is to help people understand what goes into the process of creating a painting, and to meet local artists. It’s a great way for someone who has no artistic experience to learn how it all works,” Puchner said.

Nancy Bueti-Randall, pictured in her studio, will join over 40 other artists at this year’s Gallery North Wet Paint Festival.
Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

Over 40 artists will be participating this weekend including Nancy Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook who began to paint outdoors as a way to recharge while raising her three children. She’s spent more than 20 years creating and showing her work, which runs the gamut from pictorial to abstract, figures and landscapes. Most of the time, though, she’s painting in her garden or other familiar surroundings.

Sometimes, she’ll start a painting with the idea to focus on one thing, but something else in a landscape will catch her eye instead.

“There are a lot of challenges with plein air painting. It’s very fleeting — a landscape is always changing, even from day to day,” Bueti-Randall explained. “You have to be fast and responsive to what’s going on around you. It’s about becoming engaged with the thing you’re painting. I can get overwhelmed by beauty, and I try to capture the essence of what I’m seeing in a process of give and take.”

Marceil Kazickas of Sands Point considers herself an artistic late bloomer. She started drawing and painting to cope with a health crisis, and found that when she was being creative, she wasn’t in pain. Kazickas prefers to work in oil, which she loves for its luscious, sensual properties.

“When you go outside, there’s an overwhelming amount of information to take in — the views are always changing, the clock is running, and you want to get your design done quickly because the light and shadows are constantly evolving,” she explained. 

“I’m not as focused on painting exactly what I see … People can get caught up in producing a finished, frameable piece of art, but for me it’s exciting to be outside and come up with whatever I can in the short time I’m out there, even if it’s nothing. It’s about the painting process.”

Puchner hopes that the variety of activities, including a scavenger hunt for kids and live music from the Keenan Paul Zach Trio and Tom Killourhy, will appeal to all kinds of people.

“These new additions will give the public the opportunity to enjoy nature, the arts and history all in one place, and our artists will have a fun new location to experiment and be creative in,” he said.

The 18th Annual Wet Paint Festival will be held June 4 and 5 at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road, East Setauket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date is June 18 and 19. The event is free and open to the public. 

All participating artists will have their festival work on display in an exhibit at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, from July 7 through Aug 7. A free opening reception will be held at the gallery from on July 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

For more information about the festival or to register to paint, visit www.gallerynorth.org or call 631-751-2676. Learn more about Sherwood-Jayne Farm at www.preservationlongisland.org.