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Tara Mae

The first of eight documentaries will be 'Rather' on Sept. 18 — At the age of 92, iconic journalist Dan Rather reflects on his career that spans seven decades.

By Tara Mae

Whether there is too much or never enough of it, time may either soften memories with nostalgia or sharpen remembrances with accrued insight. Through art and action, the Fall 2023 Port Jefferson Documentary Series (PJDS) highlights the intricacies of this dynamic both onscreen and behind-the-scenes. 

On specific Monday evenings between September 18 and November 13, at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson and John F. Kennedy Middle School, 200 Jayne Blvd., Port Jefferson Station, the award-winning doc series will share eight distinct stories.  

Encompassing reflections on a career well-chronicled; a quickly encroaching catastrophe; a calamitous crisis averted; or, a curious occurrence, screenings will be followed by Q&As with guest speakers. Tom Needham, executive producer and host of “Sounds of Film” on WUSB, will once again serve as moderator. 

“Our setup has not changed either behind-the-scenes or in how we choose the documentaries,” said PJDS co-director Lyn Boland. “We assess production values, whether it is a good story, and if it is available to film festivals instead of streaming — we want it to be new. We also prefer films where the director is available to talk in one sense or another.”

Now in its 38th season, the PJDS, which began in 2005, excavates tangible accomplishments and existential inquiries. In interactive interviews with documentarians, it seeks answers from those who first sought to ask the questions. 

Sponsored by Maggio Environmental and Wellness; Covati & Janhsen, CPAS PC; and Port Jeff Storage,  the season opens with Rather, a film that examines Dan Rather’s ongoing seven decade journalistic career and his continued dedication to making a difference.

We Dare to Dream traverses the triumphs and trials of 29 elite athletes. Deprived of their home countries, they strive for international success while preparing to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as part of the International Olympic Committee’s Refugee Olympic team. (This event will also feature a pre-show concert at Port Jefferson Methodist Church by pianist Jacqueline Schwab.) 

Time Bomb Y2K revisits when, on the verge of a new millennium, the world feared that all of technology was about to have a nervous breakdown on New Year’s Day. 

Between the Rains covers a 4 year period when record low rainfall in Kenya caused a reckoning for children caught in a culture being eroded by climate change.

Israel Swings for Gold traces the trajectory of Israel’s baseball team as it makes it Olympic debut in 2021.

Rolling Along recounts Bill Bradley’s revelatory professional career as informed by his personal ethos: Rhodes Scholar, champion New York Knicks recruit, and noted New Jersey senator.  

Maestra showcases the melodious moments and discordant dilemmas women face as they compete in the world’s only all-female conducting competition. 

Lastly, A Revolution on Canvas investigates the intriguing disappearance of more than 100 “treasonous” paintings by contemporary Iranian artist Nickzad Nodjoumi. 

(For dates and times, please see Film Schedule below.)

Each documentary is selected by one of the “film ladies,” as Lyn Boland, Wendy Feinberg, Barbara Sverd and Honey Katz are known. They present their choices to the PJDS board. Top contenders from those viewings are shared with three esteemed longtime volunteers, Denise Livrieri, Yvonne Lieffrig, and Debbie Bolvadin, who then also vote on the films. 

“It is important to have a wide variety of people choosing films; we know we each have private preferences that we always gravitate towards. If you do not have a wide group, you may leave out some of your audience,” Boland said. “We are lucky that our audience really trusts us. They know that we are invested and looked into the films personally, so we feel the documentaries are special to include.”

According to Boland, once the films are chosen, securing the rights to them and gaining access to the speakers is a game of cat and mouse. So, the hunt is on as soon film festivals announce their lineups. The Series’ cast of characters divides and conquers, attending screenings and identifying potential contenders for PJDS. 

“Once I have focused on a film I would like to present, the fun of the chase begins! Nailing down films, dates, directors or producers, and working out schedule conflicts are issues we have to contend with when programming a series. So, it [helps] when you have a connection to anyone associated with the film,” explained Sverd.  

Such relationships have been forged and nurtured over the years with different producers and directors who have previously shown their work during the Series. Rather and Time Bomb Y2K come from creators who screened earlier films through PJDS. Between the Rains and Rolling Along were acquired through Sverd’s and Feinberg’s respective personal connections. 

“I am looking forward to seeing many of our repeat guests and also the new folks who will be attending the films this season,” said Feinberg.

In addition to making contacts and advancing the films, each member brings their individual skill sets, contributing what best aligns with their interests and industries, including law, event planning, education, and graphic design. Primary and paramount requirement for joining the team — it is looking for new volunteers — is simply being a film buff.  

That passion translates to the audience, which includes familiar faces and new fans.

“In this day and age, with so much available to see and watch, it is just great that people appreciate the kind of experience that we offer,” Boland said.

Individual tickets are $10 (cash only) at the door, a combination ticket for the concert and documentary on is $15, or in advance at www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

A scene from ‘Rather’

◆ The Fall 2023 season kicks off with a screening of Rather at Theatre Three on September 18 at 7 p.m. Guest speakers will be Co-Producer Taylor Wildenhaus and Sarah Baxter, Director of the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. Co-sponsored by the Stony Brook University School of Communications & Journalism and the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. 

‘We Dare to Dream’

We Dare to Dream will be screened at Theatre Three on October 2 at 7:30 p.m. Preceded by a special concert featuring pianist at First United Methodist Church, 603 Main St., Port Jefferson at 6:30 p.m. Guest speaker via Zoom will be Director Waad Al-Kateab. Sponsored by Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

‘Time Bomb Y2K’

◆ Next up is Time Bomb Y2K at Theatre Three on October 9 at 7 p.m. Guest speakers will be Co-Directors Brian Becker and/or Marley McDonald.

‘Between the Rains’

Between the Rains will be screened at JFK Middle School on October 16 at 7 p.m. Guest speakers will be co-director Andrew H. Brown via Zoom and Dr. Dino Martins, CEO of the Turkana Basin Institute. Co-sponsored by the Turkana Basin Institute of Kenya and its affiliate, Stony Brook University.

‘Israel Swings for Gold’

◆ The season continues with Israel Swings for Gold at JFK Middle School on October 23 at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be Co-Director Jeremy Newberger. Co-sponsored by North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station and Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.

‘Rolling Along’

◆ A special screening of Rolling Along will be held at JFK Middle School on October 30 at 7 p.m. Guest speaker will be former U.S. Senator and screenwriter Bill Bradley in person.


Maestra heads to JFK Middle School on November 6 at 7 p.m. Guest speakers will be Director Maggie Contreras via Zoom and Melisse Brunet, Conductor and subject in the film. Sponsored by Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

‘A Revolution on Canvas’

◆ The season concludes with a screening of A Revolution on Canvas at Theatre Three on November 13 at 7 p.m. Guest speakers will be Co-Directors Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder. Sponsored by Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

For more information, call 631-473-5220 or visit www.portjeffersondocumentaryseries.com.


Above, a large group of people sitting in the surf on the shore of Long Island Sound. Pine View, West of Crane Neck, Stony Brook. 1907.(West Meadow Beach). Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

By Tara Mae

Saltwater and sea air can replenish, rather than rust the spirit. Any means of water conveyance is a line to liveliness and livelihood, a rope that links us to the generations that came before. Set sail into Long Island’s local maritime past with Small Wooden Boats: The Forgotten Workhorses and Leisure Craft of Old at the Port Jefferson Village Center, on view now through October. 

Located on the second floor of the building, with a topical view of the harbor, the photo exhibit features approximately 60 photographs, mainly ranging 24-36 inches. Through the lens of wooden boats, it explores the labor and leisure of primarily 19th and early 20th century islanders and vacationers. 

“There are two distinct categories of images. People using small boats to fish, clam, transport items, and people enjoying the summer in the bathing fashion of the period,” Port Jefferson Village Historian Christopher Ryon, who curated the exhibit, said. 

Marshall’s Pier was located on the East shore of Poquott. Belle Terre and Mount Misery are in the background. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Skimmed from the village’s own archive, first compiled by previous historian Ken Brady, the catalog has amassed tens of thousands of photographs. Its selection includes access to pictures that other organizations, like Three Village Historical Society, possess. The breadth and depth of data highlights the profound impact of beach culture on this area. 

Small Wooden Boats is a tribute to and testimonial the scope of people’s sometimes shifting, yet still steadfast, relationship to the sea. 

“The photos in this show capture the serene atmosphere of small boats and people on the shoreline of harbors and ponds. From clammers and fishermen to women in dresses, you can imagine the feel of the water on their feet and the sound of the water as they walk,” explained Ryon during a tour of the exhibit.

In locations familiar to residents, such as West Meadow Beach, Pirates Cove and Port Jefferson Harbor, their predecessors pose in the Long Island Sound and from shore.

Penn No. 1, a small tugboat that maneuvered goods and equipment for Suffolk Dredging Corporation, seems at a standstill as two presumed employees appear portside. One man, still wearing his work gloves, leans jauntily against an unidentifiable object.     

Girl standing in water on the East side of Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

A little girl in a swim costume, somewhat faded with age, grins at the camera as she wades water with a flotation device tied around her waist. 

Men, women, and children, wearing street clothes, sit in floating repose aboard rowboats as three other male figures, perhaps lifeguards, stand behind them, staring purposefully into the distance. An empty dinghy is tied up to their right as waves break against the mooring. 

Individuals who appear as salt of the earth or buoyantly effervescent, all of these figures are both anchored to their era and adrift on the sea of time. Though their attire and apparel are different, they share a relationship with the water that is more familiar than foreign. 

“This exhibit exemplifies Port Jefferson’s history as a shipbuilding port, a transportation hub, a fishing, clamming, oystering community, and, of course, a tourist destination,” Ryon said

Penn No 1 was a small tugboat that worked for Suffolk Dredging Corporation. It was used to maneuver barges and equipment. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Essential elements of this dualistic dynamic have evolved or become endangered but their essence remains accessible to those who seek to acknowledge, even enjoy, the ebb and flow of  people’s dependence on the surrounding water. 

By design, the show displays the dichotomies of work and play. Pictures in Small Wooden Boats are harbingers of changing tides, before nautical industry was overtaken by seaside recreation. 

Such developments are embodied by the Village Center itself, which has its own ties to maritime history. Situated on the grounds of the Bayles Shipyard, the building originally housed a machine shop and mould loft, established in 1917 during World War I. 

That same year, the Bayles family sold it. After changing hands, it was acquired by the New York Harbor Dry Dock Corporation, which in 1920, closed the shipyard, and fired all of its workers except for a skeleton crew. Following different business iterations, the Village Center was founded there in 2005. 

The enmeshment of past and present also underscores how the Sound remains intertwined in life on land, a message that Ryon seeks to bring to the masses through ongoing nautical projects.  

Besides the exhibit, another such endeavor is the construction of a replica whaleboat, dubbed Caleb Brewster, a seafaring vessel that will ideally launch in 2024. 

Summer of 1906, Pine View. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village Archive, Kenneth Brady Collection

Named in honor of the Culper Spy Ring member who ran messages via his whaleboat between Long Island, under British occupation, and Connecticut, where General George Washington was stationed, it is a community undertaking. A crew of volunteers, among them students from an Avalon Nature Preserve program, is helping construct and assemble the whaleboat. And, in part as an homage to the village center’s heritage, it is being built in the Bayles Boat Shop located just a stone’s throw from the Village Center across from Harborfront Park. 

Construction of the Caleb Brewster and the Small Wooden Boats exhibit are part of a continuous effort to bring more attention to the common, simple sea craft that are so integral to the existence and entertainment an island provides. 

“The bigger boats, like schooners tend to get more notice, while the smaller ones are doing hard work moving materials and people,” Ryon said. “We [the village center] have this huge collection of stuff. We have done lots of different types of shows here, and small boats are part of the collection that I now want to showcase. I look forward to seeing people enjoying the exhibit.”

The community is invited to an opening reception to Small Wooden Boats: The Forgotten Workhorses and Leisure Craft of Old on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson. Viewing hours for the exhibit are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. For more information, call 631-473-4778.

By Tara Mae 

What dreams may come from revelatory reflection? A spark of imagination need not always ignite a blazing inferno; a steady, bright flame may sustain the psyche and soul. 

The serenity of memory and tranquility of nature are inherent in Terra Bella, artist Nicholas Nappi’s newest exhibit at North Shore Public Library in Shoreham.

On display from September 9 to October 30, Nappi’s third show at the library includes approximately 18 paintings, many of them mixed media of ink, watercolor, and acrylics. 

Moments of deceptive depth and exacting nuance are imbued with a welcoming warmth that draws the onlooker into the ambient action. The dynamic combination of textures and color is reminiscent of the often overlooked, bountiful allure of Long Island.

“I am trying to communicate with people about the beauty of Long Island…I do not think a lot of people realize how pretty it is, which why I am calling [the exhibit] Bella Terra, which means ‘beautiful earth’ in Italian,” Nappi, of Rocky Point, said in an interview. 

This appreciation speaks through bright colors filtered in soft focus, idyllic settings, and people included as part of nature as well as the landscape, not in opposition of them. 

Immersed in this internal world, they entice the audience to become participants in these nostalgic scenes of environmental equanimity. As though experienced via the romantic haze of memory, pictorial conversations with the past invite dialogue in the present.

“Mr. Nappi’s work is colorful and atmospheric and draws the viewer into daily life,” said North Shore Public Library’s Adult Reference Librarian/Adult Program Coordinator Lorena Doherty, who organized the exhibit. “There is such a beautiful sense of light and softness, love and memory in these pieces. When a story, a performance, an image…walks with you, it has power.”

Utilizing art as a means of communication with the public has been an integral element of Nappi’s professional and personal perspective. While a vice president and award-winning art director for Serino, Coyne, & Nappi, a theatrical ad agency, he designed and art directed logos and posters for Broadway mega hits like A Chorus Line, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera. 

As a print advertisement is meant to appeal to the eye and ensnare interest, Nappi’s independent works also contain the essence of a narrative. Each piece reveals its own enrapturing tale, conveying charisma and character. With his paintings, he seeks to educate, beguile, and entreat viewers into both recognizing and revering the resplendent nature that surrounds them as island dwellers.

“The growth, the bushes, the trees, the flowers, it is just a gorgeous place, but [Long Islanders] are so used it they do not pay attention to it too much. They really should,” Nappi said.  

Terra Bella encompasses paintings Nappi created specifically for the exhibit, using it as an opportunity to express his scenic thesis. Invoking emotional resonance, he invites people to learn this visual language, simultaneously communing with those already attuned to his paintings and their presence. 

After the conclusion of his second show at the library, Color is Song in 2017, patrons and staff missed the ruminating reprieve his art provides, according to Doherty. So when he sent her examples of his recent paintings, she was enamored with the selection and eager to put it up in a space that hosts community and international artists alike. 

“Many months ago, Mr. Nappi sent an email with the images of his new body of work. I viewed them several times and was delighted to have this new show at North Shore Public Library,” Doherty said. 

“Several days passed and I found myself thinking of these paintings. The paintings were walking with me and telling a story, their story.” 

At its heart, the tale Nappi tells is that of individual insights predicated on the notion of universal understanding. The show allows him to convey his feelings and entrust others with their messages.

“I try to put a piece of myself in each painting. I hope people feel what I feel. If that happens, I am very, very happy. Painting is a very, very personal thing; I forget everything but what I am working on. When you paint, you start with a blank piece of paper, and it is up to you to make it special to anyone who looks at it. I hope I do,” Nappi said. 

The community is invited to an artist reception for Nicholas Nappi hosted by the Friends of the Library on Saturday, September 9, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. North Shore Public Library is located at 250 Route 25A, Shoreham. The exhibit may be viewed during library hours — Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-929-4488 or visit www.northshorepubliclibrary.org.

'COVID Driveway Quince' by Bruce Lieberman. Image courtesy of Gallery North

By Tara Mae

It is an art form to recognize one’s daily surroundings as fecund food for thought despite their familiarity. Gallery North’s new exhibit, Poetic Visions: Recent Works by Bruce Lieberman, explores the eponymous artist’s appreciation and perception of his own backyard as he cultivates its curated wildness. On view from Aug. 24 to Oct. 1, the show will feature approximately 35 of Lieberman’s oil paintings. While canvas sizes vary, the world within them is universally expansive. 

‘Yellow Thirst’ by Bruce Lieberman Image courtesy of Gallery North

“The paintings are vivid, luscious, gardenscapes spanning summer through winter, when it is more bleak. Even then, he still pulls out colors and textures in the browns and other, more muted, [tones] that he paints,” said Gallery North’s Curator Kate Schwarting. 

Immersing the audience in a verdantly vivacious, incrementally abstract atmosphere, these renderings inspired by his Water Mill property are rooted in realism, yet blossom with imagination.  

“This is a presentation of paintings that blur the line between representation and abstraction. It also presents a painter who is very far along in his career trying to move into something new and push boundaries of his artistic practice. [Lieberman] revels in color and gets others excited about the interaction between color and form,” Gallery North’s Executive Director Ned Puchner said. 

Poetic Visions, Lieberman’s fifth solo show at Gallery North amid many group exhibitions, is the latest harvest of a long, fruitful relationship. Making their public debut, the paintings invite viewers to seek the serenity of soulful solitude.  

For Lieberman, these works reflect an introspection born out of necessity: they were primarily started during the COVID-19 lockdown, when he ceased teaching painting and figure drawing as an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University. 

‘Crape Myrtle Pool’ by Bruce Lieberman. Image courtesy of Gallery North

Informally referred to as the “COVID Driveway Series” by Lieberman, the paintings reference a time when circumstances encouraged him to find novelty in the known as he navigated the unprecedented pandemic.                                                                                                                                        “It has become rather a cliché to speak about how ‘COVID made me do it.’ Or how one’s COVID experience framed and affected their work.’ But…it sort of did. It gave me an excuse to cut my ties with everything. I stopped teaching, stopped going out, stopped going to openings, stopped going to New York,” Lieberman said in an email. “[My wife and I] canceled everything! It, the COVID experience, removed guilt from the decision…For us, we were lucky to have the ability—the luxury—to withdraw from the world.”

Setting up an easel at the furthest point of his property line and painting whatever he saw in all directions, Lieberman experimented with different points of view, paint techniques, and previously untapped styles of brushstrokes. 

Such interior creativity born of outside chaos is evidenced in the precise details and less defined boundaries of Lieberman’s paintings. Using the landscape as his muse results in a sort of inherent optimism; even as trees appear bare, traces of green can be found — the promise of fertile rebirth. 

“My garden has become a big giant motif — a living still life with endless variations…my Giverny,” Lieberman said. 

Almost impressionistic brushstrokes illustrate different types of foliage and lighting as well as rich bright colors for the plants, beautiful blue reflections on fencing, and similar nuances, according to Schwarting. 

“Bordering on abstraction, it is a very identifiable scene, but areas of canvas draw you in and almost become an abstract moment on the canvas. It happens very organically, a natural process of him exploring the medium through his paintings. There is an amazing juxtaposition of abstract, painterly brush marks, with drips of the paint. I love how you can have both in one place,” she added.  

A singular entity containing multitudes is a recurrent theme in the art of Lieberman, who began his career in the figurative art world of New York City. 

Traces of the genre are apparent in elements of Poetic Visions. Representative objects contrast and complement the somewhat subjective wonderland Lieberman’s paintings project, revealed to onlookers by the revelations of his paintbrush. 

“He developed a sort of a new vision of his home during [lockdown] and it came through daily examination of his surroundings. When you look at something long enough, you begin to see it differently and start to think about the larger meaning behind the growth of a flower, the changing of a season, or how light can illuminate colors,” Puchner said. 

Lieberman’s contemplative examination was a three year study that he now strives to share and shed. Like most acts of creation, the process of producing the paintings was a labor of love; Poetic Visions is a culmination of Lieberman’s efforts as he looks towards the next endeavor. 

“I worked hard, I worked for three years on these paintings. So I care about them. I look forward to getting them on the wall and looked at. An added bonus — [having] my studio clean so I can move on to the next thing. Trying to make great paintings is always the goal,” he said. 

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket invites the community to an opening reception for Poetic Visions on Thursday, Aug. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. and a free ArTalk with Lieberman on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

By Tara Mae

The chaos of creation yields the quietude of reflection. 

Newly installed at the Long Island Museum of Art, History, & Carriages (LIM), the Little Free Library came from just such a process. It was assembled by Brownie Troop 1343, which consists of fourteen local 3rd graders from the Three Village School District and horticultural art therapist/mediations instructor Fred Ellman, with troop co-leaders Lisa Unander, Kaethe Cuomo, and Christine Colavito offering practical support.

Cultivated from a sort magical mayhem on a series of manic Mondays as the girls painted their projects and maybe themselves, the Little Free Library is the result of artistic exuberance and pragmatic craftsmanship. Ellman previously worked with Unander on LIM’s In the Moment programs, which are garden activities designed for people with memory loss.

“To my pure delight, he volunteered to help us design and build the project! It was Fred’s idea to use the popcorn wagon [design], inspired by the Popcorn Wagon, 1907, C. Cretors & Company, Chicago, which is prominently featured in our carriage museum collection,” Unander, who is also LIM’s Director of Education, said.

Ellman donated his time, talents, and materials, functioning as artistic advisor, serene supervisor, and pragmatic visionary. He created a digital template and used that as the blueprint for the actual pieces of wood.   

“Lisa told me about this incredible project, and I really enjoy working with her. I wanted this library to be very playful and encourage children to come use books and connect to the  collection. With this installation, we are using a fresh way of looking at a free library, inviting and enticing patrons with its welcoming appearance,” Ellman said. 

This  22”x24” box, made of birch and cedar, is a blend of functional fun, with its bright colors and and unique shape. Installed adjacent to LIM”s aromatic herb garden, visitors will be able to take a book and immerse themselves in the stories as they settle in the tranquility of nature.

This visage belies the Brownies determined diligence in creating and maintaining the free library. A requirement for being formally recognized as an officially chartered member of the nonprofit Little Free Library network is that the girls are stewards of this installation. Each Brownie will be assigned certain weeks of the year to check on the library, including cleaning, maintaining, and restocking it as well as reporting any needs to Troop 1343.  

“To have a long term project that [the troop] could get excited about and work on collaboratively created responsibility and pride in what they accomplished,” Unander said. “Since all the girls live in the Three Village area, we know they will grow up helping keep the library well maintained and bring friends and family to see what they helped create.” 

For the Brownies, its motivations for the Little Free Library are multifaceted. Starting when the girls were Daisies, the Girl Scouts program for kindergarten-first grade, their meetings frequently commenced with a co-leader reading them a story that related to a project on which they were working.

“They always responded in a positive way to each book that was read to them and we felt it created a strong bond between the girls and the badges that they were about to take on,” said Unander. 

Then last year, the group began working on its World of Journey badges, a four part certification that focuses on “girls around the world and how stories can give you ideas for helping others,” according to Girl Scouts USA’s website.

Inspired by a pamphlet that depicted girls traveling the world in a flying bookmobile to learn about different cultures, and having recently read a book about Little Free Libraries’ founder Todd Bol, Troop 1343 decided to create a Little Free Library of its own in pursuit of the badges.

“Many troops do a simpler project to complete this journey, but we felt the girls in our troop were willing and ready to make a true and lasting impact,” Unander added. 

They were not the only ones embarking on a new adventure; it was Ellman’s first time constructing a free library too, though he anticipates it will not be his last. “I definitely want to build another one,” he said.  

As reading invites the imagination to explore, facilitating LIM’s free library has alerted everyone involved in this endeavor to other possibilities: Troop 1343 and its co-leaders are discussing developing a book about this process.  

“Fred had the idea of the girls creating a book that would tell visitors a little bit about them and some of their favorite books; I loved it,” Unander said. “Next year the girls will be Junior level Girl Scouts, and we plan to incorporate this project into our meetings. Ideally, this book would be attached to the Little Free Library onsite for all to read.”

In the meantime, the girls collected and donated their own books to launch the library. Given its location, Unander believes that as the library continues to expand its collection, visitors will be particularly inclined to leave books about art and history; its public accessibility binds the library to the community and encourages any visitor to the museum to indulge in the exchange of ideas. 

“We are grateful to our Co-Executive Directors Sarah Abruzzi and Joshua Ruff for enthusiastically giving us the green light to use this magnificent space to host our Little Free Library. We all feel this small structure will bring a large amount of joy to all who see it,” said Unander. 

To take a book, leave a book, visit the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook Thursdays to Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. To learn more about the museum’s exhibits and other programs, visit www.longislandmuseum.org. 

On July 23, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame celebrated the power of music with “Funtastic 2023,” a benefit concert for the organization featuring Pat Benatar and husband Neil Giraldo with special guest Taylor Dayne at the Catholic Health Amphitheater at Bald Hill in Farmingville. The packed crowd enjoyed rock favorites including “Love Is A Battlefield, “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” from Benatar and “Tell It to My Heart,” “Love Will Lead You Back,” and “With Every Beat of My Heart”  from Dayne, both native Long Islanders.

Photos by Tara Mae and Dylan Ebrahimian

From left, Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar and Taylor Dayne head to the Catholic Health Ampitheater on July 23. Photos courtesy of LIMEHOF

By Tara Mae

Since time immemorial, troubadours have chronicled every aspect of affection and antagonism through song. If love is a battlefield, music is one of the most effective weapons in its arsenal.

On Sunday, July 23, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) celebrates the power of music with “Funtastic 2023,” a benefit concert for the organization featuring Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with special guest Taylor Dayne at the Catholic Health Amphitheater at Bald Hill, 1 Ski Run Lane in Farmingville. The concert kicks off at 7:30 p.m. 

“We are calling it Funtastic 2023 because we want people to have a lot of fun at this concert with powerful, upbeat music that has survived the test of time,” said LIMEHOF Chairman of the Board of Directors Ernie Canadeo.

Benatar and Dayne, who are each on tour this summer, will play full sets spanning the continuing creative arc of their careers. Giraldo, a musician and five time Grammy Award winning producer, will join his wife, Benatar, onstage.  

International artists whose first notes were formed on Long Island, Benatar and Dayne were inducted into the LIMEHOF in 2008 and 2012 respectively. Benatar, a four time Grammy Award winning rock singer/songwriter, is renowned for assertive, commanding hits like “Heartbreaker,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and “Love is a Battlefield.” 

Three time Grammy Award nominated, American Music Award winning singer/songwriter Dayne, is famous for defiantly danceable pop music, including “Tell It to My Heart,” “Love Will Lead You Back,” and “With Every Beat of My Heart.”  

These multi-award winning, multiplatinum musical mavens are hometown heroes: Benatar grew up in Lindenhurst and Dayne was raised in Freeport and Baldwin. 

“[The board] worked together to put on a concert utilizing the Long Island Music Hall of Fame’s inductees. From there we selected Benatar and Dayne, a natural fit…they are excellent representatives of Long Island. Canadeo said. “We felt that the LIMEHOF clientele would appreciate their music and artistry.”

LIMEHOF’s mission and membership will be well-represented at the event, with a promotional booth onsite selling its merchandise as well as concert t-shirts and raffle tickets for two house seats to a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden. Although LIMEHOF has had smaller shows in the past, this is its premiere big benefit concert, with the goal of many encores to follow. 

“I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting future members of LIMEHOF. We hope it becomes an annual event,” Canadeo said.

Just as a performance requires cooperation, Funtastic 2023 is a collaborative exercise both onstage and behind-the scenes. The idea of the concert was born from a conversation between Canadeo and John Caracciolo, who athrough his company JVC Media, operates 16 radio stations and the amphitheater in Farmingville, which is owned by the Town of Brookhaven. 

“I love the venue; it is the largest outdoor venue in Suffolk County, with a terrific sound system, and accommodating seating: people may opt to bring their own chairs to sit on the lawn or take advantage of the stadium seats,” Canadeo said. “…We were discussing how to promote LIMEHOF and the conversation evolved from there.”  

While the arts are seemingly threatened by everything from the advent of Artificial Intelligence to streaming sales that yield cents per play, LIMEHOF lauds the universal language of music and honors fluent local musicians. Founded in 2004, LIMEHOF has honored 120 inductees. It is committed to preserving Long Island’s musical legacy so that it may be appreciated and celebrated now and in the future.

A rolling stone for many years, in 2022 LIMEHOF finally found a permanent home at the Stony Brook Village Center. With the price of admission, visitors to its headquarters may enjoy free concerts or immerse themselves in an interactive exhibition. It houses musical mementos and traditionally hosted awards ceremonies, including the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Induction through 2018.

Since settling down, LIMEHOF has reportedly exceeded all of its all attendance goals as visitors immerse themselves in exhibits featuring musician memorabilia or a surround sound theater that plays what Canadeo described as “rare music videos.” 

“As a nonprofit, LIMEHOF depends on public support through admissions, donations, and events like [Funtastic] to help us operate and continue to create memorable, exciting experiences,” he said.  

The success of these programs also enables a new duo to make its debut. At the concert, Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, CEO of Catholic Health, will announce Health and Harmony. This program, a partnership between the healthcare group and LIMEHOF, is designed to support residents’ mental health.   

“People can listen to a select playlist that matches their mood; it is a multifaceted program that incorporates a vision to improve the wellbeing of Long Islanders through the power of music,” Canadeo explained.

During Funtastic, the message of music as sustainable sustenance for the soul is both a refrain and supporting act for Benatar, Giraldo, and Dayne. 

“[This] is a wonderful opportunity for all Long Islanders to enjoy a terrific concert in a wonderful venue and support the Hall of Fame’s mission of keeping Long Island’s music heritage alive,” said Canadeo.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets, which range from $52.65 to $106.65 (including fees), are on sale at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information about this event and LIMEHOF, visit www.limusichalloffame.org.

By Tara Mae

The allure of foliage and other flora is an alchemy of fanciful imagination, artistic interpretation, and scientific intuition. Such traditions, planted a century ago, will bloom with a renewed vision at the North Suffolk Garden Club’s (NSGC) annual garden show, “Sands of Time,” at Deepwells Mansion, 2 Taylor Street in St. James on Wednesday, June 7, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., and Thursday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Members of the NSGC will be joined by different garden clubs from Long Island and around the country, including the Kettle Moraine Garden Club, whose members primarily hail from Waukesha County, Wisconsin. 

Generally affiliated with the umbrella organization, Garden Club of America (GCA), all participating garden clubs will showcase their horticultural aptitude with a variety of individual and collaborative creations. As a juried show, entrees will be assessed by a panel of three GCA approved judges. 

Featuring between 30 and 50 horticulture exhibits (plants and cuttings), approximately 12 floral exhibits, and a miniatures exhibit (tiny floral arrangement done in diminutive dimensions), “Sands of Time” is a testament to the NSGC’s robust history of industry and ingenuity.  

“We are celebrating our 100th year with this centennial flower show as a way to display our abilities in horticulture, floral design, and photography,” flower show committee co-chair Deanna Muro said. “Our show is based on the history of our club…We picked a historic venue, Deepwells, to set a really nice stage for all our different displays relating to the history of the club and this area.” 

With four distinct categories, Floral Design, Horticulture, Photography, and Education, the display explores how NSGC’s growth and development is reflected in the evolution of its surroundings. Every category has different classes that are a tribute and testament to the nature of life and budding environmental awareness in the 1920s.

“Each flower show must include an educational component. ‘Sands of Time’ focuses on 100 years of conservation, which has always been the root of the garden club. In the 1920s or 1930s, women of the NSGC, carrying their parasols and dressed in their finery, sailed down the Nissequogue River to draw attention to runoff and other water pollution. One of the classes is a floral homage to those parasols,” NSGC president Leighton Coleman III said. 

From its inception, conservation was a primary concern of NSGC. Established at the onset of widespread automotive culture, the club quickly recognized its environmental hazards: air pollution, littering, disruption of natural plant and animal habitats, etc. 

Thus, over the years NSGC has addressed issues both aesthetic and atmospheric, like  battling to ban roadside billboards; preserving scenic views and open spaces; promoting the plight of endangered waterways as it seeks to preserve them; highlighting the vulnerabilities of wildlife dependent on native plants; and creating community gardens.  

Hosting this year’s event at Deepwells is itself an homage to this fertile history. It was the summer home of William Jay Gaynor, mayor of New York City from 1910-1913, and his wife Augusta Cole Mayer Gaynor, an avid gardener whose scrapbooks and other belongings will be present in the exhibition. 

Intricately intertwined with the local cultural, climate, and communal past, NSGC was founded in 1923 by Smithtown residents. Accepted as an official member of the GCA in 1931, NSGC gained further prominence shortly after World War II when the club’s successful victory gardens and canning kitchens earned it government recognition. 

Cited then as a club that others should emulate, NSGC’s membership base continues to strive for such excellence. Over the decades, through education and community outreach, it supported the successful effort to save the 500-acre Blydenburgh Park and amplified the importance of the Pine Barrens legislation in the 1980s. More recently, NSGC collaborated with the Stony Brook Yacht Club to restore the Stony Brook Harbor oyster beds.  

Gardeners of NSGC are devoted to furthering its efforts in ecology and conservationism with the varied crop of projects it nurtures throughout the year. “Sands of Time” is just one element of the group’s ongoing effort to advance its original mission of conservationism as it engages the public in ecological and environmental awareness. 

“We want to get people interested in gardening, conservation, and things associated with that, like indigenous plants, including pollinators,” Coleman said. “Our history of being involved in ecology dates back to the beginning of the club, starting with the development of auto culture in the 1920s, then expanding in the 1960s with revved up interest in ecology, dealing with pesticides, urban sprawl and development, and promoting habitat for endangered animals and parks.” 

NSGC strives to promulgate such interests through its community outreach endeavors including maintaining the Long Island Museum’s herb garden and championing conservation and environmental endeavors on the local as well as national level. 

“We are looking forward to letting the public know what we do and giving an idea of the importance of garden clubs…the flower show basically gives you an introduction of what the garden club does and a sense of community,” Rockwell-Gifford said. 

The club currently consists of approximately 55 individuals, including retirees and professionals, many of whom are second or third generation members.  

“I love all of the friendships I have made joining the garden club…Members are a dynamic mosaic — a real kaleidoscope of personalities. We welcome new people to join us,” Coleman III said. 

“Sands of Time” is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.northsuffolkgardenclub.org. 

Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in a scene from 'The Birdcage'

By Tara Mae

Time to fly the coop and settle in at Theatre Three’s Second Stage for St. George Living History Productions’ next interactive talk, “The Making of The Birdcage.”  

On Tuesday, May 30, at 12:30 p.m., award-winning playwright and lecturer Sal St. George will guide the audience on a behind-the-scenes tour of the 1996 modern classic, with anecdotes, trivia, insights, and movie clips making cameo appearances. 

Featuring complimentary refreshments, cookies, and other treats as well as a Q&A session, “The Making of The Birdcage” invites its patrons to enjoy the presentation as an immersive experience. 

“It is LecturTainment at its best. It’s a combination lecture and entertainment package. My goal is to help you learn while you laugh, that is the magic I try to create,” said St. George.  

Starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, The Birdcage is an acclaimed American remake of La Cages aux Folles (1978). Directed by Mike Nichols, the film chronicles the comedic calamities that befall a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen partner as they try to impress the ultra conservative parents of their son’s fiancée. 

It launched the film career of Lane, renowned for his theater work, and solidified Williams’ chameleon-like ability to embody a variety of characters. Further spotlighted by its stacked roster of supporting actors, this film was a box office smash hit and remains a crowd-pleaser today.

“This was Nathan Lane’s first film. He and Robin Williams bonded immediately…This [cast] is a winning combination of talent,” said Sal St. George. “The Birdcage is a modern day classic that will be enjoyed 20 years, 50 years, and 100 years from now simply because it boasts a brilliant script, superb direction, and memorable performances.” 

Highlighting, exploring, and understanding such talent is a founding tenet of St. George Living History Productions, which provides a sort of showbiz curriculum about Hollywood of yore and yesterday, including lectures, events, and virtual tours of entertainment museums. 

“During our programs we never talk down to audiences; we are informative, educational and entertaining. I think that is what is appealing to them,” added St. George, who runs St. George Living History Productions with his wife Mary, son Darren and daughter-in-law Cassandra.

Such care and consideration is in part what inspired the collaboration between the production company and Theatre Three, which was conceptualized when Darren reached out to Executive Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel. 

“Sal’s events are so incredibly well-curated. His translation of detailed research into engaging entertainment is unique. He has a way of finding new takes on any topic he selects,” Sanzel said. “We hope this is the first of many events like this with St. George Productions.”

Although this latest installment of St. George’s lecture series is the first partnership with Theatre Three, St. George and Sanzel have previously collaborated on other projects, including earlier incarnations of Port Jefferson’s annual Charles Dickens Festival. 

“I have lectured from Long Island to San Diego; it was time to bring my programs to the patrons of Theatre Three and the Port Jefferson community,” said St. George.

Theatre Three is located at 412 Main St., Port Jefferson. Tickets for “The Making of Birdcage” are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and veterans, and $20 for groups of eight or more people. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. Group sales may be made by emailing [email protected]. 

A statue of Charles Darwin (and finch) created by sculptor Pablo Eduardo overlooks the harbor on the campus of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Photo courtesy of CSHL

By Tara Mae

Scientific study is a perpetual testimony to the feats and foibles of human nature, intricately intertwined in ways that continue to be excavated by inquiring minds bold enough to imagine. 

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), which has largely been a titan in such innovative investigations, will offer a series of walking tours on select weekends from Saturday, May 20, through Sunday, August 27, starting at 10 a.m. The hour and a half long tours will traverse the past, present, and future of the complex and its work therein. 

“We are most excited to get people to the Laboratory who have always wondered what goes on here. So many have heard about us, driven by us, read about us, but they have never dug deeper. This walking tour is the chance to learn who we are,” said Caroline Cosgrove, CSHL’s Community Engagement Manager.

Conducted by trained tour guides, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the walks strive to bridge the gap between the physical realm and scientific theory. 

“These tours encompass the stunning grounds, the Lab’s history, and our current facilities and work. Community members, whether they have a background and interest in science, can come and learn from current graduate students about the world-renowned work going on in their very backyard,” explained Cosgrove. 

Probing CSHL’s ongoing research and program development for plant and quantitative biology, cancer, and neuroscience, the tours will encompass details about its historic and modern architecture, Nobel legacy, and identity evolution. Additionally, these scenic, scholarly strolls explore the practices and procedures of CSHL, with behind-the-scenes sneak peaks into the inner workings of scientific investigation. 

“As long as the tour guide’s laboratory is open and available, folks get a walk through and see the student’s own lab station,” Cosgrove said. “Whether it’s a cancer research lab, a neuroscience lab, a plant research lab, you get to see where all the magic happens.” 

Established in 1890, CSHL’s North Shore campus is a beacon of biology education, with 52 laboratories and more than 1100 staff from more than 60 countries. Eight scientists associated with CSHL have earned a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. This internationally recognized center of scientific research is also a local history and education site, where students of all ages and backgrounds come to study. 

“History has been, and will continue to be, made here. Please come get to know us,” said Cosgrove. 

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, One Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor offers walking tours on May 20 and 21, June 24 and 25, July 29 and 30 and Aug. 26 and 27 at 10 a.m. Tours begin in the lobby of the Grace Auditorium. Tickets are $5 per person. To order, visit www.cshl.edu/public-events/tour-cshl/. For more information, call 516-367-8800.