By Melissa Arnold
For the past three years, The Atelier at Flowerfield has buzzed with activity. Artists of all skill levels come to the St. James art studio to create, learn and connect with others through classes, studio time, social events, art history lectures and exhibits.
As The Atelier has grown, it has also attracted a host of young, talented creatives looking for a place to hone and share their skills. Since 2017, the annual Long Island Young Artists Exhibition has provided a platform to celebrate their accomplishments with the community.
“I believe that when artists are young, they’re uninhibited. The sky is the limit for their creativity, and they don’t filter themselves by what will or won’t sell or how people will respond,” said Director Kevin McEvoy in a recent interview. “They’re willing to experiment, to take risks with their art. It’s incredible to be a part of that,” he said.
McEvoy estimates that 50 to 60 young people spend time at a workshop on a regular basis, many of them students at local schools or recent college graduates. Some of the artists take classes or have studio time five nights a week, while others come by for several hours during the day. The Atelier’s state-of-the-art studio space simulates natural light, allowing nighttime students to create pieces with realistic-looking daylight without interrupting their daytime responsibilities.
This year’s Young Artists Exhibition invited artists ages 11 to 28 to submit works of any medium or theme to be reviewed by a panel of curators including Margaret McEvoy, Gaby Field-Rahman, Dr. Stephen Vlay and Barbara Beltrami.
In total, 46 applicants submitted 130 different pieces for judging. The completed exhibit includes 47 pieces from 33 artists, mostly from Suffolk and Nassau counties.
Aside from age, there were no specific requirements to enter a piece for consideration. McEvoy said he wanted to welcome young artists of all kinds to explore themes and mediums that appeal to them the most.
One of this year’s exhibitors, Ariel Meltzer, 16, has always been fascinated with drawing people. “I’ve always found art to be very calming, and even when I was young I loved drawing faces and people in general,” said the artist, who lives in Stony Brook. “There’s so much diversity in the human figure, but there are so many similarities at the same time.”
Meltzer discovered The Atelier a few summers ago after her mother encouraged her to find something fun to do. She said she was interested in continuing to develop the art skills she’d gained during the school year at The Stony Brook School, and the St. James studio was a perfect fit.
“You get to know so many different people that each have their own perspective on art,” Meltzer said. “I love the connections that I’ve been able to make through The Atelier. Everyone is welcoming and supportive — it’s a great atmosphere to learn in.”
Whether she’s attending morning classes in the summer or night classes during the school year, Meltzer always has a new project to work on. She’s worked with charcoal, oil, acrylics and more, but at home she tends to return to her old standby, graphite pencil.
Her submission to this year’s exhibit, “Grace,” is a drawing of a classmate she completed for a school assignment. Meltzer said she wanted to make the girl’s hair and face appear softer to match her name, Grace.
“I’m proud of the work that I send in no matter what, so I don’t worry too much about whether or not it gets chosen. But it’s still really exciting to be a part of the exhibit. This is my second year being included,” Meltzer said.
Jonathan Horn, 27, is on the upper end of the young adult group, but that doesn’t stop him from creating whimsical, unique and fun works of art.
The East Setauket resident has been artistic his entire life, starting to draw with markers at just 2 years old. These days, he’s primarily a painter, but his tools are one of a kind. Horn studied studio art and anthropology at Stony Brook University, and in the process developed a deep curiosity for the tools used in ancient civilizations.
“I started to wonder what it would be like to make and use these tools to paint with,” Horn said. “So I did. And I found that they work just as well as anything you’d buy commercially today.” His yucca leaf and palm brushes are used with paints Horn has made himself using a special clay.
While Horn enjoys painting using classic techniques and subjects, his real passion is fantasy. “I grew up watching a lot of cartoons and playing video games, so the work I do tends in the direction of fantasy,” he explained.
Horn’s two works in the exhibit include a clay-based gouache painting of flowers done on watercolor paper and a vivid gouache painting on gypsum board of a fish being attacked by a squid and eel.
“This is the first recent exhibit I’ve submitted work for, so I was pretty nervous and relieved to be chosen,” he said. “The Atelier is a fantastic place to learn, whether you’re an experienced artist looking to hone your skills or a beginner looking to dip your toes in the water for the first time.”
The Long Island Young Artists Exhibition is currently on view at The Atelier at Flowerfield’s Atelier Hall Gallery, located at 2 Flowerfield, Suite 15, St. James through Nov. 21. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and admission is free. For more information, call 631-250-9009 or visit www.atelierflowerfield.org.
Image courtesy of The Atelier at Flowerfield