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Artists Conjure Balmy Breezes and Beach Vistas

"Island Passions" exhibition at HAC’s Art-trium gallery hopes to ignite the imagination.

Despite the unrelenting cold and abundance of snow, thoughts of balmy breezes and beach vistas prevailed at the opening reception of “Island Passions” at the Art-trium, the Huntington Art Council’s satellite gallery in Melville.

The exhibit will be on display through April 4.

“The title itself is beautiful,” HAC Assistant Director Florence Dallari said, adding that curator Bill Grabowski, a Huntington resident, chose the theme of “island passions” last summer. He aptly anticipated that such images would prove comforting during the cold winter months, Dallari added.

Grabowski asked artists to explore the theme in both its broadest and most literal senses, and deemed the result “one of our best shows ever.”

Last summer Northport’s John Ellsworth took first place  in photography at Montauk’s Fine Arts Show and second place in photography at the Mary Fritche Fine Art Show. In choosing subject matter for the exhibit, he focused on exotic ports-of-call.

Grabowski applauded Ellsworth’s juxtaposition of breathtaking color photographs, extolling azure-hued tropical paradises, with starker, black and white images.

An image which Ellsworth entitled   “Hovering,” pictures a Boston Whaler sport in the crystal clear tropical waters off the British Virgin Islands.

The image gives the illusion that the boat is levitating above the water. Ellsworth was positioned atop a boulder, 60 feet above the scene, when he shot the photo.

In another provocative photo, “West Indian Breeze,” taken in Cruz Bay, St. John in the American Virgin Islands, a curtain covering a cottage doorway flutters,  as if beckoning the viewer to enter. Ellsworth frequently explores the concept of “portals,” which  ignite the imagination while adding layers of dimension, both literal and figurative, to his images.

Jennifer Lau boasts an extensive background in graphic design. Her interest in photography took off after the Northport resident won the Gilroy Garlic Festival Poster Contest in 2005. Gallery-goers will find that her images, which resonate with her penchant for detail, contrast the beauty of Northport with that of Florida’s Key West.

Her photograph, “Sarongs in a Key West Market,” highlights the virtual rainbow of colors found in garments for sale at a marketplace. Lau showcases the drama of silhouettes to  great advantage in “Dragon Kite,” ( a young boy flying a kite at sunset) and “An Evening Swim,” both taken at Crab Meadow Beach.

Two photos, “Key West Sunrise” and “Crab Meadow Sunset” contrast breathtaking natural displays of color at opposing times of the day.

Lau has also been photographing phrases created using old metal printer’s type and “By the Sea,” exemplifies this body of work.

Lau  said that the printer’s type, which she discovered  at a tag sale,  appeared not to have been touched for at least 50 years.

“In this digital age, few would appreciate such a find. I found them to be beautiful,” Lau said. “These letters are still able to tell a story, but in a new way,” she added.

Bobbie Schneider is a relative newcomer to Centerport. Her  body of work is a potpourri of dramatic, often dreamy, large-scale  oil paintings which resonate with color. Her subject matter ranges  from figurative and scenic to the  abstract.

“These are spiritual, ephemeral paintings,” Grabowski said of  Schneider’s work, adding that her portraits, such as that of a trumpet player, effectively convey the joie de vivre of “people enjoying the moment.”

Ellsworth, who enjoyed the  artistic camaraderie of  the  opening reception, said that he found Schneider’s work to be very engaging.

“The body language is unbelievable,” Ellsworth said of her portrait of the  trumpet player. “The woman on the bench with her belongings; there’s a story there,” he said of the painting entitled "Solitude."

Grabowski was also taken with the work of Pamela Long Nolan of East Northport. Her pieces, which are also large-scale, were predominately rendered in oil.

According to Grabowski, Nolan’s work is “Long Island,” and brings the exhibit home.

Nolan's paintings pay  "tribute to the simple beauty of Long Island  found in rolling fields off a parkway or serene areas out East,” Grabowski indicated.

“These are areas that people might pass by and not see,” Grabowski said of these “simple but special spaces."

Nolan’s paintings span a decade and she said that her primary influence was the full moon.

“My paintings are about feelings,” Nolan said, adding that she was tremendously moved by certain vistas, and used her work as a vehicle for sharing what she experienced.

The Art-trium is located at 25 Melville Park Road in the heart of Melville’s Route 110 corporate corridor. HAC has been using the multi-tenant commercial building’s main floor foyer and its soaring space for the last ten years, thanks to the generosity of the building’s owners, 25 MPR LLC, who are great supporters of the arts.

The Art-trium is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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