An All-In-One Center For Artists

By Janee Law

Starting out as a student at the Art League of Long Island, Charlee Miller was so drawn to art and the organization that she is now the center’s executive director.

Starting out as a student at the Art League of Long Island, Charlee Miller was so drawn to art and the organization that she is now the center’s executive director.

The Art League of Long Island is an all-in-one resource center for Long Island artists, offering a variety of art classes, programs and the opportunity for local artists to feature their work in its two-story gallery.

“It is the largest gallery and it is the most beautiful show place to exhibit art,” said Charlee Miller, of Eastport, Art League executive director. “We’re not a museum, we don’t collect art but we have a gallery that is open to Long Island’s artists, besides having the ability to teach in our beautiful studios so it’s a combination you don’t find all over Long Island.”

The nonprofit visual education center offers many classes, including jewelry making, painting, ceramics, sculptor, pastels, watercolor, figure drawing, photography, Photoshop and graphic design, and portfolio development.

Classes like portfolio development are very significant to pre-college high school students looking to expand their art education.

“In order for a student to get into an art school, college or university, they’re going to need a portfolio of work so our teachers work with those students to build that portfolio,” Miller said, adding that a portfolio can consist of many different art forms and art mediums. “It takes a tremendous amount of practice for an artist to really get serious about it and have a great portfolio.”

Starting out as a small group of painters 60 years ago, the center has grown, moving to its 107 East Deer Park Road, Dix Hills location in 2003.

Students as young as 5 years old can visit the 16,000-square-foot space, which offers nine studios and a library for student research.

Miller said that when children study art at an early age and throughout their lives, they develop essential skillsets, such as “problem solving, critical thinking, and working with a community of artists.”

When she first came to the center in 2011, Miller was a student studying ceramics and sculpting before taking on her role as executive director in 2013.

“I have such a passion for this place because I’m surrounded by some of the greatest people,” Miller said. “I’m surrounded by art every single day and every day is different and I have a fabulous staff that works well together. It just makes it easy to come to work.”

Miller said that tuition depends on the type of class and the number of sessions, which typically run from five to eight. For classes like stone sculptor and ceramic, which require more tools, Miller added that they can range from $225-$410.

Open seven days a week, the center runs classes to as late as 10 p.m. Its gallery is also open free to the public seven days a week. Hosting 14 exhibitions a year, the gallery is most recent exhibition featured the work of Cliff Miller, a renowned illustrator, portrait artist and mural painter.

Being in the center of a vibrant business community, Miller said the Art League contributes to the economy by promoting other businesses.  

Upcoming exhibits include “Go APE,” which features artwork of high school advanced placement art students; the 58th Long Island Artists Exhibition; and Essential Water, a photography exhibit. “Go APE” starts Jan. 28 and runs through Feb. 12.