By Peter Sloggatt
Peter Max, the pop artist whose colorful graphic paintings were iconic of the cosmic ’60s, is showing some love to the Huntington Lighthouse. Following up on a connection made at a fundraising event held to benefit the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater, Max has reportedly completed a painting of the lighthouse to be sold in a fundraising auction to benefit the society later this year.
The painting is tentatively scheduled to arrive at the theater by Friday of this week, “Even if I have to pick it up myself,” theater co-owner Kevin O’Neill said.
O’Neill hopes to have it on display in time for a previously scheduled check presentation at which he will turn over proceeds of an event hosted at the theater last week (see story on page 45). The event, a night of performances by top Broadway stars and related auction raised some $60,000 to help fund restoration efforts at the Huntington Lighthouse. Almost as important, however, the event brought together a number of people with the result that Max agreed to donate a painting for auction to help the cause.
It all came about through a “friend of a friend” type of thing, O’Neill said. He had invited his accountant, Bob Frank and his wife to be his guests at the fundraiser. When his wife could not attend, Frank invited a friend, Larry Moskowitz of Lloyd Harbor to the show. Moskowitz, who manages Max’s art sales, was impressed with the evening.
“He was touched by the effort and said, ‘How cool would it be to have Peter Max do a painting’” as a fundraiser, O’Neill said.
Not only did it happen, it happened fast. Less than a week after the theater event, Max was at work on the painting and O’Neill was making arrangements to get it to the theater.
“It was an extremely generous thing to do,” O’Neill said. “It’s just one of those organic things that happens.”
Lighthouse Preservation Society President Pam Setchell is excited about both the publicity and funding the painting may bring.
“The most amazing people have come into the Lighthouse family,” Setchell said. “I’m just stunned, smiling and speechless. And really, really happy.”
Plans are to display the panting at the theater through the summer and auction, possibly around the time of the annual Lighthouse Music Fest set for Labor Day weekend.
The event will cap a “summer of Max” in Northport. The artist is scheduled to appear later this month at Lamantia Gallery on Northport’s Main Street where a retrospective of his works will be on display. RSVP is required (631-754-8414) for two Meet the Artist receptions at Lamantia Gallery on Saturday, June 25, 6-8 p.m. and Sunday, June 26, 2-4 p.m.