Heckscher Exhibit Showcases High School Artists

Harborfields High School senior Nina Bennardo’s “Cradle,” was the Renzo and Lynette Bianchi scholarship prize.

Harborfields High School senior Nina Bennardo’s “Cradle,” was the Renzo and Lynette Bianchi scholarship prize.

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

The talented young artists featured in The Heckscher Museum’s 23rd “Long Island’s Best: Young Artists” exhibition were chosen for their impressive technical abilities and thoughtful artist’s statements.

The artists come from a variety of school districts. Over 350 student artists entered pieces, but curator Lisa Chalif and guest juror Robyn Cooper had to narrow the field down to only 80 for display.

“These students exhibiting in a museum before they even graduate high school is an incredible honor and great for the resume… It’s so reassuring when they work hard on something, to have someone else appreciate and affirm that their hard work has paid off,” Cooper said. “It helps propel them forward and even consider pursuing a career in the arts.”

As an adjunct professor of art at Adelphi University, Cooper’s time teaching high school intensives and aided admissions gave her a keen sense of student talent and ability.

“I am always inspired by their dedication and how hard they work, so this was another opportunity to see what they can truly do,” Cooper said.

During the 10-week program, “For the Love of Art” she teaches high school juniors and seniors who have been nominated by their art teachers the fundamentals of many mediums.

Huntington senior Jonah Anastos’s “4” was awarded for Achievement in Digital Art.

Huntington senior Jonah Anastos’s “4” was awarded for Achievement in Digital Art.

 “I know how dedicated they are, since they went to the museum, saw work on display and were inspired by to create something based on that,” Cooper said. “Spending time in a museum to be inspired is part of the learning experience of being an artist.”

She found it fascinating to view the different connections students made with the Heckscher Museum’s previous exhibits.

“I think this gives them a direction and a place to start, because just saying, ‘Be inspired and go make something,’ can be a little daunting,” Cooper said. “Some of the kids took this and made it so personal, while others look into the artist’s life and relate it to themselves, so they are not just picking and creating, they are really connecting.”

Cooper admits it was a challenge to select only 80 pieces, with all the hard work she viewed. Her decisionmaking ultimately came down to technical ability and how the student constructed their artist’s statement.

Half Hollow Hills East freshman Jeanna Boltz won Andrew Presberg Promising Young Artist Award for “Life’s Journey.”

Half Hollow Hills East freshman Jeanna Boltz won Andrew Presberg Promising Young Artist Award for “Life’s Journey.”

“I read every single statement and took that into consideration, how they articulated their inspiration and what brought them to this work. Every artist in every point of their career has to write an artist’s statement and the fact they get this kind of experience early on is incredible,” Cooper said.

“Long Island’s Best: Young Artists” opens on April 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m. with the award ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. Cooper encourages other young artists’ to explore the exhibit and find inspiration in their peers’ accomplishments.

Who’s On The Wall
Town Of Huntington artists in the Heckscher Museum’s Long Island’s Best exhibit are

Cold Spring Harbor
Xiuya Gang
Half Hollow Hills East
Jeanna Boltz
Elizabeth Gordon
Anna Laimo
Half Hollow Hills West
Alexander Chin
Lillian Su
Harborfields
Lilyana Barling
Nina Bennardo
Gavin Mazzola
Huntington
Jonah Anastos
Vivienne LaVertu
Andrew McKenzie
Abraham Rodriguez
Alexa Splenorio
St. Anthony’s
James Norton

Good Faith Walk Is A Good Friday Tradition

Volunteers help participants at last years Good Faith Walk on Good Friday. This year’s walk will benefit St. Hugh of Lincoln’s Outreach program and the Makenzie Cadmus Special Needs Trust.  Photo/Ginger Hoernig

Volunteers help participants at last years Good Faith Walk on Good Friday. This year’s walk will benefit St. Hugh of Lincoln’s Outreach program and the Makenzie Cadmus Special Needs Trust. Photo/Ginger Hoernig

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

What started out as a confirmation project for seventh graders at St. Hugh of Lincoln Catholic Church in Huntington Station has blossomed into a more than two decades-old fundraising tradition in the community.

Ginger Hoernig of Huntington Station taught that class all those years ago, and said she has worked to keep the Good Faith Walk going.

“I don’t want it to stop,” Hoernig said. “Some people have been coming for the last 24 years and it does a lot to help people.”

This Good Friday will mark the 24th anniversary of the Good Faith Walk, and this year the walk will again be raising funds for two causes near and dear to both Hoernig and the Huntington Station community.

St. Hugh of Lincoln has always been one of the beneficiaries of the walk. Funds are donated to St. Hugh of Lincoln’s Outreach program, which helps local families in need through its food pantry, by offering school supplies for children in the fall and helping partially fund utilities and medical prescriptions for those who cannot afford them.

For the second year in a row, Hoernig said funds will also go to the Makenzie Cadmus Special Needs Trust. The trust benefits three-year-old Makenzie Cadmus who was born with the rare genetic disorder Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa.

The disorder is caused by the mutation of the gene that provides instructions to the body for making a protein used to assemble type VII collagen, one of the molecules that give structure and strength to a person’s skin, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

In little Makenzie’s case, any minor injury, friction, rubbing or scratching of the skin causes painful blisters and skin erosions. Although scientists have not yet found a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa, Makenzie’s parents continue to teach her to say “because I can” instead of asking “why me.”

Hoernig said the funds donated to Makenzie’s trust will help the family cover out of pocket medical costs, including bandages, which can reach as high as $10,000 per month. Hoernig said the walk usually picks a new charity to support each year, but Makenzie needs the support.

The walk kicks off at noon on April 19 at the Walt Whitman High School Track on 301 West Hills Road in Huntington Station and usually lasts around 45 minutes.

Walkers should bring donations of cash or checks made out to either of the charities, or checks can be mailed to Hoernig at 4 Chambers Court, Huntington Station, New York11729. For more information on Makenzie visit Helpmakenzie.com.

Kill and Be Done in Time for Tea

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

 Slaying has never been so slick, when it’s done with song and ends in becoming an aristocrat, as A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder proves, you can always change life’s path.

Tony Award winner for Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder has smashingly slaughtered on Broadway and is ready to entertain audiences at the John W. Engeman Theater until Saturday, April 28.

The show is set in early 20th century England and tells the story of Monty Navarro, played by Sean Yves Lessard, who learns of his ancestral ties to the Earl of Highhurst and D’Ysquith family at his mother’s funeral. A woman claiming to know his late parents, tells Monty of his mother’s banishment from the D’Ysquith family after choosing to marry a Castilian, in “You’re a D’Ysquith”. Only eight relatives lie between Monty, the title of Earl and the family fortune. He plans a little assassination to get himself there.

“It’s been fascinating, in so many ways I am similar to the character,” Lessard said. “But in the most fundamental of ways, I am not, because I am not a serial killer… It’s funny, because even though he is killing these people, everytime he does, he contemplates, ‘Should I have done this?’ He’s grappling with his conscience the entire time.”

The D’Ysquith family is anything but ordinary. Each member is more comical and hate-able than the next. What’s most impressive, is all eight relatives are played by Danny Gardener, who captures an entire family of personalities. At certain points you wouldn’t believe the same man that played Asquith D’Ysquith Jr., a snooty, rich playboy who unknowingly serenades with Miss Barley and Monty in “Poison in My Pocket”, could become a foolish society lady looking for a charity cause in “Lady Hyacinth Abroad”, within the same act.

“His characters are so specific and different from one another, it makes my job so much easier,” Lessard said. “I treat them as completely different creatures, because he does as well… It’s all different voices, postures, body ticks, inflections and accents, it’s impressive.”

As Monty gets to know members of the D’Ysquith family, he learns the good and bad of his family and society. He proves to be emotionally layered, as he ponders whether to kill his generous employer, Lord Asquith D’Ysquith, Sr. in “The Last One You'd Expect”.

“The way he justifies it is, he’s killing these people, who are all terrible… For every character you take on, you have to be the hero of your own story,” Lessard said. “Every answer to any question has to be, ‘Yes’. So would I have done it? Yes I would have as Monty.”

It’s more than just massacre on Monty’s mind, he has two loves that each dominate his world. His mistress, Sibella Hallward played by Kate Loprest, commands his passion, as evident in “I Don’t Know What I’d Do”. That is until, his distant cousin, Phoebe D’Ysquith played by Katherine McLaughlin, turns his world “Inside Out”.

“The redeeming quality of Monty is he loves unconditionally,” Lessard said. “He loves these two women who are the center of his life, he loves Asquith, and he was unconditionally attached to his mother. This is the genesis of it all, was how terribly his mother was treated by the family.”

A favorite with audiences and Lessard himself, the lively song “I’ve Decided to Marry You”, puts Monty literally in the middle of Sibella and Phoebe, as he maneuvers his way between the two rooms that the women are in. It’s a scene that truly has to be witnessed, as Monty swings back and forth from door to door, all the while harmonizing.

“It’s a lesson in being able and open to love, but also a cautionary tale to not love too many people at once,” Lessard said.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is showing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8 p.m., as well as Saturday, 3 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets: $73-78. Call 631-261-2900 or visit engemantheater.com to purchase.

Sheikh Inspires Theater Cast At St. Anthony’s

“The Green Sheikh,” Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, a member of the United Arab Emirates’’ royal family, speaks with St. Anthony’s theater company cast members about youth empowerment and environmental issues.

“The Green Sheikh,” Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, a member of the United Arab Emirates’’ royal family, speaks with St. Anthony’s theater company cast members about youth empowerment and environmental issues.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

His Highness Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, known as the “Green Sheikh,” traveled to St. Anthony’s to watch family friend Caitlin Beirne perform as Wednesday Addams in the production. Four years prior, the Sheikh visited St. Anthony’s and toured the school with Beirne’s brother, with whom he formed a friendship.

“Since the Green Sheikh is all about youth empowerment, my older brother stayed in contact with him,” Beirne said.

A member of the Ajman royal family, Nuaimi carries a reputation as an environmental activist and youth catalyzer.

The cast of “The Addams Family” at St. Anthony’s High School were delighted to meet and perform for a member of royal family of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, March 23.

The cast of “The Addams Family” at St. Anthony’s High School were delighted to meet and perform for a member of royal family of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, March 23.

“To inspire, motivate, and mentor young leaders today, who ultimately will become the future leaders of tomorrow,” Nuaimi said. “These same leaders who will go on to make the changes required for a better, more peacefully interdependent and cooperative world.”

When the Beirnes realized the Sheikh would be visiting America at the same time as the production, they extended an invitation that was gladly accepted. The Sheikh not only attended the show, but spoke with the cast, sharing the importance of youthful activism and advocacy.

“The Sheikh told us that it’s very important we stay involved,” Beirne said. “Then our principal, Brother Gary and the Sheikh spoke about environmental concerns and how Dubai is working to solve these problems.”

The Sheikh said he hopes to motivate the youth to take empowering actions and live a meaningful, simple way of life. This is something he teaches, preaches, and practices in his own life.

Although his words were encouraging, his presence had the performers on edge. Louis Voltaggio, who played Gomez Addams, admited he was nervous before taking the stage, but knew the cast would shine with weeks of preparation.

“I thought it was really interesting just getting to talk to him,” Voltaggio said. “He inspired us all to go out there and perform to the best of our ability.”

For Beirne, it was surreal to see the Sheikh sitting between her parents in the audience. Nuaimi was social and outgoing following the musical. He stuck around to meet parents and take pictures with the cast. The Sheikh told Beirne the production was inspiring.

“I think it was really special for us, after we put so much hard work into this show, that someone who is part of a royal family would come see our show,” Beirne said. “I definitely have a great lasting memory of this.”

 

Dogs Walk The Runway Dressed To The Nines

A fashion show fundraiser for Little Shelter had adoptable pooches walking the runway.

A fashion show fundraiser for Little Shelter had adoptable pooches walking the runway.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Dogs strutted their stuff and wagged their tails in hopes of catching the eye of a future family during Little Shelter’s Rescue Runway Fashion Show held on March 21.

Little Shelter’s eighth annual fashion show fundraiser was hosted at Ferrari-Maserati of Long Island, an ideal backdrop for the lavish night. Potential families had a chance to meet and greet Little Shelter’s adoptable models before they got glammed up for the runway.

The parade of pooches enchanted the audience. News 12’s Danielle Campbell served as the show’s emcee, and spotlighted shelter dogs for adoption.

“There are so many homeless animals out there and there just aren’t enough homes to go around,” Little Shelter executive director David Ceely said. “This allows these dogs, who are in need of a loving home, to make a splash with the public.”

The event showcased dogs of all ages, sizes and backgrounds with the hopes that many would find their forever home. The shelter takes in animals with special or medical needs, like Daisy, a shih-tzu missing her front paw or Bella, a pug with a wheelchair. The shelter helps rehabilitate the animals and get them ready for adoption.

Miss Cleo, a light brown pitbull, came to Little Shelter at 16 years old from the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter, who found her as a stray.

Miss Cleo, a light brown pitbull, came to Little Shelter at 16 years old from the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter, who found her as a stray.

Little Shelter also continues to play an active role in rescuing animals from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Many of these rescued pups had their first chance for adoption at the fashion show.

“We work with the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter as well,” Ceely said. “We worked with them on a sixteen year old pitbull and later found she had BB pellets in her skin. So we got her medically ready and she will premiere for adoption at the fashion show.”

Dogs were dolled up in exclusive pieces from The Official Kane & Couture by Julie Lancaster from Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets, while FETCH Shop of Huntington village produced the show.

The Rescue Runway Fashion Show began as a fundraiser to aid Little Shelter with repairs after Hurricane Sandy caused considerable damage to the facility. The shelter has been a part of the Huntington community for 92 years, and has strong local support. As a grassroots organization that receives zero funding from the government, Little Shelter relies solely on donations and volunteers to operate.

Dogs were dolled up in exclusive pieces from The Official Kane & Couture by Julie Lancaster from Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets

Dogs were dolled up in exclusive pieces from The Official Kane & Couture by Julie Lancaster from Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets

 “The benefit of the fundraiser is tri-fold, since we run Little Shelter, the Town of Huntington Cat Shelter and a sanctuary,” Ceely said. “The sanctuary is what keeps us a true no kill shelter. If a dog has grown old or is overlooked for medical or behavioral reasons, they can go there and live out the rest of their lives in comfort.”

Dogs enjoy freedom and time to decompress at the 124-acre sanctuary in upstate New York, where each pup has their own room, 24-hour care and plenty of space for exercise. Little Shelter works to house as many animals as possible, always running at maximum capacity.

“There is nothing like the feeling of rescuing an animal and they know they’ve been saved,” Ceely said. “But when you adopt, you don’t just save that animals life, you also save the life of another animal because it opens up a space for us to bring them to the safety of Little Shelter.”

Netflix Star Brings Magic To Huntington

Justin Willman, star of the Netflix original show “Magic For Humans,” is slated to take the stage at The Paramount next weekend.

Justin Willman, star of the Netflix original show “Magic For Humans,” is slated to take the stage at The Paramount next weekend.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Whether you know Justin Willman as a magician, comedian and television host, he’s sure to entertain when he takes the stage at The Paramount in Huntington next weekend.

Willman, 38, of St. Louis, Missouri, earned his reputation as a magician performing as a regular guest on “The Tonight Show,” “Ellen” and “Conan.” He performed live for the Obama family at the White House Halloween party.

Fans of the Food Network will recognize Willman as the host of the show “Cupcake Wars” from 2009 until 2013.

Most recently, Willman became the star of Netflix’s first original show about magic. “Magic For Humans” debuted last year and features six, 30-minute episodes. The show blends street magic and social experiments to address the strange and misunderstood subcultures of America.

Willman said the idea behind “Magic For Humans” was to use magic as a way to disarm people and disguise the social experiments. Instead of finding answers, he said he was left with more questions.

Willman said in the show he “uses the art of magic to master the art of being human.” Clips of the show have been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and other social media sites.

In both “Magic For Humans” and his live shows, Willman is known for his combination of magic and comedic timing.

Willman’s show at The Paramount is part of his Magic in Real Life tour that began in February. The show is designed to give a more intimate, personal performance for the live audience.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show on Saturday, April 13. Tickets range from $20-$50, and they can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Here Comes Thoroughly Modern Millie

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Swing into the roaring ’20s, as “Thoroughly Modern Millie” turns back time on the Huntington High School stage.

The classic musical transports audiences to the booming jazz age in New York. The show follows Kansas girl Millie Dillmount as she finds her way as a “modern” woman in the big city, with the help of show-stopping numbers and a diverse cast of characters. Director Michael Schwendemann said he was drawn to “Thoroughly Modern Millie’s” lively soundtrack.

“One of the things I love about the show is the score. The songs are quite memorable and kinda draw you in that jazz age time,” Schwendemann said. “They make you wanna throw on your flapper dress and join the party.”

Playing the role of Millie, junior Abby Semelsberger feels it’s a dream come true to play the iconic role, especially since she grew up listening to the musical.

“It’s definitely had its challenges as a 2019 teenager playing a 1920s young adult, but it’s been so rewarding to play this character that I love,” Semelsberger said. “She’s taught me so much about bravery, going after what you want, and not apologizing for who you are, which I admire so much.”

On her path to becoming modern, Millie encounters caring, comical and conniving characters. Semelsberger said she feels fortunate to have known her co-star Izzy Cahill, who plays Miss Dorothy, and love interest Jimmy Smith, played by Kennan Lyons, for many years. The natural chemistry is evident as they share the stage.

“I’m so lucky to have an entire cast that I’m such great friends with, they’re all amazing people outside of being incredibly talented,” Semelsberger said.

A live pit orchestra of student musicians brings the show’s jazzy tunes and swinging serenades to life.

Lyons said he enjoys his solo “What Do I Need with Love?”, as Jimmy sings of his inner conflict and feelings in a jail cell, while Semelsberger is looking forward to her upbeat solo, “Gimme Gimme”.

“The ’20s is that jazz age, with flappers and speakeasies,” Lyons said. “It’s a whole new scene. It’s that time people had a spark for individuality. I feel the ’20s is just this breath of fresh air with opportunity.”

The cast has immersed themselves in the roaring ’20s, studying the walk, talk and dress of the era. Before hitting the stage, Schwendemann had each cast member analyze their character’s motivation, background and relationships.

“Something I told the kids today is, ‘no one is bigger than the production,’” Schwendemann said. “We need to be a well-oiled machine and we’re only as strong as our weakest link.”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” hits the Huntington High School stage on April 5, 7:30 p.m. and April 6, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets sold at the door for $10. The Saturday matinee is free for seniors. For more information, call 516-749-0741.

Surreal Space Between Asleep And Awake

Northort fine art photographer Nicolas Bruno’s surrealistic scenes explore his experiences with sleep paralysis. His solo show, In Limbo, is at Haven Gallery through March.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Northort fine art photographer Nicolas Bruno’s surrealistic scenes explore his experiences with sleep paralysis. His solo show, In Limbo, is at Haven Gallery through March. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Imagine waking from sleep, not being able to move a muscle as visions of fears take over your sight, a scary scenario that has plagued local artist, Nicolas Bruno.

The Northport photographer has suffered from sleep paralysis from a young age, a condition that renders a person immobile, despite being consciously awake. Those who experience it cannot move or speak, feel pressure on their chest and will at times hallucinate frightening scenes. Bruno has channeled these experiences into his art as a form of therapy. This month, his latest exhibit, “In Limbo” will be shown at Haven Gallery in Northport until Mar. 31.

“My whole body of work is based on my experiences with sleep paralysis and how I transform them from something negative into positive artwork,” Bruno said.

This is Bruno’s first year in his own studio and feels he finally has “complete freedom” with his process and art. This will be his first time exhibiting sculptures and drawings of characters he met in dreams. He also recently debuted a jewelry collection directly inspired by his work.

“I’m really excited to share what I’ve been working on for the past year,” Bruno said. “I’ve been exploring a lot of deeper themes in my work, along with different mediums and creating new costumes and props.”

Bruno chose the title “In Limbo” because he believes it encapsulates the feeling of being stuck during sleep paralysis.

“With sleep paralysis, you’re stuck between the world of being awake and asleep,” Bruno said. “You’re just waiting for this horrible experience to end and you can’t do anything because you’re frozen in your bed.”

For this exhibit, Bruno went even deeper into his theme of sleep and dreams. His dark images pull inspiration from his own dreams and visions. He keeps in a dream journal in which he can sketch or jot down a few words after waking up.

“This helps me to express the feelings I’ve went through that are almost impossible to describe with words,” Bruno said. “Art is my universal voice to speak to anybody across the world.”

Many of Bruno’s photographs carry the dark presence of a nightmare and represent scenes he has witnessed while paralyzed in bed.

“To make these crazy, chaotic themes, I normally have to build everything,” Bruno said. “You can’t just buy something like a wishing well, I have to figure out how to create it myself. I would get insulation foam, then carve and paint it or I’ll pick up wood off the side of the road and repurpose it.”

Although Bruno outlines themes for his body of work, the artist wants viewers to make their own conclusions about pieces.

“I think it’s fun to explore the personal aspects of it,” Bruno said. “But I do leave it open to interpretation, since everyone interprets a dream differently.”

Bruno’s imagery often requires building elaborate props.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Bruno’s imagery often requires building elaborate props. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Bruno will often serve as his own model, immersing himself back into the scary scenes his mind has created. He will set up his camera on a tripod, then start an interval timer that snaps a picture every few seconds as he rearranges his poses and props.

“I almost relive these chaotic experiences because I’m wading through a murky pond or I have a mask on my face or maybe I’m bound in rope,” Bruno said. “But instead of not having any control, I have complete control of the scenario and can relive the experience with control, while creating something positive.”

Growing up on Long Island, Bruno has used his surroundings as a backdrop for his eerie images. His favorite environments to shoot in take him deep into the woods, marsh lands or by the ocean.

“I like to revisit areas that I went to as a child and found inspiration or comfort in going to,” Bruno said. “I remember when I was younger, my friends and I would run around there making up stories.”

Since he was a young boy, Bruno has been capturing images and ignited his passion with a disposable camera. But it wasn’t until he took art classes in high school that he realized this was a subject he excelled in.

“At the time, I was really just not sleeping, I would stay up for two days in a row, just because I would be afraid to go back to bed,” Bruno said. “Art was really my outlet.”

Bruno hopes his work reaches those who suffer from sleep paralysis, who can relate and be inspired to possibly work through the disorder with their own “pleasant therapy.” In the future, he would like to create a Virtual Reality experience that shows people what sleep paralysis feels like. To view his work visit nicolasbrunophotography.com.

A child’s dollhouse sawed in two creates the basis of this image.  Photo/Nicolas Bruno

A child’s dollhouse sawed in two creates the basis of this image. Photo/Nicolas Bruno

Message To Cancer Patients: ‘No One Fights Alone’

Commack Director of Athletics Pat Friel, Roseanne Simone, seniors on the varsity girls soccer team, and coaches Tracie Morenberg and Jack Bayer, show off blankets purchased for chemotherapy patients. The blankets read: “No one fights alone!”

Commack Director of Athletics Pat Friel, Roseanne Simone, seniors on the varsity girls soccer team, and coaches Tracie Morenberg and Jack Bayer, show off blankets purchased for chemotherapy patients. The blankets read: “No one fights alone!”

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Commack High School Girls Soccer program, along with the Commack High School Goal Club and the Commack Soccer League raised $6,000 to aid those with cancer.

They joined numerous schools and the Suffolk County Girls Soccer Coaches Association (S.C.G.S.C.A.) for the “Kicks for Cancer Fundraiser” that benefits cancer organizations and local families. Since 2008, Kicks For Cancer has raised more than $250,000 that has been donated to the Making Headway Foundation, American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House and many others. It was started by the Hauppauge Girls Soccer Program and coach Jesseca Kulesa after the team lost soccer family member Courtney Tomkin to brain cancer.

“Courtney has been and always will be an inspiration and has affected thousands of lives in so many ways both on and off the pitch and continues to do so to this very day,” the S.C.G.S.C.A. website reads.

The Commack contingent raised the second highest school total in Suffolk County with $6,000 donated. Varsity and junior varsity soccer players amassed this amount through raffles, bake sales and collecting donations at the Commack Soccer League field on weekends. CSL showed its support by selling pink soccer socks in October. The school’s Goal Club also lent a hand by organizing basket donations and concessions at the girls’ annual “Pink Games”.

As thanks, Kicks for Cancer allows the teams to choose where a portion of their raised funds will be donated. They selected a fund chosen by Commack Soccer League board member and cancer survivor Roseanne Simone.

“Roseanne’s determination was the motivation behind this community venture,” Commack coach Tracie Morenberg said. “Through the great efforts of many, the Commack High School Girls Soccer Program knows the true meaning of ‘It takes a village to pay it forward.’”

Simone’s wish was to give back to the center that helped her through her own battle with breast cancer. In January, she was able to deliver 200 blankets for chemotherapy patients at the NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center in Huntington where she was treated.

Supermarket Puts Plastic Bag Fees To A Good Use

IGA owner Charlie Reichert, left, Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta, right, and Fort Salonga IGA’s manager Ryan Ceriello pictured last year when Reichert announced he would donate the store’s plastic bag fees to Huntington Hospital.

IGA owner Charlie Reichert, left, Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta, right, and Fort Salonga IGA’s manager Ryan Ceriello pictured last year when Reichert announced he would donate the store’s plastic bag fees to Huntington Hospital.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The owner of two IGA markets in the Town of Huntington donated the proceeds from Suffolk’s 5-cent plastic bag fee – nearly $18,000 – to Huntington Hospital.

Charlie Reichert of Northport pledged last February he would donate to the hospital the money his IGA markets in Fort Salonga and East Northport brought in as a result of the county’s fee on single-use plastic bags. The two stores collected $17,810 in fees during 2018, according to hospital officials.

The county law requiring retailers to charge a nickel per plastic bag used by a customer was approved by the Suffolk Legislature in September 2016, and implemented at the start of last year.

Reichert said he came up with the idea to donate the fee after he heard customers complaining about having to pay a nickel for plastic bags, and that the money was just going back into the retailer’s pockets.

Reichert and his wife Helen have been major donors to Huntington Hospital, and the money from the plastic bag fee will go towards the newly opened Center for Mothers and Babies. The center provides 19 private rooms for mothers and their babies complete with sleeper sofas for a significant other, hospital officials said.

“Charles and his family’s generosity has helped Huntington Hospital to continue to provide cutting-edge medical care to the people of Suffolk County,” Huntington Hospital’s executive director Dr. Nick Fitterman said.

Officials from Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer’s office said they are still putting together a report with data on the impact of the bill, but preliminary information from the Food Industry Alliance of New York State indicates member stores saw an 80 percent reduction in plastic bag usage over the first three quarters of 2018.

Councilman Joins Ex-Rangers On The Ice

At a charity hockey to benefit youth hockey are, from left, back row: rink maintenance worker Jerry Reikert; rink manager Matt Naples; Rangers Brian Mullen and Colton Orr; Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth; skating instructor James Chang; assistant rink manager Kevin Young and Mike Graziano.

At a charity hockey to benefit youth hockey are, from left, back row: rink maintenance worker Jerry Reikert; rink manager Matt Naples; Rangers Brian Mullen and Colton Orr; Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth; skating instructor James Chang; assistant rink manager Kevin Young and Mike Graziano.

By Charlie Crudup
info@longislandergroup.com

Ed Smyth considers himself a decent hockey player. Though it’s been a few years since he has played with a team, the Huntington Councilman agreed to lace up his skates for a charity game.

Smyth found himself on the ice last Saturday for a New York Rangers Assist charity game to benefit youth hockey. Skating alongside Smyth and other parents of youth hockey players were a handful of former New York Rangers.

Darius Kasparaitis and Ron Duguay anchored Smyth’s Team Blue, and Brian Mullen and Colton Orr skated for Team White.

The former Rangers regularly “come out of retirement” to play fundraising games through the New York Rangers Assist.

Saturday’s event at the Dix Hills Ice Rink raised $60,000 for Long Island Rebels Hockey Association and the Dix Hills Ice Rink.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be able to do this after my career.” Orr said.

Kasparaitis opened the scoring and he and Orr kept the score close.

“They were pretty much able to score at will,” said Smyth of the pros.

Team Blue beat Team White, 13-11.

Smyth ended the game with his teeth intact and his wallet lighter, but it was for a good cause.

“It’s always better to get in and get your hands dirty rather than talk about it.”

Art League Shows Top Student Artists

Walt Whitman High School student Reyha Mete depicts city spaces in “Stuggle.” She plans to pursue art in college.

Walt Whitman High School student Reyha Mete depicts city spaces in “Stuggle.” She plans to pursue art in college.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Youth artists shine at “GO APE,” an exhibit featuring work by high school Advanced Placement art students from across Long island at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills.

Schools were asked to submit up to four student pieces, highlighting a variety of media from drawing to sculpture to photography. The exhibit gives young artists a chance to display their work and develop experience working with galleries.

“It’s great reassurance that after all the hard work we’ve put in these years, our work can be showcased and more than just the people from our school get to see it,” Half Hollow Hills student Elizabeth Gordin said.

Her art teacher Allyson Uttendorfer believes the show is important for flourishing students.

“I think it shows them the professional side of exhibiting,” Uttendorfer said. “It shows them what’s to come if they do pursue art and what to look forward to. It also boosts their confidence, that they get to see their work, which is so strong, amongst other really talented students from Long Island.”

Half Hollow Hills HS East’s Giavanna Castro’s radiant work, “Sun Catcher” is among works by top student artists at the Art League of Long Island galleries in Dix Hills.

Half Hollow Hills HS East’s Giavanna Castro’s radiant work, “Sun Catcher” is among works by top student artists at the Art League of Long Island galleries in Dix Hills.

This year 24 students from seven Town of Huntington high schools will be among the 142 artists exhibiting. They are Giavanna Castro, Rachel Goldsmith, Elizabeth Gordin, Evelyn Shanoff, Madeline Bay, Francisco Chong, Ryan Kenny, Avery Schwartz, Nina Bernnardo, Katie Farkas, Emily Graziano, Nick Paul, Kristen Impicciche, Katya Jaworsk, Emma Mason, Shannon Wines, Anna Edwards, Diana Fogel, Reyha Mete, Cyrus Pekarek, Ryan Eno, Katie Long, Jason Saporito, and Kelly Williams.

Uttendorfer had to choose two works to represent Half Hollow Hills. She selected “Good For The Sole” by Gordin and “Sun Catcher” by Giavanna Castro.

“I take into consideration skill and finished product, but also pay attention to whose are working really hard,” Uttendorfer said. “The girls are really talented, they’ve both been at the top of the class.”

Each photographer captured subjects in a unique, exciting way utilizing effects. “Good for the Sole” comes from the project, “Faceless Portraits” where Godrin puts emphasis on the color reflecting off the shoes. While Castro’s piece sees the sunny side.

“Good For The Sole” by Half Hollow Hills AP art student Elizabeth Gordin.

“Good For The Sole” by Half Hollow Hills AP art student Elizabeth Gordin.

 “I utilized a suncatcher to take the picture, I put it over the lense of my camera to get those distinct rainbow lines,” Castro said. “I thought this would really contribute to my concentration and added a lot of character to the piece, especially with my friend smiling.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to have the community come together to see the art we’ve been making for all these years,” Castro said.

Both students are very excited and proud to have their work hanging on the gallery walls.

They are also eager to view other student’s work and techniques, like Walt Whitman senior Reyha Mete, who utilized watercolor to create “Struggle.”

The work will be on display at the Art League of Long Island Feb. 16 through Mar. 3 when awards will be given at an Artist’s Reception, from 1-3 p.m.

Mount Misery's Woods Get The Amityville Treatment

A film set for release in May explores the history and legends surrounding Mount Misery Road in West Hills.

A film set for release in May explores the history and legends surrounding Mount Misery Road in West Hills.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

A road that goes far back in Huntington’s history with a few stories of its own, sets the scene for a new, independent horror film, “Amityville: Mt. Misery Road” that is set for release this May.

Growing up in Old Bethpage, Chuck Morrongiello recalls hearing rumors and legends throughout his years at school of the haunted road and woods of Mount Misery in West Hills. As avid horror enthusiasts, Morrongiello and his wife Karolina ventured into the forest during a trip to visit his family and came out with the idea for their first horror film.

“I grew up in this area and had always heard about Mt. Misery Road. We basically got enthused by the history of Mt. Misery Road,” Chuck said. “I went online and started reading story after story.”

The myths of Mt. Misery Road are familiar to generations of Huntington residents. Grandparents and teenagers alike have their own tales of the location. As directors, actors and musicians, the Morrongiellos wanted to be the first to bring these stories into the genre of horror. Chuck wrote the movie’s entire screenplay in just three days.

“Nobody has really touched this area,” Karolina said. “We thought it was a really cool subject, that many people talked about from generation to generation.”

MountMiseryFilm_1.jpg

The couple play Charlie and Buzi, Floridian ghost-enthusiasts who are intrigued by Mt. Misery Road after their friend shows them photographs he took of floating orbs in the woods. The pair venture into the woods to see if the stories of the Hellhound, Mothman and Mary are true.

“Our film is about the story of Mary, the asylum and a couple that’s not taking any direction from people that are warning them to stay away,” Chuck said.

Legend has it the plot of land was sold to settlers by Native American tribes with a warning.

“The settlers were warned ... to stay away from that area because it was cursed,” Chuck said. “There have been sightings in the sky of strange lights, the settlers noticed that nothing grew on the hill slopes and it was very difficult to navigate through the rocky terrain. They also had seen a Hellhound-like creature with bright red glowing eyes and their livestock was disappearing or found mutilated throughout the woods. People would go missing as well.”

In the movie, 150 years later an asylum is built in the woods to keep the mentally ill away from society.

“The asylum was burned down, as the story goes, by a deranged patient named Mary, and she basically killed everyone in the building,” Chuck said. “There’s been sightings of ghosts walking in the woods, and people still hear moans and groans coming from the woods today.”

During Chuck’s time in high school, Mt. Misery Road was a hotspot for teenagers on Halloween night. Teens would congregate together and go off in search of a spirit or creature. There wasn’t a street light in sight in the woods of Mount Misery, and the darkness contributed to the eerie feeling.

“Everybody knows about Mt. Misery Road,” Chuck said. “The other day we were at a local get together and heard grandparents talking about it, their kids discussed it and even their grandchildren knew about it.”

“Amityville: Mt. Misery Road” will be released by ITN Studios in May. The film has already received praise at movie festivals, like the International Horror Hotel Festival in Ohio.

Get Your Dose Of Karma At The Paramount

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma,playing the Great South Bay Music Festival, above, will play to the home crowd when they open for TR3 at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma,playing the Great South Bay Music Festival, above, will play to the home crowd when they open for TR3 at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Huntington-based Gnarly Karma is stoked to hit the stage of The Paramount this week. The band opens Friday for one of their musical influences, Dave Matthews Band guitarist Tim Reynolds and his band TR3.

Gnarly Karma has a dynamic sound that anyone could love. They are composed of singer and guitarist Mike “Manicotti” Renert; drummer Jarrod “Rock” Beyer; bassist Ryan “McMagic” McAdam; saxophonist Billy “Bad Bones” Hanley; and lead guitarist Adam “Sklarface” Sklar.

All are locals: Menert is from Cold Spring Harbor; Beyer, McAdam and Hanley from Elwood; and Sklar from Syosset.

The band has dreamed of playing at The Paramount for years.

“It’s something that we’ve been working towards since we started,” Renert said. “Growing up, I always went to the city to see shows and wished there was someplace in Huntington to see concerts. When the Paramount opened, we said, ‘We’re gonna play there. We might start out opening but one day we’ll get to headline.’”

Formed six years ago, Gnarly Karma has gained notoriety for their eclectic music style and spirited live performances at venues like Long Island’s Great South Bay Music Festival, Alive After Five in Patchogue Village, and South by Southwest Music Festival, in Austin, Texas.

Gnarly Karma band memers, from left, are: Billy Hanley, Jarrod Beyer, Mike Renert, Ryan McAdam and Adam Sklar.

Gnarly Karma band memers, from left, are: Billy Hanley, Jarrod Beyer, Mike Renert, Ryan McAdam and Adam Sklar.

But for Gnarly Karma, the Paramount gig is a home game. Renert said he couldn’t put into words the excitement he felt knowing he would be playing for his home community on Friday.

“The goal was always to get into The Paramount on the main stage. We’re super-pumped about that,” Renert said.

The band’s music appeals to a broad audience, and each member brings his own musical perspective. Beyer’s drumming is influenced by Latin rhythms, Hanley loves Motown and funk, Sklar is into all things classic rock, while McAdam prefers modern alternative rock. As the singer/songwriter, Renert focuses on his lyrics and wants listeners to connect with them.

“We all bring a flavor to the song and when it all comes together, it’s really something that everyone can listen to,” Renert said. “I love that we all have different musical influences.”

One of Renert’s inspirations happens to be headliner, Tim Reynolds, who he idolized as a songwriter with Dave Matthews. He remembers going to sleepaway camp, when first learning to play the guitar and his counselor played him “Dave and Tim Live at Luther College” on cassette.

“That album is timeless for me, I listen to it all the time,” Renert said. “When I think of acoustic song-writing, I think of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on that album. It’s really unbelievable. I would always listen to it and say Tim Reynolds lead guitar playing is amazing, and now we’re opening for him.”

Gnarly Karma will be releasing new songs this year and hope to perform at more gigs across the country. Catch them open for Tim Reynolds and TR3 on Friday, Feb. 1. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15-40.

Audiences ‘Rave On’ For Engeman’s Buddy Holly

By Janee Law
info@longislandergroup.com

It’s no surprise that the John W. Engeman Theater’s production of “Buddy–The Buddy Holly Story” received a standing ovation from the audience during its Jan. 19 showing, as cast members kept the crowd moving and singing to the songs from start to finish.

Audience member Teresa Oliver, of Huntington, said this is a production that can’t be missed.

“Everything was excellent,” she said. “It got everybody moving, everybody dancing, and everybody was getting involved. I loved it”

The audience journeys back to 1957 to witness the true story of American musician Buddy Holly (Michael Perrie Jr.) and his historical raise to fame until his tragic death less than two years later. Instead of leaving the crowd with the sadness over the singer’s sudden death, the production focuses on pulling the audience in to celebrate his life and musical brilliance. Throughout the production, the ensemble also brings the crowd to act as a live audience for Buddy’s concerts and performances.

Audience member Frank Carino Jr., of Huntington, said the cast’s interaction with the crowd was awesome and everyone from his group “lost their voices during the show.”

“It was definitely an entertaining evening for all age groups,” Carino said. “It was honestly better than some of the Broadway shows I’ve seen, hands down.”

Engeman’s production is directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews, with musical direction by Angela C. Howell. The ensemble had the audience grooving and rocking to more than 20 of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits, including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” “Oh Boy,” “Not Fade Away,” “Rave On” and “Raining In My Heart.”

In act one, Buddy Holly & the Crickets’ performance of “Oh Boy” will have the crowd saying “oh boy” as cast members energetically strum the chords and use their instruments as a bass—no pun intended—for entertaining stunts.

During the productions electrifying finale, which features Buddy’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Ritchie Valens’ (Diego Guevara) “La Bamba” and The Big Bopper’s (Jayson Elliot) “Chantilly Lace,” the energy from the audience was in full force, singing, clapping and dancing to each number.

Leading the stamina on stage is Michael Perrie Jr., who portrays the corky and ambitious Buddy Holly. Perrie brilliantly embodies Buddy’s musical talents and unwavering drive to follow his dream.

After Saturday’s show, Perrie said having the opportunity to play Buddy has always been a dream for him.

“I love playing Buddy Holly because he was a genius and he was a great inspiration for me,” Perrie said. “This was the first show I ever saw as a kid that got me into theater and so it’s very full circle for me to come back and do it.”

He added that every show brings a new discovery in his role as Buddy. “This production and this cast are phenomenal. They make me feel like there’s a new Buddy in there that I’m finding every time. It’s a wonderful experience.”

Other leading cast members include Sam Sherwood as Joe Maudlin, Armando Gutierrez as Jerry Allison and Eric Scott Anthony as Norman Petty.

Performances of “Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story” will continue until March 3 at the 250 Main St. theater in Northport Village, with showings on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are also select Wednesday showings at 8 p.m. and Sunday showings at 7 p.m.

Tickets ($73-$78) are available at the box office or online at Engemantheater.com.

Museum Volunteer Sees Himself On The Wall

Retired docent Tom Campbell was the inspiration for a student artist Grant Fryc’s mixed-media work, “Erudite,” in Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum.

Retired docent Tom Campbell was the inspiration for a student artist Grant Fryc’s mixed-media work, “Erudite,” in Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at The Heckscher Museum.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

In his 13 years as a docent at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Tom Campbell delved into the history of art and even found himself among the artwork on the walls.

His retirement follows years of engaging conversations, self-taught knowledge of artists and exhibits, and a resolute dedication to being a volunteer docent. His responsibility was to educate and speak with patrons about the pieces of art; informing them on the artist, the conflicts they faced while working, and styles utilized.

“A docent is the face of the museum, to the visitor,” Campbell said. “As a result, you are the host or hostess, so everyone that comes into the museum, you should make an attempt to introduce yourself and talk to them about the exhibition.”

Campbell feels that artists are “of their time and place,” expressed in their thoughts and feelings towards contemporary issues in their art. For hour-long tours, Campbell was responsible for explaining the story of 15-20 pieces.

“The first couple weeks an exhibit is up, there’s still a lot to get used to,” Campbell said. “When you see an image for the first time, regardless of any background given, it is a different entity.”

His favorite part of being a docent was, “telling the story of what images were and talking to people.” Campbell found each person has a different perspective toward a piece, based on their own life.

“I loved to get people to talk about the pieces and what they see in it,” Campbell said. “A visual image is how you are responding to it. I can have one response and come from an entirely different background, than yours.”

Campbell loved engaging his audience, which inspired student artist, Grant Fryc to use Campbell’s image for a mixed-media work.

“I happened to be doing a presentation of a bust of George Washington and I see this young man taking photographs and I wonder, ‘What is this guy doing? If he wants a picture of the bust, he could wait until I’m done.’ I slowly came to a realization that he was taking pictures of me,” Campbell said.

Fryc was on a mission to find a piece of art in a local museum that inspired them for the Long Island’s Best: Young Artists competition. In Campbell, Fryc saw his vision.

“I guess him and the young lady were impressed by the fact that, of the four museums they had gone to, I was the only docent who really paid attention to them,” Campbell said.

Campbell felt he was just doing his duty and wasn’t even aware Fryc took his image to create a piece justly titled, “Erudite”, until the exhibit came to Heckscher. When Campbell gave tours of the exhibit, patrons would be shocked and delighted to see their docent in the artwork. The piece would later win the U.S. Congressional Art Competition and hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year.

“Everytime I look at it, I’m impressed,” Campbell said. “Having someone paint your portrait is for famous people.”

Tim Reynolds To Play New Album At The Paramount

The Tim Reynolds Trio, from left, bassist Mick Vaughn, guitarist Tim Reynolds and drummer Dan Martier, will debut music from TR3’s newest album “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

The Tim Reynolds Trio, from left, bassist Mick Vaughn, guitarist Tim Reynolds and drummer Dan Martier, will debut music from TR3’s newest album “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Before becoming a lead guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band or touring with Matthews as half of an acoustic duo, Tim Reynolds started his musical adventure with the Tim Reynolds Trio.

The Tim Reynolds Trio, or TR3, is set to release a new 11-song album titled “The Sea Versus The Mountain” on Feb. 1, the same day the band is slated to take the stage at The Paramount in Huntington.

Reynolds, 61, described the new album as “a little bit prog rock, but more of a zen prog feel.”

“This record was a fully realized effort for me,” Reynolds said. “It’s mostly instrumental, so I’m really psyched that the guitar is the main voice on the record.”

Reynolds said the show at The Paramount would be one of the first times TR3 will perform songs from “The Sea Versus The Mountain” in front of a live audience.

“That’s what’s really exciting about this tour for me,” Reynolds said. “It’s a little scary, but also exciting.”

Like almost all of his previous music, the new album features a variety of music styles, from “an industrial song” to an “ambient song.”

“That’s my mode,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds, along with bassist Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier, experimented with the songs in the studio to create “a lot of cool stuff we haven’t done before.” TR3 spent a few weeks together in house out in the North Carolina woods where the trio recorded “The Sea Versus The Mountain.”

“As a musician I love to create and improvise, and it was really satisfying to get to do that in this environment,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds settled on the title for the album because he was “trying to find something to fit our work.” He said the dichotomy between sea and mountain mirrored the “light aspect and dark aspect” of the music.

“It had kind of an epic sound to me that fit the music,” he said.

TR3 is set to debut “The Sea Versus The Mountain” at The Paramount on Feb. 1. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Tickets range from $15-$40 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Huntington Photographer Turns Lens On 'Alternative' South

Lucas Foglia’s images of families living sustainably and independently in the South is featured in an exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.” Among the photos, “Andrew and Taurin Drinking Raw Goat's Milk” was shot in Tennessee during 2009.  Photos by Lucas Foglia

Lucas Foglia’s images of families living sustainably and independently in the South is featured in an exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.” Among the photos, “Andrew and Taurin Drinking Raw Goat's Milk” was shot in Tennessee during 2009. Photos by Lucas Foglia

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Huntington Station native Lucas Foglia is documenting an evolving vision of the South with his photographs that depict a modern counterculture movement.

Having grown up on his family’s Fox Hollow Farms, Foglia has been drawn to nature and sustainability from a young age. After receiving a degree in art from Brown University and MFA in photography from Yale University, Foglia hit the road in the South finding families who live self-sufficiently. Like Foglia’s family, who grew a major portion of their food and bartered their goods with others in exchange for local products and service, these families rely on themselves for their own sustenance.

“The lifestyle we had was a mixture of agriculture and suburbia,” Foglia said. “When I went to photograph in the South East, the people I met were living with the same value system that I grew up with, but to more of an absolute.”

Foglia’s work will aid the visualization of the region through the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South.” A collaboration of more than 50 photographers, the traveling exhibit will hang in Charleston, SC; Raleigh and Durham, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Meridian, MS; and Baton Rouge, LA.

Foglia titled his piece of the project “Natural Order.” It shows a contemporary counterculture movement from the region. “Some people might remember hippie communes in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “My project in the context of this show illustrates the communities that are thriving today.”

“Rita and Cora Aiming” was shot in Tennessee during 2007.

“Rita and Cora Aiming” was shot in Tennessee during 2007.

The project took Foglia five years to complete. He photographed around a dozen communities in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia. Foglia was enchanted by the landscapes and beauty, but even more fascinated by the lifestyles.

“When there were early signs of the global economic recession, I was interested in photographing people, who had chosen to live as self-sufficient a lifestyle as possible,” Foglia said.

Foglia’s mother, storyteller Heather Forrest, connected him with fellow storyteller Doug Elliott, who made the introduction to a network of people who had left cities and suburbs to take up life “off the grid.”

“Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or the global economic recession, they chose to build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather or grow their own food. All the people in my photographs aspire to be self-sufficient,” Foglia said.

Detached from the outside world, the people in these communities maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle.

“Todd after a Haircut” was taken in North Carolina during 2008.

“Todd after a Haircut” was taken in North Carolina during 2008.

 “I was fascinated that as the recession went into full force, the people I was photographing were unaffected,” Foglia said. “They lived independently from the mainstream economic system.”

Each community Foglia captures has its own habits and practices. Some families choose to live in wigwams made of entirely tree bark; others -- former nuclear engineers – dressed and acted like Mennonites.

“The families I photographed in North Carolina were practicing earth skills,” Foglia said. “Tanning and wearing animal hides for clothing, starting fires by friction, hunting and gathering their food. The families in Tennessee and Kentucky were focused on living in the fashion of Mennonites, off-grid and survivalist, but more agrarian.”

America’s South East is an ideal region for families to live self-sufficiently without needing much money, thanks to its cheap land, fresh water springs, long growing seasons, the availability of deer for hunting, and philosophy of freedom.

“It was easy to have an alternative lifestyle without interference from the neighbors,” Foglia said. “Locals believed in independence, libertarianism, live-and-let-live.”

Photographer Lucas Foglia’s images of families living off the grid in the South are featured in the exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.”

Photographer Lucas Foglia’s images of families living off the grid in the South are featured in the exhibit and accompanying book, “Southbound.”

The photographs taken during Foglia’s time with the communities give an immersive look at the world of sustainability, from a mother teaching her daughter how to shoot a gun, to a young boy looking at his new haircut in the reflection of a river. Foglia’s dynamic images feel natural and instinctive.

“They’re moments that happen in everyday life,” Foglia said. “I am actively photographing and the people I photograph know that I’m there.”

Foglia will continue his journey to explore humans’ connection to nature in a wired world with future projects. Currently, he lives in San Francisco and just completed his third book, “Human Nature.”

To learn more about “Southbound” and view the exhibit, visit southboundproject.org.

That Whitman Can Sell Just About Anything

Walt Whitman’s words and persona have been tapped by marketing gurus for decades to sell everything from cars to cigars. Above, an advertisement for Old Crow Bourbon imagined the poet to be an admirer of the spirit.

Walt Whitman’s words and persona have been tapped by marketing gurus for decades to sell everything from cars to cigars. Above, an advertisement for Old Crow Bourbon imagined the poet to be an admirer of the spirit.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Walt Whitman’s influence as a poet and free thinker is well-established, but the Huntington-born poet’s reach extends beyond the literary world. Marketers over the years have tapped the poet’s persona to sell everything from cars to cigars.

Whitman was re-imagined for the modern day in a 2016 Volvo commercial that read from his poem “Song of the Open Road.” His poems “America” and “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” were employed for a Levi’s jeans commercial in 2009.

Both follow more than a century of branding and advertising that aligned products with perceptions of the poet as a distinguished intellectual (John Hancock Insurance advertisement, 1952) with discerning taste (Old Crow Bourbon, 1960). Whitman’s image sold tobacco, hotel rooms, ice cream and espresso.

Whitman-branded cigars were sold in the 1900’s. More recently his words have been evoked to sell cars and blue jeans.

Whitman-branded cigars were sold in the 1900’s. More recently his words have been evoked to sell cars and blue jeans.

“It indicates that the general public and marketers find a value in Walt and want to align themselves with his image to sell their products,” said Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace where a new exhibit highlights use of the poet’s brand in advertising.

The exhibit, “Walt Whitman’s Prose and Poetry in Products and Advertisements” will run from Jan. 16 to April 7 and is drawn entirely from the collection of Birthplace member Ed Centeno. Centano has amassed an expansive collection of Whitman-related items that includes advertisements, posters, commercial products and fine art.

Centeno has displayed and at times, donated pieces from his collection before but never at this magnitude. At first, he planned an exhibit of posters that quoted Whitman’s work, Shor said, but she encouraged him to bring in everyday products with his likeness as well.

“There are many ways to capture history,” Shor said. “One way is to capture it in its commercial value, which is what this exhibit does. It’s a way of looking back and seeing what society thought was important, what they were selling and how they were selling it.”

A contemporary men’s fashion campaign was built around Whitman’s words.

A contemporary men’s fashion campaign was built around Whitman’s words.

A possible reason why Whitman’s work has stood the rest of time and continues to find its way into advertisements may be because it “resonates into modern society,” Shor said.
“Walt had a vision during his own lifetime and his poetry expressed the vision of universality and transcendence… His words were transcendent, meaning they went beyond the time,” Shor said. “This is why his work is applicable in the 21st century.”

Whether it’s a cigar box or an advertisement for whiskey, Whitman’s image is found in advertising spanning over a hundred years. Each instance provides a “snapshot” of the culture at that time.

“They’re indicative of their time, these are the styles, these are the words they used, and this is where they fit into society,” Shor said. “I think it gives us a mirror into that society by looking at objects from the past.”

Centeno will discuss his 33 years of collecting, why he collects and how the exhibit came to fruition a public reception at the Birthplace on Jan. 13, 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit waltwhitman.org.

Paramount Earns Five Spot In World Rankings

Healthy ticket sales kept The Paramount in Huntington firmly in the no. 5 spot for club venues worldwide according to  Pollstar  magazine.  Photo/The Paramount

Healthy ticket sales kept The Paramount in Huntington firmly in the no. 5 spot for club venues worldwide according to Pollstar magazine. Photo/The Paramount

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

For the second consecutive year, The Paramount in Huntington village has claimed the number five spot in Pollstar Magazine’s list of the top 200 club venues in the world based on ticket sales.

The Paramount sold 178,265 tickets in 2018 to over 170 shows behind only The Pageant in St. Louis, 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, House of Blues Boston and top seller The Anthem in Washington, DC.

“After 7 years, the venue has proven itself to be a top destination for the best entertainers around,” Brian Doyle, co-owner of The Paramount, said. “We will continue to push the envelope in 2019 as we work to provide Long Islanders with the best music, funniest comedians and the most memorable live event experiences available.”

In 2018, the stage at The Paramount played host to shows by the likes of Slash, Blues Traveler, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Ratt, O.A.R., Chase Rice, Indigo Girls and metal band Underoath.

The Paramount also brought several artists to Huntington for the first time this year, including: Rick Astley, Sarah McLachlan, The Struts, Bret Michaels and The Beach Boys.

The Paramount Comedy Series has become one of the most successful and popular aspects of the venue. In 2018 it featured monthly performances of The Jim Breuer Residency and multiple nights with comedian Kevin James. Standup routines by Andrew Dice Clay, Ken Jeong, Aziz Ansari, Jim Norton, Iliza Schlesinger, Weird Al Yankovic and Tracy Morgan were among the most popular shows at the venue this year.

The versatile venue also hosted regular bouts of Joe DeGuardia’s STAR Boxing. In November former world light welterweight champion and Huntington native Chris Algieri made his comeback in the ring at The Paramount. In his first fight since 2016, Algieri defeated fighter Angel Hernandez in front of a sold out crowd.

In 2019, The Paramount will look to maintain their top five spot on Pollstar’s list with performances by Long Islander Chazz Palminterti, movie star Dane Cook, Dave Matthews’ guitarist Tim Reynolds, Judas Priest and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

To find out more about upcoming shows at The Paramount or to buy tickets visit Paramountny.com.