“Artists see what many overlook,” curator Linda Prentiss told a visitor as they gazed upon the inventive bamboo paradise that is Seung Lee’s transformation of the gallery’s Block Barn interior. Inside the space, jewel-toned swaths of painted fabric cascade above viewers, while silvery fronds of drying bamboo tumble across the rafters overhead.
A pre-recorded Newsday interview plays on a corner television, where Lee recounts his humble beginnings in Korea and the good fortune that brought him and members of his family to the United States, changing their lives. Despite the early loss of his father and the ensuing poverty the family endured, Lee’s arrival in America, and a gift of art supplies, helped forge the resilience and strength he would later express through his renderings of bamboo, an equally humble, but no less versatile and resilient subject, as well as an apt metaphor for his life.
Interpreted in ceramics, painted on canvas and fabric in colors that glow in the changing natural light as the sun shifts position throughout the day, the viewer is transported to a singular world in Lee’s “Bamboo Forest II.”
Next door in the main gallery, Prentiss has mounted an homage to Long Island as seen through the eyes of seven resident artists. Taking advantage of the abundant natural light in all four rooms inside are paintings, photographs, pottery, and prints by leading local artists Nancy Bueti, Ray Germann, Larry Johnston, Bruce Lieberman, Puneeta Mittal, Doug Reina and Mary Jane van Zeijts.
Plein air artists selected from among those who participated in this year’s “Paint the Great South Bay” event are also featured in the show. Artists James Hughes, Christina MacDonagh, Zenaida Madurka, Joseph Napolitano and Annette Napolitano selected scenes from the surrounding area as subjects for their work during the weeklong event.
At the Sept. 2 artists’ opening reception, vehicles filled all available spaces outside, while guests enjoyed delicious refreshments prepared by gallery volunteers and music by Gail Storm and Back on Bourbon Street Band.
Prentiss, herself a painter and printmaker, is pleased with the show’s success and the popularity of the gallery, part of the Ketcham Inn Foundation and the Suffolk County Parks system that includes the adjacent field, a nature preserve, and Tyrell River Park. Having grown up in the community, she is excited to have the opportunity to bring the arts to life here and extends a warm and friendly greeting to each visitor.
Seen through the eyes of these artists, and because of her invitation to them, the show presents Long Island in a whole new light.