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Plein Air Exhibit Shows Sagamore Hill Visions

Rob Zeller Has Vision of Oyster Bay As an Art Hub

Walking into the Plein Air exhibit at the Koenig Center you feel at home. You’ve been to Sagamore Hill National Historic Site so you are familiar with the scenes the 35 artists have interpreted; you are in love with them before you even look. The small paintings, vary in size from the largest (14 x 20) to the smallest (5 x 71/2) plus their frames; all hung at eye level around the walls of the exhibit space. As part of the contest artists were expected to bring a wired frame ready for hanging, said Curator Yvonne Noonan-Cifarelli. The result is an interesting mix of frames that adds to the total effect.

The artist’s name, the title of the work, sometime the medium is listed, and the price is there – so the interested buyer can make a decision. One of the paintings sold that night to Oyster Bay Historical Society President Frank Leone, a painting of small buildings and the windmill at Sagamore Hill. It was a good choice for someone who builds upscale homes. It is by Michael Piccolo, a local resident.

OBHS Librarian Nicole Menchise said, “About 70 people attended the show and it was nice seeing some fresh faces: people who hadn’t been here before.

“It’s a perfect space for the work and a beautiful space to show how lovely Sagamore Hill is. I walked around Sagamore Hill on Saturday afternoon to get an idea of where the artists were painting at around 2 p.m. I saw about 16 to 17 of them painting. You had to find them. Some were in the shadow. You just forget how beautiful the area is.”

Ms. Menchise said, “At first Curator Yvonne Noonan Cifarelli was concerned that the date had been changed to the September 11 weekend, but we both agreed that there is nothing like art, fresh air and beauty to show us how fortunate we are, and art, it is a healing thing,” added Nicole.

The exhibit is up now through Oct. 4.

OBHS Executive Director Phil Blocklyn said, “There were over 30 paintings in the exhibit and of them seven have sold, as of Sept. 15. A portion of the sales goes to the OBHS. There is still time to buy one and have a lovely painting for your home to remind you of TR’s home, as well as to support the OBHS.”

People can view them during the OBHS public hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10 to 2 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Please call 922-5032.

Rob Zeller spoke to the guests saying, “I started Teaching Studios of Art in Oyster Bay with a different concept than most private art schools. We are a school devoted to training artists of all ages in traditional techniques, but we allow faculty the flexibility of designing their own curriculum. I do not step in and micromanage the teachers who work for us, because I respect them as artists. They are all great. As a result, the atmosphere in our school is one of community.”

A Larger Vision

Ron Zeller announced the winners of the contest: David Paulsen, Grand Prize- Best in Show who won the $1,000 prize; Cesar Santos, Best in Oils; Janet Cook, Best in Pastels; and Loraine Volz, Best in Water Media.

As to the reason for the contest, Mr. Zeller said, “The Plein Air Competition is one component of a larger plan to engage the community here in Oyster Bay. Because we invited some young, up and coming, nationally known artists in from New York City, we got some national press coverage from American Artist magazine. I think that its a really great opportunity to put Oyster Bay in the spotlight as an artist’s destination. The Teaching Studios is aiming to start an artist’s hub, or perhaps even an artist’s colony, here in Oyster Bay. Art lessons are our main business, but we are aiming to get involved in much more.

“We cannot do it ourselves, and that is why we have partnered with the Oyster Bay Historical Society to help with this event. In the long term, it will take the whole community to pull off this vision. But we made the first, small, concrete step with this event,” said Mr. Zeller.

Phil Blocklyn said the society would like to do something like this on an annual basis.

You can see photos of the artists at work at their easels out in nature at Sagamore Hill on the Teaching Studios of Art Facebook page.