Friday, September 30, 2011

Anthony Farah, woodworker craftsman

Maple Top Console Table
by Anthony Farah
Anthony Farah, Wantagh woodworker craftsman, got his first taste of hands-on work at 15 when he picked up a summer job at a frame shop. He enjoyed both the precision and the tactile aspect of fitting frames, cutting mat boards, glass and adding finishing components. He stayed there for 3 years.

Bubinga Console Table
by Anthony Farah
Having imagined himself a cattle rancher in Montanta, he studied animal husbandry at The State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill. His first venture into wood art happened in a woodshed at the college grounds - Tony made a jewelry box for a prospective girlfriend. Neither the cattle ranch nor the girlfriend came true.

Tony joined his cousin Charles at his carpentry business in Philadelphia. He had used his time there well - learned flooring, window making, trims, visited various museums and galleries in search of clever use of wood.

Little Round Table
by Anthony Farah
Throughout the years he had a number of other experiences from barn building to employment at a mirror shop at the time when mirror walls and ceilings were all the rage. A memorable and eye-opening experience was an on and off involvement with Filmways Studios in the Bronx where he built movie sets.

He started his own shop with just a handful of machines in his backyard, then moved through a succession of workshops of ever increasing footage and capacities. He is now comfortably set up in Uniondale, where he runs a woodworking shop Big Twig Woodworks. He makes custom cabinets in a variety of styles, creates sumptuous bars and paneled libraries, is well known for his railing work.

Glass Top Table
by Anthony Farah
In addition, Tony creates one of a kind furniture where he utilizes reclaimed and recovered wood. If he hears of or sees a fallen/felled tree of potential he will make sure it ends up stashed in his shop getting ready for a table/bookshelf/etc yet to be conceived.

Recently, Tony's interest and perseverance got an official recognition; he was a recipient of the Think Green Award given by Think Long Island First at The Long Island Fair, an annual event held on the grounds of the Old Bethpage Village Restoration. A console table of local maple and red oak was the winning piece.

Though Tony is a self-taught woodworker, he has gained his esthetic training and inspiration from the study of works by George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, Frank Pollaro, or Wharton Esherick whose staircase in Esherick's house/museum he considers one of the finest achievements of woodworking. Tony is a member of the Long Island Woodworkers Guild.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Think Long Island First celebrates One Year Anniversary

Think Long Island First logo
Please join us in the celebration of our One Year Anniversary!

We are marking the momentous event with an Open House on Saturday, October 8th, between 2 - 4 pm, at our recently expanded store at 36 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay.

We have opened our doors last year with the beautiful works of 28 artists, craftspeople, writers, and chefs. Throughout the months we have met with many other talented Long Islanders and we now have the pleasure of working with 109 of them.

We have been overwhelmed with the positive response and support from the public for items made locally on Long Island.

We hope the Open House event will be a great chance for artists and public to meet and to celebrate the skill, talent, and resourcefulness of their fellow Long Islanders.

We ask our guests to bring non-perishable food items that will be donated to a local food pantry.

For more information please refer to our Press Release:
Artists, Community Embrace Unique Shopping Experience

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Folk artist Regan Tausch paints peace, joy and hope

Regan Tausch in her studio
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
There are many definitions of folk art. Regan Tausch, painter from Bayville, NY, subscribes to the one identifying folk art as self-taught.

Princess by Regan Tausch
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Regan was drawing quick sketches already in school, where her classmates used to line up for her pencil doodles of horses, castles, and princesses. The three remained recurring topics until this day, later joined in by houses, other animals, angels, hot air balloons, snow scenes, etc.

Cows in the Field by Regan Tausch
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Art teachers in the very few art classes she ever took, Drawing 101, Painting 101, were not able to convert Regan's style to the ones they taught. All she retained in her art she had learned on her own. Regan chose acrylic on canvas as her medium, found her favorite brushes (due to a lot of details in her work she goes through a lot brushes with very fine tips), and continued on experimenting and discovering easier ways to convey what she imagined.

Detail of Sea scene by Regan Tausch
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
This is not to say she was immune to external influences. Regan was impressed by the charming works of folk artist Cate Mandigo, among others. She liked various traditional crafts and, as a stay at home mom, made ornaments, stuffed bears, dinosaurs, and dolls for her children. Some are still in her possession. Quilting was particularly significant for her artistic development, she now treats some of the areas in her paintings as patches of fabric.

There is peace, joy, tranquility, and hope in her paintings. There is no conflict in them of any kind. They make viewers happy. They make Regan happy. She is content with her current style and considers herself blessed as an artist. This is a wonderful place to be!

Asked how such an idyll could be improved, Regan painted yet another picture of perfect happiness - an art studio with live music jamming in the background (Regan is an amateur guitarist/singer and occasionally performs in public), and a small cafe on premises.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jerry Allen, astrophotographer from Oyster Bay, keeps looking up

The Cave Nebula
Photo by Jerry Allen
When Jerry Allen's grandmother complained to young Jerry: "there used to be many more stars before" or "in summer there used to be clouds of stars crossing the sky" it was falling on deaf ears. Then one day, on a camping trip far away from the civilization, Jerry lifted his head to gaze at the stars above him and finally saw the cloud, the Milky Way, of the grandma's tales. He was impressed.

Orion Nebula and NGC 1977
Photo by Jerry Allen
In his 20's Jerry came across a telescope. He attempted to identify various objects in the galaxy, which originally looked to him like a white, blurry blob. Jerry started educating himself in astronomy. Then life, with its own gyrations, took over for some years. In 2007 Jerry returned to astronomy. He joined a local astronomy club Amateur Observers Society of New York where he found a supportive mentor and a group of like-minded colleagues. Jerry bought a good telescope to augment and a camera to record what he saw. This developed into a real passion. Jerry now spends a solid portion of good nights on watching the skies and recording the movements of the celestial bodies.

How does astrophotography differ from regular photo taking? For starters, you need a good refractor telescope with an excellent, special design camera. You will take a series of shots of differing exposure to catch the more or less luminous parts of objects, you will repeat it with different filters. All this while the sky moves above you and forces you to adjust the position of your equipment. You will interpose the images in a photo editing software and eventually produce a final photo.

Jerry Allen at his Oyster Bay observatory
Photos by Ewa Rumprecht

What challenges await an astrophotographer? Light pollution is one. Jerry takes various steps to limit its impact. To block off neighborhood lights he built himself a small observatory in the backyard of his house. Ambient light - the light of New York City, Long Island villages, even the water, is a problem, as well. Jerry acquired various filters to block it off. In spite of all the precautions he still has to post-process his images to remove the noise from them - an arduous task that can take up to 20 hours per image.

The Pelican
Photo by Jerry Allen
Another challenge is the scarcity of nights good for star gazing. Every month has really only one potentially perfect night - the new moon; nights closely surrounding it have to do. The coveted new moon night might be cloudy or it may rain prohibiting Jerry from opening the roof of his observatory.

Why go through all this trouble, you may ask? Beauty, serenity in spite of the dramatic events eons away, humility, curiosity, challenge. You can find it all in Jerry's spectacular photographs.

Owl Nebula
Photo by Jerry Allen
Jerry enjoys star gazing in winter as nights are longer and it's cold, the equipment likes cold temperatures. He cherishes summers as many colorful objects parade through the skies, including the Milky Way.

What is on Jerry's wish list? Bigger and better equipment, moving his observatory to a darker place allowing for short exposure, crisp images not marred by passing planes. Jerry would love to observe the skies in the Southern Hemisphere to see the famous Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, chaotic and less rhythmic than our own galaxy. In the meantime, he just loves to live by the iconic advice by Jack Horkheimer of the Star Gazer - he keeps looking up!