Sunday, July 29, 2012

"A spirit to be still for", Long Island Poem for Sunday

Watch Hill, July
George William Fischer

sunrise dunes, mist & saltspray
rose, birdsong daybreak, a doe
steps silent, earcock, scentsniff,
sun ignites her tan & white, day
brightens, she grazes & climbs

there on a safe height she hears
as I whistle, bounds across her
ridge & down, whitetail flashing,
graceful dancer, she levels with me

nonchalant, she nibbles & steps
forward, a spirit to be still for.
thirty feet apart our moments pass,
I circle, she patiently moves
where I stood

she looks back, crosses my path,
close as any gentle creature
should come, with first warm kiss of sun
she disappears

'Watch Hill, July' by George William Fischer from 'A Long Island Year / Paumanok Revisited' published by Myshkin Press, Long Island. With author's permission.

You will remember George William Fischer from his Long Island bottle collections and Nassau County Photo Archive Center. He wrote about his poetry: "Early on, I was hugely influenced by the singers Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell.  Read e.e. cummings very early, also Emily Dickinson & Walt Whitman.  Later, Wendell Berry, T.S. Eliot, W.C. Williams, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, &c&c."

"Fell in with a few new friends and in a burst of spirit & energy, we founded the Long Island Poetry Collective in 1974. The Collective sponsored many open readings, and hosted major poets – mainly at the Fine Arts Center in Roslyn. For a growing membership, we published a monthly Newsletter and offered numerous workshops. The first issue of Xanadu magazine appeared in 1976, also the year we began publishing books and chapbooks written by Long Island poets, under the Pleasure Dome Press imprint."

"I try to write tight narrative poems, and my earliest lessons from Cummings & Dickinson hopefully continue as powerful influences. The conversational tone of Charles Bukowski, Wendell Berry, Anne Sexton & many others is a challenging perfection."

"My chapbooks include First and Third and A Long Island Year, and the book dark birds have flown was published in 2008 by Myshkin Press."

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - "So slender is the island", Long Island Poem for Sunday

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lighthouses and nautical objects at Think Long Island First

Since the first lighthouse was erected in 1796 at Montauk Point, many more were built along both coasts of Long Island. Suffolk County has the largest number of lighthouses per county in US, Southold Township the largest among townships. Though some lighthouses were lost due to fire, storm, neglect, or economy, many are still standing and some are still in operation. Long Island Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society lists them all including the defunct ones.

Long Island Lighthouses 2012 calendar by Ralph J. Pugliese Jr

We carry a book 'New York State Lighthouses' by Robert G. Miller, where the archival photos of Long Island lighthouses have a sizable presence.

The light keeper's life was hard, the responsibility enormous, the isolation difficult to bear. Architecturally, lighthouses were simple structures, sparsely adorned. Their most important construction feature was the ability to withstand the constant beating of the ocean.

What is there in us that makes us want to go to the lighthouse and to immortalize the moment in art?

Lighthouses feature prominently in the local photography, with the Montauk and Fire Island lighthouses leading the way. Ralph J. Puglise Jr, (Cutchogue) has done a whole series of them. In addition to the matted photos and note cards we carry his 'Long Island Lighthouses' calendar for 2012. We also have lighthouse photographs by Scott Cushing (East Meadow), Christina Kneer (Massapequa), Paul Macri (Oyster Bay), Gerry Corrigan (Wantagh), and Jacques Dumont (East Norwich).

Stainless steel sailboats
by Len Mulqueen
Let us also mention some unusual nautical objects we have at the store. Metal and wood artist Len Mulqueen (Bethpage) creates sailboats / wind chimes from reclaimed stainless steel. Attached screw, moving in the wind like a pendulum, produces quite a realistic sound of metal hitting a mast.

Paul Guzzo (Oak Beach) brought us a real propeller with a scrimshaw of fish. We also have a candle holder with a lighthouse design by Claudia Peglow (Franklin Square).
Scrimshaw propeller
by Paul Guzzo
Candle holder
by Claudia Peglow
Painter Susie Gach Peelle (Locust Valley) provided the cover illustration for an interesting book about 144 women who held official light keeper positions around US - 'Mind the Light, Katie' by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candance Clifford.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"So slender is the island", Long Island Poem for Sunday

'good morning' by James Johansen.
Oil on canvas.
Excerpts from Grace Schulman's introduction to her poems included in the 'Long Island Poets' collection: "From my studio window, in Springs, I see trees whose names speak of life (arbor vitae) and death (hemlock). The poems ... composed in this area ... show a tendency ... to see things of natural world as metaphors for human deeds and principles... I know that the landscape of East Hampton - of Springs, expecially - has affected me in this way... 'The Island' has to do with change and loss, drawn in the image of a spindly house built on sand."

The Island
Grace Schulman

So slender
is the island
that I can see sun ignite the bay
and strike the ocean
at the same time.
Larks sweep the sky
soon to be scarlet;
beyond shadblow trees
presumptuous catbrier climbs
a pine tree, and tall stalks
sway like metronomes,
displacing patens,
claiming the marshland.

Here I find it strange
to find peace strange.
The island
is no more real
than the moon's singularity;
it will change
as a cloud's shape
alters in wind,
as storms move dunes
and sea-spray chops
their heather.

Surely as the ocean batters
the sand's composure
prodding the shoreline inland,
this land will change
just as the boat develops out of fog
and courses through water
to carry me
from my house
on stilts in sand.

'The Island' by Grace Schulman from the 1986 'Long Island Poets' collection by The Permanent Press in Sag Harbor. Reprinted with publisher's permission.
'Long Island Poets' can be purchased from The Permanent Press.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - The Old Farmer, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"O the horseman's joys!", horses at Think Long Island First

In the past we have presented birds in the works of the Long Island artists. We have seen the dog drawings from Mollie Eckelberry's collection. Today, horses.

"O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys! / The saddle, the gallop, the pressure upon the seat, the cool gurgling / by the ears and hair." Walt Whitman rhapsodized in 'A Song of Joys'. And so do many Long Island artists who celebrate horses in their art.

Joel Kanaravogel, wire sculpture
Joel Kanarvogel of Woodbury created a wire sculpture of a team of four horses with front legs high in the air.
Joel, a horse lover and Triple Crown aficionado since his early years in the Catskill Mountains, said: "I grew up with the smell of horses which I love to this day. I love the fluidity of motion of horses and how they gracefully run and prance and stride, and how they flick their tails when they are happy."

Regan Tausch, painting
Many paintings by Bayville folk artist Regan Tausch include peaceful scenes of horses pulling carriages, horses pulling sleighs in winter scenes, horses grazing in the pastures, horses watching the world through the Dutch doors of well kept stables, or horses muzzling each other contentedly. Regan was an avid rider in her earlier days.

Mollie Eckelberry, note cards
Mollie Eckelberry not only rode and drew horses but also authored an equestrian memoir 'Vest Pocket Farm' - a good read, overflowing with her love and respect for the animal. Mollie's first encounter with a runaway horse at a tender age of three made her want to draw nothing but stick horses. Horses are still a great part of her daily life in Muttontown.

AnnMarie Levin, note cards
We carry AnnMarie Levin's note card sets with beautiful horse prints in brown, green, and navy.
Horses are the favorite subject of the young Oyster Bay artist. She commented: "I have been riding horses since the age of 5, and have a lovely gelding named Lysander who inspires me everyday."

Sue Adler, horse hair vase
Sue Adler, Locust Valley potter and equestrian, specializes in horse hair pottery. She applies an old American Indian technique where strands of hair from horse's tail are draped and burned over a hot surface of a pot. The end result - a classic shape of white clay with subtle color accents, enveloped in a net of random black lines - is beautiful in its contrasts.

Frank Cammarata, paper cut
Holbrook's Frank Cammarata brought us a paper cutout of a grazing horse. Black paper, white background.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Old Farmer, Long Island Poem for Sunday

The Garden of Earth
Poems and Illustrations
by K. Naomi Hann.
Detail of book cover.
The Old Farmer
by K. Naomi Hann

transplanted himself from Italy
into the 50 x 70 down street here
thought he still owned a farm, he did,
chasing chickens, rabbits, pigeons
around the bare yard
watering their droppings
with his eternal hose
mumbling and spitting
as he worked the hoe
through expanding lettuce,
basil, cukes, tomatoes,
voluptuous squash draped
over laden peach and fig trees

the neighborhood's
jolly green giant

transplanted his earth thumb,
he did,
taught that garden Italian

The Old Farmer by K. Naomi Hann from The Garden of Earth, published by THE STUDIO. We carry this publication at the store.
Posted with author's permission.

K. Naomi Hann lives in Amityville, NY. Her book includes the following information about her: "K. Naomi Hann was born in England in 1927, where she lived happily until WWII broke out in 1939. With the threat of invasion in 1940, her parents decided to evacuate her to the United States with her sister and cousin along with 500 other children on the HMS Samaria. It was a miraculous crossing considering that two other boatloads of children were tragically sunk on their way over, as was Samaria later in the war."

"After landing in New York, the children were sent to the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, Massachusetts, from where they were billeted out to families for the duration. K. Naomi attended high school in Newton, Massachusetts, and after graduating pursued her education at various universities in London and New York, becoming a musician, registered nurse, and teacher of English, her lifelong profession. Writing has been a constant interest, and she now also works in organic gardening, wildlife preservation, activism, music and art."

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Spirit of the air, Long Island Poem for a very hot summer Sunday

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Kept my fingers in the clay", ceramist C.C. Bookout

C.C. Bookout at Riverhead studio
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Let us start with unraveling the mystery of the initials - C.C. in C.C. Bookout - they stand for Calista Coe; the nickname was given her almost the moment she was born. Calista, a name passed through the family tradition, means "the most beautiful". The Greeks celebrated Callisto, the nymph of Artemis, who, by the most unimaginable set of circumstances, ended up in the skies as Ursa Major (Great Bear/Big Dipper).

Teapot by C.C. Bookout
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
C.C. Bookout's life may not be as convoluted as her namesake's, but it does revolve around beauty and unpredictability of the art medium she chose for herself.

C.C. studied psychology at Skidmore College, as she intended to become a social worker. Eventually she became a nursery school teacher, a profession she enjoyed greatly.

For her first pottery classes she traveled from Manhattan, where she then lived, to the Brooklyn Museum; later continued taking classes at the Riverside Church for a couple of years. She was advised to do nothing else for two years but practice throwing pieces until they would look like what she imagined them to be. C.C. attended many advanced workshops including one at the Great Barrington Pottery where she studied Japanese throwing techniques with an apprentice of Richard Bennett. One class given locally by Joyce Michaud lead C.C. to a Masters Certificate program at Hood College in Maryland, where she studied under many famous potters.

Small vase by C.C. Bookout
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
C.C. opened her own studio first in Islip, NY, and then in Riverhead, NY, where she moved on one Christmas Eve in the 70s (arrived for the closing with a van full of stuff and spend her first night sleeping on a mattress on the floor). Riverhead then was a farming community, the road that lead to her house was a true farm road. The couple was resourceful and built or adapted a lot of the studio equipment themselves. The base of her wedging table is made of an old dining table found on the side of the road. Her spray glazing is done in a converted shower stall. Her pots are kept moist in an old fridge. She had a gas kiln built on her property, but had to stop using it a few year back. She now fires her work in Watermill or upstate in Cold Spring, NY.

Bowl by C.C.  Bookout
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
C.C. prefers high cone firing and works with porcelain clay to ensure strength. She makes functional and decorative pieces in many styles. She throws on a wheel, creates slab pieces, likes coil building. She mixes her own glazes and adjusts them to each type of clay and kiln. She prizes wood kiln firing with all its potential and unpredictability. She is particularly fond of the large scale sculptures: organic forms, hands holding things, head shaped planters, or female figures with titles like 'Making Strides', 'Standing Firm', 'Going Forward'. They have a strong connection with the fertility and most are intended for gardens, her own included - C.C.'s husband, Henry, is an avid gardener.

Tall vase by C.C. Bookout
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Let us conclude with some remarks on beauty and unpredictability of the wood kiln firing much preferred by C.C. at this stage of her artistic journey. In wood kiln firing the shining surface on the pieces comes not from the high silica glazes transformed by intense heat into glass, but from the ashes present in the condensed air of the kiln. Clay must be ready to accept it. The amount of heat generated by the burning wood, the mixture of chemicals and organic matter in the kiln, never the same, produce unique pieces every time. And this is what makes them so unpredictable and ... precious. C.C. is willing to take the risk.

Photos from C.C.'s studio in Riverhead, NY:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spirit of the air, Long Island Poem for a very hot summer Sunday

Archival postcard of Cedarmere
from the Bryant Public Library
in Roslyn, NY
Summer Wind, we like this poem, not because it is entirely free of the thys and thous of many a poem of the times (we mind the affectation not the noble words themselves), but because it strikes such a familiar chord with the swelterers of Long Island on this very hot summer day.

The poet, William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), owned Cedarmere, a large estate overlooking a bay, in Roslyn, NY. Though the house (now closed) and the extensive grounds (open to public), to which he tended with meticulous care, are now in a sad state of disrepair, you can still see where he found inspiration for his nature-embracing poetry.

The poem below would be best read aloud in a good, rich voice.

Summer Wind
William Cullen Bryant

It is a sultry day; the sun has drunk
The dew that lay upon the morning grass;
There is no rustling in the lofty elm
That canopies my dwelling, and its shade
Scarce cools me. All is silent, save the faint
And interrupted murmur of the bee,
Settling on the sick flowers, and then again
Instantly on the wing. The plants around
Feel the too potent fervors: the tall maize
Rolls up its long green leaves; the clover droops
Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms.
But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills,
With all their growth of woods, silent and stern,
As if the scorching heat and dazzling light
Were but an element they loved. Bright clouds,
Motionless pillars of the brazen heaven–
Their bases on the mountains–their white tops
Shining in the far ether–fire the air
With a reflected radiance, and make turn
The gazer’s eye away. For me, I lie
Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf,
Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun,
Retains some freshness, and I woo the wind
That still delays his coming. Why so slow,
Gentle and voluble spirit of the air?
Oh, come and breathe upon the fainting earth
Coolness and life! Is it that in his caves
He hears me? See, on yonder woody ridge,
The pine is bending his proud top, and now
Among the nearer groves, chestnut and oak
Are tossing their green boughs about. He comes;
Lo, where the grassy meadow runs in waves!
The deep distressful silence of the scene
Breaks up with mingling of unnumbered sounds
And universal motion. He is come,
Shaking a shower of blossoms from the shrubs,
And bearing on their fragrance; and he brings
Music of birds, and rustling of young boughs,
And sound of swaying branches, and the voice
Of distant waterfalls. All the green herbs
Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers,
By the road-side and the borders of the brook,
Nod gayly to each other; glossy leaves
Are twinkling in the sun, as if the dew
Were on them yet, and silver waters break
Into small waves and sparkle as he comes.

"Summer Wind" by William Cullen Bryant.
Reprinted after Poetry Foundation. In public domain.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Patriotic sounds and rhythms, Long Island poem for the 4th of July Sunday

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Summer from Think Long Island First

If you, like many other Long Islanders, choose staycations on the Island, you have many attractions to enjoy: from the beaches and parks, farms and vineyards of the North Fork to the various cultural events, many outdoors.

Evenings of July 13th, 20th, and 27th will find us Dancing in the Street of Oyster Bay, where, we hope, you will join us. Like last year, good music, attentive dance instructions, and the star lit skies are awaiting. More ...

We hope you are enjoying our Long Island Poem for Sunday program. On this July Fourth we would like to entertain you not with a poem but with a sound of a marching band, the Sousa Band, in fact. We have learned that John Philip Sousa, the famous composer, band leader, and musician to presidents, lived in Sands Point on Long Island between 1915 and 1932.

This is the 1898 archival recording of the Star Spangled Banner performed by the Sousa Band:

Happy Independence Day! Happy Summer!

Summer joys by Long Island artists.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Patriotic sounds and rhythms, Long Island poem for the 4th of July Sunday

Wood carving
by Mike Denaro
We have been on a lookout for Long Island-penned verses appropriate for the patriotic nature of the 4th of July. In turn, we considered a speech either written or given on the Island. We imagined a portly speeker delivering an address on a village green, a modest crowd in their Sunday best waving red white and blue flags, lemonade sold on stands, field games getting under way, and a marching band of mustachioed firemen. And then John Philip Sousa came to mind. The famous composer, band leader, and musician to presidents lived on Long Island between 1915 and 1932. His house in Sands Point, now in private hands, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The sound and rhythm of his own Sousa Band playing patriotic songs are going to be our collective poem for today, the 4th of July Sunday.

We are particularly fond of the first recording, The Star Spangled Banner, from 1898, the oldest we present here - a bit blurry, affected by time but no less touching.

John Philip Sousa Band - The Star Spangled Banner (1898)

John Philip Sousa Band - Stars and stripes forever 1913 (Edison Cylinder)

John Philip Sousa Band - Liberty Bell March (1904)

Ironically, Sousa himself was not enamored with the emerging recording industry: "These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy ... in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape." (Sousa's sumission to 1906 congressional hearings, quote published after Wikipedia article on John Philip Sousa).

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Higher and higher, Long Island Poem for end of school Sunday