Sunday, August 26, 2012

"How he will ever get along without her", Long Island Poem for the first day of school Sunday

Training Lessons II
by Yvonne Dagger
First Day of School
Roberta A. McQueen

Hurry up and go
the school bus is coming
can't be late for his first day
wearing a brand new
athletic jacket and
matching sport pants
hair cut in the style
most boys have today
heading off to school
holding his mom's hand
tightly as he sees
his friend from next door
tearing away with a whoop
of sheer delight
his mother stands alone
brushing away tears
wondering how he will
ever get along without her

First Day of School by Roberta A. McQueen.
Published with author's permission.

Writer and educator Roberta A. McQueen's poems appeared in various poetry publications and were promoted by magazines of local interest.

Lyrical subject's "brushing away tears" aside, Roberta commented: "As a teacher, I noticed that most boys were more independent than their mom's gave them credit for."

Best of luck to all boys and girls (and their mothers!) embarking on the exciting, new path!

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Potato Song, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Herb Schay's parade of whimsical creatures

Herb Schay
Earlier in his career Herb Schay of East Norwich, NY, was constructing technical prototypes in the radar lab at Sperry Corporation. He is now, and has been for many years, an Instructional Support Specialist at Stony Brook University in the Geosciences Department. Herb enjoys the technical and conceptual challenges that come with working for a scientific lab. A faculty member, graduate student, or a visiting scientist from anywhere around the globe, will request an instrument for his/her research. Sometimes the specifications are clear, sometimes they require a lot of creativity on the part of the support team. Meticulous design stage, heavy research into materials, precise drawings, rigid tests follow, until the instrument is built.

Mammoth by Herb Schay
Herb has an exactly opposite approach to his creative work in ceramics - all designs come directly from his head, he does not draw any sketches, he takes no notes, he does not catalog his work. He wants to just have fun. A true parade of whimsical creations: elephants, mastodons, cats, giraffes, dragons, unicorns, leaves his hands. Whatever creatures he chooses to make, they end up with an approximate resemblance to nature; realistic representation is not what Herb is after. Well, unicorns and dragons are not taken from nature anyway, so here the poetic license may be stretched to the limits. Since Herb is not a production potter and does not have to answer to any market needs he can be as playful as he his heart desires.

The "just having fun" sounds deceptively simple. To make whatever his fancy suggests, Herb still needs to utilize all his creativity, manual dexterity, and a solid knowledge of clay, glazes, and kilns.

Elephants by Herb Schay
Herb does his ceramic work at the Stony Brook Union studios at Stony Brook University. This wonderful place was started in 1969 around the time University was established. Studios are open to all students and faculty members in need of relaxation and release of creative powers. This is also where Herb learned the skills after stumbling upon an open invite to a pottery class. He has since taught hand building courses there. He donated his private kiln to the studio, where it is used by advanced ceramic artists for delicate work, the kiln only fits three pieces.

Dragon by Herb Schay
Herb prefers low cone glazes and firing. He experiments with clays, frequently using different ones in the same piece. He experiments with textures, as well. An elephant may end up with skin that is either smooth or hairy or old. Glazes, from matte to very glossy, match up the character of the piece. Herb sometimes also adds a non-clay element, either a feather or fabric, if a piece calls for it.

Dragon teapot by Herb Schay
Creativity and engineering run in Herb's family. His father lived as he preached: "don't be afraid to use your hands." After returning from WWII, where he served as a technical sergeant setting up pontoon bridges and such, he bought a construction book and took a GI loan to build himself a Cape Cod style house on Long Island. Everything there, except for the chimney, was put together by him and his brother. The house is still standing and is a marvel of perfection. He introduced Herb to basic electronics, plumbing, and joys of working with wood (Herb was a wood carver earlier on and made various items, including a full size cigar store Indian sculpture.) Herb's grandfather was also very applied. Herb remembers various toys made for him by his grandfather - a perfect xylophone, cigar box banjo, which was admired by his music teachers, or a baseball bat out of dogwood. It was a mixture of the inherited manual dexterity and ingenuity that carried on Herb's work. The clay creatures are entirely his own.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Potato Song, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Potato Song
Stanley Moss

Darkness, sunlight and a little holy spit
don't explain an onion with its rose windows
and presentiment of the sublime,
a green shoot growing out of rock,
or the endless farewells of trees.
Wild grasses don't grow just to feed sheep,
hold down the soil or keep stones from rolling,
they're meant to be seen, give joy, break the heart.
But potatoes hardly have a way of knowing.
They sense if is is raining or not,
how much sunlight or darkness they have,
not which wind is blowing or if there are crows
or red-winged blackbirds overhead.
They are unaware of the battles of worms.
the nightmares of moles, underground humpings-
they do not sleep or wonder. Sometimes
I hear them call me "mister" from the ditch.
Workers outside my window in Long Island
cut potatoes in pieces, bury them, water them.
Each part is likely to sprout and flower.
No one so lordly not to envy that.

 'Potato Song' by Stanley Moss 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 - "Lazy rhythm ... rumination ... August morning", Long Island Poem for a quiet summer Sunday

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nicolette Pach, quilting art in Huntington Bay, NY

The studio of quilter Nicolette Pach
in Huntington Bay, NY
We have recently visited Nicolette Pach, quilt maker, in Huntington Bay, NY. Windows of her home studio, which she expanded a few years back, look out on the Long Island Sounds on one side and the greenery on the other. One wall is taken almost entirely by a design board, very much in use. Working tables evolved over the years to accommodate larger formats.

Nicolette Pach
at her studio
Art played a great part in Nicolette's family history. Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Morris Pach, and his brother Gotthelt Pach, were commercial photographers whose New York studio, Pach Bros, had a long-term contract with the Metropolitan Museum to photograph artwork in the collection. Nicolette's great uncle, Walter Pach, student of William Merritt Chase, active member of the European art world at the beginning of the century, staged the famous 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York also known as the Armory Show; he was a painter and an author of many publications on art and museums. Nicolette mother, Constance Barnard Pach is an exhibiting sculptor, her father, Stewart Warner Pach, was a painter and photographer who flew photo reconnaissance flights over Germany during WWII in the Army Air Corps. Her great aunts on both sides, Josephine Ways Barnard and Edna Heinekamp Willliams, were painters.

Detail of a quilt in progress
by Nicolette Pach
For her profession Nicolette chose a non-artistic career, she became a lawyer, a decision she never regretted. She served as a judge at the Family Court first in Suffolk County, with 10 years on the bench, and now in Queens. She was the force behind the creative and very successful Family Treatment Drug Courts project, a progressive approach to drug abuse crime, concentrating less on the punitive aspects and more on providing realistic help to the offenders and their families.

Quilt by Nicolette Pach
Though very active professionally, Nicolette found time to work on her artistic projects. She was always attracted to fabric and needle and has already worked in needlepoint and embroidery when she started experimenting with quilting. She attended quilting classes at the Greenlawn Historical Society. Learned basics. Her own path developed - Nicolette's work was recognized with awards and honors at various quilt shows.

Nicolette prefers her own designs over established patterns, but has used both. Lately she makes mostly wall hangings of varied sizes. She usually starts with a detail which she repeats, like variations on a theme in music, and works it into a larger scale design.

Front and reverse of Reef quilt by Nicolette Pach
Nicolette started working on it after one of the major oil spills
Photos by Nicolette Pach

She usually works on a couple of quilts at the same time. They all are at different stages - design, initial sewing, quilting, finishing. Quilt making is a slow process to be savored at any stage. Switching between projects allows for a fresher look and helps the pieces not to look overworked.

Front and reverse of a block by Nicolette Pach

Nicolette collects fabrics anywhere she travels. She looks for unique fabrics, beautiful on their own and selects them more because of their interesting color than design. Her successful choices of fabrics are mentioned at juried shows. Having worked with various 'moody' fabrics including silks and batiks she is now coming to fully appreciate cotton with its consistent weight and stable stretchiness. She experiments with threads; her latest, for a large silk project, is a fishing line; she had to rig a special contraption for her longarm quilting machine, which she always hand guides, to have it perform to her satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Think Green Award returns to Long Island Fair for the second year

We are pleased to announce that Think Long Island First will again present the Think Green Award at the Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, September 27th - 30th, 2012.

The Long Island Fair, organized by The Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties, one of the oldest agricultural societies in the United States, has been taking place almost every fall for the last 170 years. For the past 40 years it was staged on the grounds and at the Exhibition Hall of the Old Bethpage Village Restoration. It is the only State sanctioned County Fair in this area, well worth attending and entering.

The 2012 Premium Book containing all important information and submission forms is released on the The Long Island Fair website. You can also pick up printed copies of the Premium Book at the store.

Think Green Award is granted to a contestant whose creative, well executed entry best reflects the principles of sustainability - the entry is made either from reused materials or from local materials obtained with minimum environmental impact.

Our judging criteria are as follows:
  • Sustainability (40 points) - percentage of local or reused materials
  • Creativity (20 points) - interesting use of materials, new/recycled
  • Execution (20 points) - craftsmanship applied in creation of entry
  • Functionality (20 points) - fully functional as either utilitarian or decorative object

The Award is given in three age groups:
  • Adult (18 and older)
  • Young Adult (14-17)
  • Junior (13 and younger)

Last year's Award went to Anthony Farrah for the Console Table made from reused woods.

We warmly encourage you to submit your entries to the show in all categories and we hope to see your work in the Think Green section.

Best of luck!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cold Spring Harbor's quilting sanctuary closes its doors

Store sign at Sentimental Stitches
Since Monday, when the word got out that Norma Gaeta, the owner and the soul of the Sentimental Stitches at 181 Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, decided to close down the store, the bell at the entrance rings non-stop as the customers come in numbers to stock up on the high quality fabrics and supplies carried by the store and, more importantly, to say good-bye and to express thanks to Norma. Many tears are shed. Customers reminisce about the time spent there. Arlene Kuchcicki, customer and quilting student, said: "I used to look forward to Saturday morning classes". She enjoyed them so much she "promoted them as much as possible". Another customer remembered how she started visiting the store with her mother as a young girl.

Norma Gaeta of Sentimental Stitches, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
This is an end of an era to many Long Island quilters who depended on the store for interesting and reliable materials, quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, applique classes, and down-to-earth advice in all matters of textiles.

Norma started her quilting education at the very place. The store used to be run by Norma's mentor, Marion Adams, the founder of the quilting group at the Huntington Historical Society. Norma eventually bought the business and, with time, expanded the location to include an adjoining room. She started with 1 assistant and worked 6 days a week, never on Sunday. Many other assistants and teachers joined her at various times; she appreciated their help greatly. Eventually Norma scaled down her presence at the store to 3 days a week. She taught mostly beginner classes, where she made her students hand quilt one block per week, telling them that this would probably be the only thing they had ever done entirely by hand, but she considered the experience well worth the time and effort.

She would take a budding quilter on a quest to create the first quilt. They both would walk through the store until the person found a fabric she/he absolutely loved. All other colors and design would slowly fall in.

In her own work, Normal preferred traditional quilts over wall hangings. She had done numerous pieces which she bestowed on her family members at momentous times. She had enjoyed embroidery which she had learned from her mother, who also taught her knitting and crocheting.

An autumn person, Norma is looking forward to allowing herself extended trips to Vermont during the foliage season and she will keep on quilting.

"Lazy rhythm ... rumination ... August morning", Long Island Poem for a quiet summer Sunday

Joan Digby with Snowball
Watching Snowball Graze
Joan Digby

Watching Snowball graze,
I catch the lazy rhythm
of his rumination.
Stepping through the field
he buries his soft nose in grass
tasting the menu of an August morning.

Dew still hovers on the clover,
most succulent of flowers in the field.
I think of landscape gardeners
with their "Weed-Be-Gone,"
poisoners of a horse's richest fare.
They know nothing - he everything
about his pastoral land.

Tethered to his halter
I wander as his pupil,
learning to avoid the bitter plantain,
leave the blue cornflowers to adorn the fence
and bees to drink the roses.

Watching Snowball graze,
I catch the lazy rhythm
of sunlight spreading on the meadow,
feeling no urgency to leave this place
where the swishing of his long melodic tale
sings promise of a radiant day.

'Watching Snowball Graze' by Joan Digby from Snowball Caught a Bug published by Joan's own The Feral Press. Reprinted with author's permission.
Book is illustrated by Mollie Eckelberry.

Snowball, a pony from the North Shore Equestrian Center of the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, received quite some attention - C.W. Post published a story on Snowball - HORSE SENSE: ENGLISH PROFESSOR GIVES SPECIAL CARE TO PONY AT C.W. POST, which included the poem we have printed here.

Horses, though represented in various publications: I Rolled Today or Snowball Caught a Bug and important in her life and teaching - Joan had her class not only write poems on horses but also attend horse hair pottery making with Sue Adler, were not the sole topic of Joan's verses. She has a great affinity to camels, thus collection Camels and other Mammals, cats A Clowder of Cats and Oystermania CSI. She even wrote tennis poems Marks on the Surface: tennis poems'. With her husband, John Digby, poet and collage artist, she co-edited books on food & drink in poetry: 'Food for thought: an anthology of writings inspired by food' and 'Inspired by drink: an anthology'.

Joan runs the C.W. Post Poetry Center of Long Island University, established 1974. The Center organizes Poetry Awards Nights, Poetry Appreciation Day readings, and promotes a wide range of emerging and established poetry by local, domestic, and international artists.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Seaside vignette, Long Island Poem for a beach perfect Sunday

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yvonne Dagger, painting narratives with heart and brush

Yvonne Dagger with her dogs
at her studio in Massapequa, NY
On a visit to the painter, Yvonne Dagger's Massapequa studio be prepared to be vigorously sniffed by, politely barked at, and gently licked by one or all of her four dogs: Maggie (her oldest), YaYa, Jimmy, and Tommy. The gang is with her at most times, following the sun on the floor of her studio and, occasionally, consuming the props Yvonne arranges for her still lifes.

Winnie by Yvonne Dagger
Portrait of her "Grand"dog.
Dogs' presence in Yvonne's studio is not limited to her four worthy companions. There are animal portraits hanging on the walls and leaning against the mantelpiece. It is Yvonne's cherished dream to have a room in a serious museum devoted entirely to paintings of shelter animals of whose welfare she is a great supporter. It all started with a visit to her local animal shelter where she was struck by the sadness in the eyes of the animals waiting for love and care. Yvonne's immediate response was to immortalize the animals through painting. She has since adopted dogs, educated the public about shelter conditions, and participated in the assistance dog training programs.

Never Forgotten by Yvonne Dagger
An imaginary museum room filled with paintings of shelter animals
Photo by Yvonne Daggger

Her charitable commitment led to a wholehearted involvement in a Long Island chapter of Canine Companion for Independence and has recently been appointed to CCI's Northeast Board of Directors. Her artistic contribution was recognized by Martha Stewart who posted 13 of Yvonne's paintings on the Shelter Pet Paintings page.

Detail of Allegorical Meditation
by Yvonne Dagger
Yvonne met with a supportive art teacher in junior high school who introduced her to oil painting; she still appreciates the advice she received there. During her early marriage she painted watercolors. Later on acrylics allowed her to paint on outings with her kids. After her children grew up Yvonne decided to go back to school and entered the Art program at Hofstra University. She was extremely happy with having the opportunity to undergo a formal artistic education at a later point in her life. Fully settled and comfortable, she was free to immerse herself in learning how to paint. She appreciated the burst of knowledge of color and techniques, she absorbed everything with eagerness. She made such a quick progress that she was peer teaching while at school. She now accepts one student at the time and teaches the technique from the ground up, including stretching and priming the canvas and shopping for supplies.

Three paintings in the Main Street series by Yvonne Dagger

My Grandmother's Hat
by Yvonne Dagger
Photo by Yvonne Dagger
Oil is Yvonne's medium of choice, but she works with acrylics, as well. Yvonne displayed her work in numerous galleries and offices, her murals grace walls of schools, her paintings appeared on the cover of Dan's Papers, the largest newspaper in the Hamptons, she had exercised various commissions, many pet portraits. Her non-commissioned work is usually narrative in nature. She had painted animals, children, many on the beach and usually from the back, seascapes, still lifes, accessories (her grandmother was the well-known New York milliner behind the Frances Adam's Hats, her mother a seamstress who created dresses for Lucille Ball; Yvonne herself worked at Gimbel's as the Accessories Manager.) She usually works on two different paintings at the same time, devoting no more than two hours to each. She experiences perfect happiness at her easel; the feeling only gets better with time.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Seaside vignette, Long Island Poem for a beach perfect Sunday

Watercolor 'Fun in the Surf'
by Anne Barash Breitstein
Families at the Shore
Graham Everett

Dad is never first in, yet
swims out the furthest. The teens
scan the sand for deliverance
staring out across the water.

Mom floats on her back
a few stolen minutes,
dreaming. Water-wings
clutch the arms of the youngest
frolicking in the tide's change.

Sunlight lessens. Summer
flowers wild on eroded dunes.

The author of today's poem - Graham Everett - poet, professor at Stony Brook, and an interim director of the Poetry Center there, founder and publisher of Street Magazine and Street Press, wrote about the inspirations in the local scenes from his early years on: "I continue to mine these spots, the ground under our feet, treading these neighborhood sidewalks, the lost paths of island's morained hills, as best as I can." We found the following passage particularly touching: "How on foggy nights the old houses dream themselves filled again with light and laughter..."

'Families at the Shore' by Graham Everett from the 1986 'Long Island Poets' collection by The Permanent Press in Sag Harbor. Reprinted with publisher's permission.
'Long Island Poets' book can be purchased from The Permanent Press.

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