Decadence | Soft Pastels by Courtney Young

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

Now on display at Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. is Decadence, a solo exhibition featuring a series of still life, pastel paintings by Courtney Young. In this body of work, Young focuses on the rich decadency of comfort food. For the artist, these photorealistic, larger-than-life depictions of her subject matter convey the emotional significance that we as a people place on food in our everyday lives.

Choosing subject matters that are rich in color and texture, Young takes her photographic references and brings them into the studio where she crafts inspiring compositions that serve as faithful representations of their real-world counterparts. Young strives to recreate the memories of her favorite childhood foods, while evoking hunger in others. Sections of her paintings are consciously blurred, which consequentially sharpens other aspects of her works. This conscious blurring, for the artist, creates a sense of emphasis while also conveying a loss of clarity that often occurs if one is an emotional eater and uses food to fill a void.

Her painting Breakfast for Dinner depicts two, larger-than-life, fluffy waffles that are overrun by butter, jam, and maple syrup. The painting is such a faithful depiction of its subject matter that it becomes challenging for the viewer to believe that the work is not a photograph. The accompanying plate and fork are rendered out of focus, allowing the viewer to tantalizingly study the hyper-realistic food that is presented. The composition is bathed in light, creating a stunning array of depth within the work. The viewer is instantly pulled into the painting, and becomes lost in the mesmerizing coffers of the waffles that ooze with melting butter, savory syrup, and succulent jam preserves. Young’s painting has a tranquil quality, inspiring notions of a simpler time such as Sunday brunch with one’s family or, as suggested by the title, the childhood treat of having breakfast for dinner.

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Courtney Young, Breakfast for Dinner, 2014

The viewer often craves the food depicted in Young’s paintings. Another work in the exhibition, Guilty Pleasure, portrays three powdered, jelly-filled doughnut holes stacked atop one another. In the blurred background, the viewer can observe several more jelly-filled pastries alongside a tall, thirst-quenching, glass of milk. The work is so detailed, with the artist going through the trouble of accurately rendering the flaky pockets of dough, the minute specks of powdered sugar, and the translucent, sticky texture of the jelly that oozes out of the fried dough. There is a notion of defined elegance within the painting as Young’s low-pointed perspective establishes a monumentality that is not typically accustomed to unhealthy, junk food. Still, by carefully arranging her constructed composition, coupled with the artist’s masterful lighting and attention to detail, Young emphasizes the dominant role food, especially comfort food, has in some people’s daily lives.

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Courtney Young, Guilty Pleasure, 2015

Courtney Young is a fine artist from Bay Shore, NY. She received her MA in Art Education from Adelphi University and is currently a MFA Candidate at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Her artwork has been exhibited across Long Island with select exhibitions at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Islip Art Museum, and the Anthony Giordano Gallery. Young is an active member of the Pastel Society of America, the Art League of Long Island, and the Patchogue Arts Council.

The Patchogue Arts Council (PAC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts on the greater south shore of the Town of Brookhaven. The Patchogue Arts Council and Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company created the PAC Members Gallery at Roast in the summer of 2013 as an alternative exhibition venue where PAC members can exhibit their artwork. In addition to exhibiting artwork and brewing award-winning coffee, Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. hosts a monthly poetry night on the first Saturday of every month.

Decadence: Soft Pastels by Courtney Young is on display at Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. now through March 5, 2017. An opening reception for the exhibition is scheduled for Sunday, February 5, from 2 – 4 P.M. The reception is free and open to the public. For more information on Courtney Young, visit http://www.courtneyyoungart.com.

Jay Schuck


Image Credits
All images are courtesy of the artist
© Courtney Young

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Fabric and Fibers: Quilted Works by Claudia Mirzaali

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

On display at Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. is Fabric and Fibers, a solo exhibition featuring a series of quilted works by fiber artist Claudia Mirzaali. In this body of work, Mirzaali utilizes the vibrant colors and textures of fabric and fibers, often incorporating found natural objects, to create naturescapes that are inspired by the scenic environment of Long Island.

Mirzaali is inspired by the natural, local, and familiar, which are always in a constant state of change. As the seasons change so do the colors of the leaves from a vibrant green to an auburn red, as they slowly fall off the trees only to be reborn anew in a continual rhythmic system. The color patterning of Mirzaali’s artwork often evokes the seasonal changes or natural landscapes of her subject matter. Exemplary of this is Memories of an Autumn Day, which is a fanciful patchwork of reds, yellows and oranges that are mixed with a varying degree of greens, browns and blues. The blue patterning near the top of the composition is representative of the vivacious blue sky that one can find on any given fall day while the greens and browns near the lower third of the composition is representative of the grass and earth. In between these two sections, the artist fills the composition with a splendid mixture of reds, oranges, and yellows, which is indicative of the stunning autumn sunlight that reflects off of the changing tree leaves. Stitched over this patchwork arrangement, the artist sews in a stemming swirl of curves, which appears to be reminiscent of the veins of a leaf. Upon seeing the work, the viewer can feel the seasonal changes that the artist is expressing through her patchwork imagery.

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Claudia Mirzaali, Memories of an Autumn Day, 2013

In addition to her fabric and fibers, the artist incorporates found natural objects to further enhance the notion of representation. One such example of this is My Little Slice of Paradise, which is a seascape that could be representative of either Long Island’s South Shore, Sound of the North Shore, East End or the North Fork. In the piece, the artist uses light blue fabrics near the top of the composition to signify the sky and dark blue fabrics, mixed with lighter blues and whites, to signify the crashing and receding waves that wash up upon the shore. In the bottom right hand corner, on an inclined angle, is the beach, which is peppered with small seashells that adds to the overall texture of the piece. Upon viewing the work, one is transported to a warmer climate and to a more serene state of mind.

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Claudia Mirzaali, My Little Slice of Paradise, 2015

Claudia Mirzaali is a quilter and fiber artist from Patchogue, NY. She received a B.S. Ed. and a M.S. Ed. in Art Education from Buffalo State College in 1980 and 1982 respectively, and currently manages photography at St. Joseph’s College. Her artwork focuses on capturing the visual elements of color, contrast, and texture through fibers, fabric, and other materials. She is fascinated by the scenic nature of Long Island, often incorporating her surroundings into her artwork to create textual naturescapes. Mirzaali’s artwork has been exhibited locally at the Patchogue Arts Gallery, Islip Art Museum, ArtSpace and the Board Room Gallery at St. Joseph’s College.

The Patchogue Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts on the greater south shore of the Town of Brookhaven. The Patchogue Arts Council and Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company created the PAC Members Gallery at Roast in the summer of 2013 as an alternative exhibition venue where PAC members can exhibit their artwork. In addition to exhibiting artwork and brewing award-winning coffee, Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. hosts weekly open mic nights on Fridays and a monthly poetry night on the first Saturday of every month.

Fabric and Fibers: Quilted Works by Claudia Mirzaali is on display at Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. now through January 9, 2017. An opening reception for the exhibition is scheduled for Sunday, December 11, from 2 – 4 P.M. The reception is free and open to the public.

Jay Schuck


Image Credits
All images are courtesy of the artist
© Claudia Mirzaali

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3rd International Artist Residency Comes to Long Island

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE NOVEMBER 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

For the third time in five years, the Islip Art Museum brought a group of international artists to Long Island for it’s two-week long New York Contemporary Art Symposium (NYCAS). Unlike previous residencies, which included artists from around the world, NYCAS 2016 focused on a specific country, bringing five Chilean artists to New York from September 19 to October 3. For this year’s residency, the Islip Art Museum collaborated with International Meeting of Art, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the arts and cultural exchange while encouraging, supporting, and facilitating the possibility for artists of all mediums and different cultures to work together. The 2016 NYCAS artists included Andrés Achavar, Ignacio Castillo, Paloma Gómez, Marcela Zamorano González, and Nico Huidobro. Like previous residencies, the participants were invited to exhibit their artwork across Long Island and experience all that New York culturally has to offer.

The residency featured a group of artists working in a variety of mediums. Andrés Achavar is a fine watercolorist whose work focuses on the beauty of the everyday. His paintings capture the essence of his subject matters that occupy a brief moment of time, as each work is bathed in a rich atmospheric light that encapsulates its setting. His figures are expressionless, devoid of individualistic features, as they go about their everyday-activities in urban and sub-urban street scenes or interior settings that project a moment plucked from time, forever frozen in watercolor.

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Andrés Achavar, West 20th Street, 2016

Ignacio Castillo’s work is a reaction to the increasing industrialization of his hometown of Santiago City. His small-scale ceramic sculptures rise from the grounds in which they are fired. Some figures tower over the smaller ones, casting them in shadows. These figures, like Achavar’s, are featureless, standing representative of the everyman. His subject matter is not the figures themselves, but the expressions and emotions they project through their poses, gestures, and colors.

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Ignacio Castillo, Art Energetic Gnapo, 2016

Working in oil paint, Paloma Gómez’s subject matter alternates between the abstract and the representational. She is inspired by the relationships between man and their environments as well as their interpersonal interactions. For the basis of each painting, she uses her own sketches, photographs and imagination as references. She builds up the layers of her compositions with vibrant colors until she feels each canvas is complete. Her Headphones and Nocturno series captures sub-urban street scenes at night with her figures and landscapes saturated in the afterglow of street laps that dance across the night sky. Although painted on a squared piece of canvas, her compositions are circular as if the scene is viewed through a hole in a screen.

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Paloma Gómez, Headphones XIV, 2016

In her photography, Marcela Zamorano González turns her camera lens towards what is often overlooked. Broken bottles, graffiti riddled buildings, and the average passerby are all subjects utilized by the artist as she structures her compositions with strong vertical and horizontal lines that zigzag across the picture plane. By turning her attention to the mundane, the artist draws attention to the hidden beauty of the world around her, highlighting it for all to see while urging the viewers to be observant of their surroundings as well.

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Marcela Zamorano González, Untitled, 2015

In his artwork, Nico Huidobro utilizes expression as an interpretive medium with which he attempts to concentrate on the present moment and current happenings of his surroundings. His paintings are visual expressions of his reactions towards music, the people around him, and the conditions of his environment. His works are impulsive and whimsical, created on the fly or at a moment’s notice.

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Nico Huidobro, Untitled, 2016

NYCAS 2016, an Islip Art Museum and International Meeting of Art Collaboration, is a two-week long, international artist residency program based in East Islip, NY. The bi-annual residency seeks to encourage and improve the cultural exchange between participating artists and collaborating communities. In 2016, the Islip Art Museum hosted five Chilean artists working in a variety of mediums from September 19 to October 3. These artists exhibited their paintings, photographs, and sculpture at the Islip Art Museum, Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery in Bay Shore, and the Patchogue Arts Gallery throughout September and October. Additionally, their work is currently on display in the exhibition Made in Chile at Toast Coffeehouse in Patchogue until December 28.

Jay Schuck


Photo Credits
Images of Paloma Gómez and Marcela Zamorano González artwork courtesy of Patchogue Arts Council

Images of Andrés Achavar, Ignacio Castillo, and Nico Huidobro artwork courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Wood, Waves & Words: The Sculpture of John Cino

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE JULY 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

Now on view at the Patchogue Arts Gallery is Wood, Waves & Words a solo exhibition highlighting the recent works of sculptor John Cino. Upon invitation from the Patchogue Arts Council’s Board of Trustees, Cino showcases his sculpture in the exhibition space of the Patchogue Arts Council as he introduces his artwork to the community. The exhibition features a dozen sculpted works completed by the artist within the past year, including several pieces completed during a recent artist residency at Stony Brook University. Several sculptures in the exhibition incorporate a variety of sounds and languages, creating three-dimensional structures that stimulate not only the viewer’s sense of sight and space, but also one’s sense of sound as well. The viewer becomes fully immersed within the exhibition.

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John Cino, Wafting: Padouk #1, 2016

For the artist, a carved wooden sculpture recounts the story of a tree’s life through its unique grain patterning. By highlighting the unique grain pattern from each piece of lumber he uses, Cino gives his source material new life. Through his sculpture, the artist also simultaneously recalls memories of his childhood. As a boy, Cino would often spend hours climbing trees and reading books in them. Many works included in the exhibition, such as Wafting: Padouk #1, are slender, freestanding, wave-like sculptures that ripple and flow vertically toward the sky. For this body of work, the artist draws inspiration from the natural flow of the ocean’s waves that ascends and recedes on the many shores of Long Island, an action that often fascinated the artist as a child. Cino renders his sculptures as if each piece is dancing to its own song or is drifting among the ocean’s waves.

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John Cino, Song Wave, 2014

Several pieces in the exhibition incorporate hidden speakers that project different sounds and languages. For his sound pieces, the artist craves into his rectangular slabs of timber, creating rhythmic waves-like gestures that are seen through the voids that are left behind. The carved works are then embedded into bases that conceal the artist’s sound system. One such piece, Song Wave, was created with the aid of a New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Grant that was administered through the Huntington Arts Council. For Song Wave, the sounds that are projected are songs sung by humpback whales. Likewise, the artist includes four sound sculptures from his recent residency at Stony Brook University. Entitled, Dialogue with each individual sculpture taking the subtitle of its respected material, the works are composed of freestanding slabs of wood with two incised lines that runs through each piece. For the current exhibition, the voices projected from each of these sculptures recite random passages from Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and Reverend Dwight Lee Wolter’s “Peace Chant,” which were originally incorporated into Song Wave’s whale song recording.

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John Cino, Dialogue: Maple, 2016

John Cino is the Chair of the Patchogue Arts Council’s Visual Arts Committee as well as its Director of Programing. He has been the lead curator of the Patchogue Arts Council since its inception in 2008 and has introduced many artists to the Patchogue community over the years. He received his MFA in Sculpture from CUNY Hunter College and his BFA from Stony Brook University. His artwork has been exhibited extensively throughout the New York area at venues such as the Islip Art Museum, Omni Gallery, and the Vanderbilt Museum. His public sculpture, The Library of Babel, is currently situated outside of the Patchogue-Medford Library.

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John Cino, Dialogue: Maple (detail), 2016

The Patchogue Arts Gallery is a professional art gallery operated by the Patchogue Arts Council, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts. The gallery features five curated exhibitions per year, which reflect current issues and concerns in the contemporary art world, in addition to an annual juried members exhibition.

Wood, Waves & Words: The Sculpture of John Cino is on view at the Patchogue Arts Gallery from July 9 to August 21. An artist reception is scheduled for Sunday, July 10, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. The reception is free and open to the public.

Jay Schuck

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Remembering Richard Smith

In April, British artist Richard Smith passed away. Richard had a long, prosperous career with solo exhibitions at the Tate Gallery (1975), the Jewish Museum (1968), and the Whitechapel Gallery (1966), among others. He represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale (1966, 1970), as well as the Sao Paulo Biennale (1968). His artwork is in the public collection of many renowned fine art institutions including the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I first met Richard in 2012 at his Patchogue studio. The Patchogue Arts Gallery had just opened with an exhibition featuring a selection of Richard’s recent paintings and works on paper. I was tasked with helping the artist compile images of his artwork from over the years for a slideshow presentation he would use for an artist talk scheduled at the end of the exhibition. I met Richard in his studio where he had a few sketches and smaller works out on the table with volumes of works wrapped and tucked away in storage.

Richard was personable and friendly as he took the time to discuss with me the details of his life, career, artistic interests and influences. We spent the afternoon huddled around my laptop as he reflected on his career and body of work. The longer we spoke, the more I came to admire him and appreciate his artwork as he would recall the details of his oeuvre, some of which he remembered better than others. We often got sidetracked as a particular painting would remind him of a story involving a close friend, studio visit, or of his inspiration for the piece.

I was fortunate to work with Richard several more times over the years. One such time was in late 2014-early 2015 when John Cino and I were curating the Remembering Things Past exhibition at the Islip Art Museum. Richard happily agreed to be a part of the exhibition and we all met at his studio to review possible works to include. Upon arriving, John and I were greeted by a large, three-piece kite painting that Richard created in the late 1970s. It was my first time seeing one of his kite paintings in person and I was in immediate awe of delicate yet imposing presence and wonderful ascetics. Needless to say we included the work along with a smaller four-piece kite painting and a painting produced in the late 1990s that depicts a silhouette of the artist.

The last time I spoke to Richard was in early March. We discussed the possibility of a retrospective exhibition that would coincide with his 85th birthday and commemorate his life and body of work. Despite being ill, Richard happily agreed to the idea and we scheduled another studio visit. Although he passed before we could work on the project, I am flattered that Richard was interested in working with me one more time. As far as I am considered, when it comes to Richard Smith, the only thing more admirable than his artwork is his character.

Thank you for everything, Richard. Working with you will always be a highlight of my career.

Jay Schuck

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With Richard Smith’s Portrait (1997) at the Islip Art Museum

Patchworks 2016

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE JUNE 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

Now on view at the Patchogue Arts Gallery is Patchworks 2016, the annual juried members exhibition of the Patchogue Arts Council. This year, the annual open call exhibit was juried by Neil Watson who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, NY. Patchworks 2016 features 43 local artists who work in a variety of mediums ranging from painting and photography to sculpture and more.

Long Island’s scenic waterscapes are well represented in the works of Howard Beckerman, Krystle DiNicola, and Chris Zec, all of whom are working in the photographic media. Their calm, tranquil compositions have a strong correlation to Beth Giacummo’s glass-blown jellyfish, Big Pinky, along with the other works inspired by nature such as Linda Abadjian’s Clouf Mountains, Linda Beckerman’s Pond Reflections and Alan N. Johnson’s Bonsai I.

The past serves as inspiration for ceramicist Tina Folks and sculptor Dwight Trujillo, whose work recalls votive sculptures and colossal monuments of long extinct civilizations. Likewise, artists also recall memories of their own to serve as muses for their works. One such artist is Kristen Hadjoglou whose setting and narrative is captured in quick brush strokes, which invokes the feeling of something remembered but with hazy details. Alternatively, artists like Bryan Gutman, whose painting is a composite of several overlapping female figures rendered in wallpaper-like designs and colors, is purely imaginative in subject matter and bears no influence from past events or experiences.

Many works in the exhibition offer hidden details that are only brought out upon closer observation. Courtney Young’s stunning depiction of a grilled cheese sandwich appears photographic despite being drawn entirely in pastels. The drawing is so appealing that on first glance the viewer may overlook the fly that is trapped in the gooey cheese that oozes through the toasted bread. The piece offers a strong juxtaposition to Kathryn Ko’s Death by Water. What appears as a classically realist painting of a woodland river scene offers a hidden feature planted by the artist. Washed up on shore is the drowned Syrian boy whose body appeared on the front page of every major newspaper last fall. The imagery instantly brings the viewer out the imaginary world created by the painting back into the real world with its social-political struggles.

Formalists attracted to line, color, and shape will also be satisfied with the exhibition. John Cino’s small sculpture, Wafting, captivates the viewer as he or she studies the elegant curves that dances rhythmically upward, while Lawrence Lee’s dense bronze sculpture offers an interesting relationship between positive and negative spaces. Similarly, the viewer will instantly be drawn to Larry Monat’s linear painting A Not So Simple Truth, which is composed of a variety of different colors and strong intersecting horizontal and vertical lines. Whether one is a formalist or a realist, interested in representational art or abstraction, prefers sculpture to painting or vice versa, the viewer will leave the exhibition with a sense of fulfillment.

Patchworks 2016 features 44 works of art by 43 members of the Patchogue Arts Council. All artists with valid memberships to the Patchogue Arts Council were invited to submit two works of art, free of charge, to the organization’s annual open call exhibition. Neil Watson, Executive Director of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, served as the juror of the exhibition. Watson has previously held directorial positions at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE, and the Katonah Museum of Art in Westchester, NY. As the Executive Director of the Long Island Museum, he has instituted the LIMart, an artist lead collaborative group that develops programing and other opportunities for contemporary Long Island artists. Patchworks 2016 is on view at the Patchogue Arts Gallery through June 26.

The Patchogue Arts Gallery is a professional art gallery operated by the Patchogue Arts Council, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts. The gallery features five curated exhibitions per year, which reflect current issues and concerns in the contemporary art world, in addition to an annual juried members exhibition.

Jay Schuck

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Reflections: Minimalist Photography by Chris Zec

 On display at Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. is a solo exhibition featuring a series of minimalist photographs by Chris Zec. This series of photographs finds Zec utilizing seascape reflections to create abstracted minimalist compositions that mesmerizes the viewer as he or she admires the serene natural beauty captured by the artist. The subject matter depicted by the artist, along with the manner in which each image is arranged, invites the viewer to observe the exhibition in quite meditation, as he or she loses his or herself deep in thought, within the tranquil stillness imposed by the pictures.

One piece included in the exhibition is Reed Reflections, No. 1, a photograph that depicts several grass-like reeds that have grown in still waters. Zec voids the photograph of a setting, opting to focus his camera, and the viewer’s attention, on the reeds and its still reflections captured on the water’s surface. The artist magnifies the sharp details of the plant, which pierces the water’s surface with its sharp blades of green with yellow and brown undertones. The grouping of reeds are placed just off-centered, aligned to the left-hand side of the visual plane, allowing the sky-blue listless body of water, caught in the pre-dawn’s light, to fill the remainder of the composition. Upon observing the work, along with others in the exhibition, the viewer becomes transfixed, lost with his or her own thoughts in the void created by the artist.

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Chris Zec, Reed Reflections, No. 1, 2014

Chris Zec is a fine artist from Farmingville, NY. He is a member of several Long Island arts organization including the Art League of Long Island, the Patchogue Arts Council, and North Shore Art Guild. His artwork has been exhibited extensively across Long Island including exhibitions at East End Arts in Riverhead, NY, Phoenix Gallery in Bellport, NY, and Gallery North in Stony Brook, NY. More information on the artist can be found online at http://www.chriszec.com.

The Patchogue Arts Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in 2008 to promote, encourage, and support the arts on the greater south shore of the Town of Brookhaven. The Patchogue Arts Council and Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Co. created the PAC Members Gallery at Roast in the summer of 2013 as an alternative exhibition venue where members of the Patchogue Arts Council can exhibit their artwork. Information on how to exhibit at Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. can be found online at http://www.patchoguearts.org.

Reflections: Photographs by Chris Zec is on display at Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. from March 28 – May 15, 2016, with an opening reception on Sunday, April 10, from 2 – 4pm. The reception is free and open to the public.

Jay Schuck

Chris Zec