Tag Archive | "Southampton"

Latin American Film Festival Returns to the Parrish

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Sergio Hernández (Rodolfo) and Paulina García (Gloria) in Sebastián Lelio’s “Gloria,” which will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 14.

By Mara Certic

Seven boxes, a fisherman and a middle-aged Chilean woman will be featured in films screened next weekend during the 11th annual OLA Film Festival at the Parrish Art Museum.

The Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island (OLA) is a local outreach nonprofit that promotes the Latino community’s cultural, economic, social and educational development in the towns of East Hampton and Southampton. Isabel Sepulveda, one of the founders of OLA, started the film festival back in 2003 and for the past six years, the Parrish Art Museum has hosted the Spanish-language weekend.

“Isabel Sepulveda has been with it from the beginning. She has the vision each year,” said Andrea Grover, curator of special projects at the Parrish, who added that Ms. Sepulveda is “essential” to the festival. Ms. Grover said she always enjoys the OLA film festival and “it is something that people anticipate and are enthusiastic about seeing.”

“In 2001, we founded OLA. Part of the mission was to do advocacy work. We thought we could reach more people doing cultural events,” Ms. Sepulveda said on Monday. “Through an annual film festival we can bring the two communities together.”

It is a fun change of theme for the Parrish, which usually screens films on the subject of art. “This is a little bit of a different tact for us. It’s something that we find really valuable,” Ms. Grover said in a phone interview on Saturday.

There is no theme to the festival, no connection to art, as such, except that each of these films are critically acclaimed and highly anticipated. According to Ms. Grover, Ms. Sepulveda “is trying to reach as broad as an audience as possible” with her choices for the festival. Documentaries, dramas and comedies have all made it to the big screen at the OLA film festival, even shorts, but Ms. Grover said the curator “is looking for quality.”

The OLA film festival features recently released, critically acclaimed movies from different Latin American countries, according to Ms. Grover. The festival kicks off on Friday, September 12, at 5:30 p.m. with “Pescador” (“Fisherman”).

“Pescador” was co-written and directed by Ecuadoran filmmaker Sebastián Cordero in 2011. It tells the story of 30-year-old Blanquito (played by Andrés Crespo), who lives with his mother in a small fishing village where he never really felt he belonged. One day, Blanquito discovers a box filled with bricks of cocaine and he finds a way to get out of his 30-year rut. He is determined to sell the cocaine back to the cartel for top prices and to use that money to leave the small village and change his life.

He falls for a woman named Lorna, with whom he spends the rest of the 96-minute film on a dangerous adventure. “Pescador” won awards for best director and best actor at the 2012 Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival, and Mr. Crespo won another award for best actor at the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia.

Following the screening of “Pescador,” Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican band Mambo Loco will perform on the Mildred C. Brinn Terrace at the Parrish at 7 p.m. “It’s something we plan to develop further,” Ms. Grover said of expanding the festival’s offerings.

The next day at 3 p.m., the Parrish will show a Paraguayan film, “7 Cajas” (“7 Boxes”).  The PG-13 film directed by Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori is the story of the lure and dangers of money.  Victor, a 17-year-old wheelbarrow operator, accepts $100 to transport seven boxes of unknown content through an eight-block journey in the busy municipal market. Drama and danger ensue in the action-thriller, which won five awards at various film festivals, including the Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival.

The last film to be screened over the weekend will be on Sunday at 3 p.m. The film is “Gloria,” the story of a rebirth for a middle-aged divorcée living in Santiago. “It’s one I’ve wanted to see because it depicts a woman in her mid-life and it’s a depiction of a real life scenario done with kindness,” Ms. Grover said. “It’s subject matter not frequently featured,” she said, adding that Ms. Sepulveda has been eager to feature the Chilean movie since its release.

The R-rated tale won a total of 17 awards at festivals all around the world, including the main competition at the Berlin International Film Festival and several best actress awards for Paulina Garcia, who plays the title role.

Ms. Sepulveda said there are many high-quality films coming out of Latin America. “I wish we could have a longer festival, like two weeks. It takes a lot to put it together, especially when everyone’s volunteering their time. It’s not easy,” she said.

Tickets for each film are $10; admission is free for museum members, students and children. The musical performance by Mambo Loco is free with museum admission. The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org

 

 

 

For the Love of Roses

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By Emily J. Weitz

“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…” 

~Antoine de St. Exupery, The Little Prince

As the little prince knew too well, to love a rose takes effort, patience, and thought. Even when they have a wild look about them, with their thorns and brambles all tangled across a gate, roses require a great deal of care.

Rick Bogusch, who manages the grounds at Bridge Gardens, has nurtured the rose garden since he started there six years ago. Every winter, he tucks them in to beds of mulch 12 to 18 inches deep, and every spring, he prunes them delicately and watches them come back to life.

The Southampton Rose Society will present a lecture by Mr. Bogusch at Bridge Gardens on Saturday, September 13, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Many of the most striking specimens in the garden, Mr. Bogusch said, will still be in bloom.

The rose garden was installed by the property’s previous owners, Jim and Harry Kilpatrick, and Mr. Bogusch spent his first year at Bridge Gardens learning about the unique demands of these flowers. They were selected for the hardiness and their ability to endure the long winters, but still they need to be attended to. Last winter, which was particularly cold and long, Mr. Bogusch brought one of the rose plants inside and nursed it through the roughest patches, and now it has sprung back.

“Roses are very demanding,” said Mr. Bogusch. “They demand a lot of attention and resources and consistency of care. Time, energy, man hours, money: You really have to be willing to put that into them.”

Along with mulching and pruning, roses need to receive about 2 inches of water every week. Mr. Bogusch also fertilizes them regularly throughout the season to keep them vigorous.

Perhaps it is the effort that they require that makes roses so precious. Throughout history, they have been used in ceremonies and by royalty to mark special occasions. They are prized for their aesthetic value and their pungent fragrance. Mr. Bogusch says the rose garden, even though it is just one of several impressive gardens at Bridge Gardens, is a major draw for people.

“It’s a big attraction,” said Mr. Bogusch, “because everybody loves roses. When people find out there’s a rose garden here, they want to see it.”

The garden itself is round, with brick pathways throughout that separate the beds. The beds are organized by color, so that the rose garden resembles a giant color wheel. One bed spills with red roses. A path separates it from a pink bed, a yellow bed, and so on. There are eight beds in all.

Walking through the rose garden, one is taken not only by the aesthetic beauty, but the pungency of the air.

“Some of the roses in our garden are very fragrant,” said Mr. Bogusch. For example, there’s a white hybrid rose that blooms in the classic form called Pope John Paul II.

“That’s one of the most fragrant roses of all time,” he said.

Mr. Bogusch just planted Pope John Paul II this past spring, and already it is growing vigorously. Another plant, which is original to the garden, is called About Face.

“It’s large and strong and old,” said Mr. Bogusch. “And it’s so beautiful that you do an about-face when you walk by it.”

“You start to see blooms in late May, and June is the first peak,” said Mr. Bogusch. “Then there’s another peak in September.”

This year the roses have bloomed continually, which Mr. Bogusch attributes a temperate summer when the thermometer didn’t climb into the 90s.

“Our garden,” he explained, “has brick, and can get very hot and humid, which roses don’t like.”

Because of the relatively cool summer, this year’s stroll through the rose garden should be particularly rewarding.

To register for the lecture and tour, go to the Rose Society web site at southamptonrose.org or call (631) 740-4732. Bridge Gardens is located at 36 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton.

Firefighters Battle House Fire in Bridgehampton

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Fire Department believe the house fire on Bridge Hill Lane on Sunday morning may have been caused by lightning. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

Members of the Bridgehampton Fire Department and neighboring departments spent several hours battling a house fire on Bridge Lane in Bridgehampton early Sunday morning, according to Chief Gary Horsburgh.

The chief said the department responded from an automatic fire alarm at the house on 10 Bridge Hill Lane at 1:52 a.m. Responders smelled smoke when they arrived and immediately requested assistance, he said.

The fire began in the basement and burned through the first floor, causing serious damage to the kitchen and the western side of the house, Chief Horsburgh said on Sunday morning. He added that heat and humidity made firefighting particularly taxing and tiring, and fire departments from Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Springs, North Sea, Hampton Bays and Southampton Village were all called in for mutual aid.

According to Chief Horsburgh the house is “still standing” but the western side is “pretty much gone.” No one was in the house when the fire began, Chief Horsburgh said, and there were no injuries.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Southampton Town Fire Marshal, but Chief Horsburgh said he thought it could have been caused by lightning, as thunderstorms swept through the area that night.

Southampton Town Fire Marshal Brian Williams said on Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing.

 

East End Weekend: Labor Day Highlights

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Danielle Leef, "Flying Point Sunrise." Courtesy Southampton Artists Association.

Danielle Leef, “Flying Point Sunrise.” Courtesy Southampton Artists Association.

By Tessa Raebeck

With the East End at full capacity this Labor Day, what better way to unwind from a crazy summer than with a little party hopping? Here’s our highlights of what to check out this weekend:

 

With an opening reception on Sunday, the Southampton Artists Association Labor Day Show will show paintings, photography and sculptures by local artists.

The free reception is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Levitas Center for the Arts in the Southampton Cultural Center, located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. The show runs through September 7.

 

The king of nerd humor and that stand-up comedian who doodles on television, Demetri Martin is coming to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday, August 31.

He earned an Emmy nomination as a writer on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” has been a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and starred in the Ang Lee film “Taking Woodstock.” He also created and starred in the series “Important Things with Demetri Martin” on Comedy Central and wrote “This is a Book by Demetri Martin,” a New York Times bestseller.

Jeanelle Myers, "Untitled," for "Curious" at Ashawagh Hall.

Jeanelle Myers, “Untitled,” for “Curious” at Ashawagh Hall.

Mr. Martin’s performance at the will begin at 8 p.m. The PAC is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Tickets are $60, $75, and $90. For tickets and more information, call (631) 288-1500 or visit WHBPAC.org.

 

On Saturday at Ashawagh Hall in Springs, “Curious” exhibits a selection of contemporary artists exploring the concept of “Curious and Curiosity.”

Works include painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media. Out of 50 participating artists, five are from Sag Harbor: Ted Asnis, Barbara Freedman, Jonathan Morse, Jeanelle Myers and Pamela Topham.

The group show is curated by Ellen Dooley, a painter and mixed media artist focused on social and political commentary.

An opening reception for “Curious” will be held on Saturday, August 30, from 5 to 8 p.m. The gallery is open all weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ashawagh Hall, located at 780 Springs Fireplace Road at Old Stone Highway in East Hampton. For more information, call (631) 987-7005.

 

At the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor, Sheryl Budnik will show her work in “Turbulence II,” open from August 28 to September 18. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, August 30, from 5 to 7 p.m.

“The term ‘Lumen Naturae–the Light Within the Darkness of Nature’ refers to the Middle Age idea (Paracelsus c. 1493-1541) that knowledge springs from the Light of Nature,” Ms. Budnik said in a press release issued by the gallery.

“This light in Nature illuminates the consciousness and allows inspiration and intuition to rise from human subconscious,” the artist continued. “This is the core of my study; this is what I want to capture with my paint. Not paintings defined as ‘seascape’ or ‘landscape,’ but paintings so powerfully about nature that an open spirit responds with human emotion and an intuitive understanding of the immensity and power of Nature itself.”

The Romany Kramoris Gallery is located at 41 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call (631) 725-2499.

Sheryl Budnik, "Light at the End of the Day" will be on view at the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor.

Sheryl Budnik, “Light at the End of the Day” will be on view at the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor.

 

Over 300 Show Up to Discuss Aircraft Noise in East Hampton

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Helicopters at the East Hampton Airport on Wednesday evening, just down the road from where over 300 residents gathered to discuss the aircraft noise problem. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

More than 325 people from all over the East End turned up to a special meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the East Hampton Airport.

For almost three hours, residents from East Hampton, Southampton, Noyac, North Haven, Shelter Island and the North Fork told the board their concerns, their stories, and their solutions. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who acts as the board’s airport liaison made a statement before the public hearing began. She assured the public the town board was committed to do everything they can legally do to address the problem.

She also asked those who had signed up to speak to stay respectful of each other, and the board, and said “I request everyone observe basic rules of civility.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s wish came true. There was a sense of support and unity among the residents and elected officials who gathered to speak at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Southold, Southampton, Shelter Island, North Haven and Noyac passed memorializing resolutions in the past few weeks, all calling for the East Hampton Town Board to refuse any future grant money from the FAA and then impose regulations on the airport.

Currently, the board is receiving grant assurances from the FAA, which will expire on December 31, 2014. “We implore you to not accept the funding from the FAA,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I can just tell you that from a North Haven standpoint, we’ll do everything to try and support you,” said Jeff Sander, Mayor of North Haven Village. This feeling was repeated throughout the evening, by residents as well as elected officials.

“We’re behind you 100%,” said Shelter Island resident Jim Colligan.  ”Don’t be in fear of those helicopter companies, if we need to rally behind you, we will definitely rally behind you.”

Speakers expressed concern about non-stop noise, which many say goes from as early as 5 a.m. to as late as 2:45 a.m. Frank Dalene, who sits on two of East Hampton’s Airport subcommittees, likened the endless noise to torture. “Will there be satisfaction if you just stop the torture?” he asked. “The only relief is to stop torture. We will not be satisfied until helicopters stop.”

As well as noise, many brought up issues of health and safety. A specialist in animal behaviorism and a Northwest resident explained that the “looming” sound of the helicopters has damaged wild life on the East End, and could be damaging people, too.

Solutions were put forward by the public, as well. Many called for banning helicopters, some called for shutting down all commercial operations in and out of the airport.  Certain residents suggested closing the East Hampton Airport and moving operations to Montauk Airport. This may prove slightly difficult as the 40 acres of the Montauk Airport is less than a tenth of the size of the East Hampton Airport.

“It’s truly a pleasure to listen to th voices on the East End and the conduct at this meeting was exemplary,” Supervisor Cantwell said on Wednesday.

Another Good Month for CPF

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Another month, another windfall for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund.

According to figures released by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the CPF collected a total of $9.94 million during the month of July in the five East End towns. Last year for the same period, CPF revenues were $8.8 million.

Total revenue for the first seven months of the year has been $55.7 million an increase of 5.8 percent over the same period last year when $52.7 million was collected.

Southampton leads all towns, having collected $32.4 million this year, up from $30.8 million over the first seven months last year. East Hampton has collected $17.4 million, up from $16.9 million. Southold has collected $2.8 million, up from $2.2 million; Riverhead has received $1.9 million, up from $1.4 million, while Shelter Island has seen a dip to $1.2 million from $1.4 million.

Since its inception in 1999, the CPF has generated $940.4 million. The CPF has generated $98.47 million over the last 12 months.

East End Hospice Thinks Outside the Box

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“Lake, Rain, Light” by April Gornik is just one of 95 artworks to be sold at auction at this year’s Box Art Auction benefit for East End Hospice, which will take place on Saturday, September 6 at the Ross School.

By Mara Certic

Facing ever greater competition among the growing number of summer fundraisers on the South Fork, 14 years ago, David and Marion Porter came up with a unique way for artists to help raise money for East End Hospice.

In 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Porter appealed to sculptors, painters and sketchers to create original works of art made out of recycled cigar boxes to be sold at auction. Both philanthropists have since passed away, but as the Box Art Auction prepares to return this year, their vision is still going strong.

On Saturday, September 6, the 95 boxes will be auctioned off at a benefit at the Ross School. The public will have a chance to view the boxes on Wednesday, August 27, and Thursday, August 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoie Hall in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton. A free “meet the artists” reception will be held on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday’s benefit will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a silent auction. The live auction will follow at 5:45 p.m., emceed by East Hampton resident Lucas Hunt. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Arlene Bujese has been involved in the show for well over a decade, and has been the benefit chairwoman since 2002. Ms. Bujese is a prominent force in the East End art world; she owned a gallery in East Hampton for many years and, more recently, has worked as the curator-in-residence at the Southampton Cultural Center.

“The idea is that we’re not asking an artist to go into their studio and take a valuable drawing or painting out of their collection,” Ms. Bujese said during a phone interview on Friday. “But to make something, and it can be a signature work of theirs … or they can just play however much they want to—inside the box, outside the box—use their imagination. And as you can see, they do,” she said.

Recently, the organizers have diversified by including wooden wine boxes as well as cigar boxes for the creations. Volunteers keep the organization well stocked with enough cartons, often transporting them from Manhattan to the East End.

The works are donated by each artist. “We’ve had some artists who have been with us the entire 14 years,” Ms. Bujese continued. “Each year we add some new ones, to bring more of the community in.”

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Embroidery artist Christa Maiwald created artwork for Saturday’s auction.

This year, 10 out of a total of 95 artists are newcomers, including Brianna Ashe, a teacher at the Ross School, and Louise Eastman, a Sag Harbor resident. Another Sag Harborite, embroidery artist Christa Maiwald created one of her signature pieces for this year’s auction.

“When I worked with her on an exhibition, I thought, my goodness, I’ve never asked her to make a box,” Ms. Bujese said. “And she came up with a signature work. It’s nice, it’s going to be popular.”

“In fact I already have a friend who’s interested in it,” she said of Ms. Maiwald’s cigar box creation, which features a detailed, embroidered feline on the coffer’s inner lid.

In addition to the live and silent auctions, the Box Art Auction organizers encourage absentee bidding for those who are unable to attend the event itself. Pictures of many of the artworks are available on the East End Hospice website, eeh.org, as are absentee bidding forms.

Artist April Gornik returns this year with one of her trademark landscapes painted on the lid of a wooden receptacle, which will be one of the items in the live auction on Saturday. RJT Haynes is an artist from the United Kingdom, whose life in rural Cornwall has inspired his landscapes over the years.

“The format is an interesting mixture of freedom and constraint: the box is a required element, but we can incorporate it any way we like,” he wrote in an e-mail earlier this week.

For his creation this year, however, Mr. Haynes has done a little more than paint the exterior of his box. “I’ve seen many fine examples of straightforward painting on lids, but the wooden container invites a three-dimensional approach,” Mr. Haynes wrote.

“Last year, my Cornish mermaid caused a mini bidding war between two collectors, one of whom wanted it as a gift for her son at college—so this year’s ‘Independence Day’ portrays a newly fledged adult, just starting a life of her own in her first room away from home: I’m hoping it will strike a chord with proud parents at the auction, and make some money for the hospice,” he continued.

“Independence Day” transforms the wooden box into a little diorama: a polymer clay person sits on the floor of the “room,” whose walls are decorated with scaled-down versions of some of Mr. Haynes’s oil paintings and watercolors.

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“Independence Day”, by RJT Haynes

“I spent many years looking after a terminally ill relative, so I’m very happy to contribute to Box Art,” he said.

East End Hospice, which provides end-of-life care for clients in the five East End towns had 487 patients this year alone. Twenty-seven of them were from Sag Harbor. All of the proceeds from Saturday’s auction will go to benefit the hospice.

“I can’t think of a more deserving cause to donate to,” Mr. Haynes wrote.

The boxes will be on view on Wednesday, August 27, and Thursday, August 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoie Hall in St Luke’s Church, 18 James Lane, East Hampton. A  “meet the artists” preview reception will be held also in Hoie Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. The benefit on Saturday, September 6 will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Ross School, 18 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton. Tickets cost $75 per person. For more information visit eeh.org.

East End Weekend: Highlights of August 22 to 24

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Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

Sick of the beach? That’s strange, but luckily there’s ample else to do around the East End this weekend. Here are our weekend highlights:

 

Introducing his latest body of work, Dean Johnson will show “Living Legends” at the Monika Olko Gallery, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The show, which features iconic figures in “living pieces,” of mixed media, always changing LED light panels composed of plexi-resin, pigmented inks, film and encaustic wax dyed with oil paints. The Sag Harbor gallery is sponsoring a fundraising event to benefit the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center‘s Southampton office as part of the opening reception.

The Monika Olko Gallery is located at 95 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call Art Curator and Gallery Manager Wafa Faith Hallam at (631) 899-4740.

 

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

At the Peter Marcelle Project in Southampton, Miriam Dougenis will show her early selected watercolors, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Known primarily for her contemporary oil on canvas landscapes, characterized by her unique style and the use of familiar locations around the East End, the local artist is also an award-winning watercolor artist. The exhibition, on view from August 23 through September 9, showcases examples of her earliest watercolors from the 70′s and 80′s.

The Peter Marcelle Project is located at 4 North Main Street in Southampton. For more information, contact Catherine McCormick at (631) 613.6170.

 

Before you head to Sag Harbor Saturday, stop by Marder’s in Bridgehampton where there will be free, live music from 3 to 5 p.m. A string trio in the garden will play classical music featuring Vivaldi, Bach and select composers. The concert is free of charge and all are welcome.

Marder’s is located at 120 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. For more information, call (631) 537-3700.

 

Stages presents “The Wind in the Willows” at the Pierson High School auditorium this weekend, with performances on Friday, August 22, at 7 p.m., Saturday, August 23, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, August 24 at 4 p.m.

Based on the English children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame, “The Wind in the Willows” follows the comedic story of Mr. Toad and his friends, McBadger, Rat and Mole, as they go on the classic, hilarious adventures.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Helene Leonard will direct the full-length musical production, an original version of the script that was written for television by her late father, Jerry Leonard. Mr. Leonard wrote the music and lyrics along with John Petrone, and there is additional music by Larry Loeber.

All tickets are $15. For reservations, call (631) 329-1420.

 

 

At Duck Creek Farm in East Hampton, Amagansett artist Christine Sciulli will show “Quiet Riot,” an immersive site-specific projection installation presented by the John Little Society.

The installation will be open to the public by appointment and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 7 p.m. through September 20.

In her primary medium of projected light, Ms. Sciulli “asks us to consider the potential of simple geometry by projecting these forms onto a network of materials that fragment and expand on their structures.

The installation will be in the John Little Barn at Duck Creek Farm, located at 367 Three Mile Harbor to Hog Creek Road (enter and park at north access to Squaw Road) in East Hampton. For more information on the artist, visit sound and vision or vimeo.

 

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

In the second installment of the new BLACKOUT at Bay Street, Bay Street Theater will feature a cabaret evening of performers from its latest hit, “My Life is a Musical,” on Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23.

The cabaret performance is complimentary for those who attend the 8 p.m. Mainstage production of the musical and $15 for those only attending the cabaret at 11 p.m.

BLACKOUT, an evening of cabaret and comedy, will feature the performers singing both musical theater and rock songs. For more information on BLACKOUT at Bay Street, call the box office at (631) 725-9500.

Homeless in the Hamptons: An Invisible Community Struggles to Survive

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Bill watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Bill, 56, watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

To Bill, the two most important things are his feet and his socks, followed closely by matches and plastic bags. The matches keep him warm, the plastic bags keep his things dry, and the feet and socks keep him going.

Bill, 56, has a college degree in economics and a minor in business administration from SUNY Oswego. He is kind, articulate and witty. Like thousands of people across the East End, he is also homeless.

Ten years ago, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services counted 435 homeless families and 222 homeless singles countywide. Those figures—which increased drastically in the economic downturn since—only account for those who meet the official criteria and choose to apply for help. In reality, the numbers are much higher.

It is no secret to locals that the image much of the world conjures up of “The Hamptons” is far from the realities of daily life on the East End, but for the countless homeless residents of these hamlets, that image is a blatant farce.

“How can you miss us?” Bill asked, staring out at the sailboats docked at Lazy Point in Amagansett as two women in a kayak paddled by. Scores of homeless people live here, but, in part due to their own security concerns, they remain largely invisible.

If you look closely, however, you can see the faint paths used by homeless people off wooded trails, under bridges and sometimes right in town. A man who lives behind a popular business in Montauk leaves before dawn each morning, but his footprints have worn down a path to his campsite. Born and raised in Sag Harbor, Andy, a friend of Bill’s, lives hidden in the center of the village. An expert on Southampton history, a man called Mahoney holds fort at a park in the village, regularly entertaining tourists who have no idea he lives where they stand.

At a clearing off Route 27 in Wainscott, local homeowners leave food for the homeless people who camp in the woods nearby. If neighbors buy a sandwich and only end up eating half of it, they’ll leave the rest on one of the lids of two garbage cans stationed at the clearing in an unspoken act of charity.

According to a 2013 report compiled by the federal government, New York State, with 13 percent of the nation’s documented homeless population, is one of only three states in which homeless people account for more than 6 percent of the population (the others being Florida and California). With over 77,000 reported cases in 2013, the number of documented instances of homelessness in New York jumped by nearly 8,000 people between 2012 and 2013. New York’s homeless population has increased by 24 percent since 2007, the largest increase by far in the country—and the numbers are far from the actual figures.

On a single night in January 2013, an estimated 610,042 people were homeless in the United States. Over one-third of those people, about 215,000 of them, live in unsheltered locations, such as under bridges, in cars or in abandoned buildings.

To Bill, living in a car does not make you homeless; there’s a roof over your head and a place you can count on.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, and a graduate of Hauppauge High School, Bill has suffered from bi-polar disorder his whole life, but was not diagnosed till he “was old.” He came to the East End when he was 17 because he was drawn to the service industry.

“I like the whole premise of restaurant business: Helping people, service, making people happy, learning to deal with difficult people,” he said. “I thought—and I still think—I’m good at it.”

The “extracurricular” affairs of the restaurant industry—namely, drugs and drinking—became too much for Bill, who, like many who suffer from bipolar disorder, also struggled with addiction. After years of drinking to excess, Bill is now a recovering alcoholic who said he hasn’t had a drink since the early 90’s when his son was three.

“I think in extremes, everything…you’re either super happy or ready to commit suicide,” he explained.

Struggling with his condition and unable to find balance between complete bliss and extreme grief, Bill lost his six-figure job and his wife left him. He briefly lived up-island with family, but returned to East Hampton, where he has spent the past year searching for shelter, food and friendly faces.

He takes “top half of body” showers in public restrooms and jumps in the ocean to stay clean, a feat that, like most conditions of homelessness, becomes much harder in the cold winter months.

Although Bill doesn’t like to ask for help, when he’s especially down on his luck he goes to Maureen’s Haven in Riverhead.

Funded solely through donations, grants and funding from all the eastern townships, Maureen’s Haven offers shelter, support and “compassionate services” to homeless adults on the East End. There is a crisis hotline and a day center that provides opportunities like AA meetings, ESL and GED classes to help people find work and permanent housing.

From November 1 to April 1, the center transports homeless people from the North and South Forks and takes them to one of 18 host houses of worship between Greenport and Montauk. They are given a hot dinner and a bed to sleep in and are taken back to where they were picked up, be it a bus stop or a side-of-the-road clearing, at 7 a.m.

Since its 2002 inception, Maureen’s Haven has sheltered over 2,500 individuals. In the 2013-14 winter season, the program served 337 adults and was able to secure employment for 40 percent and place 52 percent in permanent housing.

Although a lot of homelessness “has to do with disability, incarceration, drug use, alcohol abuse and job loss,” Program Development Director Tara Murphy said, there are “a number of different issues and each case is different.”

One woman, Mary, arrived at Maureen’s Haven “terrified and desperate,” the center said, after fleeing an abusive relationship. She began the healing process at the center and is now living independently with support from a local domestic violence agency.

A 77-year-old man suffering from dementia with no family nor support system, James had been living disoriented on the streets. The center secured supportive housing for him in a program specializing in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s not about homelessness, it’s not about tough times, it’s not about addictions,” Bill said of the stigmatization of the homeless. “We all wear the same clothes…what I’m saying is, if we have two different socks on, who cares?”

To volunteer at Maureen’s Haven, call (631) 727-6836, email info@maureenshaven.org or visit their website.

The Art of Preserving History

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John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

By Gianna Volpe

John Griffin is more than just the man who will lead the Southampton Historical Museum’s walking tour of the North Sea Burial Ground at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 17—he’s a living part of the site’s history.

Mr. Griffin’s ancestors are in some of the centuries-old cemetery’s most notable graves. They include Joshua Edward Elliston Jr., who preserved 133 acres of land adjacent to the burial site in the name of wife, Emma Rose, which is now a Southampton Town park.

The woodcarver and his wife, the daughter of a whaling captain, are buried next to one another at the North Sea Burial Ground beneath gravestones crafted by J. Edward himself, something that makes the site’s restoration efforts all the more crucial for its personal guardian.

“He designed all of this,” Mr. Griffin said of his ancestor’s handiwork. “He carved it out of wood before it was ever made out of granite.”

Mr. Elliston also designed the gravestone of his father, Joshua, who Mr. Griffin said, was a farmer from Southampton Village who enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and served a full four years as a farrier during the Civil War.

“His grave is down in Southampton Cemetery,” said Mr. Griffin. “Uncle Ed designed that too, so you can go read about him and the regiment that he was in. There’s a link with all of us, my dear, and we’re fast leaving our history in the dust.”

That’s precisely what this North Sea Burial Ground tour guide has been working to avoid. Mr. Griffin, a veteran military helicopter pilot, was a key player in a 2009 stewardship agreement formed for the site’s restoration between Southampton Town and the historical museum.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photos by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

“There’s a fund established at the museum to underwrite work here from private donations because even though the town owned the property, they were allotting no money for restoration,” he said. “They would come and mow it occasionally, but now we hope they will pay for the perimeter fencing and for training people to mow without scoring the stones, so you don’t cut and weaken them.” ?Mr. Griffin said this training is especially important as older graves are cut from delicate sandstone, which cannot be restored nearly as well as their marble or granite counterparts.

“If the sunlight is hitting it just right then you can make out the letters and the angel of death on the top, but that’s as far as you can go with these,” Mr. Griffin said of one of the site’s red sandstone tombstones, some of which bear the icon of a bodiless angel—appearing unimpressed—with wings attached directly to its head. “They delaminate, you see? They split and continue to split until they become hollow. The older stones in most of these cemeteries are sandstone because it was easier to work with…. that’s why you have to be really careful trimming around them.”

Mr. Griffin said the restoration of North Sea Burial Ground actually began four years before the stewardship agreement. In 2005, he said the town did a survey of its 10 historic burial grounds before students from the University of Pennsylvania came to the East End and mapped the sites—giving each grave a number.

“We’ve been working on it steadily ever since and are now down to the maintenance stage,” he said, adding retired Suffolk County Detective Dennis Delaney has been so effective in developing his restoration technique at North Sea Burial Ground that it has “become the prototype for how to restore historic burial grounds.”

Mr. Delaney is already involved in restoration efforts at other Southampton sites, some of which will take years before they are complete.

“The one in East Quogue is coming along and we’ll probably start on the Old South Burial Ground this summer,” Mr. Griffin told The Sag Harbor Express mid-June, adding Mr. Delaney was about to begin restoring the North End Graveyard and Burial Ground between North Sea Road and Windmill Lane. ?“This has become a project of great respect and pride…. It’s a big, big job that will probably take two him two years to do,” he said. “They really took great care in what they did at North Sea Burial Ground and were very careful not to damage anything. Dennis even found a way to cut and shape marble to fit where pieces were broken.” ?Mr. Griffin said there is a national movement to restore historic burial grounds.

As veteran Marines, both he and Mr. Delaney seem to fit the profile as advocates for such a movement.?“There is a Marine down in Cranberry, New Jersey, who recently restored 5,300 graves with two Eagle Scouts,” said Mr. Griffin. “It took between a six-and-seven-year period to accomplish the work at North Sea Burial Ground. Many of the footstones had been pulled up by guys that were mowing–  we found almost 30 of them discarded in the bushes—but luckily they had initials matching the headstones, so we could pair them up. Dennis would pace off the number of paces and probe to maybe find the rest in the ground and stick it together…. The cleaning process was really educational because…. all the inscriptions were filled with mud and dirt…. now you can read everything on the stone, except some of them are so old and weathered that you can’t,” he said.

Though suppliers have thus far changed hands twice, Mr. Griffin said the team is in contact with the owners of a company that manufactures D/2, a heavy duty cleaning product developed for cleaning antique stone, vinyl and steel. He said D/2 has been used on the White House and Washington Monument.

“All these stones that are clean and upright—we are fortunate a very fine man came along on his own, learned how to do the repairs and basically carried on when we would have had to pay thousands of dollars to do what he did,” he said. “They paved the way for us—[the people in] these old cemeteries. They paved the way for us.”

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.