Firefly Lights! Gratitude, Veterans, Holiday Prep!!!

The Firefly Artists Logo

Thank you for making us the 2022 Best Art Gallery on Long Island and for all you do to support local art and artists. We’re pleased to learn we’ve been nominated again — Thanks! It means a lot!!!

Vote for us here every day through December 15th!!!

In this update:
– GRATEFULLY GETTING READY – Our FIreflies are creating and planning all sorts of wonderful things!
– HONORING OUR VETERANS we are pleased to host “Ink Stories: Symbols and Service.” 
– KIRK LARSEN will be hosting a special exhibition in our Darcy Arts Center
– DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS? We are excited!!!

There are so many people to thank, so much to organize, so much now to do! We’re so busy, I didn’t even have time to find my own picture of a wreath for this post. Thank you Milada Vigerove and Unsplash!
There are so many people to thank, so much to organize, so much now to do! We’re so busy, I didn’t even have time to find my own picture of a wreath for this post. This one is beautiful! Thank you Milada Vigerove and Unsplash!

GRATEFULLY Flying Into the Holiday Season!!!

 
As we race from the excitement of last summer straight into the holidays, the first thing we have to say is THANK YOU!   

 

Thank you to all who have supported our transition! Our future is bright because of our amazing community. We would no longer exist if not for you. Thank you for helping keep the Firefly Light Shining!!!
 
Our Fireflies are making like busy elves, crafting all sorts of things for the holiday season. Once again we will offer our popular “100 works at $100,” as well as a $50 and under table where you can come find something modestly priced, and uniquely handcrafted by our talented artists for everyone on your list. 
 
If you want to commission something special, ask now! Many of our artists would love to create that special gift for you. 
 
Many Fireflies will be hosting trunk shows and demonstrations throughout the holiday season. Stay tuned for details. They’re so much fun!!!
 
…and now...NOW…we hear we are receiving a MAJOR AWARD set to light up our whole beautiful, slightly wacky village! 
Do you already know what we’re talking about? Find out below!!!
Images of Ink Stories: Symbols of Service on loan from the Northport-East Northport Public Library to The Firefly Artists.

Special Exhibition: “Ink Stories: Symbols and Service”

 

Thank you to all who served.

In honor of Veterans’ Day, we are hosting “Ink Stories: Symbols of Service”

This is an amazing project assembled in 2019 by Librarian Kathryn Heaviside of the Northport-East Northport Public library to share Veteran’s stories and experiences through photographic representations of their tattoos.

The show will be on view at The Firefly Artists 11/4-11/13.  

Here’s an article on the show in the TBR News Media from back when it was put together in 2019.

 
Image of landscape painting postcard by Firefly Kirk Larsen
Image by Firefly Kirk Larsen

Special Exhibition: “Take Me Home: Oils Watercolors & More by Kirk Larsen

 

We are pleased to announce that Firefly Kirk Larsen will be holding a solo show of works in our “Darcy Arts Center”
 
Kirk’s an internationally known Plein Air painter (painting outdoors in Natural light) and one of America’s foremost Marine Artists. His landscape, seascape and nautical images grace the walls of homes throughout the area, globally and in museums reflecting his passion for discovering new places, seeing the commonplace with fresh eyes, the water, the environment and sailing.

Learn more at kirklarsenfineart.com and by following @kirklarsenart on Instagram and Facebook

The show will be on view November 15-30
Opening Reception: Tues 11/15 from 6-9pm
Closing Reception and Mini Auction: 11/30 from 5:30-8:30pm

All works are for sale.
Photo of a photo by Firefly Jennifer Lau of the Northport Hardware Company

The Leg Lamp Returns! We are so Psyched (and a Little Overwhelmed!) to Receive this Major Award

 

Fundamentally, the Firefly is the best because it has the best community ever.

Thanks to our community—starting with folks at Firefly’s core and spilling out into the streets, across LI and beyond — we are privileged to be racing from our wild adventures last summer into all that it means to host forty small businesses on Main Street during the holiday season.

Now! Now we hear from diverse corners that Northport is bestowing upon us “A Major Award”…

All kidding aside, this event is really much bigger than us…a very special torch folks are coming together to help us light as part of a very special Small Business Saturday Northport tradition…

They then had a wonderful pop-up/trunk show together in our Darcy Arts Center. In addition to showcasing their wares, Michele also raised money for the Lighthouse selling cards made of Jan’s beautiful painting. It was a lovely day!

We've Been Nominated! Best of LI 2023 Logo

We’ve Been Nominated! Again!!!

Not only have we been nominated, but we are more sure than ever that our Fireflies are THE BEST!!!

We are thrilled to have been nominated for “LI’s Best Gallery” in the annual “Bethpage Best of LI” contest. If it was you who nominated us, THANK YOU! If you’re one of the many who’s votes made us Best of LI 2022, THANK YOU!!!

You can vote for us – and other great local treasures – EVERY DAY between now and December 15th!

Please vote often and help spread the word! Thanks!!!

Here’s the link To VOTE for The Firefly Artists

Photo of The Firefly Artists, 90 Main St., Northport

About the Firefly Artists

 

Come to our beautiful new location, The Old Hardware Store at 90 Main Street, in Northport!

***NEW HOURS***
Mon-Wed 11am-6pm  
Thurs-Sat 11am-9pm  
Sun 11am-5pm

We were established in 2011 to create a gallery setting for local artists. The goal was to create a space where artists could meet, collaborate, and sell their beautiful creations.

Over more than a decade, The Firefly Artists has had the great privilege to display a stunning variety of work by hundreds of Long Island creators through our Main Street locations and pop-up galleries. We boast extraordinary talent, while maintaining a very down to earth and supportive atmosphere that is unique to Long Island.

In 2020 we expanded our offerings to create the Darcy Arts Center, featuring special exhibitions and classes in addition to the rich selection of works by our resident artists. While we are adjusting to our new space, we are thrilled to be able to continue these expanded offerings, right in the center of everything! 

Come see, and bring home that perfect thing to brighten your world or someone else’s!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and check our website for all the latest updates!

Thank you for your support!

 

Halloween 2022: Let’s Go!!!

Halloween Jack O’ Lanterns by Katheryn Laible

Updated 10/27…My mother always felt a main point of Halloween was to scare bad spirits away before winter gave them too many opportunities to wreak havoc. I love the idea, and really everything about All Hallow’s Eve.

You can learn all sorts of things about the holiday at history.com.

Here’s a history of the Celtic holiday Samhain from Time Magazine, which, due to it’s being an Irish word is, in fact, pronounced SAW-in.

This interesting old article from the BBC explores the connection (or maybe not) between All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and Samhain. For an even deeper and broader look at such holidays, check out the World History Encyclopedia.

Of course, many folks simply treasure Halloween for the opportunity to express their creativity and enjoy a great party of sweets, cosplay, and the fun of being playfully terrified.

Are You Ready for Halloween?

Here are “159 of the most creative Halloween Costume Ideas Ever” from Bored Panda. If you have to come up with one yourself really fast, Readers Digest offers 102 Easy Halloween Costumes You Can Make Last Minute

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Pumpkin Picking on Long Island — I still need to get mine. Can’t wait to carve this weekend!

Here’s 100 easy ideas for that from Parade.com. If you want to take it to the next level, check out “111 World’s Coolest Pumpkin Designs” from homesthetics.net.

Let's Make Some Plans!

For a truly spectacular experience, check out The Rise of the Jack o’ Lanterns which is finally returning to LI this year and is now being hosted at USDAN!

Mommypoppins.com offers up 75 Fun Halloween Activities for Kids.

Here’s a list of haunted houses offered by the Long Island Press

Did you know there’s a Long Island Haunted House Calendar?

Newsday’s got the party scene covered, and articles on all sorts of folks getting into the spirit across the Island. (There is a paywall. Please support local papers).

Don’t forget to check out cool local theaters. The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington will be showing “The Bat” from 1926, “Scared for Your Life 2022: An Indie Horror Film Festival”, as well as “Boardinghouse –
Cult Café – VHS Night.” What shows are going on near you?

Downtown Happenings

This is also a great time of year to check out Long Island’s amazing downtowns, which are filled with treasures. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, BID, and other local organizations to see what’s going on near you!

Check out The Huntington Arts Council’s exhibition “A Nightmare on Main Street,” an annual exhibition featuring artwork from students grades 6-12. There were 200 pieces from 145 students submitted. Juror Lauren La Bella chose 41 to show. They are eerily inspiring! Check out the website to learn more, including the 2022 statement that prompted them….

My own Firefly Artists Gallery features hauntingly beautiful works and so much more all year long from amazing local artists such as our abandoned space and other spooky scenes specialists John Lazzaro (did you see his new book?!?), Paul Mele (who’s also got “Confinement” going on at fotofoto in Huntington) and now the amazing Kristen Memoli (welcome!!!).

This Thursday evening, we will offer 10% off our entire gallery as part of Northport’s annual Witches & Warlocks’ Night Out.

That’s October 27th  from 5-8pm.

The event unites local businesses in offering promotions and Halloween spirit. Come in costume! Bring your friends! Pick up a free tote bag, map and directory of evening events from our neighbors at the Signature Properties Northport office, 172 Main Street, who wonderfully organize this event. 

Meanwhile the Northport Historical Society is featuring the “Somnia Tarot” an exhibition of works of Nick Bruno, “a 78 image art series which uses photography, sculpture, costume design,
and dream journal recordings to tell the tale of classic Tarot. “

…They’ve also got “Halloween Magic” with Todd Harris coming Sunday 10/30!

Let’s have some fun!

You can see other great Northport/East Northport events (including Halloween Yoga!) in the Northport Journal. Check out your own local resources (which we are SO lucky to have) to see what’s going on in your neighborhood!

However you choose to celebrate (or not!), we wish you all the best!

Be safe, be smart, and enjoy.

Happy Halloween!!!

Window Shopping Witches

We Will Never Forget…

Photo of the WTC memorial lights by Colin Hopkins

We Will Never Forget… Photo of the WTC memorial lights by Colin Hopkins, Local 580 Iron Workers. Colin was on week three of work when the towers fell, a day when these folks and many others who never expected to be such, came to serve as first responders and who continued working at the site for weeks after the attack. Later, Colin was also among those present at work who got to witness the Freedom Spire rise…

We Will Never Forget…

Over the last two decades, we have learned a new rhythm….The end of summer comes, there is a flurry of activity about getting kids prepared for and off to school, and then, the moment all settles down the weight of solemn remembrance overshadows everything but the realization of how lucky we are to have that terrible event cast such a pall over our beings only once a year. Our hearts go out to so many others who lost so much…who experienced so much…who have since endured so much…

We remember the first puzzled and then stunned and horrified voices of the professionals whose job it is to tell us the bad news every day. We recall the images that replayed, the bells that rang, the world that all but stopped.

We remember the selfless bravery of firemen who went in where anyone in their “right mind” would be running out.

We remember the horrific loss of 2.977 innocent lives, including 343 of those firemen, 60 police officers and 8 EMTS. We remember the probability that anyone we encountered may have just lost someone dear. We remember how some of those who perished did so heroically apprehending hijackers and crashing their own plane.

Our hearts twist in the simultaneous gratitude for the miracle of how, despite intense confusion, so many lived to tell their tale or simply were not there.

We remember the people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge…covered in dust…the people being rescued from the end of Manhattan Island…the people desperately seeking people who would never be found.

We remember the school children who did not know. We remember the teachers who did, but could not tell them. We remember the beautiful day slowly overcast by those beautiful, yet terrible clouds. We remeber the taste. We remember the smell.

We remember the iron workers, the dock builders and the other hard working Long Islanders who heard of the disaster and raced to the scene to see if they could be of service. We remember those who spent weeks upon weeks shoveling through the twisted debris. We remember the price so many have paid for their commitment.

We remember being implored to go out and live. We remember being told it was patriotic to shop. We remember wishing there was something more meaningful to do. We remember Paul McCartney and the musicians he gathered to play for the world and those first responders. We remember Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick who were on Broadway as The Producers, and how they epitomized the notion that “the show must go on.”…how meaningful it was to simply carry on.

We remember the brave men and women who have been at war ever since that fateful day. We pray that they and all the others who bear intense burdens and indelible scars will be properly cared for. We pray for a peace that seems so very far away.

We look down at children, and now young adults, who never knew the days before then; who never wondered at those impossibly tall buildings but may have marveled at those even taller beams of light; who never felt that fateful day; who look at us in bewilderment at the ongoing challenges, both at home and abroad…who wish, sometimes loudly, other times in quiet sighs, that the adults of this world would finally grow up.

We remember the noble ideals that we stand for. We remember how innocent we were. We realize on how much has changed since then, including an explosion of communication that somehow seems to have opened chasms between good people of different perspectives, and tidal waves of information that seem to only muddy any sense we once had of the truth. We reflect on how much we still have to learn, and on how much we seem to have forgotten…

We remind ourselves that while the battle may rage on within our hearts and across this world, we must never let terror win. We must never let the blind hatred that enables it to win. We must overcome.

But how?

The words of many sages come to mind; visionaries and scholars of so many cultures and kinds. We keep coming back to the wisest ones; the ones who seem to have mattered the most…

Over and over they whisper from the ages the same small, powerful yet humble, healing, overcoming, uplifting light of a word…

And so…we reflect…on Love.

Firefly Lights: Grateful…

Max moving art from the old gallery

This is what moving a family centered Main Street gallery – specifically The Firefly Artists in Northport – looks like.

Or a little bit of it, anyway.

Honestly, Beth and her kids have been doing a brunt load of the labor. Here are two of mine helping me last weekend.

Then there’s been Drigo and maybe a buddy or so moving giant stuff or setting up hanging systems after his day job, while Jen busts her butt virtually cranking out so many things we need…so grateful for this amazing team…it really is something special…

And so many Fireflies, helping out each in their special ways, and otherwise picking up their stuff and bringing it down the road, piece by ever loving piece…

Here’s our GoFundMe. We have an amazing raffle going at 90 Main Street now, the prize winners for which will be pulled on Cow Harbor Day, 9/18/22. We also have a silent auction coming together. Mostly, we hope you will support our Fireflies, the local artists who are the reason we do all of this, by buying their beautiful works and telling others about this wonderful place to find them.

Thank to all who are helping make this move possible. Since our lease was broken, if it wasn’t for our great community, we wouldn’t be continuing at all.

Now, we move forward with great hope:

May the best be yet to come!

Photo peek of a peek through the window of volunteers beginning to hang our new Firefly Artists gallery
Photo peek of a peek through the window of volunteers beginning to hang our new Firefly Artists gallery
The Firefly Artists

About the Firefly Artists

Our NEW location is 90 Main Street. Throughout the month of September, 2022, we are also still located at 162 Main Street in beautiful downtown Northport, where we have a GORGEOUS exhibition, “pARTy til the Cows Come Home” running. Hours will be extending soon. For now, our galleries are open:
 
Tues-Thurs 11am-6pm  
Fri-Sat 11am-8pm  
Sun 11am-5pm
 

Over the past decade, The Firefly Artists has had the great privilege of displaying a stunning variety of work by hundreds of Long Island artists through our Main Street locations and pop-up galleries in the community. We boast some extraordinary talent, while maintaining a very down to earth and supportive atmosphere that is unique to Long Island.

We were established in 2011 to create a gallery setting for local artists. The goal was to create a space where artists could meet, collaborate, and sell their beautiful creations.

In 2020 we expanded our gallery by creating the Darcy Arts Center on the second floor of our building. This beautiful gallery space is rich in natural light and dedicated to special exhibitions and art workshops featuring world renowned instructors.We are eager to continue to be an outlet for local artists, offering a place to create, grow and connect to customers.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and check our website for all the latest updates!

Thank you for your support!

A 4th of July Reflection on US

The 4th of July honors the US Declaration of Independence. Its most well-known passage is the foundation upon which the colonists’ grievances were justified and a bold declaration of human rights…

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Juneteenth

Photo by Hillie Chan on Unsplash

When I think of Juneteenth, I see one hard-won step on a very long journey. May we continue to climb that mountain and reach a higher place. Photo by Hillie Chan on Unsplash

This second official Juneteenth happens to fall on Father’s Day. I find that fitting somehow, as I pause to consider what it means to be a good man and to give gratitude for all who father.

The official site for Juneteenth is here. It commemorates that July 19th day in 1865, 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and over a month after the last battle of that hard, bloody war, when the last black american slaves in Galveston, TX were finally set free.

The date has been celebrated in black communities for years with street fairs, parades, concerts, and prayer. In 2021 it was finally, recognized as a federal holiday. It is good to see the growing acknowledgment and honoring of its significance among broader communities through events and such. Some are listed here in the LI Press . Others are in this piece from News12 LI.

Of course, being forcibly set free and actually realizing the stated promise of this nation are two different things. Another good way to honor this day is to study history, both before and after that day, and to reflect on how, while Juneteenth itself recalls a moment of triumph worthy of celebration, it was just one hard-won step on an ongoing journey toward “a more perfect union,” and far from the end of disparity in the treatment of human beings.

I am grateful to all who have given their best to advance civil rights and to create a more just world. May we honor ongoing endeavors to more fully realize the acknowledgment and admonishment entailed by our nation’s Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

One local organization focused on just that is ERASE Racism. Here, in their most recent newsletter they ask how folks are celebrating Juneteenth, share some of what they offer and are focused on, and offer a wealth of diverse and broader resources for exploration.

Check it out

Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team

Photo of the USA Patriots with Joe Bartumioli. Photo Credit: Steve Caputo

Come to The Firefly Artists 7/22 starting at 5pm for a special reception with extraordinary heroes: The USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team.

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Memorial Day Meaning and Events on Long Island

WWII Veteran Gus Scutari leads children in honoring fallen soldiers at the 2015 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

Every Memorial Day, Gus Scutari would invite veterans, Long Island dignitaries and the children up. Learn about the 2022 Syosset parade here in the Syosset Patch.

Here is a guide to resources for honoring Memorial Day 2022 on Long Island.

The last Monday in May, this three-day weekend at the dawn of summer, is set aside to honor the tremendous sacrifice made by soldiers who gave all. It is a time to pause and acknowledge how veterans offer their very souls to our Nation, and to give solemn consideration to the responsibility we have as citizens to ensure they are treated well and that we give it our best to create a nation somehow worthy of such sacrifice.

While the specific focus is those lost to war, it is also important to recognize those left behind. For many, this is a very personal affair. Please do not say “Happy Memorial Day” as many are honoring lost loved ones and reckoning with memories, knowledge and feelings that are incredibly difficult. It is better to offer gratitude for service, and to offer a listening ear and an open heart.

I have been told by several veterans that this does not mean the day should be entirely without joy. The barbecues and the lighter sides of the parades are important moments of community and, yes, even celebrations of life and nation. May we do so with a mind to surround service families in love, light, and gratitude for the blessings they seek to offer so much to preserve.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.
Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade while a local child prepares to hand out flags to onlookers.

Various Guides to Memorial Day and Where They’ll Lead You

Here’s a Guide to Memorial Day Parades from News12 Long Island including Island Park, Airshow Cruises in Freeport, Hempstead, a Riverhead Painting Festival, Bay Shore, Elwood, Farmingdale, Freeport, Little Neck, Long Beach, Malverne, Massapequa Park, Mastic, a Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay, Merrick, Northport, Painview-Old Bethpage, Sayville, St. James, Smithtown, Southold, and West Islip

This one of parades and events from the LI Press includes the Bethpage Air Show, Hempstead (the oldest parade on LI), The Largest Parade of the Five Towns in Cedarhurst, an Air Show Cruise in Freeport, Little-Neck Douglastown (one of the largest in the nation), Massapequa, Wantagh, Port Washington, the Parade and Open House at Raynham Hall, Levittown, an event of music, food, and fun at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck, Babylon, Southold, and Lindenhurst.

From Greater Long Island we learn about parades in Bay Shore, Babylon, Patchogue, Stony Brook, Fire Island, Huntington, Rockville Centre, Center Moriches, Farmingdale, and Ronkonkoma.

Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade
Festive marchers with red white and blue balloons at the 2018 Syosset Memorial Day Parade

A Bit of History and More Current Stories on Honoring the Day

Here is the encyclopedic definition of Memorial Day from Britannica.

You can learn more on the History website.

Here is a meaningful piece in the LI Advance offered by Dave Rogers in 2021. He was a tremendous asset to veterans, the arts, and local business in Patchogue for many years. Thanks to social media, he continues to serve veterans everywhere from his new home.

Here is a piece on a call for a county-wide moment of silence by Long Island leaders featured on Texas Public Radio.

This story from News12 LI is about Ron Errickson Jr, who be spending this weekend cleaning up Tinton Falls, a cemetary in New Jersey of African American soldiers who weren’t permitted to be buried with white ones.

Here, the National Park Service looks back over 150 years of Memorial Day traditions springing up across the nation. It also offers links to specific major memorial sites in its care, including The Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial.

In another piece from History, did you know that one of the earliest Memorial Day events in the USA was held by freed slaves?

This feature in Almanac offers some more history including why the Poppy is important, the poem “On Flanders Field,” and a bit about the flag and distinguishing holidays honoring those who serve in the military. There are also recipes and the Memorial Day calendar for the next several years.

Finally, here is my own piece honoring Costantino “Gus” Scutari. Gus was a World War II Veteran who long served as a champion for good citizenship and thoughtful Americanism, and who dedicated his later life to the Syosset Memorial Day Parade. He passed at the age of 99 in April of 2020. He is now a namesake of Underhill Blvd, where he long held the ceremonies following the parade, and the Syosset VFW, where he would invite everyone for hot dogs and refreshments after.

It is fitting to hear that in honor of his memory and an enduring spirit that is likely leading it anyway, there will be no Grand Marshal of this parade.

Learn about the Syosset parade on Syosset Patch.

Veterans in Syosset assemble for the 2018 Memorial Day Parade
Veterans in Syosset commence the 2018 Memorial Day Parade

Grand Openings! Congrats to all Involved with the Cinema Arts Centre and the Half Hollow Hills Community Library!

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Grand Openings of Wonderful Things! Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

Congratulations to Dylan Skolnick, Charlotte, Skye, the full CAC Membership and the entire film-loving community on the grand reopening of the Cinema Arts Centre! It all began back in the early 1970’s with two movie buffs, some friends, a sheet and a reel-to-reel projector. Now, a full generation or so later, there are 10,000 members and approximately 150,000 attendees per year at this very special theater.
The CAC offers “compelling American and international films, restored classics as well as entertaining popular films, adventurous and cutting edge films and a remarkable array of monthly film series, often coordinated with music, art exhibits and more. Educational programming includes workshops in screen-writing and filmmaking.”
There’s really nothing else like it. We are so glad to see it’s doors reopened! Read about the theater and its renovation in Huntington Now, TBR News Media. Newsday (subscription required), and LI Business News (subscription required)
 
Congratulations dear friend, Helen Crosson, Board and Staff, and everyone involved in the Half Hollow Hills community on the grand opening of your new library! The brand-new, forward-looking, $24.7M Half Hollow Hills Community Library is located at 55 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Dix Hills. Here’s a sampling of press regarding the achievement, including the Half Hollow Hills Community Library’s own updates over the years. This is the SECOND library Helen has had a major hand in spearheading. Here is a past article about Helen, written back when this whole latest chapter started. You may also be interested in our tribute to America’s Public Libraries and great philanthropy in general, which also includes a little bit about Helen!

Nassau County Museum of Art: Touring the Grounds in Preparation…

A photo of a scout photographing a site while Jean Henning surveys the brush

Above is a photo of my Life Scout son, Max and my dear friend Jean Henning on the grounds of the Nassau County Museum of Art. They’re considering how they might craft an Eagle Scout Project that provides a gateway to a larger grasslands restoration endeavor. A primary objective will be to educate visitors about the local ecosystem, sustainable landscaping, and the need to address damage already completely out of hand.

It is a HUGE delight to me that, somehow, I don’t think I ever thought of the Museum as we brainstormed potential projects. Max remembered it himself from childhood and found Jean’s email address on the website. I am thrilled that for Jean the timing happens to be perfect. It is wonderful to witness them consulting. My job remains to hold myself back and just watch them work.

It is not easy! I am glad I get to help a little and am consoling myself by happily getting to tell the story.

Jean Henning

When I first met Jean in 2008 she was both the former Museum Educator and the Senior Museum Educator of the Nassau County Museum of Art. She told me this meant she was actually slowly retiring. Together with Patricia Lannes, they were guiding school children, general visitors, docents and others through incredible arrays of exhibitions.

In addition to art, art history and cultural understanding, they were developing observation, discourse and diverse “21st Century Learning Skills” with visiting school children from all over Long Island. They taught me a great deal about the value of BOCES as a vehicle for their deeply enriching school field trips, and cutting edge thought in teaching and learning. A primary focus involved groundbreaking programs using art as a vehicle to English Language Literacy. There was much more. She was always good for an interesting conversation! Among her favorite topics were the grounds themselves.

Jean assures me she is still slowly retiring, “Honestly, I hardly even go into the building anymore. I thought I’d miss teaching in the galleries but, while I really loved it, I find I have other things to do now.”

Photo looking up at the Nassau County Museum of Art in 2016
Photo looking up at the Nassau County Museum of Art in 2016

The Nassau County Museum of Art

The Museum has been an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit since 1989. It occupies a late 19th century neo‐Georgian mansion on 144 acres in Roslyn Harbor. The property’s first owner was poet and longtime NY Evening Post Editor William Cullen Bryant. The mansion was built by US Representative Lloyd Stephens Bryce. It was all later purchased by US Steel Corporation Founder Henry Clay Frick, though it was his son, Childs Frick, a well-known paleontologist and naturalist who actually owned it.

The grounds include multiple structures and formal gardens originally designed in the 1920s by Marian Cruger Coffin. She was one of America’s leading landscape architects. The rest involve relatively large parcels of relatively untouched lands that back up to Cedarmere Preserve. There are fields and forests, including a pinetum with over 100 rare species of conifer. There are ravines and ponds. All of it contains diverse plant and wildlife species.  

Photo of Porcelain Berry by Katheryn Laible
Pretty poison Porcelain Berry in my own back yard in late October, 2021. It quickly spreads to strangle trees... If you've ever seen Stranger Things, it's root network is reminiscent...

Rare Species...and Invasive Ones: Moving From Preservation to Stewardship

“Honestly, it’s now a catalogue of invasive species.” Jean notes with a grim look as she guides us on a survey of potential sites. We discuss the bigger picture and note relevant details as Max takes it all in.

She leads us down a path that is much wider than I remember.

“COVID” she says, seeing my expression, “SO many people came here walking. I hope they keep it up. They created some really great paths. It’s actually helping us get inside and see what’s going on.”

She navigates under a large fallen tree noting that it’s, “good exercise for people, especially someone my age.” As we go along, she shares resources she’s gathered and what she’s learned since she really got to focus on this.

Jean reflects that while the problems associated with invasive species have been developing under our noses for decades, solving them is something of a new field. Dealing with it all is a process of debate and experimentation. So far, there’s been a lot of mowing and letting-growing. She’s long been determined to minimize the use of poisons, but also knows many are recommending thoughtful applications. She considers that a bit as she eyes some of the more intractably infested areas.

A main focus has been the pretty poison that is Porcelain Berry. English Ivy, and Multiflora Rose run amuck. As she points her plant app at species she’s unsure of, some results make her smile. Others furrow her brow.

She makes it clear that if the gateway garden Max plants could actively replace invasive species, that would be wonderful. Max responds that weeding would be considered more of a Service Project than an Eagle one, but he agrees with the need and will see what he can do.

We discuss wonderful volunteers. She lights up and tells me she’s learned something heartening from a biologist she’s been consulting:

“He tells me that in the ground are living seeds representing a record of 100 years.” She explains further about this wonderful news: The Earth is a living seed bank, especially in these undisturbed lands. If the now smothering invasives are removed, diverse native species, rare ones even, may spring up as payout.

 

Photo of unfurling fern in my backyard, May 2022
Photo of unfurling fern in my backyard, May 2022

Fun to Watch This Take Off

Jean points out spots where she’s witnessing a reemergence already, delighting at ferns with slowly unrolling fronds. Pulling out her phone again, she recommences indentifying things along the edges of land they’ve been reclaiming.

As she finishes the tour, Max offers a few of his evolving thoughts. He explains a bit about his project application process, and how he’ll next consult with the Scout Master and Eagle Coach. He tells her a main purpose of the project is not just to build something for the community, but to exhibit leadership, project management and community connection. He notes there are other scouts who have been intrigued by his ideas. They brainstorm a few options…

It’s going to be fun to see where this goes.

A photo taken of an ascending eagle in Georgeton, Maine in 2015
A photo taken of an ascending eagle in Georgeton, Maine in 2015. Have you seen the ones in Centerport?

For more information on sustainable landscaping, check out our full list of Native Garden and Ecolandscaping Resources. We look forward to adding information on the Museum’s projects and others we’ve come across soon!