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!

Firefly Lights: Great Classes, Local Art, Lovely Artists!

The Firefly Artists Logo

Thank you for making us the 2022 Best Art Gallery on Long Island!

We’re located at 162 Main Street, in beautiful downtown Northport. In this installment please find:

– Exquisite Local Art for Sale by our Fireflies
– Special Exhibitions: “Honey I Shrunk the Art!” and “Reflections”
– Call to Artists: BIG INK
– Classes: Nuno Felting, Acting, Calligraffiti, Jewelry Making, Illustration
– 3-day Workshop with Watercolor Master Fabio Cembranelli
– Featured Guest: LI’s Best
– Featured Firefly: Michelle Schroeder

Photo of handcrafted mirror by Rebecca Bahr
Digitally enhanced photograph of a bicycle by Steve Caputo
Painting of Northport Dock by Jo-Ann Corretti

Clockwise from top: a hopeful illustration from Firefly Helen Murdock-Prep, a beautiful pieced-together mirror by Firefly Rebecca Bahr, The Northport Dock by Firefly Jo-Ann Corretti, bicycle by Firefly Steve Caputo. Below: a tranquil sailboat by Firefly Kirk Larsen, mermaid by Firefly Darnel Tasker.

The Sun is Out! Come Savor our Village and Get Your Art On!!!

Our Fireflies work like busy bees to create, to teach, to make life sweet! Come find that perfect thing to brighten your world or someone else’s.

Located at 162 Main Street, Northport
We’re open:
Tues – Thurs, 11am-6pm
Fri and Sat 11am-8pm (late!)
Sunday 11-5


painting of a moored sailboat by Kirk Larsen
Mermaid illlustration by Darnel Tasker
SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS
Honey I Shrunk the Art logo
Photo entitled "Late Autumn" by Joe Papagoda

Now on view in our upstairs Darcy Arts Center*: Honey I Shrunk the Art

Artists from throughout the region have sent us a treasure trove of tiny delights. Catch them before they leave!

The show is on view April 30-May 29. All works are for sale.

*Please Note:There is no handicapped access to our Darcy Arts Center as it is located on the second floor of the historic building that houses our gallery.
Artwork by Dan Welden

Artwork by Dan Welden

Up Next: "Reflections" by Dan Welden and Greg Corn

Join us for a very special exhibition of works by world renowned Printmaker Dan Welden and Sculptor Greg Corn.
 
The show will be on view: June 11-July 15
A reception will be held: June 18, 5-7pm
 

All works are for sale. Additional pieces may be found at The Omni Gallery, 333 Earl Ovington Blvd, Uniondale from April 25 to August 27, with a reception August 7 at 7:30pm. 

*Please Note:There is no handicapped access to our Darcy Arts Center as it is located on the second floor of the historic building that houses our gallery.

CALL TO ARTISTS

BIG INK is Coming! We Can't Wait!!!

This August will mark the third time we get to host BIG INK and its incredible large-scale printing press, “The Big Tuna.”  It’s a fantastic event for participants and onlookers alike. Those who participate must be prepared to carve a woodblock at least 24″ x 36″.
 
The call can be found on our website. Please read it carefully and note that the print dates have changed to August 20-21! No prior printmaking experience is necessary.
 
Artists of all skill levels are encouraged to apply. First, you submit a design. Accepted work is evaluated on the applicant’s ability to complete the project based on the complexity and scale of the proposed carving.
 
Collaborations are welcome. If accepted, your application fee will go toward the printing cost. You then get two months to carve, the thrill of the printing party, and the satisfaction of seeing your work hanging in our upstairs Darcy Arts Center for a late-summer exhibition.

 

It’s a great time!

Photo of Theo Lau revealing Jim Darcy's BIG INK print
FIREFLY CLASSES
photo of felted flower by Oksana Danziger

Nuno Felting with Firefly Oksana Danziger to Benefit Ukraine Charity

Felting is a user-friendly technique that is simple to learn and create with. Popular projects include decorative pillows, quilts and jewelry. Here, Firefly Oksana Danziger will teach the technique, leading you to bring home a beautiful felted flower! 

THIS FRIDAY: May 20, 3-5pm
To Register: Email Firefly Oksana Danziger: danzigeroksana@gmail.com
 

Oksana is a Russian of Ukrainian descent who cares deeply about the the ongoing war. She tells us she will donate all proceeds from this next class to benefit the Kharkiv Regional Charitable Foundation “Conference of St. Vincent de Paul, which is now dedicated to evacuating refugees from the war zone and collecting humanitarian supplies.

Acting Out! Adult Acting Classes

Acting Out! with Firefly Helen Murdock Prep

Come join Firefly Artist and Theater Educator Helen Murdock-Prep for lots of fun exploring the wonderful world of acting in this workshop featuring Improv, Monologues and Scenes.

When: Tuesday, June 7th; 6:30p-8:30pm
Course Fee: $50

To register, please email Helen at hmurdock@optonline.net

"Firefly" writted in Calligraffiti

Calligraffiti with Firefly Helen Murdock-Prep

Folks have had so much fun with Helen learning this fine art of beautiful handwriting. Here’s another chance to learn!
 
When: Wednesday, June 8, 6:30p-8:30pm
To Register: Please contact Firefly Artist Helen Murdock-Prep: hmurdock@optonline.net. The class fee is $50.
Metalstamping Sample
Metalsmithing Sample

Jewelry Making Classes with Firefly Rachel Kalina

Learn to craft your own jewelry! You can see Firefly Rachel Kalina’s beautiful work at instagram.com/thewoodandwatch. She has more than two decades of experience and has taught students across Long Island. She looks forward to working with you!

 

Metal Stamping 
When:
June 15, 6:00-8:00pm
Class Fee: $74

Learn to hammer a short quote, song lyric, or special name onto metal. Fee includes all materials and tool usage.

 
Beginner Metalsmithing for Adults
When: June 22 and June 29, 6:00-8:00pm (this is a 2-session, 4 hours total course)
Class Fee: $215

A great place to begin metalsmithing! Design and create a pendant or earrings in copper or brass. Cut shapes from sheet metal with a jeweler’s saw. Add texture, patina, and/or metal stamp patterns. Professionally finish your work to be comfortably worn. Fee includes all metal sheet, wire, and findings are included as is tool usage. Note: There are no torches in this class. However, it is a prerequisite for any future soldering or stone setting classes.

 
For More Info and to Register: Email Rachel Kalina at rachelkalina@gmail.com. Classes are open to adults ages 18 and older. Masks are preferred.
Image of "The Cat Came Back" book cover by Renee Reichert

Intro to Illustration with Firefly Renee Reichert

Join Firefly Teaching Artist Renée Reichert in exploring “What is Illustration?” through the art of professional illustrators. Elements of design, color theory and the relationship between images and text will be discussed. Students will create their own illustration using their choice of media and style.

 

“What is Illustration? with Firefly Renée Reichert
When: July 30th and August 6th, 9:30am-12:00pm
Course fee: $100 for the two sessions
To Rgister: Email Renée Reichert at reneereichert@icloud.com

 

Award winning artist and illustrator Renée Reichert is known for lush velvety pastels which often take on both a narrative and a fantasy quality. Her work has been exhibited in The Society of Illustrator’s Annual Exhibition, Spectrum 8: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art and can be seen in numerous private collections. She is the illustrator of the children’s picture books This is the Wind and The Cat Came Back.

artist sample by Fabio Cembranelli

Up Next in our Watercolor Masters Series: Fabio Cembranelli's "Intuitive Approaches to Watercolor"

Firefly Jan Guarino is an ever learning watercolorist and teacher with a passion for bringing the best in her craft to teach at the Firefly. These intensive workshops are incredible. In this next installment, Fabio Cembranelli will come to us from São Paulo, Brazil to guide artists in developing loose and intuitive watercolor techniques, enhancing their own personal approach. Join us!

Fabio Cembranelli: Intuitive Approaches to Watercolor
When: Tues-Thurs July 19-21, 10am-4pm
Workshop Fee: $525 for the three-day session
To Learn More and Reserve Your Space: Visit our website

A renowned Brazilian artist, Fabio teaches all over the world. Nowadays his work is focused on plein air painting, observing and studying nature firsthand at inspiring outdoor locations. This workshop will include a number of demonstrations and promises to touch on a number of valuable aspects, such a composition, light and shadow, color mixing and other techniques. It will provide deep insight into how the artist achieves his unique and luminous floral watercolours
FEATURED FIREFLY
Photos of Students from Heckscher LI Best

Featured Firefly: The Student Artists of LI's Best

Ok, These high school students from throughout Long Island are not Fireflies — YET — but they’re absolutely amazing. We got to give three of them scholarships! Those talented winners and a number of honorable mentions WILL be coming to our Darcy Arts Center this June.
 
Heartfelt to congrats,to our 2022 Firefly Artists “Next Generation” Scholarship RecipientsJustine Blaine, Yuyu Liu and Zhezhong Yu!!!
 
The works are technically proficient and deeply profound. Do check our this Long Island’s Best show in its entirety at the Heckscher Museum if you can. It was really hard for them to select works for that show and next to impossible for us to choose our own winners.

They give us high hopes for the future!

Photo provided by Firefly Michelle Schroeder:  “Healing happening—-one day at a time”

Featured Firefly: Michelle Schroeder

Among treasures in our gallery are works of Firefly Michelle Schroeder. She’s the one who makes those AMAZING handbags out of old LP record albums. She also happens to be central to the community of art teachers that stretches across NY State, including some very special connections with our own robust community here at and around our nurturing gallery.

Michelle is a wonderful person who can often be found rallying good energy for some important cause. While very near to our hearts, unlike the rest of our Fireflies, she is not so local to Long Island.

Actually, Michelle is a High School Art Teacher in Buffalo. Like so many, she is reeling herself right now, but even moreso giving it her best to share information, to help those in need, and to provide her deeply shaken students healing, one day at a time.

We wish she didn’t have to do it, but we are grateful that she does. We love you, Michelle.

The Firefly Artists

About the Firefly Artists

We are located at 162 Main Street in beautiful downtown Northport. 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!

Moonjumpers Partner with Six Harbors Brewery to Serve Little Shelter and Angels of Warriors

Monnjumpers Mash Pale Ale Beercan Lable

The Moonjumpers have partnered with Six Harbors Brewery on a new craft beer, The label, shown above, was designed by Emma DeDora. She’s a cousin of Six Harbors Co-Owner Karen Heuwetter. Featured among the dogs is Moonjumper Co-Founder Rob Benson’s dear friend Cliff, who is himself a rescue from the Little Shelter.

Event Alert: Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation Partners with Six Harbors Brewery to Make Good Times Great Times by Serving the Little Shelter and Angels of Warriors​

A driving idea, from the very founding of the Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation is that a good time becomes a great time when people come together to help others. For more than ten years now, the Moonjumpers have served “children, families, war veterans and charitable and not-for-profit organizations through financial assistance and the purchase of products or equipment so as to aid in creating a better quality of life for those in need.”

Their merry endeavor includes a theme song, a dog named Cliff, and a passion for good fellowship and community partnerships. They tend to have a really good time even when they’re simply offering a financial donation or providing a direct service, such as rolling up their sleeves to help associates serve veterans or spearheading a coat drive to support the community served by a local youth organization.

They like it best, though, when they can really make a party of it. It’s been tough these last few years, but they are on it and hope you will join them in a really cool partnership with Six Harbors Brewing Company:

What: Stop on in for the unveiling of a new beer and beer can design for this “Moonjumpers Mash Pale Hale” to be available at Six Harbors Brewing Company.
 
Benefitting: A portion of proceeds from the sale of this beer will be donated to Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption.
 
When: May 19, 2022, from 5-8pm.
 
What: Moonjumpers and friends are among sponsors of this event. Ten North Shore Breweries will offer samples of their beverages from 1-4pm. Ticket holders will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy music from a steel drum band, delicious food, vendors, and fun activities.
 
Benefitting: Proceeds from the event will be donated to Angels of Warriors, which serves local female veterans in need. In addition, a portion of proceeds from all sales of the Moonjumpers Mash Pale Ale will be donated to Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption.
 
When: Saturday, June 11, 2022 (rain date Saturday, June 25, 2022).
 
To Register: General admission, VIP tickets and more information are available here.
 

Both events will be held at Six Harbors Brewing Company, 243 New York Avenue, Huntington

Fun Stuff!!!

Firefly Reception: Honey I Shrunk the Art!

Honey I Shrunk the Art logo
Join us Firefly Artists this Sunday, May 1st from 12-5pm for a reception for “Honey I Shrunk the Art!”  I love this gallery and the people who make up our community-oriented family of local artists. It’s a very special place. Come see!!!
 
Our work is cut out for us!!! This week we hang over 220 little pieces in our upstairs Darcy Arts Center*. This annual celebration of small works is incredible. It has been pure delight to welcome them in. 
 
The show will be on view April 30th through May 29th.  Between these sweet pieces and everything we have going on in our Main Firefly Gallery, we are just the right place to find that perfect gift for Mothers Day!
  

*Please Note: There is no handicapped access to our Darcy Arts Center as it is located on the second floor of the historic building that houses our gallery.

About The Firefly

The Firefly Artists was established in 2011 to create a gallery setting for local artists. It is a space where artists can meet, collaborate, and sell their beautiful creations. Over the past decade, we have been privileged to display a stunning variety of work by hundreds of local and regional artists, both in our Main Street locations and in pop-up galleries throughout the community.

We boast some extraordinary talent, while maintaining a very down to earth and supportive atmosphere that is unique on Long Island. Every time you shop at The Firefly, you help make sure we can continue to serve local artists and people like you who appreciate them. Now, you’ve made us the Best Art Gallery on Long Island. Thank you!!!

Rise and Shine

photo of bird rising over Cold Spring Harbor 2022

Photo entitled “Cold Spring Harbor: Rising 2022” by Katheryn Laible

I remember the wisest, sweetest, most incredible woman I know saying,
“People pray for power. It is better that they will Love, for Love is the greatest power of All.”
I pray: May I remember her teachings well. May I understand them at least enough.
May we together channel more than ourselves, manifesting Love and Light.

Pray for Love. Pray for Truth. Truth and Love in equal measure
For as many before and after have somehow said,
“Truth without Love is brutal, and Love without Truth is false.”

This has long made sense to me.
I am still learning that it takes a third leg. Faith. To make a sturdy table.
Faith, Faith, Faith …to cast away fear, have faith…

“Nothing boils in lukewarm water.” She says…
Remember to command, to commune, to comfort.
Harmony in thy multifaceted being…Truth, Love, Faith…

Faith in the Greater. Faith in each other. Faith that as we will it already is.
Faith that this Flame I feel deep within is far from mine alone. Faith that you feel This, too.
Humble before God, equal before man, recognizing the God within and the human as well,
Each manifesting in its own way.

May we will and channel Strength with Dexterity, Grace and Mercy.
Open to the Greater Good without and within, in places that we do not know.
She reminds me, “There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.”

“He loves you not for what you are but for what you are becoming.”

Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono.
I hear other voices say. She speaks to me of Lady Quan Yin.
They remind me to start with myself.

Be grateful for every blessing and each accomplishment no matter how small,
For the smallest is the greatest. For so little do we know,
For we all know a little. May we appreciate all that is Good.
Humble and Grateful to be so blessed. She advises Joyful Anticipation.
Discerning and Healing. Flexible and Strong. Reconciling. Overcoming. Divine.

Calling all who Will to Transmute the lesser,
To Receive, Accelerate and Amplify the Greater,
Manifest Love. Be the Light. Keep the Faith.

This indigenous wise-woman who communes with All reminds me of St. Francis’ Prayer.
“Let me be an Instrument of Thy Peace.”

Faithfully. Humbly. Gratefully. Evermore.

This I Pray. Namaste. Amem.

Reflections on a Pandemic Rainbow

Oil Painting - Pandemic Rainbow, March 2020

Oil Painting from March 2020 Entitled “Pandemic Rainbow”

While I give it my best to be the adult and hopefully a halfway decent parent, often it is my children who end up guiding and grounding me.

One example of this was mid-March 2020. We were far enough in to know that COVID was serious, but it was still a largely inconceivable looming horror that had hardly begun to hit home. I had followed the story since before the disease cancelled Lunar New Year celebrations abroad, so I was not quite as surprised as some seemed to be. Still, I am pretty sure I was in shock.

Honestly, I think I might still be in shock.

At that time, though, my brain still wanted to treat COVID as a theoretical construct, not something…real. I had yet to have a case reach the outskirts of my personal orbit, let alone see a dear one pass or begin to experience the painful details of how everything would go. I was already thinking of collateral concerns that for so many were already more pressing than the disease but, for me, it was all processing like a computer with too many programs running, a computer with not just a mind, but a heart that was overwhelmed as well…and I know I was among the luckier ones…

The first case was confirmed on Long Island by March 5th. A week later, in what felt like a watershed moment, the NBA suspended its season right at the tipoff of a Jazz/Thunders game while at the same time Tom Hanks told the world he was sick. The next day a “temporary” school closing was announced, followed promptly by the shutdown of just about everything.

Teachers, parents and children turned on a dime to transform education as offices also emptied into homes. Overnight, Zoom went from being a cool app someone had suggested we play with, to the platform that would host most human encounters for the next two years.

In true apocalyptic fashion, folks that couldn’t stay home were suddenly being called heroes. This was an honor some immediately warned was less than empty and that others are actively praying we will more substantially appreciate to this day. Given the scarcity of tests and plethora of potential symptoms, it was fairly impossible to tell whether one had hay fever or might kill grandma.

This was just a sliver of the world’s hardships, with some facing suffering far worse than others. Already, we were realizing there wasn’t even sufficient protective gear for nurses. Hoarding was a concern. We were in it deep. There was hardly any toilet paper. Coming together as a nation seemed sadly and painfully less likely than ever, but at least folks were washing their hands.

With hardly any discussion it suddenly became perfectly legal to get take-out cocktails. Fellow Gen Xers were filling my Facebook newsfeed the way many of my friends do when things are stressful, scary and beyond our control: One part public service announcement, two parts “how y’all doin’ out there?” and three parts bad jokes as we collectively decided this was all way too serious not to laugh. It all seemed terribly surreal, especially when paired with the emergence of Tiger King, the unbelievable, utterly meme-able Netflix documentary about an ill-fated private zookeeper. We didn’t watch it here, but we couldn’t miss it either. Somehow, it seemed to fit.

Me? I was doing what I generally do in times of crisis, shunting aside feelings and endeavoring to be useful, going into overdrive to keep things moving and to share news of so many wonderful folks I saw giving it their best to be of service…teachers, human service providers, scientists and so many folks who sew or learned to sew just for the occasion. Grateful for so many artists and librarians rising to a quarantined call, I was also warmed by the concept of “Rainbows across Nassau and Suffolk Counties,” which were largely drawn by children and starting to appear everywhere.

I thought it would be nice to publish one. I asked my youngest, who had just turned 12, “Would you please draw me a rainbow for my newsletter?”

My daughter is a born artist. It’s just who she is. At this particular time in life, she was also (hopefully) at a height of adolescent prickliness toward her mother. Perhaps, this time at least, it was well deserved. She gave me a drawing she wouldn’t have been satisfied with when she was three.

“I’m not using this.”

“Use it.”

“Well, I’m not putting your name on it.”

”Fine.”

So…I used it. Without her name. She was fine with that.

A child's drawing of a rainbow

A few days later, I was up late working. It was sometime after midnight when she emerged from her room, came to my desk and thrust her arm forward.

“You want my rainbow? Here’s my rainbow!”

I looked at it, a ragged, shaken assault of color. Marks that looked like tiger swipes tore through it. Other areas were marred by splotches of brown as though dirt and other…stuff…had been hurled at it. Smears of white evoked flashes of terror…and…contagion….

I was stricken to see my heart laid bare on her canvas. Her heart laid bare on her canvas?

“I’ve never used oils before,” she said, her voice sweet and childlike as she considered her work. Funny how they switch back and forth so suddenly at that age, “I’m really pleased with how I got this wash along the edges…”

She’d always been all about the process, even when she was three…

I looked her in the eye. She looked back. Words went unspoken. Feelings, however, I think, transmitted. She retreated to the room that would become her fortress, her cocoon for the next several months.

The painting remained beside me, saying more than either she or I had words for. It got me to pause. It got me to think. It forced me to allow the weight of the situation to settle, to allow her the space she needed to process, to be a bit more mindful with her and all I encountered.

The work was soon followed by a similarly abstract piece entitled “Earth Day.”

“I sure hope we get it together.” was all she said.

“Me, too.”

Oil Paintins, "Earth Day" April 2020

Prints of “Pandemic Rainbow” (top of article) and “Earth Day” (immediately above) are available at The Firefly Artists in Northport. While she’s not nearly as attached to them as I am, the originals are not for sale. I am grateful to the galley for hosting these pieces, and for everyone who gives it their best to make the best of things and guide others to see the light. It matters more than we know. Thank you.