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!

On Sunflower’s Golden Spirals

Photo credit: Esdras Calderan/wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)
I’d like to talk about patterns. In particular, the pattern that you might see if you look at the sunflower above.*
(Photo credit: Esdras Calderan/wikipedia (CC BY 2.0) )

Before you even think about it, I’m sure you can see spirals. Maybe you see them whirling clockwise, maybe counter-clockwise. Let your eyes refocus and another set of spirals will appear. They almost seem to pop out in your vision, but hang on; which is it? Are they going left or are they going right?

We have an incredible talent for picking out patterns out of noise; you can recognize a friend in a crowd or a familiar song over construction noises without thinking about it. Our sense for patterns is so sharp that we see faces in the moon or in potato chips, or shapes in the clouds. This is probably for the better; thinking you saw some food, some hidden danger, or even a friend where there is none is a lot safer than missing the one that actually is there, so I’d definitely take some silly crossed signals in exchange for this power of ours.

These are harmless examples, but there is a dark side. Gamblers see patterns in their wins and losses and make catastrophic bets. Con-artists exploit us, claiming to tell the future or read minds. Confirmation bias is a dangerous habit that has pervaded our political discourse, where we pick out evidence and patterns in data that suit our preferred answer. We don’t do this with ill-intent; it’s something our patterned-tuned brains do beyond our control. We can only fight it if we watch ourselves, think twice, and double check the news we forward it to our friends.

We also see patterns on another level; we find curious connections throughout the world, linking ideas that don’t seem related. Sometimes it looks like magic, others like design. Sometimes, it’s our minds searching for something that’s not there. As a scientist, this can be frustrating for me. I see articles about psychic powers and fake science, dangerous alternative medicine, and this prevailing tendency to make science mystical and unknowable. I think many people would be surprised as to how much they can understand with a little patience. We don’t need to scrutinize every detail in our experience, but I don’t like it when people assume that that is beyond them. Sometimes, with some care, the microscope lets us peel back the veil of nature and find the truth behind a pattern.


Photo credit: Max Ronnersjö/wikipedia (CC-BY-SA-3.0)
The Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Ratio are patterns that pop up all the time in nature and in media. The Fibonacci sequence follows a simple rule; I start with the first two numbers, 1 and 1. If I add these numbers I get 2. If I add the 2nd and 3rd numbers (1 and 2) I get three. Add the 3rd and 4th I get 5, etc. The sequence looks like , etc. It sounds like the kind of thing a bored mathematician would do for fun, but it has a peculiar habit of showing up all over nature. Plants seem especially fond of it; you can see it in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the scales of pineapples, and as it happens, the florets of a sunflower. If you go back to that first picture of a sunflower and counted the spirals in the seeds, you’d notice something interesting. I can pick out spirals at a bunch of different angles and directions, but the number is always a Fibonacci number.


Photo credit: Esdras Calderan/wikipedia (CC BY 2.0) Fibonacci Spirals added by Spencer Thomas

This is a peculiar quirk of the way these florets grow. The plant spirals out as it produces them, following a rule – each seed is some angle from the last. This angle happens to be a full  divided by , where  (the Greek letter ‘phi’) is the Golden Ratio, about equal to 1.618.

Like the Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio appears everywhere in nature. People have known about this number for a very long time; the ancient Greek sculptor Phidias (400s BCE) worked it into much of his art. A quick google search will tell you how people have associated it with the ratios of beautiful faces, sections in pieces of music, etc. The ratio itself also has some neat properties, for example  (in fact  is sometimes likened to ’s little brother).

So what does  have to do with Fibonacci number? The two are intimately related. If I divide the 1st and 2nd Fibonacci numbers (1 and 1), I get 1. The 2nd and 3rd (1 and 2) give me 2, the 3rd and 4th give me 1.5, then 1.666…, then 1.6, etc. If I keep picking later and later Fibonacci numbers, I get closer and closer to . That’s that mystery solved, but why does a sunflower care? Sunflowers probably don’t know math, but they’re also not stupid. They’re carefully optimized by evolution to make the most out of what they’ve got; their mission is to fit as many seeds as possible onto their face. As a material scientist, I could tell you the very best way to do that looks like this:



Diagram provided by Spencer Thomas

It looks a lot like a honeycomb and that is no mistake. This is how bees achieve the same goal, but the sunflower kinda wrote itself into a corner. The spiraling mechanism that sunflowers use to grow can’t make a honeycomb; it’s terrible at making packed arrangements, always leaving some empty space. Instead of completely altering how the sunflower grows to solve this problem, evolution tuned it to do the very best with what it has, and  with its Fibonacci spirals happens to be the optimal turning angle.

It was shown by J.N. Ridley**  that this is the best possible way to pack seeds on a sunflower’s disc and this video is a beautiful demonstration of the idea. What it comes down to is that  is almost 21/34, and it’s almost 34/55, and almost almost 55/81, but these are all really bad estimates. By comparison, 22/7 is a pretty good estimate for Pi. You need really large numbers to get a ratio that’s close to, so a turning angle of  is a sunflower’s best hope at making the messiest spirals it can.

Give yourself some credit; that sunflower is doing everything it can to hide its spirals, but you can still see them clear as day!

Spencer Thomas recently received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is now doing his Postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. Spencer studies metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.


The Final Stretch – Grateful for Fairway Home Volunteers

Update! The home is complete and we got to witness it be given away on June 25, 2019! You can check out the Ultimate Feel-Good Story: Giving an LI Veteran a Home, and a more complete list of Many Many Thanks…

Our guest blogger this month is Rosemarie Kluepfel of the Fairway Foundation, who reflects on their efforts to serve Long Island Veterans though their “Purple Heat” campaign. A main project is a house that they are renovating and donating to a purple heart recipient. They are exceptionally grateful to the army of volunteers who have come together to make this happen. 

While the project is coming into it’s final stretch. THEY STILL REQUIRE PROFESSIONAL VOLUNTEERS WILLING TO HELP!!! This includes contractors to help with bathrooms, plumbers to do rough in and hook ups, and an electrician to wire up new kitchen lighting.  Know anyone who might help? Please advise*. Thanks!

Four years ago, a handful of Fairway Foundation Long Island volunteers wanted to follow the lead of some of their other branches to help local veterans. The project, now nearing completion, was to give a local Long Island veteran that had served post 9/11, had been honorably discharged, and was a Purple Heart recipient a mortgage free home.  After all, Long Island has one of the highest populations of veterans in the country. Why not help our local veterans first?

What those volunteers had not envisioned were the hurdles and setbacks that they would need to overcome in order to see the project through.  Broken promises, title encumbrances and other unforeseen obstacles led to some disappointment. However, the kindness of others, the generosity of the community, and the friendships and bonds forged made the experience incredibly uplifting. It was a reminder that the strength of one’s character is not tested on a calm day, but in the gusts of the winds.

With the funds raised over those 4 years through their Purple Heart campaign, a house was purchased. Today, renovations are well underway led by the Interior Design Society Long Island chapter.

We are exceptionally grateful to those actively participating in the program: 

Isabel and Dafna with donated items. Not pictured is Sandra, who was also there.

Dee Manicone, D. Manicone Design Assoc.
Lisa Aiello, Rich Designs
Isabel Melo, Isabel Interiors
Peggy Guerin, Designs by Peggy
Ruth Seidenberg, Ruth S. Interiors
Mary Nolte, Mary Nolte Designs
Dafna Adler, Interiors by Dafna Adler
Sandra Asdourian, Sandra Asdourian Interiors
Dean Camastro, Hansgrohe
Joe Calise, Sights n Sounds

Donations of Products or Services thus far:

Hansgrohe, all plumbing fixtures
Coastal Cabinets, kitchen cabinets
Plessers Appliances, kitchen appliances
Merri Interiors, bathroom vanities
Kravet fabrics, fabrics for all rooms
Eclectic Window Fashions – window treatments
ProSource – flooring for kitchen and mud room
Harry Katz carpet – carpet and tile
Cancos tile – tile for bathrooms
Peykar rugs – area rugs
Wendy Interiors – blinds
Sights n Sounds – security system
The Robert Allen Duralee group – sofa, cocktail table, ottoman
East End Interiors – dining room table
Symmetry Closets – closet systems
Van Wyck Hardware – drapery hardware
Debbie Viola – artwork
L.I Photo Gallery – artwork
Elements Lighting – lamps, tables, chairs
Sherwin Williams Paints – all paint
Cambria Stone – countertops
Hampton Appliance – TV
All County Millwork – bedroom dresser and night stands
Farmingville Masonry Supply – masonry for front entry
Corporate Transport – transport services
Riverhead Building Supply – sheetrock
Kolson Hardware – decorative hardware for kitchen
OMG Shower Doors — shower doors

Labor donations:


Sean – rough in plumbing
Pic Painting – all interior painting work
John Probst Contracting – kitchen installation, mud room floor
Dynomite Floors – wood floor refinishing
Straight Line Tile – tile installation
Maggio Environmental Services – carting
PSEG Veteran Employee Resource Group –landscaping
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation – project overview
Brian Moraghan PE – house inspection
ZCI Woodworks – transport of cabinets
Anthony J. Mangiaracina, Attorney at Law – legal
Pyramid Title Agency – title services
Eclectic Window Fashions – drapery fabrication
Beyond Windows – drapery fabrication
And many more volunteers

These local merchants, designers, wholesalers, and tradesmen have joined forces to transform the modest 3 bedroom/ 2 bath ranch into a home worthy of its new owner; one who has sacrificed to serve his or her country.

Together, we are offering a profound way of saying, “Welcome Home Soldier, Welcome Home.”

Visit, email or call 631-881-5110 for more information on how to apply for the home or to volunteer.

Together We Can Make A Difference in the Life of a Veteran.






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