Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Mary Gregory

Women Sharing Art, From the Heart, at the Islip Art Museum


Text by Mary Gregory,  Photos by Adel Gorgy

“Now and Then” a multi-media exhibition at the Islip Art Museum on Long Island brings together many works and many stories through the art of many women. Women Sharing Art is a non-profit organization celebrating its tenth anniversary in this extraordinary exhibition. The work of the group’s about two dozen members is as rich and varied as these women artists, themselves. Some have histories of exhibiting before.  Some are new to showing. Some are self-taught. Some are Harvard educated. All have a streak of passion, a dedication to art and philanthropy, and a spirit of sharing.

Gabriella Grama, “Afrika,” Mosaid

Ten years ago, Sue Miller, the founding member of the group, had a vision for a space – physical, intellectual, emotional and creative – where she and other women could get together and explore ideas, support one another and grow as artists. Before long, a handful of women had joined including Pat D’Aversa, Victoria Beckert and mother/daughter artists Sandy and Kathy Seff. Now, the group averages about 25, and they are looking to expand in both number and in artistic disciplines to include poets, musicians, film makers and writers.  “The possibilities are endless,” they say, “just like your creativity.”

Tove Abrams, “1920s Ladies’ Room Door,” Oil on canvas

In addition to funding a scholarship for young women artists in the community, the group has also exhibited together for many years at the Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts (BAFFA) gallery in Sayville, which has a long history of exhibiting notable local artists in its historic mansion. This is the first year Women Sharing Art is showing at the Islip Art Museum.

A wall with watercolors by Mireille Belajonas

Lynda Moran, the executive director of the Islip Arts Council, welcomed the women to the museum, a gem of history and a hub of creativity in Suffolk. The museum has been recently refurbished to its past elegance, thanks to help from local legislators like Steve Flotteron, who attended a packed reception to welcome and congratulate the artists. The now gleaming walls of Brookwood Hall, which houses the museum, proved the perfect setting for refined works of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, glasswork, jewelry, and mosaics.

Sheri Berman, “Easy Money,” Collage

The exhibition title, “Then and Now,” said Eileen Palmer, an artist/curator member whose background includes organizing programs at the Brooklyn Museum, reflects not just the history of the women’s group, but the evolution of the individual artists, as well. “Many of the women included an earlier work and a more recent one,” she said. “To show how their work has evolved or changed over the years.”

Eileen Palmer, “Dirty Dishes,” Mixed media

Palmer’s own works are a perfect example. She’s showing a glass mosaic that was her first work, as well as her latest piece, a complex, rich mixed media work that includes mosaic, found objects, sculpture and painting. A three dimensional female torso formed of pieces of blue and white china emerges from rich cobalt canvas. It recalls influences as diverse as Delftware and Chinese porcelain and Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines. “Dirty Dishes,” she said, “is a feminist statement, made last year during the 2017 Women’s March. The shards of broken dish ware (symbolic of domesticity) were from plates from all over the world. The shards—united by grout and grit—pulled together to make a strong feminist statement.”

Holly Black, “Magic Hour,” Photograph on canvas

Sue Miller, the founder of the group also tells a story through her art. This time, it’s a bit of autobiography. She’s a gifted photographer represented by two evocative, complex photographs. Miller’s “The Now of the Then,” a photograph on metal appears at the top of the story. It shows how far she had to reach to grow in her work. Traditional, straight photography wasn’t bringing her vision to life. So she spent countless hours at her computer, learning new methods and mastering new tools. “I had to pull and push the work to get to what I wanted,” Miller said.  But, the story expands, as is demonstrated in a later work in a separate gallery in the museum. An abstracted sculpture of a woman stands about 4.5 feet tall. It’s formed of a variety of metal pieces. Miller decided to take up welding recently.

Hers is just one example of the indomitable artistic spirit of this group that meets to share ideas, techniques, friendship and laughter. They inspire each other as well as those around them and contribute not just to the artistic spirit of the community, but to its future, as well. The art and heart of this group of women will be on view through March 2, 2018, at the Islip Art Museum.

Top Photo: Sue Miller, “The Now of the Then,” Photograph on metal, on view at the Islip Art Museum

David Hockney Dazzles at the Met


Text by Mary Gregory,  Photos by Adel Gorgy

These are the final days to see the remarkable David Hockney retrospective at the Met Fifth Avenue which runs through February 25th. Hockney, the beloved octogenarian British artist, is regarded by some as the greatest living painter in the world. The Met’s exhibition brings together drawings, photograph collages, vivid iPad compositions, and, most importantly, room after room of vibrant, glorious paintings.  

The works chart the course of Hockney’s almost 60 year career, and show the development of an artist from a young, somewhat tentative, gay man, just finding his artistic voice, to a ripe, brilliant colorist, comfortable and confident as he celebrates the beauty of life.  

David Hockney, The Cha-Cha That Was Danced in the Early Hours of 24th March, 1961, Oil on canvas, 68 × 60 1/2 in., Private collection, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

Early works made in England around 1960 show Hockney experimenting with modernist styles, plumbing depths of expression and abstraction others had explored, but giving them his own twist. “Love Painting” and “The Third Love Painting” are dense abstractions with layers of paint, bits of text, floating planes of color, drips and scratches. Nothing that hadn’t been done before, but bits of wry wit that infuse many later works already come through.

David Hockney, My Parents, 1977, Oil on canvas, 72 × 72 in., Tate, © David Hockney Photo by Adel Gorgy

A few years later, Hockney would travel to California, where he responded to the sun-drenched landscape, the cool, mid-century modern architecture, and a gay community more comfortable with itself than the one he had known in England. In the 1970s, he produced some of the works he’s most known for, featuring bright pops of color, flattened space and a sense of celebration and joy in everyday visions.  

David Hockney, Rubber Ring Floating in a Swimming Pool, 1971, Acrylic on canvas, 36 × 48 1/16 in., Private collection © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

And, here’s where the exhibition becomes something transcendent. Due to his lack of pretense, his careful observation, and the loving eye he turns on the world, Hockney’s exhibition offers a unique and somewhat startling experience. In painting after painting, conscientious viewing allows us to see through the eyes of the artist. His works break the world into color and form. Instead of a swimming pool, Hockney presents a blue rectangle. Rather than depicting a pool toy, he paints a red circle. An apartment building with light glinting off the windows is transformed into a blue-green grid. Jets of spray from an underground sprinkler are turned into triangles of white on a bright green lawn. All becomes form, color, shape, line, movement and depth, and all delight the eye.

David Hockney, Interior with Blue Terrace and Garden, 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 48 × 96 in., Collection of the artist, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

David Hockney, The Eleventh V. N. Painting, 1992, Oil on canvas, 24 × 36 in., The David Hockney Foundation, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

But even these ebullient evocations of life and domesticity don’t prepare the viewer for the kaleidoscopic, unrestrained effervescence of Hockney’s work in the final few galleries. Here, in works form the 1980s through the present, Hockney’s paintings shift into unadulterated color, fluid lines, and the pure joy of mark making.  

David Hockney, The Other Side, 1991-1993, Oil on canvas, Two canvases: 72 1/16 × 60 in. and 72 1/16 × 72 1/16 in., Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

The artist’s vision is Technicolor bold, with azure, ruby and emerald, golden yellow and bubble gum pink defining landscapes, interiors, still lifes, and abstractions both real and imagined. Grids of lines are incised with tools, or the handles of brushes. Colors are laid in lovingly with careful brushstrokes or quickly with what look like Hockney’s fingers.  t’s art about the joy of art.  

David Hockney, Hawthorn Blossom near Rudston, 2008, Oil on canvas, Two canvases: 60 × 48 in. each, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Riggio, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

The Met’s retrospective of David Hockney’s work is, in a word, stunning. But there are plenty of other words that apply as well. Dazzling. Resplendent. Moving. Elevating. Enlightening. Inspiring. Don’t miss it. 

Top Photo: David Hockney, Hollywood Hills House, 1981-1982, Oil, charcoal, and collage on canvas, Three canvases: 60 × 40 in. (152.4 × 101.6 cm) each, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Gift of Penny and Mike Winton, 1983, © David Hockney  Photo by Adel Gorgy

Animal Mummies Reveal the Spirit of a Culture


Text by Mary Gregory,  Photos by Adel Gorgy

When considering the art of the afterlife, the embrace of metaphor usually aids in understanding. Yet, in the art of ancient Egypt, some things are just as they seem.  In the land of pyramids and pharaohs, the afterlife was believed to mirror life on Earth. Food, drink, clothes, furniture and servants, sometimes real, sometimes in effigy, were packed into tombs, to provide for all the eternal needs of the deceased. Beloved pets were often buried in the family tombs of owners, giving new meaning to the concept of “forever homes.”

Recent excavations in Egypt have uncovered massive ancient cemeteries for animals. Both domestic and wild animals were buried with respect and consideration, reflecting the important roles they played in society. Through January 21st, 30 rare examples of mummified animals dating back to 3,000 B.C., along with some 65 related objects, are on view in the Brooklyn Museum’s thoughtful and thought-provoking “Soulful Creatures,” curated by Edward Bleiberg, Yekaterina Barbash and Lisa Bruno. 

A corn mummy from the Ptolemaic period, made in the form of Osiris, symbolized renewal and rejuvenation.

 Mystery, dignity and emotion fill the exhibit’s galleries. It’s touching to see the way a long-past society readily accepted the concept that animals possessed souls, just as people do. It was the exception; the curators point out that contemporary societies in Greece and Rome didn’t share this belief, even though, in the ancient world, animal life and human life were inseparable. Ancient Egyptians had thriving societies and comfortable homes, while, just outside, animals were farmed, the Nile was filled with fish and waterfowl, and the fields were plowed by creatures more powerful than men. It was natural for them to see animals as helpers and to acknowledge that harmonious co-existence was beneficial. 

Cats were beloved pets and goddesses in ancient Egypt, worthy of mummification to ensure eternal life.

Animals were also allies in interceding with the ancient Egyptian gods. Some of the mummified creatures in the exhibition were meant as offerings to deities, or to carry messages to powerful supernatural beings like Thoth, who took the form of an ibis, or Horus, the falcon-headed god. Working with New York’s Animal Medical Center, X-rays and CT scans were performed on several of the mummies revealing hidden secrets and surprises. Sometimes, just a single bone would be wrapped to stand in for a particular animal. Sometimes just feathers. One oblong package contains an entire ibis, folded like an umbrella, its enormous beaked skull bent down against its skeleton. 

Hawks represented the sun god, Re, Horus, and the king, all of whom were elevated in Egyptian society. A hawk-headed handle from the Middle Kingdom (1938-1759 B.C.)

One object on view is a long, skinny box, almost like a pencil case. It’s surprising to see that it was a coffin for a snake. Crocodiles, baboons, lions, rodents, fish, hippos and birds, including a spectacularly cased ibis mummy from the city of Abydos (one of the oldest on Earth) give a sense of the regard in which creatures were held. 

An ibis coffin in wood, silver, gold and rock crystal on view in “Soulful Creatures.”

The exhibition offers several stunning feline depictions, mummified and wrapped or upright and regal, donned with painted jewelry and protective spells. Anubis, the jackal-headed god who ushered souls to the afterlife, sits imperious, impassive and regal in a painted wooden sculpture from Saqqara about 640 B.C. 

A coffin to commemorate Horus, here wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Comprised of works from the extraordinary collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the show is complemented by a lavishly illustrated book filled with science, art, animals and Egyptian history. It presents probing essays by Bleiberg, Barbash and Bruno.

A painted mummy case from The Brooklyn Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of Egyptian art in the world.

Two antelopes sprint in an image so fresh and lively that looks like it was made today.

Ancient Egyptian society introduced countless advancements to human knowledge including some of the earliest forms of writing and monotheism, the first 24 hour day and the first 365 day calendar, early medical practices, astronomical calculations and maps, soil and farm engineering, and unparalleled architectural wonders. It’s never too late to learn something new, and sometimes the most surprising sources reveal treasures. “Soulful Creatures” reminds us at a time we sorely need it that all creation is imbued with dignity and divinity, that we are part of a large and mysterious world, and that every soul, no matter how small, how weak, how different, or how easily overlooked, deserves respect. 

Top Photo: A figurine of Anubis, who guarded the spirit of mummies.

A New, Nuanced Vision of Amedeo Modigliani on View at the Jewish Museum


Text by Mary Gregory, Photos by Adel Gorgy

One of the highlights of a glorious fall/winter season for art in New York is the Jewish Museum’s Modigliani Unmasked, a rare exhibition of over 100 drawings, sculptures and paintings by one of the great artists of the 20th century. The exhibition is stunning, filled with lush colors, sensuous figures, and bold early modernist experimental themes and techniques. It’s as complex and rich as the artist, himself.

“Unfinished Portrait of Paul Alexandre.”  Alexandre was Modigliani’s first and most important patron.

The collection of drawings, which make up the bulk of the show, was bought by a friend, admirer, and early supporter of Modigliani, Dr. Paul Alexandre. Most of them have not been shown before. It’s a unique chance to see quick sketches that reveal the spontaneity of the artist’s hand, completed paintings that required more time, and sculptures hewn from stone that still carry the fluid, graceful, exaggerated and abstracted lyricism for which Modigliani is not just famous, but revered.

Modigliani’s 1912 “Head of a Woman” in limestone reveals his mastery of many materials.

The exhibition focuses on the early part of Modigliani’s career, shortly after he arrived in Paris, in 1906. It was a glorious time in Paris. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncusi were already there, and they became friends, colleagues, inspiration and sometimes rivals with the young Italian émigré.  But it was also a difficult time, politically. Modigliani was a Sephardic Jew, and Paris was a hotbed of anti-Semitism after the Dreyfus Affair.

The exhibition shines a light on both of those aspects of life in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, and offers ways to approach Modigliani’s work by considering all the cultural influences that surrounded him. Mostly, though, it presents a vast body of splendid, original work and a unique artist’s vision and voice.

In “Female Nude Leaning on Her Left Elbow” Modigliani wields his pencil with a sculptor’s force.

“Nude with a Hat” is on one side of a rare double-sided painting by Modigliani.

Nude drawings of beautiful women reveal Modigliani’s smooth, elegant line, but also his the mind of a sculptor. One of the intriguing effects one notices is heavy outlining around the edges of the body, as though he were trying to carve a niche for his figures with dark shadows. The dramatic lighting on the wonderful collection of sculptures by Modigliani (as well as African, Greek, Egyptian, and Khmer work that influenced him) reinforces the fact that line was a key element in the artist’s visual vocabulary. But perhaps nothing says that more eloquently than the paintings.

“Head in Profile,” a 1911–12 drawing on paper

“The Jewess,” a 1908 oil on canvas is resplendent in rich blue and dark turquoise.  A later work, “Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater” shows a softer palette and Modigliani’s more developed style.  Cool, removed, with blanked out eyes, Jeanne, Modigliani’s lover, muse and frequent model, looks a little like a soft sculpture.

“Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater” is a tender depiction of Modigliani’s lover.  They both met tragic ends.

Struggling and impoverished, Modigliani, whose work is adored today, was not recognized or rewarded for his art in his own lifetime. He died of tuberculosis in 1920, at age 35, just two years after painting Jeanne’s picture. She threw herself out of the window two days after his death, killing herself and their unborn child.

Modigliani’s 1919 painting “Lunia Czechowska”

The exhibition includes historical items from Paris in Modigliani’s time, personal letters, and wall texts that round out a picture of an era and an artist whose passion and pathos changed the course of Modern Art. It runs through February 4th, 2018.

Top Photo: “The Jewess” a 1908 oil on canvas, is a highlight of Modigliani Unmasked. 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between at the Met


Text by Mary Gregory, Photographs by Adel Gorgy

In between is an apt title for the exhibition of Rei Kawakubo’s daring, unconventional designs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The garments the maverick Kawakubo constructs fall somewhere between idea and reality, fashion and sculpture, clothing and performance.

Kawakubo’s name, while known around the world, is less recognizable to many than the name of her label, Comme des Garçons (French for “like some boys”).  By the late 1970s and early ’80s when punk rocked the cultural scene and Madonna turned underwear into outerwear, Kawakubo had already been planting seeds of sedition for a decade.  She put forward fashion on its own ground, rather than as a means to flatter the wearer.  Her creations mirrored the environment around her (on the streets and in nature) as well as her philosophy, her understanding of the world, and her views on history and politics.

Yet, as subversive, radical and revolutionary as her designs were and are, Kawakubo stated, “I am not against fashion.  This is something else, another direction.”  Her direction would lead her to completely rethink what clothing could be.  In the exhibition of some 140 garments, we see jackets that have sleeves in numbers that don’t match human anatomy (sometimes 3 or 4, or even none).  There are skirts that have extra openings for legs (or are they alternate waists?).

By flouting convention, Kawakubo created a genre that didn’t exist before: conceptual clothing.  And yet, they’re not so out-there that they can’t be functional and even perfect.  Lady Gaga, a canny fashionista, joined Kawakubo’s artistic statements with her own in 2012, when buzz arose about her weight.  She defiantly wore one of Kawakubo’s “Flat” pieces, that looks like a cut-out paper doll’s dress (above) hiding her form while proudly proclaiming its beauty.

This goes to the heart of Kawakubo’s vision.  She’s, in part, giving voice to the Eastern idea of wabi-sabi, a Japanese Buddhist-inspired precept that acknowledges and embraces the beauty in the imperfect, incomplete and evolving.  Nine sections of the exhibition present such dichotomies as Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes.  They’re staged in an inspired installation of circular forms, stacked platforms, and overhead catwalks, all in pure white, that both isolate and highlight aspects of the designer’s vision.  (They also give a sense of the voyeuristic pleasure of peeking into someone else’s closet.)  These rooms within rooms serve to join certain pieces and extract and pinpoint ideas.  Almost blindingly lit by overhead fluorescent bulbs, there’s no fuzzy, soft focus here.  These are bold statements about shape and color, line and form, that just happen to be adapted to the human body.

Curator Andrew Bolton stated that Kawakubo’s designs aren’t really about clothing at all.  They’re more conduits for performance art.  “It wasn’t really about wearability,” he said. “She’s been forced to enter the debate of art and fashion.”  Inherent in her fashions are all the questions and statements that attend serious works of art.  She raises ideas of beauty and ugliness, the natural state versus the artificial, East and West, male and female, completion, opposition, asymmetry, juxtaposition, history, conformity and identity.

Cocoon dresses, bulging with gossamer humps, contradict the feminine ideal, but recall the perfection of nature.   In her 1997 collection, “Body Meets Dress—Dress meets Body” fantastical shapes challenge ideals but do so in sweet pink and blue gingham.  They’re simultaneously shocking and charming.

There’s a dress that resembles a vacuum cleaner filter, a leather biker jacket paired with a tutu, a gown that looks like a crumpled paper bag, and a coat made from damask, sequins and leather that channels Samurai armor via Louis XIV.

By some of the later collections, she’d almost stopped thinking about clothing and was working with pure abstraction of color and form.  “I don’t care about function at all,” Kawakubo stated.  “When I hear ‘where could you wear that?’ or ‘it’s not very wearable,’ or ‘who would wear that?’ to me it’s just a sign that someone missed the point.”

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between
Costume Institute, at The Met Fifth Avenue through September 4, 2017

Marvels of Man and Nature at The Cloisters


Heaven seems closer at The Cloisters   


Looking for a bit of heaven?  No need to leave this life, or even Manhattan. A trip to The Cloisters will get you so close you won’t be able to tell if you’ve passed through the portals of the museum or the pearly gates, themselves.


The gorgeous Merode Altarpiece has communicated piety, simplicity and God’s glory for over 600 years  

Particularly when spring is bestowing her gifts and forsythias spread their blossoms like a young girl shaking out long, blonde curls, a visit to the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art focused on medieval art and architecture is pure delight. The Cloister gardens are green and filled with daffodils, apple blossoms, grape hyacinths, and herbs. Sparrows sing and scrabble over bits of twig as they build nests among the time worn terracotta tiles, and the place (a pastiche of many places joined together) is filled with beauty amidst quietude, peace and a sense of renewal.


Timelessness and the joys of the season coexist at The Cloisters  

Considering the countless footsteps that have worn smooth the stone steps, sensing the silently echoing presence of tonsured monks in sandals who lived and prayed in these spaces makes one feel small against the stretch of hundreds of years, the way we feel small at the edge of the ocean or gazing at the night sky. Tiny, but connected to something immense. The Cloisters is a singular place in a bustling city that can bring us to the distant past and help us to be fully in the present at the same time.


The medieval artist who carved this Madonna and baby Jesus captured a lively pose    


The famed Unicorn Tapestries fill a hall at The Cloisters  

There’s never been a better time to make the journey.  In addition to the glories of spring, an astonishingly beautiful exhibition, “Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures,” is on view through May 21st. Four dozen extremely delicate and rare miniature boxwood carvings from the middle ages have been gathered together by Dr. Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock, Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters, in an exhibition co-organized by the Rijksmuseum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Beheld and cherished as objects of wonder by European kings and queens, these marvels of engineering and artistry were mostly made in the Netherlands in the 1500s.  They are devotional objects depicting scenes from the Bible that were fashioned by incredibly skilled artists into tiny altars, rosary or prayer beads and even tiny coffins, complete with even tinier skeletons. To compound the marvels, the artists circumscribed each scene with minutely carved inscriptions.


An exquisite carved rosary that once belonged to King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon is a highlight of “Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures”  

It’s hard to believe human hands could create something so complex and compelling within the confines of a sphere of carved wood no larger than a small egg.  Castled landscapes, forests with trees and animals, and, in the Met’s own rosary bead a crucifixion scene with three crosses, soldiers, horses, and mourners, have been carved into tiny, yet breathtaking sculptures. In fact, it’s partly because they’re so tiny that they are so amazing.

Dr. Boehm states in her exhibition description, “Over the course of more than 500 years these works of art have repeatedly been described as “ingenious,” “artful,” “exquisite,” and “subtle.” Even so, no adjective has ever been adequate to express the sense of wonder and amazement that the miniatures elicit.” Indeed, gasps were heard throughout the gallery. You can get a sense of these incredible objects from a video on the Met’s website.


The sun and moon and a field of tiny plants and flowers decorate this unique crucifixion scene at The Cloisters   

“Small Wonders” is reason enough to visit The Cloisters, but their exquisite collection of  paintings, sculptures, tapestries and illuminated manuscripts; the stunning stained glass windows; and the gardens and the architectural elements that recreate a sense of medieval Europe, combine to make an experience that transcends everyday life and transports the viewer across time and place all while never leaving the city.

Photos by Adel Gorgy

Sculptor John Cino Evokes the Spirit through Nature 


When Stepping into John Cino’s exhibit at the Memorial Gallery at Farmingdale State College, there can be no doubt that one is exiting everyday experience and entering an environment altered by art, ideas, and a commitment to beauty.  A sculptor who has worked for decades exploring and coaxing the artistic possibilities primarily in wood, Cino’s work fills the gallery just about to bursting.  The Sacred or Profane, the densely installed one-man exhibition gives a sweeping view of the artist’s oeuvre.  It also requires the visitor to weave through towering, totemic wooden sculptures that almost touch your shoulders.  It’s an up close, engaging and affecting experience.


Detail of John Cino’s carved wood sculptures

Cino’s biomorphic, monumental works in wood feature rippling edges, fluid lines, and unadorned surfaces that respect and highlight nature’s textures and tones.  His work displays both mastery of and sympathetic connection to his material.  Under his hands, the wood responds and allows itself to be transformed into shapes that recall feathers, leaves, breaking waves, flickering flames or tendrils of evanescent smoke.

The exhibition, on view through February 13, curated by Beth Giacummo offers a rare, immersive experience with Cino’s work.  The Memorial Gallery seems transformed into a place where both time and timelessness exist.  Cino states, “While my sculpture freezes motion, it invites the viewer to move and be moved.”


John Cino’s 2014 sculpture, Song Wave

The exhibition is titled “Sacred or Profane,” responding to the work of Mircea Eliade a renowned author of treatises on religions and faith.  Key to Eliade’s thinking is that the sacred space and the everyday world are, by definition, separate.  Eliade cited Moses’ need to take off his shoes when he encountered God in the form of the burning bush, along with the countless cross cultural echoes of that gesture played out in houses of worship around the world.  Cino seems to evoke both realms coexisting in his artworks, stating “It is up to the viewer to decide which side represents the sacred and which represents the profane.”  Dichotomies are a key theme for the artist.  Not just sacred and profane, but yin and yang, male and female, solid and fluid, concept and substance, art and nature all come into play.


John Cino, Twining, 2009, Oak, 39 in x 10 in x 4 in

And all can be sensed standing among Cino’s work.  The gallery feels as if it’s been temporary transformed into an underwater kelp forest, a contemporary Stonehenge, a space between the synapses in the brain, or a distant corner of the universe, all places where reality exists, but as incomprehensible, mysterious places that may be best approached through art.  In “Sacred or Profane,” Cino provides, in his masterfully crafted, aesthetically accomplished, spiritually driven and deeply felt works of art, a key to those imagined and then artfully created spaces.

John Cino, The Sacred or Profane, Memorial Gallery, Hale Hall, Farmingdale State College’s Memorial Gallery, free and open to the public weekdays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

All photos courtesy John Cino. For more information, go to his website. 

John Cino, The Sacred or Profane

Detail of John Cino’s carved wood sculptures

John Cino’s 2014 sculpture, Song Wave

John Cino, Twining, 2009, Oak, 39 in x 10 in x 4 in


Tight, Controlled and Rocket-Fast: Stefanie Pintoff’s City on Edge


Just in time for the holidays, readers who like a little extra spice with their treats should try Stefanie Pintoff’s new thriller, City On Edge.  It’s the second in the series featuring  the tough, talented FBI Special Agent Eve Rossi and her Vidocq team –  a mismatched group of ex-cons with perfectly complementary skills.  Together, they work to allay a catastrophe that threatens the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the city, and untold numbers of innocents expecting a fun-filled holiday. Just as in the first in this series, Hostage Taker,  Edgar Award winner Pintoff reveals an unthinkable threat against the backdrop of Manhattan in an edge-of-your-seat ride that never slows down.

As the streets fill with tourists, marching bands, and the huge inflated stuff of childhood dreams, Police Commissioner Logan Donovan has more on his mind than his teenage daughter’s problems – until she becomes the prime target of a plot threatening the whole city.  Then, even the chief of the country’s largest police force has to ask for help.  Eve Rossi’s skills as a clinical psychologist turned hostage negotiator had saved an iconic New York institution before.  Now Logan has to overcome his pride and political ambitions and bring her team in on the case before people get hurt.  Or worse.


To protect the parade and free two kidnapped children before it’s too late, Vidocq’s band of rule-breaking, right-side-of-justice vigilantes dig up buried secrets about everyone around Donovan and his daughter, including her nanny, her driver, and the commissioner, himself.  They all have motives, maybe none with higher stakes than Donovan’s. As surprises are revealed, the clock is running down and the threat grows more imminent. Pintoff’s writing is tight, controlled and rocket-fast.

The action and tightwire tension are set against the backdrop of New York on Thanksgiving.  You can almost smell the smoke coming off the pretzel and chestnut vendors’ carts. Pintoff, who lives on the Upper West Side, brings Manhattan to life with carefully observed details, locations, sights and sounds as only a native New Yorker can. The psychological insights into characters and motives, the story of political jockeying within the police ranks, and the plotline breaks to insert dossiers on the Vidocq crime fighting team and news bulletins about a city on edge meld seamlessly into a thrilling, suspenseful, nail-biter of a story.

Reading City on Edge, you may find yourself marveling at the intricately constructed plot the way you marvel at a spider’s web. But look out, both can contain deadly surprises. No spoilers here, but Pintoff’s gripping dramatic force will take your breath away while the surprising resolution will leave you as satisfied as a Thanksgiving dinner, but looking forward to the next holiday treat the author cooks up.

City on Edge
Stefanie Pintoff

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