Perusing "Let's Go to the Beach," the juried art exhibition on display at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, is akin to taking a roll call of Long Island's coastline. Seemingly every beach, cove, creek, channel and inlet from Brooklyn to Montauk is represented, and rendered here -- in oil, acrylic, watercolor, as well as in photographic or even 3-D form.
There is a photo of surfboards lined up along the cliffs at Ditch Plains in Montauk; a painting of kayaks on Ketcham's Creek in Amityville. Also on show is the Long Beach jetty and a buoy in Greenport; the Fire Island Lighthouse at sunset and the rising tide on West Meadow Beach in East Setauket. There is even a paean to a vanished beach, the long-closed Field 9 at Jones Beach State Park.
The 77 works on display were chosen from more than 300 submitted to the competition by 121 local artists. From these a first-, second- and third-place winner and two honorable mentions were awarded. (The winners received prizes: $200 for first place, $150 for second, $100 for third, and $50 each for the honorable mentions.)
Inspiration comes in waves
An art show is an annual occurrence at the museum; this year's theme is tied to the current exhibit, "Coney Island and Jones Beach: Empires by the Sea," which compares the visions and histories of the two most famous oceanfront attractions on Long Island.
Entrants were asked to submit works representing or inspired by local beaches. While it is a bit of a head scratcher as to how a work titled "Coastal Maine" passed muster, it wasn't for lack of quality, as a crowd of 288 visitors to the show's Aug. 11 opening can attest.
"You enter shows and you have no idea what you're in for," said second-place winner Lisa Argentieri, of Levittown. "I'm very impressed by the caliber of work here. It makes the honor of getting a ribbon even greater."
Argentieri's watercolor is named "Woman in the Ocean," and she admits to being the figure depicted sitting in the shallow shoreline water.
"It's a bit of a self-portrait," she said. "I love Jones Beach."
The show is a reminder of the centrality of the Wantagh beach in Long Island's identity and its collective conscious.
"I have many happy memories of the beaches on Long Island," said Helaine Soller, of Bayside, Queens. She has spent weekends and vacation days since childhood at Long Island's beaches. Those places, and those halcyon days "are very much a part of me," she added. Soller's painting, an acrylic on canvas titled "Cycles of Life -- the Game," shows people of various ages playing in the surf. Older children reach for the sky; a mother guides a little one into the water; an outlier splashes around on his own, oblivious to the interactions around him.
"The beach is a stage where people's interrelations and everyday activities are enhanced and dramatized," Soller said.
Attention to detail
Few works in the exhibit are more dramatic than the third-place winner, "Jones Beach," a meticulously reconstructed diorama depicting a summer day at the Central Mall area of the iconic state park, and featuring nearly 100 tiny plastic figures, stretched out on towels and under blankets, tanning or playing in the sand and surf. The scene is replete with exquisite details, including a lifeguard's row boat with the words Jones Beach painted on the side. The piece, created by model maker Donald Sadowsky, of Roslyn Heights, was an instant winner in at least one judge's eyes.
"Don's work amazed me," said Joe Esser, who is also the museum's exhibit designer. "The attention to detail, the miniatures, was really impressive."
Sadowsky, 84, who was present for the opening along with members of his family, said he was "very thrilled" with the award. The piece was the result of numerous visits to Jones Beach last summer where he and his fiancee, Arlene Kashkin, observed the beach and took photos. "He had the whole scene in his head," she said.
Adds Sadowsky: "You can study this for a half-hour and see different things going on." But that wasn't his only entry; the other was a Coney Island diorama featuring a 40-inch-tall replica of the famous parachute jump (the original, and recently renovated, structure is 262 feet tall, according to the New York City Parks Department).
The show's overall winner took viewers to the other end of Long Island. "Montauk Dream," an image of moonlight illuminating a lighthouse that simultaneously casts its beam skyward, is part of a series of coastally themed oil paintings that the artist, Megan Karlen of Brooklyn, calls "The Road's Edge."
As such, it is appropriately named for the exhibit. As residents of Nassau and Suffolk know, many roads on Long Island lead to the water's edge -- at the end of which, more often than not, a beach awaits.
Take a look
What & when: The juried art exhibition "Let's Go to the Beach" will be on display in the Long Island Museum's Visitors Center from through Sept. 8. The winning entries will be displayed in the Art Museum, along with the exhibition "Coney Island and Jones Beach: Empires by the Sea" from Sept. 12-29. The main exhibition runs till Dec. 29.
Hours: The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Price: $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for students 6-17 and $1 on Thursdays.
For more information and directions call 631-751-0066 or go to longislandmuseum.org.