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Hotel lobby as art destination: Peruse and purchase local works

The Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook runs a

The Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook runs a rotating art exhibit throughout its entranceway and lobby featuring paintings by area artists that are available for purchase. The current collection, "Living Things," runs through June 10. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Bernadette DeNyse does not mind traffic all that much. Especially when it’s coming her way.

As an acrylic artist whose work has been displayed at galleries across Long Island, she has come to appreciate foot traffic.

Two years ago, when DeNyse was invited by John Tsunis, a local hotel and bank executive and philanthropist, to have her artwork showcased in the lobby of his Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, she was grateful for the offer but uncertain of the venue.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘How much traffic could it really draw?,’ ” says DeNyse, a member of the North Shore Art Guild based in Miller Place.

As it turns out, the hotel has become an art destination in its own right.


The Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook runs a rotating art exhibit throughout its entranceway and lobby featuring 50 to 60 paintings by area artists that are available for purchase. The current collection, “Living Things,” runs through June 10 and includes about 50 acrylic paintings that range from $150 to $1,000. Thirty percent of each sale is donated to Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital. The rest goes to the artists.

Tsunis, a Poquott resident, gained an interest in the arts about 15 years ago and became a collector of works by painter Joseph Reboli. A Port Jefferson native, Reboli was known for his oil paintings of local landscapes and subjects from the Three Village area and Long Island’s East End.

Two years ago, while serving as chairman of the hospital’s task force, Tsunis thought partnering with the Expressions Gallery at the North Shore Art Guild could provide a fundraising opportunity.

“In this case, with the artwork, it allows local artists in the Suffolk County community to display their artwork not only to our neighbors but to the international community as well,” says Tsunis, chairman and chief executive of Gold Coast Bank.

To date, sales from the hotel’s art program have raised more than $100,000 for the Stony Brook hospital and have helped shift perception of the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook from an unlikely art venue to a sought-after gallery space.

His hotel guests are mostly from the tristate area, but there has been a growing segment of international visitors, Tsunis says.


Like a traditional art gallery opening, a reception is held at the launch of each exhibit and is generally attended by all the featured artists.

“The opening really engages people,” says DeNyse, who teaches art to students in grades K-12 in Central Islip. These “meet and greet” style receptions provide an opportunity for visitors to learn the inspiration for and meaning behind the pieces, DeNyse says.

The next exhibit, “Flower Power,” begins Sunday, June 11, with a reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15. Long Island art venues are important because they offer a “gallery experience” for those unable or unwilling to travel to more popular destinations in New York City, DeNyse says.

DeNyse has had her work featured at Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James, the Heckscher Museum of Art biennial in Huntington, the Port Jefferson Village Center and the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook. And she says she is proud to have added an emerging art space to that growing list.

“I hope that people take away a desire to come back month to month,” she says. “We have so much talent on Long Island, which is wonderful.”

“Living Things”

WHEN | WHERE Through June 10, Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, 3131 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook

INFO 631-471-8000

UPCOMING SHOWS Sunday, June 11: “Flower Power” with reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 15. “Summertime” begins Aug. 13


Feeling peckish near the Long Island Hilton in Melville? Nanking, serving an Indian-inflected fusion of Chinese and Thai — plus an extensive menu of full-on Indian dishes — has opened in a space adjoining the hotel lobby.

Nanking is the fifth location of a metropolitan-area restaurant group. Harkesh Yadav, one of the partners, said that since it opened in 2006, the New Hyde Park restaurant had attracted customers from points east. “Customers were coming from Stony Brook, Dix Hills, Melville,” he says. “They kept asking us to open in Suffolk.”

Yadav said Nanking’s cuisine is a distinct hybrid of Chinese and Thai food that is popular all over India. The menu lists more than 100 dishes. “Chinese and Thai” appetizers include Manchurian vegetable dumplings with chili-garlic sauce and chicken satay (both $7.99); mains include Nanking chili chicken and coriander-garlic chicken (both $17.99), lamb in oyster sauce ($19.99), Thai vegetable curry ($12.99), lobster Hong Kong style ($24.99), Nanking fried basmati rice, pad Thai and American chop suey (all $12).

— Erica Marcus

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