Instead of masterworks of modern and contemporary art that usually hang on the walls of the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University, recently, they were covered with projections of paintings, sculptures, graphic designs and more by local artists. They ranged from those just building up photography portfolios, like Carole Amodeo and Mike McLaughlin, to painter Marsha Solomon, who's represented by a Manhattan gallery and has exhibited worldwide. Nineteen artists came together on Dec. 6 to take five minutes in the spotlight in the Patchogue Arts Council's 2018-19 Slide Slam. It was a chance to have their art seen by curators, gallery directors and critics, and network at a reception afterward.
Every artist wants an audience, but an audience of influencers who can impact careers is what Beth Giacummo, Patchogue Arts Council executive director, had in mind. She started the slams six years ago, and they've been expanding. This year, five separate events include over 60 artists of the more than 120 who applied. Upcoming Slide Slams will be at Haven Art Gallery in Northport on Jan. 19 and the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington on Feb. 7. Plans are forming for the final one in Patchogue in early spring. They're free and open to all.
"I'm an artist, and I've always wanted to create opportunities for artists," Giacummo says. "I created the Slide Slam to have a concentrated audience looking that could provide possible opportunities for new venues to show in. We have all these creative pockets all over Long Island, but they're not viewed as one whole." Novice and experienced artists from across Nassau and Suffolk participate, expanding those pockets while stitching them together.
Hear artist's vision
The first slam was held at the Patchogue Art Council on Dec. 1. It was followed by the presentation at Stony Brook co-hosted by Giacummo and the council's program director and curator John Cino, with Karen Levitov, director of the Zuccaire Gallery, who noted with a smile that chairs were added to accommodate a larger-than-expected crowd.
Among the participants was Wantagh artist Donna Proper, an associate professor of visual communications at Farmingdale State College. Proper, who combines typography and pictures to create vibrant, communicatory images, says, "It's really hard to kind of lay yourself bare for five minutes and show your process and talk about your work ... It was a feeling of vulnerability and power at the same time." She was excited to meet the other artists. "I wanted to see if I could find my tribe."
Presenters click through about a dozen slides in five minutes, discussing process, inspiration, materials, careers, background, and anything they think will bring their work into focus. Many artists admitted having butterflies, but most said they'd happily do it again.
"Who doesn't want to show work?" asks Janice Sztabnik, a painter from Cold Spring Harbor. She presented at the first slam, attended the second, and plans to go to them all. "I was so glad that they thought of it, put it out there and invited us. ... Everybody has their own history and back story. I'm always interested in how that influences their work, seeing people more as a totality than just as a painting."
Bayport's Joe Scinto, at the second presentation, talked about his artworks that are on Huntington traffic boxes. "I was actually a little bit blown away, because the people next to me said it was so nice to have a face to connect to the boxes. They had stopped, seen them and examined them." Says Scinto: "The best takeaway from it is that you get to put a voice and explain your vision for larger audiences than if the artwork is just sitting silently on the wall. You get to reveal some of the magician's secrets."