The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University is presenting the "Revisiting 5+1" exhibit in honor of Black History Month. This is a revisiting of the historic 1969 exhibit titled "5+1" and features work from the original six artists.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The history of Black artists on Long Island is rich, deep and still being written. Sometimes, with help, history repeats itself. This month offers chances to revisit pivotal exhibitions of previous decades and witness the cultural significance of Black artists in the area.

The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery's "Revisiting 5 + 1" features...

The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery's "Revisiting 5 + 1" features Professor Howardena Pindell's "Plankton Lace #2," 2020, a mixed media on canvas. Credit: Garth Greenan Gallery

A HISTORIC EXHIBIT

In 1969, astronauts landed on the moon, Woodstock brought a summer of love and music, the Mets won the World Series, and anti-war and pro-Black Power protests erupted nationwide. It was the first year of SUNY Stony Brook's Black Studies department. Lawrence Alloway, who presided over the art department, presented "5+1," featuring six Black artists working in the realm of abstraction. Some were local. All were male.

Now, six women in the school's art department, Ph.D. candidates Elise Armani, Amy Kahng, and Gabriella Shypula; Zuccaire Gallery director, Karen Levitov; Professor Katy Siegel; and Professor Howardena Pindell, in collaboration with Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, have set out to restage the exhibition. For "Revisiting 5+1," they added six Black women artists. Black abstract artists were doubly marginalized, explained Kahng, being outside mainstream abstraction which was dominated by white artists, and outside the Black Arts Movement's focus on political works. But for women, said Kahng, "They were even more marginalized, even from the Black art community."

The exhibition presents some of the most important Black artists of the past 60 years, including Frank Bowling, Alma Thomas, Melvin Edwards and Howardena Pindell. It also serves as a celebration of Pindell's more than four decades teaching at Stony Brook. "Plankton Lace #2," her wall-sized sky blue, delicate yet forceful multimedia work brings to mind the environment, time, and care. With paths, valleys, and accretions, and a surface sometimes torn, and then brought together by stitches, it offers multiple metaphors.

WHAT "Revisiting 5 + 1"

WHEN | WHERE Through March 31, 12-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment, Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook University

INFO Free; 631-632-7240, zuccairegallery.stonybrook.edu

WHAT "Return to A Place by the Sea"

WHEN | WHERE Through May 27, 12-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, The Church, 48 Madison St., Sag Harbor

INFO Free; 631-919-5342, thechurchsagharbor.org

WHAT "Creative Haven: Black Artists of Sag Harbor" (Feb. 17-Aug. 27) and "Romare Bearden: Artist as Activist and Visionary" Feb. 17 - May 29

WHEN | WHERE "Haven" Feb. 17-Aug. 27 and 'Bearden" Feb. 17-May 29, 12-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, The Long Island Museum, 1200 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook

INFO $10, $7 seniors, $5 students, free age 5 and younger; 631-751-0066, longislandmuseum.org

WHAT "Engineers of Equality"

WHEN | WHERE Through March 25, 12-4 p.m. Thursday, 2-6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Westbury Arts, 255 Schenck Ave, Westbury

INFO Free; 516-400-2787, westburyarts.org

Also revisiting an earlier exhibition, featuring four Black artists whose work deserves a reassessment, is "Return to a Place by the Sea" at The Church in Sag Harbor. Co-curators April Gornik and Sara Cochran reunited East End abstractionists who worked and showed together for decades, placing art from a 1999 exhibition side-by-side with recent pieces from Nanette Carter, Gregory Coates, Al Loving, and Frank Wimberley. Paintings, sculptures, and installations filled with what Cochran describes as "joy" open new windows into both the genre and Long Island's place in art. "I'm happy that we're looking at all kinds of history," said Gornik, "of artists who've mutually supported each other, and then being part of righting the wrong of Black artists being ignored, and of this being such a wonderful part of Sag Harbor's history." Cochran noted, "Sag Harbor was a safe harbor for their creativity."

SOMETHING NEW

On Feb. 17, the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook opens two new shows. "Creative Haven: Black Artists of Sag Harbor" also explores the impact of Sag Harbor's SANS community. Look for paintings, sculptures and photographs that range from Impressionistic interiors that recall Vincent van Gogh to cutting-edge multimedia works that push the limits of abstraction. Co-curators Joshua Ruff and Michael Butler found great range, depth and diversity in artists bound together through inspiration and community.

"Romare Bearden: Artist as Activist and Visionary" offers a stunning suite of prints by the 20th century master on loan from the Romare Bearden Foundation. Ruff hopes both shows will help people understand the significant influence that artists like Bearden and the Sag Harbor group had on each other and the wider art world. Bearden's works are also prominently featured in the Heckscher Museum of Art's "Raise the Roof: The Home in Art," through March 2024.

At Westbury Arts' "Engineers of Equality" photographer Tricia Messeroux encourages young artists to meet their heroes by dressing up as historic Black figures and posing for portraits. Documentary images of Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Harriet Tubman and more, paired with children posing as them, present double portraits filled with hope and inspiration. 

MORE EXHIBITS SPOTLIGHTING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

WHAT "The Barack Obama Presidency: Hope and Change" includes photos, documents, and objects from presidential debates

WHEN | WHERE Feb. 14-June 16, David Filderman Gallery at Hofstra University, 1000 Hempstead Tpke., Hempstead

INFO Free; 516-463-5672, hofstra.edu/museum

WHAT "When We All Stand" featuring art for social justice.

WHEN | WHERE Through July 28, Emily Lowe Gallery at Hofstra

INFO Free, 516-463-5672, hofstra.edu/museum

WHAT An exhibit celebrating Louis Armstrong, Lloyd Trotman and more Black jazz greats.

WHEN | WHERE 12-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook

INFO $15-$30; 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org

WHAT "History Through Dolls of Color: Silent Witnesses to Time" pop-up exhibit and lecture by April S. Marius

WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m. Feb. 11, Suffolk County Historical Society, 300 W. Main St., Riverhead
INFO $8; 631-727-2881, suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

WHAT "Black Creativity: Selected Works by Black Artists" presented by the Islip Arts Council in cooperation with the Islip Town Branch of the NAACP and Black Long Island.

WHEN | WHERE Feb. 14-March 10, Islip Arts Council Gallery, 1701 Sunrise Hwy., Bay Shore

INFO Free; 631-888-3525, isliparts.org

WHAT "Immersion — Flight" an immersive experience with videos, archival documentation, animation, original works of art and spoken word focused on the Tuskegee Airmen, flight, and the African American experience.

WHEN | WHERE Feb. 11-March 11, Islip Arts Council Gallery, 1701 Sunrise Hwy., Bay Shore

INFO Free; 631-888-3525, isliparts.org

— MARY GREGORY

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