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Using the arts to help fight autism at Patchogue Theatre

PUSH Physical Theater troupe will perform athletic stunts

PUSH Physical Theater troupe will perform athletic stunts at Patchogue Theatre on May 13. Credit: Robin Klinger Entertainment/Avi Pryntz-Nadworny

They say it takes a village to raise a child. On May 13, that village will be Patchogue, bringing artists, performers, authors and the public together to raise funds for those affected by autism.

"A Night of Family Fun: A Fundraiser for Autism Speaks," a variety show, book signing, art exhibition and auction, is Eastern Suffolk BOCES' latest in an 18-year tradition of fundraising for Autism Speaks.  "We service a lot of kids who are on the autism spectrum. Not every student is able to learn in typical ways," says Peggie Staib, BOCES' associate superintendent. "Each of these acts will have something connecting to learning but in an entertaining way."

All of the performers have appeared in area schools and donated their talent after event organizer Loretta Corbisiero, BOCES arts-in-education coordinator, reached out. Gary Hygom, executive director of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, offered its stage, and the Patchogue Arts Council tapped local artists for contributions. All profits from ticket sales go to Autism Speaks, and the non-profit Patchogue Arts Council and Autism Speaks will evenly divide funds raised from the art auction.

"We're really happy it can benefit both organizations," says Beth Giacummo, PAC's executive director. She promises everything from "an illustration of Slimer from 'Ghostbusters' to a traditional landscape painting," with works to ranging from $50 to $1,000. Contributing artists will receive free tickets, and they'll be accepting work up till the last minute, Giacummo says.

GETTING IN ON THE ACT

With acts like PUSH Physical Theater, a dance troupe that uses choreography, props and original music to tell stories about astronomy and nature, and Circque-tacular's jugglers and aerialists, the program is family-friendly and focused on fun. Ball in the House, an R&B-soul-pop a cappella group featured on "America's Got Talent," is traveling from Boston to add their voices to the cause. "It's the magic of music and pictures, all these different sensory stimuli that break through," says performer Ron Trotta, "and kids just love dogs." The meteorologist, along with author Elly McGuire and Schmitty the Weather Dog, have been teaching science to kids with autism for years.

While it's hoped the event will be the first of many, says Staib, "Our greatest hope is that eventually we won't need programs like this, because they'll figure out what's causing autism and be able to do something."

WHAT "A Night of Family Fun: A Fundraiser for Autism Speaks"

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. May 13, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.

INFO $15-$20; 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org

Artists young and old, and from all over the region, share their inspirations and vision in a trio of exhibitions in local museums and galleries.

'Prime Time'

It's been years since she exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, but these days, Merle Temkin is making some of her best work. At 82, she's the youngest artist in this exhibition (the oldest is 93). Temkin, Annette Merlis, Vincent Pepi, Helen Meyrowitz and Frank Wimberley share the spotlight in a show examining the vital role of creativity later in life. More than age connects them. Each has roots in early Abstract Expressionism, ties to Long Island, and work in the permanent collection of the museum. "The creative spirit is always there," says curator Christine O'Malley. "These artists are genuine. They've achieved mastery. There's a soulful approach to the work."

WHEN | WHERE Through June 23, Islip Art Museum, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip

INFO $5 suggested dontation; 631-224-5402, islipartmuseum.org

'One Last Show'

Vitality and insight belong to no age group. Graduating art students Jessica D’Amprisi, Jocelyne Diaz, Sara Heuser, Victoria Kaufmann, Melody Kuperschmid and Devlin Lemay explore themes like cartoons, dinosaurs, video games and the role of play, and also present thoughtful reflections on the self through portraiture. The exhibition, co-curated by Larissa Woo and Emily Antoville, with paintings, drawings, multimedia fiber, wood and virtual reality works, is complex, says Woo, in the variety of approaches and visions. "It shows what these students have learned, their awareness of the world, and what they bring to society. They were all in with their efforts."

WHEN | WHERE Through May 30, Kellenberg Hall, Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre

INFO Free; 516-323-3196 molloy.edu


'I Sing the Body Electric: Inspired by the Written Word'

More than 70 artists from Long Island (and one from Hawaii) responded to the Long Island Museum's call for art inspired by writing. "It's a big anniversary for [Walt] Whitman," notes museum director Neil Watson, "so this was a perfect jumping-off point." The juried exhibition's paintings, photographs, sculptures and prints provide a glimpse into the creative spark and process. Says Watson, "I think a really great work of art is when you start to wonder what's happening outside the frame." Here, it's provided through poetry alongside the pictures.

WHEN | WHERE Through July 7, Long Island Museum, 1200 Rte. 25A, Stony Brook

INFO $10, $7 ages 62 and older, $5 ages 6-17, free younger than 6; 631-751-0066, longislandmuseum.org

—MARY GREGORY

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