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LI art project a brush with reality

Art enthusiasts at Painter's Restaurant in Brookhaven add

Art enthusiasts at Painter's Restaurant in Brookhaven add their own personal touch to a large piece of traveling art with the word "Reality" projecting from the surface. (March 30, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Daniel Brennan

Call it stream-of-consciousness painting. No one knows what the six-foot-long canvas will become, but that's the fun of it. Shifting Reality Across Long Island is a free interactive community art project that's been traveling to restaurants, art studios and other venues, putting paintbrushes in the hands of patrons. The art constantly changes, as participants paint over or around the work of others -- appropriately ''shifting'' the reality.

"It was nice to get to see all of the interesting designs and everyone's point of view," says TV editor Peter Lavalle, 30, of Wading River, on break from painting a bird that he quips "looks like a ghost" at Painters' Restaurant in Brookhaven. "Everybody wants to find a way to express themselves, even people who don't have a background in art."


A dozen people paint on an elevated platform, bobbing their heads while the DJ at Painters' spins a mélange of old school tunes. Multicolor lights circle over them. Other people are on the dance floor or at the bar.

"I really like the actual release of being able to paint and not having to have a finished product," oil painter Terry Falquero, of Sound Beach, who declined to give her age, shouts above the pulsating beats. "It gives you a lot of freedom to do whatever you want."

That seems evident on each side of the Masonite board, where the word "Reality" is carved on raised letters that display a panoply of colors: Bright green lashes extend from a large blue eye, a figure a la Edvard Munch's "The Scream" wears a hot pink dress and red mushrooms snake up one corner, while black skyscrapers with yellow windows fill another.

"It's a lot of fun," says Judy Valentino, 62, an oil painter of East Patchogue, while adding black lines. "I think we can all learn from each other."


Eric Hurnyak, 38, an abstract painter who organized the project, provides a limited amount of acrylic paints, brushes and painting palettes when the canvas makes stops. Hurnyak, of Sound Beach, says he wanted to develop a project that shows the public what artists do.

"I thought this would be a great way to do it because it's interactive and it lets people who aren't artists experience their creative side," he says. To that end, "Shifting Reality" has traveled from The Spirit of Huntington Art Center, which works with children with special needs, to nightlife haunts like Velvet Lounge in East Setauket and BrickHouse Brewery in Patchogue.

Chris Nicola, a 26-year-old musician, has attended all of the painting gatherings since the beginning. "I've never painted before until this event," says Nicola, of Lake Grove. "It's a wonderful way to let everyone express their creativity."

Stelios Stylianou, 31, co-owner of Studio E in Miller Place, where the project traveled last week, appreciates that it lets people share their creative process. "Hopefully, it will encourage people to not be shy about making artwork in the future."

Shifting Reality

Across Long Island

WHEN | WHERE 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Artspace

20 Terry St., Patchogue


WHEN | WHERE 8-11 p.m. May 1 at Southampton Cultural Center

25 Pond Lane, Southampton

INFO 631-287-4377,

WHEN | WHERE 1-4 p.m. May 27 Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival

East End Arts Council, 133 E. Main St., Riverhead

INFO 631-591-3163,

For more on the project, search "Long Island Creative Vortex Live" on Facebook.

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