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During Black History Month, art comes to Brookhaven Town Hall

Paintings in honor of African-American history are on

Paintings in honor of African-American history are on display at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

On the second floor of Brookhaven Town Hall, paintings depicting African-American history are on display.

One shows a group huddled together as they pray outside a two-story house. Another shows a man wearing a black top hat and playing a saxophone.

The art display is part of an exhibit honoring Black History Month. Most of the roughly 20 pieces of art depict African-American culture in some way and come from artists associated with the Patchogue-based Of Colors Creative Collective at Artspace Patchogue, and the Long Island Black Artists Association.

Patchogue artist and Of Colors founder Tracy Todd Hunter has worked with Brookhaven for the past four years to showcase the art.

“The feedback is phenomenal. So many people get to see it. People are amazed at how beautiful and detailed the art is,” Hunter said.

Leah Jefferson, chairwoman of Brookhaven’s Black History Commission, said: “Every year we try to bring in a different array of artists to bring different black life and culture to Town Hall.”

She added that the exhibit gives local artists an opportunity to display their work.

Many of those artists live in the Artspace section of Patchogue, a small group of affordable apartment units dedicated to artists.

Among the most popular paintings now being show at Town Hall are a trio of portraits featuring Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, a native of Uniondale.

“My wife worked with his father,” said Amityville painter Clemente Ettrick, 75, who worked on those oil-based paintings for more than a year.

Ettrick said he’s been an artist for 45 years and studied human figure painting at the Art Students League of New York in Manhattan.

Jefferson said many of the portraits are oil-based paintings, abstract art, and portraits made of quilts that depict black struggle, slavery and racial unity and were created by painters of all races.

“It’s more special when non-black people contribute to black art,” Hunter said.” We know our history, but for others to want to be a part of that is a compliment.”

Brookhaven residents marvel and admire the art pieces during council meetings and people have asked about the paintings, Jefferson said.

“Everything has been positive,” she said.

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