During the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Village of Patchogue saw the light.
Lots of lights, actually.
Artists used avant-garde light projections to bathe downtown buildings such as banks, libraries and churches in bright, psychedelic colors for several nights that autumn as the village tried to help people shrug off the coronavirus blues.
The MoCA L.I.ghts festival — organized by the Patchogue Arts Council’s Museum of Contemporary Art L.I. — proved so successful that it’s back next month for the third consecutive year.
The inaugural festival “came at the perfect time. It came during the pandemic when we couldn’t create large events,” Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce president David Kennedy told Newsday. “It just makes you smile and it gets everybody out on the street.”
This year’s festival is scheduled for Oct. 13-16, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Digital animations and light shows will be projected onto buildings such as the U.S. post office, the Carnegie library annex and the Artspace apartment complex. Digital art also will appear on the marquee of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.
The show uses 15,000 to 20,000 projectors mounted on scaffolding and costs $60,000 to $75,000, Patchogue Arts Council executive director Beth Giacummo told Newsday. Funds are raised from private donations, and the village provides overnight security.
Artists respond to a call for submissions from Giacummo, who selects the pieces. She said nearly 100 artists are involved in the project.
Projection art festivals are held as near as upstate Binghamton and as far away as Berlin and Tokyo, but are rare on Long Island, she said, adding she and arts council board president Lori Devlin were anxious to bring it to Patchogue.
“It brings in tourism from all over Long Island,” Giacummo said. “It’s really great to bring art from outside the museum space and literally bring it throughout the entire town.”
Ronkonkoma artist Amanda Reilly said her career got a boost last year when she projected her “Alice in Wonderland” animated painting on the Patchogue-Medford Public Library building. This year she said she’s planning a “really psychedelic rotoscope animation” on the United Methodist Church building on Church Street.
“It’s such a unique program,” Reilly told Newsday. “There’s nothing like it out here on Long Island at all. That’s why I get so excited about it every year.”
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said the show helps alter perceptions about the village, which has shed its old lace-mill image in recent decades and become a trendy downtown.
“It reminds people that we aren’t just about restaurants and bars,” Pontieri said. “If you haven’t seen it in person, it’s really amazing how they do it.”
Giacummo, a Patchogue native, said the arts have been a key part of the village’s renaissance.
“When I was younger, I didn’t spend much time in town because it wasn’t the safest place to be,” she said. “What I love is how it’s done it through the arts. I think it’s a great example of what the arts can do for a town and for the local community.”
The third annual MoCA L.I.ghts festival is scheduled throughout downtown Patchogue from Oct. 13-16. Here are key locations to see the lights:
- Patchogue-Medford Public Library, 54-60 E. Main St.
- Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
- United States post office, 170 E. Main St.
- Bank of America, 47 W. Main St.
- Carnegie Library, 160 W. Main St.
- United Methodist Church of Patchogue, 10 Church St.
- Industrial Coverage, 62 S. Ocean Ave.
- Artspace apartment complex, 20 Terry St.
SOURCE: Patchogue Arts Council