Alice Van de Wetering knows this firsthand that art does matter.
As a retired art teacher, the Baiting Hollow woman appreciates the positive impact that it can have on a person‘s life.
“Art is a part of life,” she said. “While I was teaching, one of my students came up to me and said ‘Art is about the beauty of the earth.’ ”
While attending at the East End Arts Council 40th birthday celebration at the East End Arts Gallery in Riverhead, Van de Wetering took the time to reflect.
“I’ve been here from the beginning. I’ve taken art classes here,” she said. “My kids took music lessons here and my grandkids attended the Renaissance camp in the summer. They have so many exciting events going on.”
EEAC Executive Director Pat Snyder was thrilled to celebrate the milestone.
“When you are a nonprofit organization, you have to grab onto the milestone,” said Snyder, of Jamesport.
The EEAC has accomplished many accolades in its 40 years. In addition to the art gallery, there is the East End Arts School, which opened in 1995 offering art, music and theater classes for its 500 students. The Brecknock Hall in Greenport also offers programs under EEAC.
“This is a community school of the arts. We have a wide variety of programs for everyone,” said Steve Watson, EEAC school education direction. “It’s amazing to see the wonderful impact that the arts has on people from the young to the old.”
They also have a new logo – a blue wave.
“It was time to rebrand ourselves,” said Snyder.
The gallery renovation this week will include painting the walls and refurbishing the floors.
With hundreds in attendance, animation artists Don Duga, of Riverhead, and Irra Verbitsky, of Baiting Hollow, impressed the crowd with their skills.
Duga drew faces within a three- to five-minute timeline while Verbitsky filled the pictures in with color. Both teach animation classes at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
The women’s theater dance company Neo-Political Cow Girl showcased snippets of their show and 86-year-old Ranny Reeve, of Kings Park, sang and played the piano.
Birthday cards filled with words of thanks and well wishes filled the walls.
“Kids from the school wrote in the cards and adults wrote wonderful words about how important the East Ends Arts Council has been in their lives,” said Tina Folks, EEAC board member and committee chairwoman. “It’s great to see all the birthday cards on the walls.”
Photo: Tina Folks, an East End Arts Council board member, celebrates the council's 40th birthday at a brunch party at the East End Arts Gallery in Riverhead. (Jan. 15, 2012)