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In Sayville park, a lab in the name of art

People gather at The Common Ground at Rotary

People gather at The Common Ground at Rotary Park in Sayville for the last Community Art Laboratory of the summer. (Oct. 9, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar


Weekend events are a big part of Sayville life. So for any weeklong profile of this town, it’s important to get a flavor of that scene, from Civil War re-enactments to a country music festival, to, just yesterday, a community “arts lab.”

The Community Art Laboratory started as a day at the park for artistically inclined couple Frank Somma and Laura Kispert.

Somma, 27, of Sayville and Kispert, 25, of Patchogue brought a table to The Common Ground at Rotary Park in Sayville, where Kispert began offering astrology readings. Before long, others had approached them to ask about setting up a table at the park to perform or display their art.

Somma saw an opportunity to gather a crowd in the name of art. He and Kispert worked with the board of The Common Ground and created a summer series of art gatherings, which began in May.

“The idea is just to invite people to make music or art,” he said. “Random people can come and create something.”

Anyone can show up at the park and either display or create their own artwork or participate in community projects, like one large white board that was open for all to draw on.

The definition of art is also open, Somma said, explaining that vendors have showed up selling local fruits and vegetables.

“Everything’s an art form,” he said. “Even produce can be your art.”

Some of the more successful art labs throughout the summer drew about 50 people, Somma said, and featured local bands and an open mic. There were also yoga classes, astrology readings, hula hooping and public art demonstrations.

After an August full of rain (and a tropical storm) forced two art labs to be canceled, an additional art lab was added on Sunday.

Local musician Ted Carney was plugged in under the gazebo belting out Beatles tunes, with another local band, Dr. Overtone, on deck. A handful of people walked in and out of the park, some carrying guitars and one pair of women peddling homemade pies.

Tracy Austin, 29, of West Babylon was at the art lab for the first time. She said she had hoped there were more people but was happy to find a friendly atmosphere.

“It’s cool,” she said as she sat on someone else’s blanket, surrounded by artwork Kispert had spread out. “There are a lot of different people coming in and out and all meeting each other.”

Cary Maya, of Sayville, is a member of The Common Ground board. He said the art lab was a great experience to be a part of this summer.

“This was just a wonderful thing,” he said. “It really captured the spirit of the community.”

For Somma and Kispert, it was a goodbye of sorts. The couple recently moved to Virginia, so this would be the last art lab they had a hand in organizing, though Somma said he was confident the event would live on.

As the two sat with friends and listed to the music, Somma -- who described himself as a jack of all trades artistically -- said Sunday’s low turnout didn’t faze him.

“It’s not about how many people show up,” he said. “It’s about what happens when they’re there.”

Photo by Erin Geismar: People gather at The Common Ground at Rotary Park in Sayville for the last Community Art Laboratory of the summer. (Oct. 9, 2011)


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