A 14-foot plexiglass Green Sea Turtle, at the Long Island Aquarium,...

A 14-foot plexiglass Green Sea Turtle, at the Long Island Aquarium, is part of the Reflextions exhibit, an immersive outdoor gallery that kicks off June 29. Credit: John Roca

On a sunny day, rays of light dance off a glittering alewife, a sculpture whose scales are made of 3,000 CDs that is part of an exhibit in Riverhead’s Grangebel Park.

The sliver of land juts out into the Peconic River, where the fish swim upstream to spawn and mallard ducks wade. A paved path winds over footbridges past a century-old pumphouse and other sculptures, which come to life at night as they are illuminated for “Reflextions,” an immersive outdoor gallery that kicks off June 29.

Two new pieces will join the exhibition this year, adding a maritime and celestial touch to the experience, which has about a dozen other works. Organizers from the Riverhead Business Improvement District and Sculpture Illuminare group say the free art series has drawn thousands of visitors downtown since it was founded in 2018 and given the underutilized park a glow-up.

Artists and town officials unveiled the latest creation, a 14-foot plexiglass Green Sea Turtle, at the Long Island Aquarium on June 10. Aquarium director Bryan DeLuca teamed up with resident artist Eli Fishman to build the turtle, which took an estimated 1,000 hours of work.

DeLuca, 60, molded 200 pieces of colored plexiglass and LED lights around a frame Fishman built to bring the turtle to life. They hope the piece will raise awareness about the endangered species and highlight the work at the New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead, where marine mammals and turtles are rescued and rehabilitated.

“They’re in our local waters, and it’s a volunteer team that does the rescues in all the New York waters, so they’re going from the Rockaways to Montauk to Greenport to the Hudson River,” DeLuca said.

The organization has rescued more than 2,300 sea turtles since it was founded in 1996, according to rescue center director Maxine Montello.

Riverhead artist Clayton Orehek took inspiration from the heavens for his new work, a solar-powered crescent moon that casts a glow on the riverfront nightly.

The 17-foot aluminum sculpture was installed in the park last month. “I wanted to draw people’s attention all the way down the river from Peconic Avenue,” Orehek said.

Orehek, 60, enjoys fabricating the large-format pieces but said it’s most satisfying seeing people take selfies or pose with them during Reflextions.

Interaction is encouraged throughout the exhibit, which has over a dozen pieces, from glowing butterfly wings to a black light mural in a shipping container.

Together, DeLuca, Fishman and Orehek form the Sculpture Illuminare group, which has created most of the pieces in the park. The sculptures were funded through more than $115,000 in grants and sponsors, DeLuca said.

The Riverhead Business Improvement District founded the event in 2018 to bring more people to the park amid revitalization efforts.

“It starts to overcome the inertia of what this place was,” Orehek said.

Angela Huneault, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said the park was once overgrown with plants and littered with trash and discarded drug paraphernalia.

“You didn’t feel safe at all,” Huneault, 50, said. “Having the artwork there has made it a positive attraction. People are in there looking at the sculptures and enjoying nature. It’s much more welcoming.”

The civic group has helped beautify the park, which straddles the town line between Riverhead and Southampton, using a $30,000 county grant to install new lights, signs and benches.

Town officials say events like Reflextions and added police patrols have helped “activate” the once overlooked park.

“The objective was to turn that park back into park, because a lot of nefarious behavior was going on in there,” Councilman Bob Kern said. “It’s bringing new life to the park.”

Kern wants to see the stage in Grangebel Park used for more performances and events.

A slate of programs will be held in the park this summer, including a Shakespeare in the Park performance on July 24, African American Cultural Festival on Aug. 10 and Oktoberfest on Oct. 5.

On a sunny day, rays of light dance off a glittering alewife, a sculpture whose scales are made of 3,000 CDs that is part of an exhibit in Riverhead’s Grangebel Park.

The sliver of land juts out into the Peconic River, where the fish swim upstream to spawn and mallard ducks wade. A paved path winds over footbridges past a century-old pumphouse and other sculptures, which come to life at night as they are illuminated for “Reflextions,” an immersive outdoor gallery that kicks off June 29.

Two new pieces will join the exhibition this year, adding a maritime and celestial touch to the experience, which has about a dozen other works. Organizers from the Riverhead Business Improvement District and Sculpture Illuminare group say the free art series has drawn thousands of visitors downtown since it was founded in 2018 and given the underutilized park a glow-up.

Artists and town officials unveiled the latest creation, a 14-foot plexiglass Green Sea Turtle, at the Long Island Aquarium on June 10. Aquarium director Bryan DeLuca teamed up with resident artist Eli Fishman to build the turtle, which took an estimated 1,000 hours of work.

DeLuca, 60, molded 200 pieces of colored plexiglass and LED lights around a frame Fishman built to bring the turtle to life. They hope the piece will raise awareness about the endangered species and highlight the work at the New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead, where marine mammals and turtles are rescued and rehabilitated.

“They’re in our local waters, and it’s a volunteer team that does the rescues in all the New York waters, so they’re going from the Rockaways to Montauk to Greenport to the Hudson River,” DeLuca said.

The organization has rescued more than 2,300 sea turtles since it was founded in 1996, according to rescue center director Maxine Montello.

Riverhead artist Clayton Orehek took inspiration from the heavens for his new work, a solar-powered crescent moon that casts a glow on the riverfront nightly.

The 17-foot aluminum sculpture was installed in the park last month. “I wanted to draw people’s attention all the way down the river from Peconic Avenue,” Orehek said.

Orehek, 60, enjoys fabricating the large-format pieces but said it’s most satisfying seeing people take selfies or pose with them during Reflextions.

Interaction is encouraged throughout the exhibit, which has over a dozen pieces, from glowing butterfly wings to a black light mural in a shipping container.

Together, DeLuca, Fishman and Orehek form the Sculpture Illuminare group, which has created most of the pieces in the park. The sculptures were funded through more than $115,000 in grants and sponsors, DeLuca said.

The Riverhead Business Improvement District founded the event in 2018 to bring more people to the park amid revitalization efforts.

“It starts to overcome the inertia of what this place was,” Orehek said.

Angela Huneault, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said the park was once overgrown with plants and littered with trash and discarded drug paraphernalia.

“You didn’t feel safe at all,” Huneault, 50, said. “Having the artwork there has made it a positive attraction. People are in there looking at the sculptures and enjoying nature. It’s much more welcoming.”

The civic group has helped beautify the park, which straddles the town line between Riverhead and Southampton, using a $30,000 county grant to install new lights, signs and benches.

Town officials say events like Reflextions and added police patrols have helped “activate” the once overlooked park.

“The objective was to turn that park back into park, because a lot of nefarious behavior was going on in there,” Councilman Bob Kern said. “It’s bringing new life to the park.”

Kern wants to see the stage in Grangebel Park used for more performances and events.

A slate of programs will be held in the park this summer, including a Shakespeare in the Park performance on July 24, African American Cultural Festival on Aug. 10 and Oktoberfest on Oct. 5.

Enchanted evenings

There are four illumination nights, each with live music, planned for Reflextions this year. The artwork also is on display during the day, and admission to the outdoor gallery is free.

The best viewing time is at sunset, and the pieces will be lit until 10 p.m. on:

  • June 29
  • Aug. 3
  • Sept. 7
  • Oct. 5
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Biden has COVID . . . Atlantic Beach Bridge closure . . . Explaining Nassau transgender athlete ban Credit: Newsday

Spota released from federal prison . . . Biden diagnosed with COVID . . . Latest from the RNC . . . Senior softball game

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