Artistic Reverence

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The Manhasset Art Association celebrates seven decades of talented artists

Manhasset Art Association (Photo by Alex Nuñez)

“In 1948, a small group of Manhasset artists were invited to meet at the home of Helen Jennings, who had a dream of organizing a workshop where artists could work together to develop their talents, exchange ideas and foster a greater appreciation and advancement of the arts in the community.”

That is the story of how the Manhasset Art Association (MAA) came to be. Since its inception, the MAA has been home to hundreds of local artists over the years, each beaming with pride as they see their work displayed in their hometown. Today, the association still offers workshops with live models and three major exhibits each year at local libraries and galleries. As the MAA approaches its 70-year anniversary, members look forward to continuing to foster a love of the arts, ensuring that it always has a place in the community and in the hearts of those who create and appreciate it.

Martha Klein is the current president of the MAA, and over the years, she has seen the association change from a very socially active art group into a more serious and practical one.

“We present learning demonstrations with well-known experts, all day workshops in various media, and have our weekly live model workshops,” she says of what happens daily. “So, socializing is really just a byproduct of all these activities, not the focus.”

Carla Spinucci, “Is Dinner ready yet?”; Dorothy Mevorah, ”By The Sea”; Eve Stwertka, “Blue Hill Fair”; Carol Hwang, “Sunrise in Tropical Paradise”

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

As most activities are during the day, the association’s membership skews a bit older. Klein says that some members were originally in the art world and have returned to it, while others were always interested, but never had the time. Klein has witnessed the difficulty that some have in keeping their passion alive. But sometimes all it takes is one little spark to reignite the flame.

Helen Jennings

“As one ages, our priorities change because we know that time is of the essence. So, why put off the activities you’ve always been attracted to?” she asks of rediscovering a love of art. “All of the arts are a very unifying and emotionally satisfying gift. This engagement can be so engrossing that the time passes too quickly. Artists delve into their work and surprises can happen.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Klein also sees the pure joy in youthful artwork, when children begin to use their creative imaginations and explore the world of paint, pastels and pencils for the first time.

“Young children tend to be very spontaneous and joyful in their art work, and this is the element that adults need to recapture,” says Klein. “The most difficult part of trying something new, is just getting started. But when you get going, the challenges and surprises are most exciting.”

Members and artists of the MAA participate in different ways. Some choose to enter their work in the exhibitions while others rarely do, but Klein is proud to be at the helm of such an expansive group of artists.

“We all create our art in different ways; photography, oil painting, charcoal, watercolors, pencils, etc. Many are flexible and like to try different mediums, but we all speak the same language,” she says, which is akin to the thoughts of her colleague
Barbara Silbert.

Silbert is the membership chairperson and former president of the Manhasset Art Association. She is also a prize-winning portrait artist and instructor who feels that the beauty of art should be instilled from a very young age.

“I believe that art is very important for young children to experience; it gives them a sense of color, expression and enjoyment,” says Silbert of the importance of the craft. “Children and young adults get a sense of recognition when they produce a work of art that others find pleasing. If they win an art contest, they are exalted, and that gives them the impetus to keep improving. It also gives them a lifelong hobby.”

Margaret Weissbach plein air painting

The Manhasset Art Association is so vital to Manhasset as it is the only art association in the town. Silbert noted that although the group allows artists from neighboring towns to become members, Manhassetites love to view their work annually at the local library. Like many museums and art leagues, the association is entirely member/volunteer-supported. To become a member those interested must submit three of their best paintings or photographs to three board members to approve, which can be done online or in person. The association’s current membership is about 90 people.

The MAA recently concluded an exhibit titled “On The Easel & Through the Lens,” which ran at the Great Neck Library and featured a variety of media, including photography. The next MAA group show is scheduled to be at the Manhasset Library this summer where paintings and photography will be judged by either local art professors, prominent painters or gallery owners.

For more information on the Manhasset Art Association, call 516-767-2087 or visit www.manhassetart.org.

The Manhasset Art Association new home is the Polish American Museum, lower level, 16 Belleview Ave., Port Washington, NY.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Boulevard and Anton Media Group’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of three PCLI awards.

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