Jay Schuck

Patchogue Arts Council |

Five years ago, I received a phone call from John Cino. I still remember where I was. It was the last weeks of my final semester of my undergraduate studies and I was on the ground floor of the Staller Center, in front of the newly re-named Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery.

He told me the Patchogue Arts Council and Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. had formed a partnership where Roast had opened its walls for our members to exhibit their artwork there. He asked me if I would be interested in curating the space.

Obviously, I accepted the proposal and the rest, they say, is history.

Curating this exhibition has allowed me to reflect on the past five years and reconnect with some of the artists I have had the pleasure of working with during that time.

One of the first artists I worked with was Kristen Hadjoglou, who paints portraits of her friends and family. She has a unique, painterly style that warrants a close observation.

The two artists I had the pleasure of meeting was Pam Brewer-Varacek and Rasa Valiene. I haven’t had much contact with either of these artists since I first exhibited their artwork in late 2013 and early 2014 and I was excited to revisit their large, colorful works that often evoke a calm, serene feeling.

Rasa’s work often transports me to another time and place, with her abstract subject matter. Pam’s work has a tranquil presence that evokes quiet contemplation. 

Linda Abadjian is one of the few artists in the exhibition that I have had the pleasure of working with multiple times over the last five years. Linda’s stories of the Lebanese Civil War is inspiring as she presents her childhood for all to see. Compared to today’s day and age, it is sad to see how little has changed in a region that is torn by conflict.

Another artist I worked with multiple times is Carole J. Amodeo. Her reflective photographs of storefront displays are captivating as she fuses her storefront subject matter with the vibrant street scenes that are reflected off the glass.

I have always enjoyed Caitlyn Shea’s expressive portrayals of animals. Her paintings are filled with an animated motion that is used to capture the hidden psychology of her subject matter.

When I first saw Chris Zec’s seascapes, I was moved by the serene stillness of his water. His images perfectly reflect the docks, piers and blades of grass that he represents. His photographs have a timeless quality and I often return to them in times of distress.

I actually first met Eric Murphy before I knew he was an artist. The two of us studied art history together at Stony Brook and it was only a few years ago that I discovered his Car Momentum Drawings, where he attaches a drawing apparatus to his car and allows the markers to travel across his paper as he travels across Long Island.

These two works on display are perfect for the exhibition as they represent trips he has taken to and from PAC and Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co.

Claudia Mirzaali is another artist that I have worked with multiple times over the years. She has been a member of the Patchogue Arts Council since I was an intern in 2012 and I was very happy to exhibit her quilts at Roast in 2016. After hearing her discuss her artistic process last fall, I was amazing by her method of choosing the correct material for each work she creates. Her attention to detail is extraordinary. 

I was first introduced to Courtney Young’s breakfast still lives in 2014 and am embarrassed to admit that it took me over two years to realize that her work would be perfect to display in a coffee shop.

Although we are exhibiting a seascape in this exhibition instead of a breakfast still life, I thought the scope of this exhibit would be a good venue for the Roast artists to reflect on where they have been by exhibiting older works, but also give these artists an opportunity to see where they are going with newer works. 

Large Wave captures Courtney’s attention to detail which comments on the growing pollution of Long Island’s beaches and waterways.

I have now known JoAnne Dumas for several years but was first introduced to her panel works last spring. I was instantly attracted to them and insisted that we exhibit a series of these works later that year at Roast. The piece on view in the gallery was one of the works that was too large to exhibit at Roast last fall, but I knew it would be the perfect piece to include in this retrospective at the gallery.

What is always interesting about JoAnne’s works is how she removes the settings from her them. We know that we are looking at ripples in a reflective body of water, but she removes our orientation, allowing us to lose ourselves in her compositions.

Ted Stamatelos is one of the most down to Earth individuals I have met during my time at PAC. In addition to that, he is also a really talented artist. I have been so moved by this new style of his that he has been working on over the past year or so.

He creates so much depth and expression in these works while recalling his interests in Classical Greco-Roman and Renaissance Era paintings – two of my favorite moments in art history.

Finally, no Roast retrospective exhibition would be complete with Ana Castro. I’ve wanted to show prints at Roast for years and it made perfect sense to include Ana. Not only for the amount of quality in her work, but also because of her commitment to PAC over the years.

She has consistently dedicated her time to help advance PAC’s mission of promoting the arts and one way that I have always seen the gallery at Roast was to highlight members that have shown their commitment to this organization. 

I’d like to thank all the artists that agreed to be a part of this retrospective exhibition. As a relatively young curator, I am humbled by your willingness to work with me and I am thankful for the amount of faith you put in me to represent your artwork.

I would also like to thank Evan and Bill Closson for allowing PAC an exhibition venue and opportunity for our members to exhibit their artwork on your walls. Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. is a true staple of the Patchogue community.

I would also like to thank Beth Giacummo-Lachacz, our Executive Director at PAC, who I had the pleasure of working with during my time at the Islip Art Museum. I appreciate all the curatorial knowledge that you have passed along to me over the years and I am happy that you are now here at PAC to lead us into the next stage of our development.

I would also like to thank Karen Ferb for always proof reading all of my press releases and exhibition essays. I can’t count how many grammatical errors you have fixed for me over the years. 

Last but not least, I would like to extend a very special thank you to John Cino. You have always supported all of my endeavors over the years and you have been a true mentor and friend over the years.

Thank you for giving me my first curatorial opportunity. It is not lost on me how much support and advice you have given me over the years and I am a better man because of it. 

Thank you to all who have made this retrospective exhibition possibly. It has been a pleasure working with you over these past five years. 

Jay Schuck is an Exhibition Coordinator and Assistant Curator for the Patchogue Arts Council.