‘Wreckage’ transformed into art

Maritime Museum exhibit to raise funds

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The Long Island Maritime Museum is auctioning off nearly three-dozen original works from local artists, with starting bids around $40 and “buy now” options starting at $150, for their “Art of the Wreckage” exhibit, which is on display until Dec. 15.

Each piece has been created on a shingle that was taken off one of the Maritime Museum’s buildings during a storm, the majority of which are from the Penney Boat Shop.

The event began in 2020 with Tropical Storm Isaias, where roof shingles were found on the grounds.

“That simple shingle inspired us to reach out to the local artists, who shared our enthusiasm, adopted a shingle, and returned it for our first shingle art exhibit to benefit the museum,” said director Terry Blitman, who curates the art show.

The first fundraiser culminated in over $7,000 for the museum.

“We invite artists to donate art for our exhibit using shingles from our historic Frank F. Penney Boat Building. All media of art are accepted,” said Blitman.

This year, artists had approximately three weeks to complete their piece and submit by Nov. 5 for the exhibit, which opened on Saturday, Nov. 18.

A silent auction will take place for as long as the exhibit runs, and winners will be notified on Dec. 15.

Women Sharing Art, a local arts organizer with a major presence in the community, often exhibiting member shows at esteemed, historical venues in the area, comprised the majority of artists participating in this fundraiser.

“When we presented the shingles, you could see all the artists looking through them and in some cases, instant inspiration,” said Blitman.

Sue Miller, president of Women Sharing Art, said about this type of Duchamp-style found art, “When you ask our ladies to create, imaginations go into gear. ‘Art in the Wreckage’ exemplifies who we are to ‘share energy and explore artistic passions.’ Some of our members volunteered and donate their art to support this wonderful gem  of a museum, right here in West Sayville.”

A clear nautical theme runs through the artwork displayed at the museums, with various iterations of mermaids and aquatic life, but central to the pieces is a spirit of rebirth in the salvaged canvas.

Artist Mireille Belajonas said, “I like the idea of taking something that got damaged and lost its purpose and making it into something that has value again… repurposing something always makes me fell good, especially when it’s for a good cause.”