November 2016 Musings

The North Hempstead “Arts Matter 2016” Exhibition
in its Manhasset Town Hall,
included  17 paintings by local LI artists connected with the Art Guild of Port Washington, NY. The theme was what  do you think of when you think of the Town of North Hempstead, and it includes places of interest, such as the Nassau County Museum of Art, the Art Guild of Port Washington, Westbury Gardens, landscapes, water views, and so much more. I wasn’t able to attend the reception due to unforeseen circumstances with family matters, and vowed to check it out on my own.  Yesterday, November 1, my buddy drove me all the way to Manhasset, on the North Shore, to attend an art lecture at the Manhasset Library (cancelled) and then to the TownHall exhibit. The artwork was displayed on the second floor and was readily viewable on two long walls. I spotted my “Lovebirds” right away.

Karen L. Kirshner with her painting “Lovebirds” in the ArtsMatter! 2016 Exhibit, North Hempstead Town Hall.
North Hempstead Town Hall, Manhasset, NY













My painting was more representational than I usually paint. I am inspired by birds, and sometimes I paint them in the abstract, and sometimes more recognizably in representational form. Two paintings to the left was a painting by one of my favorite local artists, Katherine Criss. (I  can’t post a photo of it without permission.)  It was a painting of a windy day in town, with the street signs and traffic lights swaying. Her work is realistic and yet whimsical.  I’ve seen her paintings in the BJ Spoke Gallery, and her paintings give one a cause to chuckle.

Every painting was of serious artistic merit and specially selected for the show. I am proud to be a member of the Art Guild and for my “Lovebirds” to perch in such a lovely place. The exhibit ran all of October and ends on the last day of November 2016.


Death by Wallpaper?

The fascinating artful website,Hyperallergic published an article about a new book, revealing the arsenic within the artistry of Victorian period wallpaper was deadly, likely  to kill admirers and those hanging it. Click the link and read all about it.

Hmmm…I don’t see any wallpaper in Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom.


Another article is about Van Gogh’s likely reason for cutting off his ear — it coincided with his brother Theo announcing his engagement. Remember, the two brothers were very close and Theo was Vincent’s sole source of financial survival. Marriage would mean Theo would have to support a wife and wouldn’t necessarily be able to continue supporting Vincent. It’s one new take on an old mystery — was it mania or was it a reaction to loss of a source of existence?  Was it symbolic, I wonder, the ear which put in an envelope and given to a woman, was it meaning, Vincent Van Gogh had no ear to hear the news? No ear to offer again? An earful? That’s my speculation. Who knows? (Only Vincent knows for sure.)



Aborigine Women’s Art is often something that escapes us. In Australia and New Zealand it would have more “top of mind” recognition.I’ve provided the link (Aborigine Women’s Art) to an article about the art on exhibit you won’t need an airplane ticket to learn about aborigine women and their visions of infinity.


Art/Artist-related word :  Pareidolia

Click on the word to see Wikipedia’s definition and the origin.

On Friday, Nov. 4, I ventured to the STARVING ARTIST CAFE’ AND GALLERY for a late lunch, after picking up my newly framed “Color Jar Spill” painting at Stu’s and I was there with a mission. An artist friend, Nancy, who was at the Salamagundi Club excursion, told me she and two other women were exhibiting at the cafe’. She told me weeks ago, and I was hopeful the paintings would be up. Even if not, at least I’d get a look at the site, possibly to show my own work or recommend to others. I don’t know if you read my bio,…Mom and I showed and I read poetry at LeFigaro Cafe in Greenich Village/Soho area in 1982.  A cafe’ so close to home in Nassau County, doing the same sort of thing was an intriguing notion. If only the vibrancy of the art world in NYC would spill out into Nassau County, it would be a dream come true!  Suffolk has it. What’s wrong with Nassau? I know Molloy has their Kaiser Art Gallery.  A customer at Stu’s Art Supplies and Framing in Baldwin has Doug Zider’s  promo cards on the counter for (realistic) paintings and prints. Molloy is where I got my second  Master’s degree, the one in secondary education. At that time I wasn’t focussed on art, and didn’t know about a gallery (which is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary). Well, glad to hear that Molloy is on the bandwagon with Adelphi and Hofstra and Nassau Community College, with their own exhibits and museum collections. And there is the Omni Center gallery, in the Garden City/Westbury area, in the EAB Building. (Another day for another blog posting.) We have the Nassau County Museum of Art and painting shops and framers who show artists work. For me, it’s  not enough excitement in one central area. I completely left out the many locations on the North Shore of Nassau County. Maybe I am  being too East Meadow-centric in my thinking. All the world begins and ends in East Meadow, where I spent not all, of my existence.


… Well, back to the Starving Artist Cafe’ and Gallery.  When I arrived I was warmly greeted by one of the owners, Jeff, whose two daughters are artists and at least one wants to teach art, and Jeff’s father is an artist, and at 87 recently took up oragami. Some of his folded currency is on the wall near the register. The gallery was begun as a means to help up and coming artists who may not have exhibited before, to get that first break. When making an art sale, a percentage goes to the National Art Education Association, of which the cafe’ is a member.  I saw West Hempstead emerging mostly collage artist, Nicole Mongelluzzo‘s exhibition of miniature images, which I thought were paintings, but were actually done with collage techniques. Some were the size of credit cards! Fine work. She says of her work, “she enjoys the simplistic geometry present in commercial and industrial buildings.” The miniature works were sophisticated, realistic/representational art that lends itself to portability. I wonder if she uses a magnifying glass to paint with such fine detail!  (Her work reminded me of someone whose tiny paintings created with the use of a magnifying glass. It was all the rage a couple of years ago. Her work was sold out at exhibits.) I imagine someone who works so small to be very quiet and shy, hiding their work, making it difficult to see. Yet, this artist is boldly showing at the Starving Artist Cafe’s Gallery. Shows are only up for two week intervals. Check it out.  The food is delicious. I had the black bean burger with avocado, tomato and cucumber and fries (which I tasted and brought home for my spouse). The prices are modest and the decor and coziness and the cleverness of frame suspended from the ceiling, and scheduled painting nights and psychic readings on other reservation nights make it a charming hangout for the creative and friends.


starvingartistsign starvingartistfrontdoor

enteringstarvingartistcafe ceilingdisplaystarvingartist

There I am photographing the decor in the bathroom.
There I am photographing the decor in the bathroom.
Karen Kirshner WOW’d by the Starving Artist Cafe’s decor and food.





Karen Kirshner


On Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, The Artist’s Studio at the Chelsea Mansion in East Norwich/Brookville, NY was the showcase for “Parallel Play” an exhibit of Ellen Hallie Schiff’s Contemporary Art Making Class.

The work was all abstract, which you should know by now is my passion. I knew the fantastic person and freely expressive Lorraine Nuzzo from everywhere artful, it seems. She is showing everywhere lately and her work in this show was different yet again, developed in a way I hadn’t seen before. I suppose Ellen is a good influence, even though I already liked Lorraine’s work!  With permission I took photos for this blog. Ellen Kletzkin, a talented artist whose work I admired. A sweet, humble artist, (who set her prices too low, in my opinion). If I had room on my walls, I would have snatched it up.

Ellen Kletzkin

The other artists (not yet mentioned) were Barbara Spivak, Mayra Guile, Marceil Kazikas, Barbara Miller, and Patti Paris.

Lorraine Nuzzo with works on paper and canvas
Lorraine Nuzzo with works on paper (and canvas)










Barbara Miller with “Big Apple Circus”

One room was entirely devoted to Ellen Hallie Schiff’s popular abstracts. I was surprised by the size of the studio, which looked to me like a converted barn. I was told that it is heated and Ellen Hallie Schiff is amenable to all styles and doesn’t require people do as she does, but to do as they wish. My style is very different, and I have no intention of changing. The image of the “Lovebirds”  (above) was of a painting in 2014,just a short time after I picked up a brush after a quarter century hiatus. My work has evolved quite a bit since then. My mother showed her award winning work of painting of “Ruminating Artist” in the Chelsea Mansion years ago, and I felt deja vu’ when I arrived on the mansion’s grounds. I  knew she had gone to the Chelsea House or mansion to draw or paint decades earlier too, so I ventured there at Ellen’s invitation and knowing dear Lorraine was showing, and with all the positive energy and feedback,  I may return.  Ellen Hallie Schiff is friendly and warm making it inviting to join the group. The artists I met were not competitive ego-maniacal types.

A sampling of paintings by Ellen Hallie Schiff at the Parallel Play exhibit, Chelsea House Studio, Nov. 5, 2016





Ellen Hallie Schiff, artist/instructor in center














                                       Veteran’s Day, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016

I ventured to Huntington, NY, right across the street from the statue of the soldier and the old Huntington graveyard, where the Huntington Arts Council has its Main Street Gallery. My mission was to drop of the check for the Wading River HS student, talented Shiloh Benincasa, whose drawing “Farmer’s Market” I purchased. It was even better than I remembered when I had it to examine close up. Unfortunately, not fully matted and not framed, it will cost me more.  Had I not felt so certain this kid is going to blossom into a great artist, if she pursues it, I wouldn’t have paid so much for a drawing.  Keep that name in mind for the future publications of Art News!  While in the Arts Council gallery I saw an abundance of goodies, packaged gift items wrapped in cellophane (to be raffled off),  and fine paintings and objects d’art up for auction. Auction on Main was the big event, for which I could not hang around until evening.  There is a set price and then a starting bid price and people who attended the auction last night would write their bids on the cards beside the items and the highest would win the opportunity to purchase it at that price.



…Next, I dropped in at the BJ Spoke Gallery, where abstract artist/instructor Kevin Larkin was greeting visitors to the gallery. We had a chat about the purpose and appreciation of abstract art and what we agreed we think it should “say”…tell a story, as I do and as he does.  It was a thrill to actually discuss this, because I was troubled by all the decorative art I was seeing lately that was portrayed as abstract art. Yes, it is art, and yes it is abstract and conveys the artists’ moods, perhaps, and in that way is expressive, but it doesn’t tell a story. It doesn’t dig deeper into the psyche of the artist who is conveying the message about the impact on his or her soul and psyche of what he/she is experiencing. That can be powerful.  Lately, I felt I was out of place, in a twilight zone. Phew!

Inside BJ Spoke Gallery

Of course, artistic expression and appreciation of it is personal, and subjective, so what you may think is brilliant, I may not agree and what I see as sensational may not be your taste. What we interpret is filtered through our personalities, experiences and perception can be unpredictable from one person to another. That communication of artist to audience cannot be predicted by the artist. I believe it is the artist’s duty to articulate and express without concern for the response he or she cannot anticipate. To do, to create and to be oneself is all an abstract artist is expected to do. That is what I believe. Had Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, and all the great abstract artists  and impressionists, and minimalists, and surrealists in history not acted with hubris in their artistic expression, then we would be stuck with more realism, even after photography may have replaced it’s purpose.

…Unrelated to our discussion… while in the gallery, an exhibition of two artists was up.  Works by Barbara Miller (who was at the Chelsea studio show)  and Cindy Schechter. I believe the show will be up through most of November.

Had I not broken a tooth in the morning, it would have been a perfect day in one of my favorite towns, Huntington — hub of creativity.


November 2016. Seniors take to the walls at the East Meadow Public Library,… and East Meadow’s Annual Invitational Art Show is Coming in December!

On Friday, November 18, I headed over to the East Meadow Public Library on Front Street to deliver two paintings to Charlie, a handsome, sweet and helpful young guy with an eye for art and what goes where. He called me the other day with a request for two paintings of any size for the month of December Annual East Meadow Annual Invitational Art Show, featuring previous award winners. “Any size?” I asked, incredulous.  “Yes, any size,” he said.  I was delighted, because I’d been painting larger pieces, mostly 30″ x 40″ and could not exhibit them in most shows, due to size restrictions. I had a new painting, “Carnival” relegated to the sidelines, which now will be in the upcoming show, along with a popular “stained glass” abstract painting, entitled “Window to my world,” which was in the May Mother-Daughter Show and in the Town of Oyster Bay Town Hall show.  People have loved that one especially, and a couple wanted to buy it. Now I’m ready. The Reception for the Invitational Show is Sunday, December 4, from 2-4 PM.

While I was downstairs with Charlie, putting the painting away for the December show, I wandered into he community room, where an exhibit of the Town of Hempstead’s Senior Enrichment Art Show featured the artwork of Joan Lazarus’ senior citizen students. I shot a few photos.  See the show before it closes, if you are intrigued. I didn’t expect to see such skillful, creative, works of art. (As usual, I thought of my mother, realizing she  would have appreciated the exhibit and the movie.  She loved the library, and often praised Jude S.,  director of so many great  and diverse programs.). …I had to sit down or leave because  the large room was filling up with dozens of  seniors, awaiting the showing of  “Dark Horse,” a timely movie about an unqualified man who became President of the United States.

Senior Art EMPL
Senior Art EMPL

Senior art show at EMPL Nov. 2016

East Meadow Public Library, waiting for movie, while surrounded by senior art show
East Meadow Public Library, waiting for movie, while surrounded by senior art show


On Monday, November 21, I attended the Dabs of Paint Lecture  by Debbie Wells, the Art League of LI Chair and co-founder of Artful Circle, on the topic of “Acquisition Art.”

It was a sore topic for me, as an artist concerned about the security of my original artwork. I am an original and always had my own style, even when in younger days my style was different than it is now. I copyright all of my paintings to legally protect them, not just in watermarking, but also with the US Copyright Office.  It is worth that expense and extra paperwork to have peace of mind. Anyone who photographs and tries to use my imagery can be sued and I will take them to court, no question. When it comes to my creations I am a firm believer in protection of intellectual property rights, and will act on it.

The notion that no one’s creations are original because they are filtered down and developed by osmosis of all that came before it has some validity, but it is not true in all cases. The premise for taking from what already was created by another artist or photographer and to “acquire” it and to use it in one’s own adaptation is abhorrent to me. It signals a lack of ideas, creativity and talent by the person carrying out the misdeed.


According to the lecture, Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can and other pop art recreations of actual products helps to promote the products and it was favored vs. repelled.




The art and antique collector who amassed the paintings in the Chelsea gallery was mentioned as an example of acquisition art. Remember, I wrote about last month, wherein the acquiring “artist” dangled others’ paintings from the high ceiling and he painted clown noses on some portraits and put a mustache and tattoo on others. That same man had acquired others’ original artworks and adapted it for his own exhibit. (Although this was not expressed in the lecture, and I was polite and respectful of the excellent presentation by Debbie Wells, I must  now express my distress.) 

To me, the antiques collector who assembled the acquired art had performed a sacrilege on others’ creations. Yes, the display made a statement about art and that is it everywhere in our lives, but he defaced others’ creations. What if that was my painting he put the clown nose on? I’d be furious. What if he got one of my mother’s paintings and defaced that? I’d wish him dead!  No way is that moral and ethical, in my opinion. Copycats and thieves is how I view such “acquisition” “artists”….not artists at all, really. Although, I remember at Vassar being told to base my new painting on a classic and I painting my own version of Machiavelli.  It was a starting point, a learning tool, but not a modus operandi long-term. One time shot, okay. Maybe twice okay, when it is a great master artist being emulated and sparking one’s own expression. Something not copyrighted and not contemporary, okay for education purposes. No matter what, giving public attribution to the original creator of the emulated masterpiece is a moral imperative. 

An (unknown) abstract artist’s Mona Lisa makeover.Case in point, the seller is a company in China that customizes any piece of artwork or photograph, neglecting to respect US Copyright laws!

My point of view is not the one expressed by the lecturer.  In the case of Leonardo Da Vinci  and the takeoffs on the Mona Lisa, or of works by Michelangelo, where there’s no holds barred  It’s a free-for-all — to use their creations for acqisition purposes. Taking the lecture one step beyond where it left off, in the case of artists with estates and family members willing to sue, heaven help such “artists”.

While at the Art League for the lecture, I took at look at the paintings on the first and second floors of the Jeanine Tengelsen Gallery, and I admit, I felt intimidated. The artwork demonstrated  exceptional skill and talent. It is a show of art teachers and art students with the first set of last names (M-Z). I will be showing a painting in the second set of surnames (A-L) Dec. 10-Jan. 8, 2017. Limited by size,as no painting can be over 25″ in any direction, the painting I will exhibit is new (and copyright protected). I keep changing it’s name though. That is another matter. Naming one’s painting. Should it be “I must’ve channeled Calder?” or “Rhapsody”?  I have a few other possible titles, but those two are the ones I am using  probably the first one. The painting will be on exhibit in December – January.

Happy Thanksgiving!  How about a picnic? Didn’t  the pilgrims and Native Americans hold their feast outdoors?

Today,  I transferred my Ms. K’s NYC Teachers News and Commentary Line blogspot to a new website via Google. It is focused on news and commentary about matters important to educators and isn’t art -related.  When I closed  the blogspot, I saw Michael Pontieri’s (of Washington) blog turned website that featured his  nocturnal /picnics paintings. It intrigued me. Click on the words “nocturnal picnics” and you will be transported.

Click this link for classic paintings of Thanksgiving,  including Jennie Augusta Brownscombe’s (1850-1936), “The First Thanksgiving” (1914), which you can see was outdoors!



Beauty in the Abstract at the Art Guild of Port Washington opens for viewing on Saturday, December 3. On Sunday there’s a reception. All are welcome!  I have a small painting in the show, “Blue Rhapsody” which is a favorite and is now available for purchase. I encourage you to check out the show. Here is the promo post card I was given to distribute….




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