Painting Sea Cliff’s past and present

New museum expo showcases village’s history


In a tiny, two-room museum behind village hall lays a vast retelling of Sea Cliff’s history depicted through paintings, pictures, and sculptures.

The Sea Cliff Village Museum is home to a new exhibit, “Sea Cliff Through the Artist’s Eye,” comprised of works from past and present artists. Each piece offers a unique interpretation of the village’s waterfront, architecture, landscapes, and people. The exhibit, which opened on Nov. 3 will be on display until May.

Sara Reres, the museum director, said the idea for the showcase came from Sea Cliff resident Kathleen DiResta, a museum trustee and owner of K. DiResta Collective gallery.

“Being a part of the Sea Cliff Arts Council, I meet a lot of actively creating artists, and I know a lot about the great [past] artwork, so I thought we should show a combination of that in the museum,” Reres said.

“Sea Cliff has a great history with renowned artists, as many of them lived here,” she added. “We have original works from Ward Bell, Robert Gaston Herbert, and Henry Otto Korten on display [along with] contemporary works of art.”

Bell was known for his woodcarvings created from found materials, a technique used by present Sea Cliff artist, Katie Seiden, who is also featured in the exhibit. She has two sculptures in the museum that were fashioned out of fishermen’s boots that she found.

“I wanted a new way to express myself, so I found used objects that were discarded and made them into something more current,” she said.

Seiden made mention of her “Recall” series that also appears in the exhibit, which uses recycled materials from violent events to express how news headlines sensationalize tragedies that others fail to acknowledge. One piece, for example, is a depiction of the Long Island train massacre constructed from items found at the crime scene.

“It’s a wonderful honor to be a part of this exhibit, and be in community with other artists,” said Barbara Segal, who has lived in Sea Cliff for 23 years.

Segal’s works depict the natural spirituality of the village. The exhibit features her abstract, watercolor paintings of the beach landscapes, which she says reflects her love for “the picture of Sea Cliff.”

“It’s really special to have the art shown in a place with historical connection that hasn’t been torn down,” Segal added. “Sea Cliff is a real, living village with a heart and soul, and this exhibit shows that.”

Artist Lynn Ryan, who was born and raised in Sea Cliff, has three pen and ink pieces in the exhibit. “They represent my history of growing up here, and the good memories I had,” she said. One painting depicts a little girl sitting at the old gas station on the corner of Ransom and Glen Cove Ave., which her grandfather had owned and operated.

Jeanne Henner’s piece depicts an “amazing tree” on a hilltop right before Sea Cliff beach. “I had to capture it,” she said.

Henner added that she moved from Commack to the village with her grandchildren four years ago. “I had never heard of Sea Cliff before coming here, but the houses here are so interesting, and I always “ooh” and “ah” at the scenery,” she said. “I’m really happy we discovered it.”

The contemporaries said they hope this new exhibit brings back a newfound respect and appreciation for art galleries that have since been lost.

“The Long Island art scene isn’t what it used to be,” Seiden said. “There’s a distinct loss of interest.” Despite this, Seiden believes in Sea Cliff’s ability to inspire more artists to contribute, as it has done for generations.

“Sea Cliff is a place that encourages artists, and this isn’t true in other place,” she said.

“Art is a way of communicating to others, and when people see it and respond to it, then it’s served its purpose,” Segal said. “To inspire anybody to express themselves is a tremendous thing.”

DiResta said she’s excited to bring the past and present art history of the village under one roof. “It’s very meaningful to have these works shared with the public,” she said. “The museum is not on everyone’s radar, so we hope this exhibit brings in a new audience.”

The Sea Cliff Village Museum, 95 Tenth Ave., is open on Sundays. Call the museum at (516) 801-3401 for hours.