The East End Arts (EEA) & Humanities Council, Inc. is paying homage to local frontline pandemic workers through the recently launched Our Heroes Program.
The very special project began when Darrien Garay, Peconic Bay Medical Center Special Guest Officer, contacted East End Arts. “He reached out to our Executive Director, Diane Burke, and asked her if we had any ideas how we could do a collaboration piece with the hospital to bring some smiles and a little interruption to what they’re dealing with on a daily basis over there,” Monique Parsons, East End Arts Development and Marketing Director, relayed. “And myself, the Director of Education and Diane Burke put our heads together and we came up with the Frontline Heroes Program, where we pair an artist with a photograph that comes in from a frontline worker from the hospital. “
After the East End Arts Member Artist received the picture, they got down to business creating a magnificent work of art inspired by the photograph submitted by the frontline hero. The custom pieces include self-portraits, portraits with loved ones, co-workers, friends, or even pets, frontline pandemic workers’ children, and their “happy place.”
“The photograph can be of anything that they choose. We encourage portraits and ‘happy places’ like a sunset or a beach scene or a photo of their home, things like that. Then our artists that we have with the program have volunteered their time and materials to create the artwork that come in,” Parsons explained. “And Kathleen Ruscick pairs the photograph or the image that’s been provided by the person with the appropriate artist. Some of our artists are skilled in landscape. Some of them are skilled in portrait drawing, some of them are skilled in pet drawing and then they create the pieces of artwork.”
The finished masterpieces will be showcased in a unique exhibition. “The artwork was given to Special Guest Officer Darrien at the hospital and he just put up the installation on May 8,” Parsons shared. The amazing compilation is currently adorning the walls of the lobby of Peconic Bay Medical Center.
The public can also view the collection virtually. “We released the images on our virtual ‘Wall of Heroes’ on our website (www.eastendarts.org) so that everybody can enjoy them. Once the installation is taken down at the hospital, the images will be given to each of the persons that submitted the photographs,” she said. “They’re able to take them home and keep them. It’s a nice little memento of their hard work and dedication during this difficult time.”
“Every piece that was created is on the website with the photograph and then the piece that was created for that photograph,” Parsons noted.
At the moment, ten EEA artists – Marlene Bezich of Middle Island, Ginny Blank of Southold, Dale Boker of Port Jefferson Station, Ann Carlile of Wading River, Kat Dwyer of Shelter Island, Janet Fink of Riverhead, Gary Long of Cutchogue, Stephen Ness of Aquebogue, Mary O’Connor of Bayport, and Laura Stroh of Jamesport – are participating in the Our Heroes Program. Their mediums of choice include oil, charcoal, and acrylic. “The artists are all linked to the organization in some way or another,” Parsons relayed. “They’re either members or they’re teachers for visual arts at East End Arts. They all live on the East End.”
In addition to the tributes to the frontline workers, one of the pieces will be showcased permanently at Peconic Bay Medical Center. “Gary has one artwork that he created specifically for the hospital that shows the hospital sign, Peconic Bay Medical Center Northwell Health, and then underneath that is the temporary sign that they put underneath the hospital sign that says, ‘Heroes Work Here’ and he created 15 portraits of the frontline workers that have been incorporated into this image and this is acrylic on canvas. It will be a permanent installation at the hospital once the other artwork come down. This will be a piece that stays there. It was created for Peconic Bay Medical Center,” she shared.
As the Our Heroes Program has been tremendously well received, East End Arts is currently exploring additional ways to partner with other organizations to celebrate those on the frontlines.
To view the virtual “Wall of Heroes,” visit www.eastendarts.org.