Paying homage to the bounty and importance of the sea –and highlighting the importance of water quality –The Nature Conservancy celebrates its annual Beaches and Bays Gala on June 29 and kicks off a month-long exhibit of watercolor paintings entitled Ocean Fishes by artist James Prosek.
In its 13th year, the Beaches and Bays Gala is a fundraising event held at the Conservancy’s Center for Conservation, and proceeds will go toward the protection and management of Long Island’s wetlands, bluffs, dunes, beaches, bays and underwater habitats.
“Tied in with our mission are the works of artist James Prosek, who captures the beauty of fish that Long Islanders appreciate for many reasons. They are a symbol of what it means to live here, of the food we love to eat, and an activity that people enjoy engaging in,” said Nancy Kelley, executive director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “But all fish need clean water to thrive and that is something being compromised here on Long Island due to nitrogen pollution from sewage in our waters.”
Local waters that are clean and healthy support fishing, boating, plentiful seafood and tourism. But beach closures, fish kill-off from pollution and unsafe conditions keep us from enjoying the best of our local seafood, beaches and bays.
“From striped bass to tarpon to swordfish, Prosek’s paintings show the beauty and monumentality of these great ocean fish and urging us to preserve what we have before it is lost. These paintings give the view a privileged view of a fish fresh from the ocean when its changing colors first glint in the sun—a view ordinarily glimpsed only by the fisherman on the boat,” says writer Peter Matthiessen of Prosek’s works.
“Through my art, I aim to highlight the beauty and bounty of our seas,” explains Prosek. “Without these sources of awe and inspiration, we would have no faith, we would have no spirituality, we'd have no art; they're the sources of everything that we are."
Bettina and Fred Stelle are the Gala Co-Chairs, and supporters include Peggy and Millard Drexler, Nicole LaBarbera and David Kelley, Sandra and Eric Krasnoff, Kristine and Michael Marrale, Patsy and Andy Steffan, Emily and David Tobin, and Kathleen and Charles Marder – who is being honored during dinner.
The festivities on June 29 start at 7 pm and include cocktails by Domaine Franey Wines & Spirits, dinner by Glorious Food, Dancing with the Peter Duchin Orchestra, tent sculptures from the show “Circumdare” by Aurora Robson. Actor, artist, writer Christian Scheider (son of Roy Scheider and Brenda Siemer Scheider) will serve as auctioneer for “fund-a-project” as well as items with a water theme, including a week for four in the Caribbean aboard Ace, a 48-foot sailboat, donated by Bettina and Fred Stelle.
Aurora Robson’s sculpture exhibit, called Circumdare, calls attention to the impact of pollution on the waters upon which all life depends. She takes one form of pollution (discarded plastic collected from the shore) and creates art from it. Silas Marder is curating this show. Environmental Puppeteer Tucker Marder will perform during the event. Tickets start at $750 and can be purchased by calling (631) 329-3981, ext. 19.
James Prosek’s art will be on display during the month of July at The Nature Conservancy’s Center for Conservation, 142 Route 114 East Hampton, Monday-Friday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Admission is free, donations are accepted.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.