The Board Room gallery in SJC Long Island’s O’Connor Hall until Oct. 7 will showcase more than 30 paintings, drawings, photographs and works of fabric in “Our Nation’s Splendor,” a Council for the Arts exhibit inspired by the landscapes, people and wilderness of the National Parks Service, which is celebrating its centennial this year.
At an exhibit reception Thursday, Sept. 22, Kelly Fellner, assistant superintendent for the Fire Island National Seashore (FINS), and Kathy Krause, chief of interpretation for the FINS, spoke about the lands that inspire such artistic expression.
“This year, we want to reflect on the first 100 years of the National Parks Service and look onward to inspire the next generation of park stewards, interns, visitors and hopefully, park employees,” Fellner told an audience of SJC Long Island community members. She then asked the attendees to look at the map of more than 410 national parks throughout the country and its outlying territories, and share stories about personal visits to the parks.
“In Yosemite, we set up a tent and heard a thump in the night. We thought nothing of it until the next morning when we collected all of our belongings and returned to our car,” said Alan Vitters, M.S., Ph.D., assistant professor of business administration at SJC Long Island.
“The window was broken and a bear had been in the car; the windows were still fogged up. The park ranger told us that it was common for bears to come to high ground for water during that time because it was very dry.”
Paul Mager, professor of political science and the SJC 100: National Parks class, said that while at Yellowstone National Park, he awoke at 5 a.m. to find a bison eating breakfast only 10 feet away. “It took one look at me and then went back to eating. The rangers say that you are not supposed to approach wildlife, but they never say anything about what to do when the wildlife approaches you.”
Not far from SJC Long Island lies access to 27 miles of coastline and New York state’s only designated wilderness through FINS, one of the naturally impressive members of the country’s parks service.
The National Parks Service shared a Centennial Celebration with St. Joseph’s College on Sunday, Aug. 28 with a full day of faculty- and ranger-led activities at Watch Hill, an easily accessible section of Fire Island from Patchogue.
Another local Long Island landmark that is part of the National Parks Service is the William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach. The historic house was the home of William Floyd, one of the four New Yorkers to sign the Declaration of Independence. His estate was kept within the same family until 1964 when it was donated to the National Parks Service.
The grounds of the estate were the inspiration for two Mark Nuccio paintings included in the SJC exhibit. Many of the pieces in “Our Nation’s Splendor” originated in a centennial exhibit at the Watch Hill Ferry Terminal that was curated by SJC’s Art Department Chairwoman Dawn Lee.
In 1983, Wallace Stegner was quoted as saying, “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”
The representatives from FINS will continue to showcase the country’s best through events and partnerships across the community, and ask people about their unique experiences within the national parks throughout this celebration year.
On Sunday, Oct. 16, the College will join FINS once again for the first-ever Patchogue River Clean-Up effort. To join the clean-up effort, visit the College’s registration page or email Kaetylyn Johnson, park planner for FINS, at email@example.com.