Historical society embraces abstract expressionism as fundraising tool

Children and adults are invited to splatter paint on a giant stretched canvas a la Jackson Pollock at Orient’s Poquatuck Park Saturday, Aug. 10, during “Art in Action,” a free event hosted by the Oysterponds Historical Society.

“East Marion and Orient as well as the North Fork at large are all steeped in a deep, artistic tradition,” said Elizabeth Gordon, president of the historical society. An anonymous supporter donated money for the event, which is new this year, Ms. Gordon said.

“From William Steeple Davis to Rothko, artists have long loved the North Fork for its quiet beauty,” she said. “This event will bring area children into the artistic fold while raising funds to preserve the Oysterponds Historical Society’s historic buildings and further our children’s programming and mission.”

The society plans to raise money from the event, which takes place from 3 to 5 p.m., by selling tote bags that will be sewn from pieces of the finished canvas by Janet Markarian, owner of Orient Linen Company. Photographs from the event will also be compiled into a book that will be on sale in the future, Ms. Gordon said. Beverages, including wine, will be available for purchase.

Carolina Zapf, an Oysterponds Historical Society volunteer who is cochairing “Art in Action” with Yvonne Force Villareal, said that when planning the event she knew she wanted to do something “abstract.”

“When kids don’t have any kind of restrictions it’s a wonderful way for them to express themselves,” she said.

“That’s what I love about it,” Ms. Gordon agreed. “It allows children to just be creative. We’re not saying, ‘Draw a picture.’ We’re saying, ‘You create your art.’”

Ms. Zapf said she hopes the event helps children recognize the importance of raising money to help support the historical society.

“It’s a new generation of kids who should take ownership in the historical society and know that they have to take care of it and raise money for it,” she said.

“We’re all responsible for it,” Ms. Gordon added. “Our mission is to preserve but also to educate, so it’s nice we can bring this event to the community at no cost. At the same time, in order to continue our mission, we have to raise funds.”

Said Ms. Zapf, “It’s about history but it’s also about the future. These kids are the future.”

Residents aren’t required to RSVP for the event, but it would be appreciated, Ms. Gordon said. To do so, go to and fill out the form under the link “Art in Action.” T-shirt smocks will be available for young artists to wear, but permanent paint will be used for the project so participants should wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.

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