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Sandy: A Creative Storm

Close to 100 people gathered at Studio 5404 for the opening exhibit of “A Brush with Sandy,” the brainstorm of artist and owner Lori Horowitz.  


“Massapequa was hit very hard after Hurricane Sandy so we decided that we wanted some good to come out of the bad so we to put together a show of art that was inspired by Sandy,” she said. “We are trying to raise funds and donate the profits for Sandy relief.” 


Studio 5404 played a big part during the Sandy devastation, as it was shelter for displaced elderly homeowners with a dog who had no place to call home for several weeks. 


“We had just opened and we had to get oil, electricity and bedding,” she said. “We got them through until they were able to get back into their home.”


The exhibit consisted of paintings, photographs, sculptures and readings by poets from a book put together by the Bards Initiative called “Songs of Sandy,” which was also designed to raise money for those affected by the storm.


One artist’s life was changed when his family’s home in Lindenhurst flooded.


Daniel Horn, 24, came with pieces from his architectural thesis. He used his architecture to show how to create a resilient building against a storm surge from hurricanes. 


“My buildings filter water from surges and puts it back to the east river in New York City,” he said, adding he wrote a book called “Reconstructing the Water’s Edge” and will be working with an architectural firm that is now reconstructing the homes affected in the Rockaways.


Three large oil canvases were done by Gary Selmonski, a veterinarian who lost his business in Merrick to Sandy. He had four feet of water in the animal hospital but fortunately all of the animals were rescued. His paintings were of the tsunami in Japan. 


“The backgrounds are of the devastation of the tsunami in Japan,” he said. “The foregrounds are the characters from the movies of the 50’s of Godzilla.”


Lorraine Conlin introduced the enthusiastic crowd to 11 poets who read their pieces. The book, “Songs of Sandy,” was the brainstorm of James Wagner and was rapidly assembled and printed through his publishing house Local Gems to raise money for Sandy Victims. The book has raised thousands of dollars. 


“‘Songs of Sandy’ is the Bards Initiative and the Long Island Poetry’s community’s response to Hurricane Sandy by contributors who reminded us that no matter what life throws at you it is possible to recover with help, and when we collaborate to help each other our potential grows exponentially,” he said.


Two poetry readers were Massapequa residents Denise Kolanovic and Karen Jakubowski. Kolanovic had damage to her yard and lost power for several days. 


“I was grateful and thankful to be invited read to the poetry because poetry is a way of creating a catharsis for going through any kind of problem,” she said.

Jakubowski lives in Biltmore shores and lost four cars to Sandy and sustained damage to her home from five feet of water. 


“To me it was a wakeup call,” she said. “Sandy came to tell us that you can’t continue to live in a place of greed. If you don’t listen we are going to take it away from you. A lot of the areas that were hit, especially Massapequa, were the affluent areas. Yes we had trees down in other parts but unfortunately it humbled a lot of people. For me it was learning how much people care for one another. My neighborhood became a community. I spoke to people I did not know, we were sharing resources, pulling together whatever we could, going into each other’s houses trying to take damaged things to the curb. I was chasing away the looters. I was reminding them you may want to get scrap metal but people are looking at their life sitting on a curb, you don’t have a right to take for your gain.”


The exhibit will run through the end of September. Horowitz said she was thrilled with the turnout. 


“The readings really evoked the feelings of what went on during Sandy,” she said. “We want to remember all of what went on then. This can be a really wonderful thing incorporating all of the arts together and bringing poetry, sculpture, painting, and the visual arts, It has the potential of growing the community and building business unity in the neighborhood. This is about sharing and expanding the community, about people working together and making a cultural arts center on the south shore.”