Written by Robert Grabowski Saturday, 08 June 2013 00:00
The final 2013 lecture in the John A. Gable series was somewhat different from past lectures. The May 16 lecture showcased Xiomaro’s (pronounced SEE-oh-MAH-ro) wonderful and inspiring “How I love Sagamore Hill” photo collection. Commissioned by Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, and displayed in collaboration with the Oyster Bay Historical Society at the Koenig Center, “How I love Sagamore Hill”, derives from Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known quote to his wife Edith on the day before his death.
During February 2012, Xiomaro was given unfettered access to Sagamore Hill as the home was being emptied of its contents to accommodate a $7 million renovation project. Each photo was introduced by a written narrative created by Xiomaro to introduce and highlight the life of the 26th president, while illustrating the importance of his home.
Delving through the home with his Nikon D200 camera, Xiomaro was on a mission to reveal the spirit of Sagamore Hill, and ultimately of TR and his family, while employing an artistic approach. Even though Sagamore Hill may have appeared to be relatively sparse at the time, the house revealed complex detail in its overall design, and a creative integration between the structure and remaining artifacts. You could sense that the furnishings sat patiently around his camera in no rush, waiting to tell their own story. Taking 144 photos over a seven-day period, Xiomaro made the Roosevelts’ home “pop” with life.
The Gable attendees saw 20 photos as a sampling of this creativity. Xiomaro’s curiosity sought out the servant quarters, and included “Cooks Bed Room.” This photo revealed a small and confined space with geometric design and personality within the sparse furnishing of a bed. Xiomaro was able to capture life at Sagamore Hill, which included more than just the Roosevelts. Life there wasn’t always filled with dignitaries or powerful men of politics. A family lived there with varied complexions, and Xiomaro strove to capture this detail in a unique way. Some of the servants were seasonal immigrants hired by the Roosevelts to help with the laundry and household duties.
Others stayed for 30 years and would have become more involved with the family. Walking through these spaces, Xiomaro’s photos brought to life what Sagamore Hill may have been like when TR was there, and certainly during the time he was away being Teddy Roosevelt.
Seeing the “North Room” or the “Library”, relatively barren from the days when TR worked there, indicates a more intimate and domestic nature to the home. In an eerie way, you can imagine one of TR’s children sitting on his lap in those rooms, telling Daddy about their day playing in the fields with Jack, or another family dog. At the same time, you can see the watchful eye of “Colonel Roosevelt”, painted by Fedor Encke, with all of its gold, amber and ruddiness of face, holding court and watching over the North Room.
Without abundant furnishings, Sagamore Hill jumps out at you through Xiomaro’s eyes with dramatic color, texture and intricate wood and molding detail, highlighting the beauty of the home and lives of the Roosevelts. Such detail could never be witnessed behind stanchions and velvet ropes. A photo of “TR’s Shower”, displaying four porcelain controls, enables one to realize the humanity of TR. Larger than life in everything that he did, from politician, writer and president; here he is depicted as an ordinary man in his home.
The artistic view of the last original “Wall Papering” in the North Room, perhaps this writer’s favorite, for its color and revealing patterns, show two different peacock forms, trying to hide in the detail. We can’t leave out the “Green Globe” from the School Room, for its significance either. Here, you can not only visualize the surface bumps on the globe, but actually feel them through the photo. Wear and tear created by real-life finger turning, perhaps while viewing Cuba, Panama or Europe, enables the viewer to see TR at work, managing foreign policy.
The “TR” initialed in a bookshelf on the third floor Gun Room symbolizes the love of books that Roosevelt possessed. Reading a book a day, this representation reveals the love of words that TR carried in his heart. You can hear TR speak out from his autobiography, “…at Sagamore Hill we love a great many things such as birds, trees, rifles and books, and all things beautiful… and of course, children, hard work and the joy of life. We love books, but children are better than books.” That quote explaining his loves radiates from the simple shot. Xiomaro further captures this feeling with his “Little Room and Alice’s Room”, “Door Locked” photo. One of the Roosevelt children, probably Quentin, scrawled these words with paint across the door, proclaiming his desire to keep his hideaway private from his sisters. These two words on the fine wood door commands intruders to stay out of his private world, and brings the six Roosevelt children alive, perhaps, running down the hallway, with child-like, playful laughter.
Xiomaro explained, “It is interesting to create images as a way to examine people and explore what is important to them. The meaning behind such images with the external elements, such as texture, patterns and color, can be arranged to conjure up elusive subjects like a person’s spirit or sense of the place they inhabit. So much of the Roosevelt family’s personality is revealed by the house.” A separate visit was made a few days later to the Oyster Bay Historical Society to experience the photos in all of their beauty and detail, which was essential to writing this piece.
A true modern day renaissance man, Xiomaro is a musician, attorney by day, and passionate artist all the time. He is as interesting to speak with as his work is to view. Tom Ross, superintendent of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, previously stated he first came across his work when Xiomaro was commissioned to take photos Weir Farm in Wilton, CT, home of J. Alden Weir, a 19th-century American impressionist painter. “Weir Was Here-Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” became the output of that assignment when Xiomaro was selected as An-Artist-In-Residence during March 2011. Those photos as well as the Sagamore Hill collection can be viewed on his website, xiomaro.com. It is strongly suggested to visit the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Koenig Center at 20 Summit Street before How I Love Sagamore Hill departs on June 9.
Visit the exhibition to witness a remarkable vision of TR and Sagamore Hill. Exhibit hours are Tuesday-Friday, between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The weekends offer exhibition hours of 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. on Sundays. A special thank you must be given to Philip Blocklyn of the OBHS for his insightful commentary and fantastic job of selecting wonderful speakers for the 2013 John A. Gable lecture series.
Xiomaro will begin his next project of capturing the spirit of William Floyd’s Fire Island home. Please visit Xiomaro.com for some fantastic and inspiring American culture and excellent artwork. “How I love Sagamore Hill” should not be missed.
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00
The Oyster Bay Charitable Fund and the Oyster Bay Rotary Club hosted the annual Oyster Festival “Kick-Off” press conference on Friday, Aug. 15 at the flagpole in Theodore Roosevelt Park.
In attendance were NY State Senator Carl Marcelino and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, both Honorary Oyster Festival Chairmen; Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr.; Oyster Bay Town Councilman Chris J. Coshignano; Oyster Bay Town Councilwoman Michelle Johnson; Oyster Bay Town Councilman Joseph Pinto; Oyster Bay Rotary President Judy Wasilchuk; Verizon Title Sponsor Representative, Director of Government Affairs Patrick Lespinasse; Executive Director, h2empower, African Studies Specialist Helen Boxwill; Oyster Festival Sports Representative James Werner; Long Island Rough Riders Representative Sarah Culmo and Emcee Harlan Friedman.
The 31st annual Oyster Festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
A lot of people think that our world would be better off without all of the insects in it. Not so, according to Lois Lindberg, volunteer naturalist at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Lindberg and fellow naturalist Wendy Albin gave a presentation about the importance of butterflies and insects in our ecosystem at the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s former home on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
“Butterflies and other insects are very important in nature,” said Lindberg. “People see bees, wasps and ants and other insects as pests, but they actually contribute to our ecosystem by each doing their own unique job. They pollinate the flowers and fruits and without them we would not be able to eat a lot of the stuff we eat every day.”
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Picture-perfect weather was on board for the Mill Neck Family of Organizations’ Third Annual Sail the Sound for Deafness Regatta on Thursday, Aug. 7. The event, featuring an evening race of yachts, followed by a cocktail party, was held to benefit the organization that serves individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have other special needs.
In this year’s race, fifteen sailors took to the waters of Oyster Bay Harbor; three aboard their own boats, others on several boats provided by Oakcliff Sailing Center. The WaterFront Center’s oyster sloop, Christeen and two vessels from Oyster Bay Marine Center, brought a total of 45 spectators out to watch the race.
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00
Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of 21 minutes, 7 seconds.
Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.