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How I Love Sagamore Hill

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.

News

In a little-known chapter of New York City’s history, the name of police officer Phillip Cardillo is spoken in hushed, revered whispers. Though he was tragically killed in the line of duty back in 1972, the burning embers of his memory are still fanned by a passionate few who wish to finally obtain for the fallen hero the elusive recognition that he truly deserves.

At their Oct. 8 meeting in Mineola, the Nassau County-based Association of Retired Police Officers (ARPO) held a heartfelt ceremony, as both Cardillo as well as the driven NYPD detective who has fought for justice in his name for the past four decades, were honored as the true heroes that they are.

In what was their last free meeting at the Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich, the East Norwich Civic Association presented a money saving/energy saving program. It was presented by Marriele Robinson of the Homeowner Support PowerUp Communities group, an outreach of the L.I. Progressive Party. She came to offer free energy evaluations of homes to make them more energy efficient, which will save money.

She said Poor Richard’s Almanac promises it to be very cold this winter, and this is a way to plug up your energy leaks, with both current savings on needed work and through rebates resulting in future savings. After an energy assessment of your home, PowerUp will present you with a report based on their contractor’s assessment, which will outline all the ways you can improve your energy efficiency. The report will include all the potential rebates to reduce the cost of the upgrade which includes the option of financing through PS&G, which will include the monthly payments in your monthly bill.


Sports

A number of awards were given to runners in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich area at the Oct. 18 Oyster Bay Town Supervisor’s 5 Kilometer Run, including 23-year-old Justin Nakrin of Oyster Bay, who finished in 12th place overall and second in the 20-24 age group, and 43-year-old Daniel Valderrama of Oyster Bay, who scored in 17th place overall and second in the 40-44 age group. Maggie Reid of Locust Valley earned first place honors in the 15-19 age group.

The indomitable 81-year-old Nina Jennings of Mill Neck was the oldest woman to finish the run, taking first place honors in the women’s 80-84 age group in 35 minutes, 11 seconds, a pace of 11:19 per mile. She was the fastest of all of the five finishers—male or female—who were 80 years old or more.

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.


Calendar

Ghastly Grounds

Thursday, October 30

Trick Or Treat

Friday, October 31

Long Island Baroque Ensemble

Sunday, November 2



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