An Eye for Light: Fire Island Lighthouse Art Show 2019

Photos by Sean Fitzthum

The Fire Island Lighthouse hosted the opening reception of their Annual Benefit Art Show on June 20, beginning at 6 p.m. The entirety of the Keepers Quarters was decorated with proud artists dancing in the depths of their coastal creations.

For the 18th year, The Lighthouse Preservation Society allowed local Long Island artists to display their nautical work in the Lighthouse Keeper Quarters Museum through July 14.

A shuttle was available for viewers to ride from Robert Moses Field 5 to the Lighthouse. Many men, women and children crowded around the pick-up spot on the drizzly Thursday, displaying a spectrum of colored umbrellas over their heads.

“This event is one of our major fundraisers as far as being able to secure funds,” said Dave Griese, executive director of Fire Island Lighthouse. “It also serves as a great event for artists to display their artwork and photography.”

All of the shown artwork is available for sale, with 30 percent of the proceeds donated to the Lighthouse.

“As each year passes, we find more and more people are recognizing the event, as well as recognizing and celebrating the Lighthouse as a great maritime icon,” said Griese. “We find here that artists are drawn to the Lighthouse for its beauty, and this event allows us to demonstrate that to the community.”

Griese also calls upon the 172 volunteers that work with the Lighthouse during the course of the year that allow for the preservation and appreciation for the Lighthouse. He names this event as one that celebrates all who show their support.

“This is my first showing as an artist,” said Joseph Zigon, of Babylon. He stood next to his acrylic works, titled “Jaws” and “Becoming Tide.” “‘Jaws’ in particular was inspired by a trip I made to Maui when surfing around the world,” Zigon said. “It’s a popular break in Maui. I find myself inspired by the fluidity of the ocean; it aligns with the movement of life.”

Joseph Zigon’s first showing as an artist.

Dawn Daisley of Oak Beach stood adjacent to her work, “Cedar Dunes.” It is a sugar lift that she created through the traditional etching of a sugar solution on a zinc plate coated with asphalt. The technique dates back in art history as far as Pablo Picasso.

“‘Cedar Dunes’ has a watery look rather than a straight etching. I wanted to create a lucid feeling. Some people feel no appreciation for art because they cannot see it as other than representational,” said Daisley. “I feel art as emotional; something bigger than me.”

Her other displayed work, “Caeli Nidos,” is a suicide plate. This technique uses a six-color process. It is called a suicide plate because the last color used to enhance the work is black.

“I am a surfer … all of my ocean scenes are related to that,” said Anthony D’Avino, of North Babylon. “All of my subjects reflect life. I find the ocean to be the best representation of life … I have salt water in my veins.”

Anthony D’Avino teaches a painting class at Islip Arts Council.

D’Avino displayed two works: an acrylic “Lighthouse” and an oil on canvas piece titled “Dolphins.” He served as the head of the art department at Commack High School for many years, and now teaches a painting class at the Islip Arts Council.

“I like to inspire intensity through color in my artwork,” D’Avino added. “Each scene in any time can be enhanced with vivid colors.”

Tom and Nancy Brennan of North Merrick, both showed their work for the first time at the Lighthouse. Tom displayed his wooden whale pieces that he first created from a tree that fell outside of his home during Hurricane Sandy.

Tom Brennan with his whale carvings made from Stuperstorm Sandy salvaged wood.

“I wanted to create something out of the destruction that Sandy brought,” said Tom. “I began making them as a hobby and then people around me took an interest in them and I started selling them.”

Nancy Brennan’s shown photography depicts the Lighthouse in its brisk winter state alongside her husband’s whales, titled “Winter Wonderland” and “Winter Dreamland.” The couple added that having their work displayed together is a “remarkable” experience.

Nancy Brennan’s winter Lighthouse landscapes.

“I come to the Lighthouse for sunrise and sunset,” said Nancy. “The blanket of pristine snow that forms around the Lighthouse during the winter months is still just as beautiful as the blanket of sunshine on warm summer days. I see the Lighthouse as the sanctuary of Long Island.”

Ronnie Walker of Bay Shore, displayed his pioneering in-wave photography called “Golden Fire Island Sunrise.” “I’ve been in love with the ocean forever,” said Walker. “I love the dangers that exist when taking inside wave photos … I like to illuminate what surfers see. The way the sun glistens off of each wave from sunrise to sunset demonstrates such a vibrant color set that deserves to be captured.”

Ronnie Walker, pioneer of in-wave photography.

The exhibition will be on display through July 14, 2019. For gallery hours, visit Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society at or call 631-661-4876.