“The Natural World Around Us” opens at Hudson Valley Hospital Center

Cortlandt Manor, NY - (March 8, 2012) – The works of four local artists including photography, paintings, pastels, watercolor and pen and ink drawings are on display in an exhibit called “The Natural World Around Us” at the Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s Art for Health Gallery in the main lobby.

An opening reception for the new exhibit will be held on Thursday, April 5 from 4-6 p.m. in the main lobby.

A special feature of the event will be the works of Richard “Dick” Sammel, a Yorktown resident and 15-year volunteer in the Hospital’s Emergency Department. 

Sammel, who celebrated his 80th birthday on March 8, has begun a second career as an artist after retiring from 40 years in the food service industry. He has several landscapes in watercolor and pen and ink drawing of lighthouses, a favorite subject, on display around the Hospital. He has exhibited locally in several different library venues, The Gallery at Mariandale as well as some banks and restaurants. He has also has served as a member of the Art Advisory Committee at The Westchester Community College.

Sammel said when he retired 15 years ago he created a “to do” list, and encouraged by his wife Mary, proceeded to tick off items. On his list were volunteering at the hospital, enrolling in a drawing and art course and learning how to ski. Having accomplished two out of three, Sammel said he was satisfied.

“The skiing was tried and found to be a complete failure, and has since been abandoned,’’ he said.

Other artists on exhibit are: Vince Ferraro of Mahopac, Robert Uricchio of Cortlandt Manor and Michelle Gage of Pound Ridge. 

Ferraro, a retired heavy equipment operator, found his second career as an artist purely by accident when he took a course in digital imaging at the Kent Library. A member of the Bear Mountain Naturalist Group, Ferraro enjoys capturing special images of nature and is most proud of his photo of a rainbow over the Bear Mountain Bridge. 

A retired New York City Police, Uricchio grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens where he began taking photos at an early age. He continued developing his skills while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at St. John’s University, but now that he has retired he has more time for his first love, photography. 

Gage spent the first part of her career as a college math professor. She has loved to draw since childhood, and has incorporated her mathematical bent into her artwork. Using the classical-grid method for enlarging a drawing, she translates the photos onto paper. Instead of drawing in each square, she invents a small watercolor with the brush. In the process, often before all the squares are filled, the big picture solution “clicks” into place, andthe entire piece is done. The finished image is not photo-realism, but it is clearly a landscape. Michelle recently retired from teaching and can now devote full-time to painting. 

Suzanne Ashley, curator of the Hospital’s Art for Health program, which consists of 13 fine art galleries throughout the hospital, said the program not only features the works of established artists, but gives an opportunity to newcomers to display their works. 

The “Art for Health” now has more than 350 pieces of fine art on display, including signed photographs from Christo and Jeanne-Claude's installations, THE CURTAIN and CATTLE FARM.  Many of the other works are by artists who have exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. Most of the artworks are donated. In 2010, “Art for Health” received a community service award from ArtsWestchester.

For more information on the "Art for Health" program and how to donate artwork, call The Foundation at 914-734-3526.