Bay Shore student-artists enjoy the ‘Limelight’ at new Eleven Maple apartments


On June 23, dozens of Bay Shore High School students in the special education program had the opportunity to show off their art masterpieces at the opening reception for the “Lemons in the Limelight” exhibit, now on display at the Eleven Maple apartment building in Bay Shore.

The art project — at 11 Maple Ave. — was sponsored by the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund with support from the Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA), a New York State Creative Learning Grant, president of Greenview Properties Larry Gargano, and developer Lisa Pace.

“Lemons in the Limelight” is the first of a series of art exhibits planned for Eleven Maple.

“Personally, it’s very important, especially to me because my son attended the same program when he went to Bay Shore High School. He was in the special-inclusion program for many years,” Gargano said. “It just all pulled together, and we were very happy to make them the first exhibit.”

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The “Lemons in the Limelight” exhibit lit up at night. (Photo by Ana Borruto.)

Over the past two decades, the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund (BSSAEF) led by chairman Susan Barbash has funded programs from all grade levels.

However, three years ago, Barbash said the BSSAEF realized students in the special-inclusion program needed more attention.

“[They] do not always get to participate in the extracurriculars, the cultural arts, the shows, all of the things that students outside of special education get,” Barbash said. “We had this idea of bringing an artist to work with these kids.”

Leeanna Chipana is a Bay Shore High School special skills teacher and visiting teaching artist who worked with the young artists for three sessions, as they produced their creative artwork.

The annual arts residency has been a success so far, Barbash said, with previous exhibits at the Second Avenue Firehouse and online last year due to COVID-19.

When picking the next venue to display this year’s artwork, Barbash said she immediately thought Eleven Maple would be the perfect public gallery.

Gargano, a longtime friend of Barbash, reached out to Barbash to discuss ideas of how he could use the large window displays facing Maple Avenue.

The collaboration couldn’t have been a better match.

“Larry has always been very supportive of the special skills population in the school and he took care of doing all the print, graphic design, and mounting of the exhibit,” she said. “It’s lit at night and open all the time — it’s just another wonderful resource for the community and brings something new to the downtown area.”

Gargano said it was fun to be involved in putting the exhibit together, even when he had to crawl into the display cases themselves, he joked.

At the opening reception, Gargano said he handed out lemon-lime-themed beach towels to each of the participating students and the group enjoyed some pizza from The Pizzeria of Bay Shore.

“Most importantly, they got to see their name next to their artwork,” he added. “It was very gratifying for us.”

Gargano has always been a supporter of programs that benefit those with physical, mental, developmental, or intellectual disabilities.

The WOW Program at Bay Shore High School is an internship program that gives disabled students the opportunity to work in the community and learn valuable skills.

Gargano said Greenview Properties has been involved with the WOW program for about eight years and back in May a handful of students helped out with planting flowers at Eleven Maple for two weeks.

Bay Shore High School students planting flowers at Eleven Maple. (Photo: Courtesy of Larry Gargano.)

This is the last week that “Lemons in the Limelight” will be on display.

The next featured artists will be St. Patrick’s Elementary School students and their self-portraits, Gargano said.

Gargano added that he plans on working on an exhibit in August with the Seatuck Environmental Association, as well as hosting events for other community organizations in this fall and winter.

“We do know that right after Thanksgiving, and through Jan. 1, we want to do the windows in a holiday display,” Gargano said. “We’re going to have fun with it and see how it goes.”

Top photo: The opening reception of “Lemons in the Limelight.” (Photo: Courtesy of Larry Gargano.)