Summer 2023

Forest of the Holy Lands – Stained Glass Window by Romany Kramoris

(Printed with permission of the artist)

Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor is the oldest synagogue on Long Island. Since the 1970s, Romany Kramoris has designed more than a dozen stained glass windows for the synagogue, which has just completed a huge expansion and renovation project, led by Chaleff & Rogers Architecture. Raised Catholic, Kramoris was apprehensive when first approached to create such work, but over the last 40 years, her designs have become known for their bright, colorful imagery, filled with symbolism related to Jewish history. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the renovated building will take place on July 9. To visit the synagogue and see the windows up close, call the office at 631-725-0904. And while in Sag Harbor, visit the Romany Kramoris Gallery, on Main Street, an eclectic and informal gallery featuring local artists, blown glass, crafts from around the world, designer fragrances, world music CDs, stationery and much more.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In May I attended a concert at LTV, our local television station and arts center. The band, Georgia, a group of seven black-robed male singers now living in America, performed traditional Georgian polyphonic singing and demonstrated folk music from their country.

I sat with two young Georgian women as we watched and clapped and stood to cheer with the large audience. A group of young Georgian male dancers came on stage during the concert, surprising us with their fluid, acrobatic moves, jumping high and moving across the stage, to everyone’s delight.

“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions.

People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: we are the same.”

John Denver

Last Saturday I took a tour of the John Steinbeck property in Sag Harbor. As I wrote in my last newsletter, the Town of Southampton finally agreed to purchase and preserve Steinbeck’s home, which will become an arts center. We walked around the lovely grassy land that surrounds the wood-shingled house, the pool, the small guest cottage, and the author’s 100-square-foot workplace; Joyous Garde, as he affectionately called it, after Sir Lancelot’s castle. The property sits on a large expanse of waterfront, with a 60-foot pier. Not far from his home is Steinbeck Park, just across from Long Wharf and overlooking the Marina where concerts and other events take place.

That evening I was at The Church, an artist residency, exhibition space, and creativity center in Sag Harbor. “Strike Fast, Dance Lightly: Artists on Boxing” had its opening reception and the show “is a sermon about the belief and value we put on the struggle to be, to live, to understand, to love, to try, and to never give up,” in the words of Eric Fischl, artist and co-curator with Sara Cochran. Over 50 artists are featured in the show and I was delighted to see that cartoonist/author Jules Feiffer, my former “Humor and Truth” MFA professor, had work on display, and that he was there in person. Jules is now 94 years old and looks just wonderful.

“Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.”

Ossie Davis

My son, Jeffrey, visited from California early this month. While he was here, we attended a surprise 70th birthday party for my sister-in-law in Nassau County. It was great to be with the family – my brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, their children, friends, I never tire of family gatherings like this. My brother, Bob, who drove up from Florida with his girlfriend for the occasion, visited me in East Hampton the next day

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

Michael J. Fox.

On June 10 I read from both my published books, Only You, the memoir, and Three Rooms, Shared Bath: a Landlady in the Hamptons, the novel, at the Montauk Library. It was a lovely day, a beach day, so for that reason, and because many events were going on that same afternoon, I had a small audience. But the people were good listeners and, as I had hoped, joined in a conversation about landlords and tenants. The program director thanked me for “your visit and excellent talk. The Hamptons are endlessly fascinating.”

The Hampton Library writing workshop ended on May 17, and I will not be running a workshop this summer. I hope to be doing lots of my own writing and reading, as usual, meeting weekly with my writing group, and add traveling to my list of to-dos in July and August. Our master classes will continue throughout the summer; meeting at my home one day every other week. It’s great to see these writers making progress with their books. I’m so glad to be working with them.

“I have often told my students that if you walk around with your eyes and ears open, you can’t possibly live long enough to write all of the potential stories you will glimpse along the way.”

Jill McCorkle

“A creative writer must study carefully the words of his rivals, including the Almighty/”

Vladimir Nabokov

Anthony Karavais, one of my former writing students at the Connetquot Library in Bohemia, died on April 29, at the age of 82. Tony was a really pleasant guy. He enjoyed our classes and did so much writing that was real and warm and interesting to his fellow writers. He kept in touch with me about his writing and responded to my newsletters. In 2011, from Tony’s bio for a public library group reading: “I’m 70 years old and my day job is ‘Retirement’. My part-time job is writing, which is inspired my wife of 46 years. With the help of the library and the writers’ workshop and Prof. Eileen Obser – I am a published writer.” (Tony always called me Prof.)

Karyn Mannix, of East Hampton, one of my master class students, has artists, dealers, and an art show at the center of her book-in-progress. She is also an artist, an art dealer, art teacher, and runs many art shows during each year. She will represent artists this summer at the Hamptons Fine Arts Fair, held at the Southampton Fairgrounds, on July 13-16 (Booth 220). In addition, she has been selected as the Guest Curator for this year’s Springs Invitational Show at Ashawagh Hall in Springs July 28 through August 6.

Jill Evans, of Patchogue, whose novel, Travels with Jim, will be published by Sunbury Press, my own publisher, has handed her manuscript over to her editor. No publication date is known yet, but Jill is editing another novel, already written, about the Vietnam War, set partly in Pennsylvania, called Resolution, that Sunbury Press may publish.

Happy Fourth of July, and enjoy the summer! Be in touch if you have news to share.