Sorelle artist, Dan Pollera has been featured in an episode of the Treasures of New York series on the public media platform, Thirteen. A member of the WNET family of companies, Thirteen offers unique cultural and educational programming via television and electronic media to inform, enlighten, and inspire its viewers.
The episode, titled "A World Within a World: The Bay Houses of Long Island," explores the history and culture behind these uniquely preserved structures that have served as homes for fishermen, clammers, and water-lovers for decades in the Town of Hempstead, Long Island.
The Bay Houses, which rest on stilts and are attached to little other than boat docks, generally do not feature most modern amenities like indoor plumbing. They have been passed down through families and the like for generations, with each inheritor taking on the immense responsibility of caring for an historic piece of architecture in the center of one of the most diverse aquatic ecosystems in the world.
Dan Pollera, an award-winning painter, has long used the Bay Houses he frequently sees during his fishing excursions the subject of his paintings (like Golden Meadow, below). "I gravitated to painting and drawing at a young age," he says in the film, "It was the subject matter that really drew me in, and that had to do with the water."
Dan is also a member of the Board of Directors of Long Island Traditions, Inc., a cultural organization that "documents local architecture, from beach bungalows and bay houses to garden apartments and farm buildings... As fishermen and farmers disappear, they fight for the preservation of Long Island's contemporary maritime and farming culture."
"I'm an avid fisherman," Pollera says in the interview. "So being out on the water all the time, you start to recognize these houses." He goes on to explain his fascination with the Bay Houses, saying, "Different times of the year out in the Bay has a personality, and the light changes through the seasons... For me, as an artist that loves to put architecture in my paintings I get great inspiration from watching the light change, the winter, summer, whatever it may be... If the bay houses weren't there, it would be like any other salt marsh."
After a brief time studying Commercial Art at SUNY Farmingdale, Dan took a sabbatical from painting for almost 15 years, but this didn’t affect his love for the sea. He obtained a Captain’s License in 1977 from the United States Coast Guard and took passengers for hire on the open ocean. Through this experience and visual knowledge he was drawn to begin painting again. Although primarily self-taught, Dan worked with Frances Norris Streit, a portrait and mural artist, assisting her on a 14’ x 30’ historical mural for the Roslyn Savings Bank. He also studied with Everett Molinari, a well-respected President of the National Mural Society. Museum collections include Long Island Museum, Parrish Art Museum, and Guild Hall Museum.
Dan now splits his time between his home in East Quogue, Long Island, NY and Baldwin Harbor, Long Island, NY.
To watch the entire episode and learn more about the history and cultural significance of the Bay Houses of Long Island, click here.