Patchogue’s artistic leader and PAC executive director, Beth Giacummo


The transformation of Patchogue as a central hub of the arts on Long Island is a testament to the powers of renewal and the passion of artists to create.

But whereas other gentrified neighborhoods have lost their raw, artistic edge to the friendlier, commercial corporate takeover that inevitably follows, Patchogue has remained true to the grit of its original renaissance with a dedicated arts presence that holds fast to fresh voices of the movement.

One of the central figures in maintaining this oasis of both reputable and nuanced art in eastern Long Island is Patchogue Arts Council executive director Beth Giacummo.

The image of the haughty, removed gallery director with little time for non-academics of art is antithetical to the warm, bubbly, and nurturing aura that surrounds Giacummo.

“Beth is a tremendous asset to the village, the arts council, and the artistic community on Long Island. Through her outreach, she has forged important partnerships and collaborations between artists and organizations. Her creativity, energy and enthusiasm are the reason the Patchogue Arts Council is recognized throughout Long Island for the strength and quality of its programming,” said. 

Lori Beth Devlin, president of the Board of Directors for Patchogue Arts Council. While she has the necessary pedigree for fine art (degrees from venerable School of Visual Arts and The Pratt Institute), her approach to bringing art to the community of Patchogue is much more than presentation to be revered, as she aims to make artwork and artists understood through deep emotional connection with the audience.

Her e-mail signature sign-off is “Artfully Yours,” and celebrated local artist Amanda Reilly made a custom scarf (Giacummo is an aficionado of silk scarves) with Giacummo’s apt tagline among Reilly’s unique, vintage, aesthetically monstrous design.

The type of gift that is both technically arduous, but loving, is Giacummo’s real signature, as she fosters artists throughout different stages of their careers.

"Speculation on what audiences desire hinders artistic expression," said Giacummo. "Art should form directly from inspiration and drive, not manicured and made up to fit a preconceived notion of what is acceptable. This is the way to find a true audience."

In her own intrepid and sprawling artwork, Giacummo explores the boundaries of what is a “medium” as she studied for a master’s in new forms. “Basically, it meant, what can you make art with that isn’t normally used for art,” said Giacummo.

Internationally shown is Giacummo’s interactive inflatables exhibit, overarching, menacing, yet ethereally soft structures that are billowing, yet restrained. In the corset-like presentation of these inflatables, we see women being held in as they try to open up.

“Every installation has been site specific, and there have been four iterations,” said Giacummo of her inflatables series.

Using rip-stop nylon, the practical side of Giacummo comes out as she extols the virtues of material that can be folded up for transport via train or plane. “The inflatables could be very large and fill up a room, but I could fold up everything neatly and go on a flight,” said Giacummo, reminiscent of Picasso’s blue-collar, practical description of artists: “When art critics get together, they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together, they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”

“Beth Giacummo's inflatable sculpture, at first blush, engages us through whimsy. However, deeper reflection of their relational forms reveals the artist’s profound interest in the biological sciences. She is especially concerned with growth and development and the phenomena which lead to thriving,” said Professor John Cino, a regular curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Patchogue.

Giacummo’s veneration and curiosity about other media makes her not only a well-rounded artist, but almost omnipotent in seeing the value and toil behind every artist’s collection of work.

Glass blowing, a longtime interest of Giacummo, led to her being the first American at an exclusive, near Illuminati-secrecy glass workshop in the wilderness of Sweden.

“Glasswork relates to inflatables quite well,” said Giacummo, “the fragility, the scope, the craftmanship.”

With all the worldly background, Giacummo is still a true local girl, whose grandmother worked as the head seamstress for Sears and first brought Giacummo to her lifelong interest in fabrics.

An alum of St. Joseph’s School for Girls, Giacummo commuted to the city for her undergraduate work, lending her to a deep understanding of many Long Island-based artists who have spent time living in Brooklyn or Manhattan.

Asked of her approach and her status in the Patchogue arts community, Giacummo said, “Artists deserve a supportive space to continually present their work so they can grow. Patchogue’s art scene is one that welcomes artists of all backgrounds and preferred media to find their audience.”


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