The Bayard Cutting Arboretum is hosting an art exhibit titled “Nature in Bloom” through the month of November. The exhibit, curated by Elizabeth Fusco and Mireille Belajonas, focuses on botanical illustrations with watercolors.
Belajonas was born in Belgium. There, she studied jewelry design and graduated as a goldsmith. She moved to the United States about 20 years ago and currently resides in Patchogue.
The artist said she has been painting her entire life, but started working with botanical illustrations around 12 years ago. She works from live specimens, but orchids, she said, are her favorite due to their longer blooming periods.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite because you make a connection with all of them,” she said of her pieces.
Ultimately, she chose “Miltonia Eleanor Ruby,” named after her grandmother. Belajonas prefers to title a piece of artwork after the name given to the model plant. “If they don’t have a name, I have to give them one,” she said, adding that other works are named after family members.
“Creativity shows in all aspects of life: in your home, at your work, in your relationship with people,” Belajonas said. “I was encouraged by my parents from a very young age to express myself through art, and I love it when my work actively engages someone’s imagination, inspiring them to make their own art.”
Belajonas and her husband, Michael, operate the Mirabela Studio of Music and Art in Port Jefferson. She teaches art to children and adults, while her husband teaches music. The artist also created a line of greeting cards and illustrated a children’s book, “Billy and the Blanket Monster,” written by Robert Reichel.
Fusco was born in Brooklyn, but spent most of her life on Long Island. She has been painting for most of her life, but began working with botanical illustrations several years ago. The artist studied at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. She also teaches art through a special program at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, for seniors and people living with dementia.
In regards to her own art, Fusco said she often works from her home garden in Kings Park. She describes her creative process as documenting the things she grows. “I begin with a drawing and go from there,” Fusco said. The final product, she notes, is the watercolor transfer.
Fusco and Belajonas have been exhibiting their artwork on select days at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum since the exhibit opened last month. The exhibit is scheduled to run until Monday, Nov. 18.
Exhibit hours in Manor House Annex
Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.