Doug. arts league hosts third annual photo show

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Douglaston’s National Art League has been a haven for artistic seniors and community residents looking for a place to discuss, practice and share their love of painting, sculpture and other art forms since 1930.

Now the non-profit has embraced the artistry of photography and is hosting its third annual Photoart Competition and exhibition this month, said Mary Galletti, the organizer and a National Art League member. An awards reception was scheduled for Jan. 19.

Galletti, a Flushing resident who joined the art league in 1970, said she was inspired to start the photo competition after her son began taking photographs as a hobby. Galletti said that based on her son’s experience as an amateur who found little public interest in his work, she came to believe the craft of photography got less fanfare than it deserved.

“Photography is an art form,” Galletti, 87, said. The competition “really came about because my son is a photographer, and I found that nobody’s paying attention to it. I felt it needed to be showed.”

Galletti seems to have found a remedy for amateur photography’s low profile by using the National Art League, a non-profit organization with 300 members started by the daughters of painter William Merritt Chase in 1930, as the showplace for her competition.

The National Art League, at 44-21 Douglaston Pkwy., offers a forum for local artists in which to network, providing art classes and showcases for different kinds of artwork throughout the year. The art league also serves as a gallery and hosts other competitions in addition to the photography contest, which is being sponsored by Fujifilm, Peggy’s Framing in Bayside and several others.

The Photoart Competition, which includes photography taken with digital as well as traditional methods, is open to everyone and has been drawing interest from far and wide, said Galletti, who is a painter and past president of the art league.

“We’ve been getting so many calls, from all over the U.S.,” said Galletti. The only condition for the contest was that entries, which were to be judged this week, were hand-deliverd by Jan. 5.

Paul Bernstein, a professional photographer for more than 30 years, was asked to help judge the contest entries, which will be on display at the art league from Jan. 6 to Jan. 31.

“I think it’s great to have professionals judge something like this. It helps get people more interested in it,” said Bernstein, a member of the Professional Photographers Society of Greater New York, or PPGNY. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Last year’s competition drew about 200 entries, Galletti said, and this year’s contest will feature an awards reception on Jan. 19 as well as cash prizes and merchandise such as a computer and compact flash cards, she said.

Jerome Amos, also a professional photographer and member of PPGNY, was asked to judge the Photoart competition and he said he was pleased to be a part of the newly formed link between the art league and the society.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for us and them to get together,” said Amos, who said the PPGNY is also looking for new members. “It’s important that people can grow from amateurs to profession­als.”

Bernstein, a Brooklyn resident who is a photographic craftsman as well as a certified professional photographer, said making distinctions between photography and art is useless.

“The soul of the artist is there — whatever you use to replicate what is in your mind’s eye doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I like dealing with people who are on the amateur level. I like giving that spark to someone else.”

The photographer, who has a home studio and has been a member of PPGNY since 1978, also plays down rifts between those who think digital photography is not as artistic as traditional photography.

“About a century ago artists looked at photography as a Frankenstein because it was mechanical,” he said. “It’s the same with digital.”

Amos, a self-taught professional photographer who has been taking pictures since 1987, said he is drawn to the activity because of its artistic nature.

“A client once told me that my photography quiets the moment,” he said. “I’m able to create faster and make people happy.”

For more information about the Photoart Competition or the National Art League, call 224-3957, or visit its Web site at

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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