User:Belle M. Mears
I was born and grew up on Long Island, New York. It is a place that I believe first gave rise to my interest in all things natural and historical. My home town of Stony Brook boasts a world class SUNY University and Medical University/Center. It is a hub for learning and growing. The University did not open until 1965 and I was born in '48 so I had almost completed my high school education at the Academy of St. Joseph, in Brentwood, N.Y. by that time. I worked at the University back in the early days - first as a "College Plan Secretary" (a lot of fun working as liaison between the administration and the students of G Quad) and also in the wonderful library with all the mail between Woods Hole, Mass. and Stony Brook University. It was a wonderful experience. Later, here and there I was also a temp worker in the halls of the University Hospital, mainly in the Neurology Department.
Before the days of the University, Stony Brook was a quiet community with many retirees and few children in the mix. Ward Melville had already completed his story book dream village, rearranging some of the landmark historic buildings and redesigning the flow of main street to optimize it's beauty and setting next to the marshes and estuaries of Long Island Sound just outside our harbor. Stony Brook was and is a very well connected community with caring and involved citizens who not only take good advantage of the natural resources of our town but give back to it as far back as I can remember. There was a musem of history that I loved as a child that has grown to serve a larger population of cultural enthusiasts on Long Island as The Long Island Museum of Art, History and Carriages. It is now a Smithsonian affiliate and Long Island's largest privately supported museum. On the site of part of the Long Island Museum, there was previously the historic sawmill and lumber yard of D.T. Bayles who dominated Long Island's large sailing shipbuilding industry for over a century, powered by the same natural system of springs and streams that powered the Stony Brook Grist Mill. All the woodwork in the home my family built was crafted at that gem of the community. Back in the day, my grandparents Col. and Mrs. Louis Merrick lived behind those yards - deep in a woodland twixt ponds flowing toward the harbor in an historic house moved from Main Street. The house can be seen on the cover of Historic Images of America Series volume "Stony Brook". Many were the days I wandered freely in those ancient woods, cooling my feet in the fresh natural spring streams, and imagining the Indians who had lived before me as I searched for their buried treasure.
I could write an essay/article in and of itself about my childhood and now adult residence in Stony Brook, and my love of the natural beauty and communities of Long Island, but I mention it in my biography as a part of what makes me tick. I am now and always have been fascinated by history - the marks it leaves behind and the changes that evolve from inspiration and innovation of it's foundations. From the days spent in our wonderful Emma S. Clark Library to the still large doses of time enjoyed in her stacks these days I know that I was blessed and influenced as a thinker and artist particularly because I grew up here.
I went on to college at Marymount , Tarrytown, N.Y. where my majors were Philosophy and Psychology, and additional interests were in Literature, Art and Music. I did not graduate but attended for three years, leaving due to personal life directions.
After college, I moved to New York City where I enjoyed the sense of being at the center of the world of culture, art and music, and the everyday forces of change and all the excitement of that empowering energy. I worked in some exciting venues such as the Metropolitan Opera, Art News Magazine, Bruce McGaw Graphics, and eventually thanks to the good auspices of sponsors such as Barbara Guggenheim, an art consultant and art historian, and Leta Stathacos of the Museum Shop Association and Art Objects, Inc., and wonderful artists such as Miriam ShapIro I began my work on personal art projects around the creation of products using vintage textiles.
After returning to Long Island in 1990 I was married and lived quietly as a homemaker and continued my interests in music, art and antiques, and continued what has been a lifelong passion for flowers and gardens. Following divorce in 2000, seeking employment, I worked for an arboricultural firm as their garden designer after years of private experience in floral design with my sister Alexandra Leighton. My gardening experiences over a period of thirty years have provided me with some of the most fulfilling links to all my other interests in the arts. Gardening is a world of great people and free inspiration from nature that I find woven through all my artist interests.
Recently, I attended SUNY Farmingdale and took course work in Horticulture there with Dr. Richard Iversen. I currently work at Old Westbury Gardens, a non-profit institution dedicated to educational programs for children at the gardens, internships for international students in horticulture, and open to the public for the enjoyment of 160 acres of some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. We are listed in "100 Gardens to See Before You Die". I love my work there in the greenhouses and as the Plant Shop Manager.
It is thrilling to travel to the ends of the earth and to so many artistic and historic venues via my Mac. I love blogs such as John Bailey's wonderful site ASC Bailey's Bailiwick - a blog about the art of cinema and the endless spokes of it's infinite wheel that fly off the runway of his blog. One of his articles leaves me thinking and networking for days. His blog made me sure I want to establish my own website. I am now in the process of this endeavor with the help of my wonderful One to One teachers at Apple. They are in the process of helping me publish my website which I look forward to have up and running in the coming weeks. I would like it to be a kind of diary and open house of the arts - both cultural and healing. I hope to write articles, provide beautiful imagery, information and video links as well as open a window to my own projects while inviting a response through blogs.
My future plans also include a return to my former design work with textiles - antique and modern, needlework and passementerie as I continue to work in gardens.