Bits: Enlsaved Autobiographer, New Leadership at Parrish, Tickets for ‘Long Island Grown’

Venture Smith

Venture Smith: From Enslaved African to Autobiographer

Venture Smith, the son of a West African prince, spent 14 years as an enslaved man on Fishers Island. He would work to purchase his freedom, moving to the East End and Connecticut, and in 1798 wrote his autobiography.

Today, he is considered the earliest known, completely African-American literary voice. One of less than 20 autobiographies from the first 200 years of the American colonies, the narrative sheds light on life in West Africa, the Middle Passage and 18th-century slavery in New England.

Author Chandler B. Saint, a historian and preservationist, has devoted years to documenting the life and times of Venture Smith and, on Saturday, he will visit Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor to discuss his book, “Venture Smith: From Enslaved African Royal to African American Autobiographer,” starting at 4 p.m.

“Founder and president of the Beecher House Center for the Study of Equal Rights, Saint has initiated projects like the reenactment of the historic Lane Debates of 1834 — the first major debates on abolition — and the Documenting Venture Smith Project, which has attracted international attention and cooperation from scholars in Britain, Canada, Africa, and the U.S.,” according to a press release.

Having served with Pete Seeger and others in the emerging New England side of the Civil Rights Movement, Saint found himself greatly influenced by these giants and, ever since, civil and equal rights have been central to his life.

For more information, call (631) 725-4926.

Parrish Art Museum Welcomes New Board Leadership

Effective January 1, Mary E. Frank is the new president and interim chair of the Board of Trustees of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.

“We are all proud and pleased to welcome Mary as our new leader, and anticipate great things in the museum’s future,” Parrish Director Terrie Sultan said in a press release. “Mary has a longstanding commitment to cultural philanthropy and is also a noted art historian. The experience and expertise she brings will be instrumental in helping us continue to grow and fully realize our great promise.”

Continuing in their current leadership roles are vice presidents James Freeman, Sandy Perlbinder and Alexandra Stanton, treasurer Jay Goldberg, and secretary Timothy Davis. Outgoing Chair Fred M. Seegal will continue to serve on the board as chair emeritus.

“In Fred’s six years of service to the Parrish, the museum moved into our new facility in Water Mill, enhanced our programs and services, and made our first, foundational steps to becoming the new Parrish,” Sultan said. “We are so grateful for his leadership.”

In reflecting over his tenure as chair, Seegal remarked, “I am proud of the many accomplishments of the Parrish over the last six years and was so fortunate to work with Terrie Sultan and her staff, as well as our Board of Trustees. I am confident that the museum is extremely well positioned to continue serving the cultural needs of the entire East End community.”

Frank joined the Parrish Board in 2017, following decades as a friend and supporter of the museum. A noted art historian with a doctorate from Princeton and a Master’s degree from the University of Miami, she specializes in the art of Renaissance Venice.

A trustee of the American Academy in Rome, she currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and, previously, sat on the board of Save Venice for 12 years — during which time she founded the Rosand Library and Study Center.

Especially germane to Frank’s future at the Parrish is her service on the board of the Miami Art Museum from 1994 to 2011, according to the press release. As president from 2006 to 2009, she oversaw the selection of Herzog and de Meuron to design a new home for the museum, now the Perez Art Museum Miami.

“I am gratified to have the opportunity to apply my love of art and diverse board experience to my position at the Parrish,” Frank said in a statement. “As the museum settles into its sixth year in its landmark Herzog and de Meuron home, I look forward to increasing our audience and spheres of influence in the local community and beyond.”

For more information, visit

ASCHS Changes Name to ‘Long Island Historical Societies’

Reflecting the expansion of its services and territory, the Association of Suffolk County Historical Societies has officially changed its name to Long Island Historical Societies, with permission recently received from the New York State Board of Regents.

Founded by Robert David Lion Gardiner in 1969, the organization that focuses on Suffolk County historical societies recently developed and approved a new strategic plan expanding its services and geographic reach — hence the name change.

“Robert David Lion Gardiner had a great respect for Long Island’s historic stewards. When he founded ASCHS, it was to recognize their efforts,” according to Kathryn M. Curran, vice president of the board and the executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. “Today, with the name change to Long Island Historical Societies, Robert Gardiner’s original vision has expanded to be more inclusive and focused on the growth and success of these organizations.”

Long Island Historical Societies’ expanded mission will aim to preserve local history, landmarks and historical buildings by “supporting coordinating and unifying the historical societies located throughout Long Island,” explained Georgette Grier-Key, president of the Board of the Long Island Historical Societies and executive director of the Eastville Community Center.

“I am very excited about the name change since it better reflects our membership and our goal to serve as a resource hub throughout Long Island, while promoting its history,” Howard Kroplick, a trustee of the Long Island Historical Societies, town historian of North Hempstead and president of the Roslyn Landmark Society said in a statement.

For more information, visit

Tickets Now Available for ‘Long Island Grown,’ Coming in March

“Long Island Grown” is getting some new flavor.

For its sixth annual iteration, the lecture series — hosted by the Peconic Land Trust and Bridge Gardens — has expanded to not only include farmers, food and beverage producers, and chefs, but also the innovative and entrepreneurial products coming from the East End community that demonstrate how locally grown products are evolving to meet changing consumer tastes.

“This lecture series means a great deal to me,” Bridge Gardens member Patricia Sanders said in a press release. “As a locally grown gal, each session reaffirms how fortunate we are to have so many talented individuals remaining loyal to the soil and heritage of the East End. I always look forward to the inspiring stories shared by the speakers.”

This year’s panel discussions will kick off on March 17 with Abra Morawiec of Feisty Acres Farm, Kareem Massoud of Paumanok and Palmer Vineyards, and Jack Formica of Amber Waves Farm Market.

The series continues on March 31 with Peter Haskell of Haskell’s Seafood, Cori Anne Kopke of Backyard Brine, and Carolyn Iannone of Love Lane Kitchen; April 7 with Richie Pisacano of Roanoke Vineyards, Allissa Goodale of Borghese Vineyards, and Jennilee Morris of Grace and Grit; and April 28 with Meg Strecker of Tilth and Smoke, Aki Goldberg Terwilliger of Aki’s Kitchen, and Sandra Sadowski of Hamptons Farms.

“Please join us for what is sure to be an exciting program exploring unique agricultural operations and what drives these individuals to farm and produce on Long Island,” the release said.

Each presentation begins at 2 p.m., moderated by pastry chef and author Laura Donnelly at Bridge Gardens, located at 36 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. A reception will follow. Admission is $40 and $30 for Bridge Gardens members, or $140 and $100 for the whole series, respectively. Registration is required. For more information, call (631) 283-3195 or visit