One of the latest additions to the pubic art display in Grangebel Park is a submarine sculpture made by Clayton Orehek located in the Peconic River. Photo Alek Lewis

Two new giant sculptures were installed at Grangebel Park as a part of the upcoming season of the town’s “Reflextions: Art in the Park” event.  

A tall multicolored plexiglass seahorse named Jewel stands on the east side of the park. Jewel’s skeleton was created by local artist Clayton Orehek who studied seahorses living at the aquarium as inspiration for the design. Jewel is lit by blacklights, spotlights and black string lights powered by solar energy. The lights and plexiglass were installed by Long Island Aquarium executive director Bryan DeLuca and his son. 

“It was a lot of trial and error,” Orehek said of the development of Jewel. “I’m happy. It actually exceeded my expectations.”

The other sculpture is a 38-foot submarine called Nautilus 7 that sits in the Peconic River. Its  visibility changes with the tide. Nautilus 7’s design was inspired by the design of the submarine Nautilus from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” The sculpture was created by Orehek and was installed on Saturday.

“This public art endeavor has really been a tremendous thing, an exciting thing,“ DeLuca said.

“We’re thankful the community has embraced our public art display,” he said.

Jewel the sea horse greets visitors to the park. Photo: Alek Lewis

The Reflextions installation is a collaboration between several community organizations, including the Business Improvement District, the Chamber of Commerce, East End Arts and the Main Street Agency. Several members of those organizations thanked each other for the continued development of the installation during a press event on Monday.

“I think this project holds the utmost special place in my heart in terms of the grant project. It is literally the first grant we received when I took over the job as director,” said Dawn Thomas, Riverhead’s community development director. “But more importantly, it gave me an opportunity to be introduced to the most ingrained people in our downtown.”

Since it’s opening in 2017, the development of the art in the park has been possible through the financial support of several different grants. The new projects are supported by $25,000 in grant money through Suffolk County, according to DeLuca.  

“This is in line with our goals of adding more art to help with the revitalization of downtown and also to better use this underutilized gem that we have in Riverhead,” said Steven Shauger, the president of the Business Improvement District.

Councilman Ken Rothwell spoke on behalf of Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar during the event. He said that Aguiar is proud of the project’s development.

“The ‘Reflextions’ luminary art show is an innovative and interactive display of unique artwork which will delight families of all ages,” Rothwell said. “It’s an incredible experience reminiscent of the illuminations that we have in Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. So thank you for bringing it right here locally.”

“I’m proud to say that I have not missed any of the Reflextions Art in the Park events,” said Councilwoman Catherine Kent. “I love to attend, not only because I personally enjoy the beauty and excitement of this display, but also because it is wonderful to sit back and observe people from all around our region taking in the wonder of our gem of Grangebel Park when it is all lit up with beautiful art displays.”

The next addition to the park will be a sculpture of an octopus, which is currently in development. St. Catherine of Siena Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (SCS PROS) in Riverhead will assist in the painting of the octopus.

“We have a lot of art therapy and music therapy at our sites,” said Jamie Crispin, the director of SCS PROS. “And so we like to give our individuals an opportunity to be involved and to be part of the community and to give back.”

The town has several events planned for Grangebel Park and Reflextions throughout the next few months. On Saturday at 6 p.m., the Riverhead school Jazz bands will perform at 6 p.m., with the Reflextions following the performance from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.. There will also be shows on July 17, Aug. 14  and Sept. 25 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with an Oktoberfest celebration preceding the Sept. 25 show from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m..

“I think there’s an expression out there: some things are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Sure as hell, it’s 99% perspiration,” DeLuca said. “There’s a lot of committed time in this project. But we’re passionate about what we’re doing and the results are great. So we’re going to keep pressing forward.”

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Alek Lewis
Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.