Deborah Katz grew up in one of two families that got to live on the grounds of Bayard Cutting Arboretum, a lush, 691-acre Great River estate that is now a state park.
Katz’s father patrolled the grounds as its police officer when she lived there from ages 3 to 12, she said. When other Long Island children were probably playing with their neighbors, she would roam the trees and smell the flowers.
“It was always so stimulating, and I think it just helped my imagination, being alone there,” Katz, 61, said.
The plant life Katz encountered there and elsewhere on Long Island has inspired her abstract paintings, which will be on display at the Roslyn Village Gallery starting Sept. 9 in an exhibit titled “Nature Unbound.” The selection of Katz’s oil-on-canvas paintings from the last year and a half will hang until Sept. 30.
Katz’s work, which she describes as “lyrical” and “gestural,” marks a rare appearance of abstract paintings in the Old Northern Boulevard space, Marsha Tarlow, the gallery’s owner, said.
“I try to represent as many local artists as I can because I feel they all deserve an audience,” Tarlow said.
Katz, a Glen Cove resident, decided to pursue painting professionally after a brief stint in theater, which she studied at Stony Brook University before graduating in 1978. She studied with the artists Stan Brodsky and Betty Holliday, who died in 2011.
She dabbled in different styles, but landed on abstract work after becoming “more interested in more gestural and free compositions,” she said.
“I think my painting was on this journey that just took me there,” Katz said.
Katz draws inspiration from her weekly walks in the woods, often in preserves and parks on the North Shore, she said.
Katz thinks basing her work on nature can make her work more accessible to those who might be less familiar with, or intimidated by, abstract art, she said.
“I like it to be a little poetic, with a little mystery, but it’s just a new way of seeing,” Katz said. “And I think if you allow yourself that opportunity, it’s like anything else that you can enjoy — just interplay of color, harmony, things moving. That’s what I look for when I’m painting, so hopefully I’m getting that across.”
Katz usually shows her work in three or four exhibits annually, and also serves as the curator of the Alfred Van Loen Gallery in the South Huntington Public Library, she said.
Tarlow said she hopes Katz will be a part of a new monthly series at the Roslyn Village Gallery called “An Evening with Art,” in which artists discuss their work and “art in general.”
The “Nature Unbound” exhibit will open with a gallery reception at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Roslyn Village Gallery, located at 1374 Old Northern Blvd. Light refreshments will be served.
Amelia Camurati contributed reporting