The Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts, Inc. was formed in 1968 by a small group of parents and teachers who lived in the Bayport-Blue Point area who wanted to help bring culture to the area. This mission included the start of a wide range of groups performing, which later included a chorus, orchestra, and exhibitions by local artists.
In 1977, BAFFA was incorporated and became a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. BAFFA is unique because it consists of a symphony orchestra, a chorus, and an art gallery. To our knowledge, there are no other organizations like it on Long Island.
The BAFFA Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1970, making it one of the longest-performing community orchestras on Long Island. The BAFFA Chorus was formed in 1968 and initially only performed intermittently, but has been performing consistently since 1993. Both the Orchestra and the Chorus consist of members from all walks of life, ranging from high school to senior citizens. Both groups perform a wide variety of music - from classical to pop - and, while many of the members are professional musicians, many are not. It is their shared love of music that binds them all. Professional musicians conduct both the Orchestra and the Chorus.
Before the existence of the art gallery, BAFFA supported its local artists by hosting exhibitions in bank lobbies and at annual "Art Ins." In 1978, both the BAFFA office and the BAFFA Grange Gallery were located in the Robinson Cottage at the Islip Grange in Sayville. While it was good to have a "home," this venue was too small, so it was a huge improvement when the Town of Islip offered BAFFA space in the historical Gillette House in Sayville in 1984. It was at that time the Gallery was renamed the BAFFA Art Gallery. The Gallery presents monthly exhibitions featuring local, individual artists and art groups. It also hosts an elementary and middle school art show as well as the High School Juried Invitational Art Exhibit.
Since its inception in 1968, BAFFA’s influence has grown dramatically. Members now come from many communities from across Long Island and from several states. BAFFA has partnered with more than fifty different organizations, including churches, art groups, schools, local townships, and not-for-profits. BAFFA is excited to continue its mission of supporting and promoting the arts on Long Island.
For an in-depth look at BAFFA’s history, we invite you to watch the videos below, BAFFA Beginnings Part I and Part 2.
About the Gillette House
The office of BAFFA and the art gallery share space in the historic Gillette House in Sayville at 47 Gillette Avenue just south of Main Street, Montauk Highway. The art gallery is located in two rooms with a separate entrance on the south side of the building. BAFFA has hosted juried high school invitational exhibits for a number of years each spring at which time the recipient of the Jacqueline C. Palmer Art Award for a graduating senior is chosen. BAFFA also has sponsored many individual and multi-artist shows featuring local artists.
The Gillette House was built by Capt. Charles Z. Gillette for his wife, Phoebe Edwards and family, after his maritime days at the end of he Civil War. In partnership, he ran the local mercantile, served as postmaster of Sayville and was elected as Town of Islip Supervisor for eight years. In 1905, Captain Gillette was instrumental in having Gillette Avenue dedicated, paving the way for electric lighting. “…charitable and with a good word for everyone, this gentleman of the old school was beloved by the whole village.” (6/8/06 Suffolk County News).
Having bequeathed the family homestead to his daughter, Ida, who preserved his community interest, the Gillette House and property, was gifted in 1944 to the Town of Islip for park purposes, giving Sayville its second park. Today the Gillette House and Park house not only the BAFFA Art Gallery, but the Village Improvement Society, the Wet Paints Studio Group, the Sayville Pantry, as well as the Boy and Girl Scouts, and the Little League. The old carriage house (on Collins) is used by the Sayville Cabinet for the Sick. Rotary Park (between Gillette and Candee Avenue), along with Gillette Park is the site of the Sayville Summer Festival.