In 2007, with rumors swirling about the imminent arrival of big box stores to the village, several residents formed Save Sag Harbor, an organization whose mission is to preserve the unique character of Main Street in the face of development pressures from beyond our borders.
While the gloomy economy may have temporarily dampened enthusiasm for development on the East End (and everywhere else for that matter), two years later, Save Sag Harbor is still going strong and focused on keeping Sag Harbor the unique destination it is by uniting all facets of the community.
When it comes to bringing people together if the board of Save Sag Harbor has learned anything in two years, it’s that throwing a party is the best way to do it. Because there are so many creative souls living in and around the village, art auctions have often been a feature of Save Sag Harbor benefits. This Saturday, June 27, Save Sag Harbor takes that notion to a new level by hosting an art themed day designed to raise money and call attention to the village’s thriving art scene as well.
The day begins at 2 p.m. Saturday with an Art Walk led by Main Street gallery owners Tulla Booth and Rebecca Cooper. The free two hour tour begins at the windmill on Long Wharf and offers an insider’s peak at the art scene here with stops at 11 village galleries. Participants can join or depart the tour at any point and self-guided maps will be available at the galleries beforehand and at the windmill.
Afterwards, Save Sag Harbor will host a silent art auction/art benefit at Christy’s Art Center, 3 Madison Street, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The art auction will feature work by well-known East End artists in a range of mediums.
“We have 63 or 64 artists,” explains Save Sag Harbor board member (and artist) April Gornik. “I began using the list of artists whom we invited before, plus those who contacted me in benefits past and we couldn’t squeeze in. We were immediately up to 55 artists, then someone else would call.”
Among the auction offerings are an Eric Fischl watercolor, a drawing by Bryan Hunt, a mixed media piece by Dan Rizzie, an etching by Gornik, and an oil painting by the late Melinda Camber Porter, a renowned artist, journalist and author who passed away in Sag Harbor in 2008 and whose husband arranged for her work to be included in the show.
“I think the art in this benefit is the best selection we’ve ever had,” says Gornik. “When I spoke with the artists, I said, ‘Think in terms of work that could go in most people’s homes comfortably.’ We have a range of prices, from $100 up to $17,000 for a very unusual one.”
Since opening Christy’s Art Center for community oriented events in mid-May, Michael Eicke has found his building a center of cultural activity in the village. An exhibit of Billy Joel’s motorcycles currently on view has been extended through July 19, but will be moved out for the Save Sag Harbor event.
“Michael [Eicke] has the most wonderful attitude about the community,” says Gornik. “He wants to make it available to people who need it to bring the community together.”
“In our fantasy we can perhaps turn this into something like other towns who host a ‘First Saturday.’ Perhaps we can even expand it. It’s all up to the businesses, it would be lovely — a regular event to draw people to Main Street,” says Gornik who recently took part in a discussion on art and commerce hosted by Bonnie Grice of WLIU-FM. She came away from the event understanding the important role artists play in the life of a place.
“More than the topic of money, the importance of artists in the community to the vitality of place was so important and obvious,” she notes. “Many people said that a community’s health can be measured by the number of artists who live there.”
A suggested $5 donation will be collected at the door of the benefit to cover event costs. For information, call Jayne Young at 725-7545.
Above: April Gornik in front of Christy’s Art Center with a “Save Sag Harbor” benefit sign