By Annette Hinkle
Building on the success of the past two HarborFrosts, organizers this year are looking to expand the one day event with a couple of new offerings. Among them is ArtWalk, a guided tour of Sag Harbor’s art galleries as well as it’s newest art center and academy.
Noyac’s Maryann Lucas, an artist in her own right, is organizing ArtWalk on behalf of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. She’s excited by what she sees as a new energy emerging among Sag Harbor’s visual artists.
“Enclaves of artists are finding each other, supporting each other and celebrating the strength in it,” says Lucas. “It’s revitalizing and rejuvenating and you’re part of a community, which is important for an artist.”
Saturday’s ArtWalk will visit the galleries that anchor Sag Harbor’s art scene where participants will learn about what each has to offer and perhaps enjoy some refreshments as well.
“As of right now, eight galleries are participating in a two hour window,” explains Lucas. “We’ll start out at the Grenning Gallery at 3 p.m. where [owner] Laura Grenning will put out little tidbits to start us off.”
From there, the ArtWalk is slated to visit the Monika Olko Gallery, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Romany Kramoris Gallery, Hooke Sculpture Gallery, Christy’s Art Center and Tulla Booth Gallery before concluding at the Sag Harbor Fine Arts Center on Rose Street.
“Every gallery owner will give a 10 minute talk on the philosophy of their gallery, the current exhibit or the artist,” explains Lucas. “We’ll go like a little gaggle of geese through the village and end up at the Sag Harbor Center of Fine Arts which is having its grand opening with a marshmallow roast and live music.”
Founded just a year ago as The Hamptons Studio of Fine Art by artist and educator James Daga Albinson and executive director Cindy Neuendorf, the newly renamed Sag Harbor Fine Arts Center is now moving forward with a distinct mission and unique vision.
The art academy and studio (located at 2 Rose Street), is currently working toward non-profit status, a long and admittedly expensive process for which Albinson and Neuendorf are now actively raising funds.
To celebrate the new direction, the center recently expanded— taking over an adjacent 2,000 square foot outdoor courtyard space as well as a second free standing studio where students and artists can work. It’s a vision that Albinson and Neuendorf are inviting the community to come share this Saturday during their grand opening from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Sag Harbor Fine Arts Center is designed to be a resource for artists of all ages and levels — from middle schoolers up to professionals. In fact, both work side by side in an atelier-like setting that Albinson feels inspires students, in particular, to rise to an artistic level not typically fostered in the very young.
The whole philosophy, notes Albinson, is to treat students, not as children, but as aspiring artists.
“When I talk to my students, I have lessons where we deal with certain material, but always in the broader context that this is something you can learn to grow your own personal vision,” explains Albinson. “I’m always talking about their portfolio and what they want their work to be. I want them to bring their own aesthetic. I work to show how classical techniques can solve problems in personal work.”
Though the emphasis is on teaching realism, Albinson stresses the real goal is simply to provide a basis from which students can branch out. For example, one 15-year-old at the center is creating surrealistic imagery reminiscent of artists like Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.
“We have a deal,” explains Albinson. “You’ve got to get proficient at the fundamentals, then do what you can do. I help them get it to be what they want. If they’re going someplace, I don’t want to push them somewhere else, but make their road easier.”
Albinson illustrates this notion by explaining why, at a recent one day introductory workshop at the center he had the students draw a still life of a pear.
“I can’t see what’s in the student’s head, nobody can,” he says. “But I can see the pear and what they’re seeing. I can teach them to interpret that subject and put it on the paper accurately. If I can get them to do that, they have the tool set to get what’s in their head on the paper. Once you have the critical thinking, then you can go into your head.”
“There are not a lot of realist art schools that would allow that,” adds Neuendorf.
Though it’s a centerpiece of its mission, the center is not just about teaching technique, and Albinson adds it’s important for students to see real work by professional artists and he even shares the details of his own process.
“If I’m putting together a show, I’m working in the studio on my paintings and talking to them about how I develop a painting, the thought process and meaning behind certain imagery,” he says. “Seeing how a professional artist creates something gives them a framework.”
In addition to the working studio space, the center also features an exhibition area where works by professional artists will be displayed in order to give students first hand examples of the techniques they themselves may be working on.
Beyond the workshops, Albinson and Neuendorf are also looking to offer lectures by well-known local artists and other disciplines — with all the arts represented, not just the visual arts.
“We’re classically progressive and community motivated,” explains Neuendorf. “It’s about discovering your sense of mission, opening up your inner life and relationships to other artists.”
Saturday’s open house at the Sag Harbor Arts Fine Arts Center is from 3 to 6 p.m. and includes a Benefit Art Show with paintings by Anthony Ackrill, James Daga Albinson, Kerry Dunn, Ben Fenske, Melissa-Franklin-Sanchez, Karen Kaapcke, Ramiro, Tony Ryder and Johanna Shwaiger. Albinson notes that 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of his work will go toward setting up the center’s non-profit status. All the other artists are donating a percentage of sales to the effort as well.
The open house will also include live music by Mariann Megna and Bryan Duffy and marshmallow roasting over a fire pit on the new patio space. For more information, visit www.sagharborarts.com.
Some of what else is on view during Saturday’s Art Walk which begins at 3 p.m. on February 9 at the Grenning Gallery:
• The Grenning Gallery (17 Washington Street) is featuring “Intimate Works,” interiors, still lifes and self portraits by Ramiro, Melissa Franklin Sanchez, Lynn Sanguedolce, Ben Fenske and Marc Dalessio. Also on view will be three secondary market works of art including an 1850 painting of Longbothum Farm in Setauket New York by Nina Mount, a signed print by Roy Lichtenstein called “Composition III,” and an original poster from when hunter S Thompson ran for Sheriff in Aspen in 1993 (signed by the artist and Thompson).
• Romany Kramoris Gallery (41 Main Street) will feature work by local artists including Jorge Silveira, Christopher Engel and Ted Davies. Also on view, Earth, Sea, and Sky paintings by Willie St. James and handmade sequined Voodoo bottles that conjure up positive energy.
• The Richard J. Demato Gallery (90 Main Street) will be offering “Magical Moments” of fantasy and love to celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Works on view include the bound figure of Austrian artist Margit Fureder’s “Resurrection,” Margo Selski’s “Invisible Light,” and Sag Harbor artist Harriet Sawyer’s “On the Grid.” Refreshments will be served and gallery director, Eve Gianni Corio and owner, Richard Demato will be on hand to discuss the work Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.