Tag Archive | "April Gornik"

Artists’ Watering Cans Help Tree Fund to Grow

Tags: , ,


web gahan watercan

By Ellen Frankman

Sag Harbor Tree Fund member Neal Hartman was at a benefit auction in Key West, Florida four years ago in which organizers had enlisted participating artists to transform a small Adirondack chair into a piece of art.

That’s when inspiration struck. As a means of fundraising, Hartman saw the idea as one that could be equally successful for the Tree Fund.

This Sunday, the Tree Fund hosts its own benefit auction at Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor. But event creator and co-chair, Hartman, along with fellow Tree Fund member Alexandra Eames, felt a more appropriate medium would be, not chairs, but watering cans.

“Watering Cans as Art” will feature a silent auction of unique, one of a kind works of art created on metal watering cans by some 20 artists. The event will raise money for the Tree Fund’s maintenance program, which takes care of new trees planted in the village.

 “The first three years are the most important for the trees to establish their roots,” explains Hartman.

The Tree Fund provides the village with green watering bags that are placed at the base of young trees and filled with water on a weekly basis. The program has allowed for over 300 of Sag Harbor’s young trees to thrive.

On August 1, the Tree Fund’s event at Cormaria will include cocktails and gorgeous views of the harbor. But the real focus will be on the 20 diverse works of art that will be assembled for auction — including one by Sag Harbor’s Gahan Wilson, famed cartoonist for The New Yorker and Playboy

“I was approached by a friend, artist Whitney Hansen. I came home and there was this watering can on my front door,” recalls Wilson. “So I picked it up and took it in and there was a note on it from Whitney and she wanted to know if I would do this for the cause.”

Hansen, who is also a participating artist, kindly lent Wilson the use of her studio.

“As a cartoonist I work on paper with pen and ink and watercolor which wouldn’t do a thing on a watering can,” Wilson remarked.

As for the idea for his can, which features cartoon-inspired (naturally) flowers and birds eagerly gulping droplets of water, Wilson says it came effortlessly.

“It was exactly like doing a cartoon. You just sit there and have a theme and try to get the notion across,” he says. “The idea floats around in your head and all of a sudden pops into view. It’s magical!”

Wilson was delighted to participate, both to show support for the members of the Tree Fund, and in appreciation for the abundant natural beauty of Sag Harbor.

“One of the lovely things about Sag Harbor are the trees,” says Wilson. “They are just wonderful. They are all over the place. And they encourage the birds, which are also all over place.”

“The tree shaded lanes of Sag Harbor are very much what makes the village what it is,” agrees North Haven artist April Gornik, who also contributed her considerable talents for the auction (as did her husband, Eric Fischl).

For Gornik, whose offering features a tree-lined path leading off into the distance, it was important that her watering can reflect her aesthetic as an artist, despite the fact she was working in an unconventional medium.

“I actually specifically wanted to do something that people would recognize as my own. I was trying to figure out an image that I thought would work with the circularity of the surface. The idea of doing the reverse of the bend made sense to me,” explains Gornik, whose painted can plays with the eye’s perception of depth.

Like Wilson, Gornik, too, is supportive of the Tree Fund’s work and was motivated to participate largely by the great knowledge of its members, particularly Tree Fund co-chair Mac Griswold.

“She is truly knowledgeable about botany in a deep way,” shared Gornik, who was first approached to contribute to the fundraiser by Griswold herself.

Michael Grim of Bridgehampton Florist initially felt disadvantaged in that despite being an artist, he certainly is no painter. After nearly 14 hours of straight work on his can however, he was able to produce a shell-laden masterpiece that seems to be a perfect relic of the East End’s beaches.

Part of the fun for Grim was having no idea what his fellow contributing artists would do.

“None of us really knew. Everyone was kind of mum about it,” says Grim. He even laughingly confessed to asking Hartman about the others work, but the co-chair wouldn’t say a thing.

Though entirely satisfied with the beautiful piece of art that is his watering can, Grim nevertheless had to question the practicality of his piece.

“I wonder if everyone is going to be really practical so that the watering can be used, or if they are going to be like me. My can now weighs like 50 pounds!” he laughed.

Such an imaginative means of fundraising has left Hartman with little idea of the sort of auction prices the cans will draw. The base price for all watering cans will be $100 and bidding will move along at $25 increments, but from there it is up to the bidders to do the rest.

“We have no idea how much they will go for. That’s what’s so exciting about it,” says Hartman.

His only expectations are for a “great turnout” and “generous bidders.”

“We are hoping that collectors of these artists will want to own a watering can by them and therefore the sky is the limit.”

“Watering Cans as Art” is Sunday, August 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Cormaria Retreat House, 77 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. The event includes a high tea with hors d’oeuvre and refreshments on Cormaria’s porch and a chance to bid on the artistic watering cans. Participating artists are Nancy Achenbach, JoAnne Williams Carter, Bob Dash, Paul Davis, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Michael Grim, Whitney Hansen, Jennifer Houser, Dick Huebner, Nicolette Jelen, Jack Lenor Larsen, James McMullan Jo-Ann Melrose, Mark Mulholland, David Salle, Scott Sandell, Kathryn Szoka and Gahan Wilson. 


Effort Mounted to Encourage Local Volunteers

Tags: , , ,


Just as President Barack Obama has called on the American people to help ease the effects of an economic downturn and better the nation by volunteering for community organizations and not-for-profits, so to are a group of local organizations, banding together to increase awareness, and hopefully membership among their own ranks.

In October, artist and community activist April Gornik joined forces with Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein in an effort to bring the leaders of over a dozen community based service organizations – dedicated to conservation, public health, the environment, youth services and historic preservation and community awareness – together to talk about their goals, and more importantly, what their needs are.

“It really came down to people needing time and talent,” said Gornik on Monday. In addition to a desire to simply increase the number of volunteers in each organization, many are also looking to branch out, reach younger audiences in the community and upgrade the information services they provide to the Sag Harbor area and beyond.

“I think people are really busy keeping afloat right now,” said Gornik. “We want to let people know that there are a lot of ways to help a lot of organizations, whether you are a graphic artist who can help design a webpage or someone willing to lick stamps.”

To that end, Gornik and Stein worked with local groups to begin outreach, starting with an advertising campaign designed simply to let people know what groups are out there. The initiative also includes plans for a recruitment fair at Pierson High School, where they hope to have a volunteers table, as well as taking advantage of the September HarborFest celebration.

“We would really like a volunteer presence there,” said Gornik. “So while people are eating their lobster rolls they can think about some of the things they can do to pitch in.”

Stein’s involvement aligns community groups with village government, opening the door, Gornik hopes, for more opportunities for local government to work with local organizations.

“Now we have more of an opportunity to work together as an open village; and not just with Robby, but the whole village board,” said Gornik. “We have a really good roster up there.”

Sandra Ferguson, President of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (FLPG), credited the people of Sag Harbor as one of the more involved group of residents on the East End, but noted even with a dedicated core group of volunteers, the FLPG are in constant need of volunteers willing to work outdoors towards the betterment of the greenbelt.

“We actually think it is great fun,” she said.

The FLPG was established in 1997 and works in an all-volunteer capacity towards the preservation and stewardship of the Long Pond Greenbelt, located in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton. Volunteers are needed for habitat restoration, web and print publications, educational projects, trail and roadside clean-ups, community outreach and events planning.

In particular, said Ferguson, the FLPG would love to secure a volunteer with Internet expertise, noting the leadership of the organization is not quite web savvy.

One of the group’s most recent projects, and one Ferguson is particularly proud of, is a 30-acre grassland restoration the group is completing behind the South Fork Natural History Museum.

“It is a wonderful project that can involve all ages,” she said.

Ultimately, she said volunteering brings with it a sense of fulfillment not found in other aspects of ones life.

“In the long run, it is extremely fulfilling to be involved with something that is outside of our own personal set of goals and needs,” she said. “You will have a return on your investment of time and energy.”

Ed Downes, President of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corp., has found that fulfillment in his work providing emergency medical services to the community. The squad currently has 32 members, and Downes said it can use more help.

“We will take anyone willing to learn,” he said, noting it takes 150 hours to certify as an EMT and eight hours to learn CPR, plus additional in-house training.

“It’s non-stop,” said Downes, adding the squad does in-house training at least twice a month, and ultimately being an active member is a commitment of about seven to eight hours a week.

“We have a retirement program and for every 50 emergency calls we give you a free tank of gas,” said Downes. “Those are the big incentives we offer to try and keep our membership up.”

As with most organizations, the hardest part for most people, said Downes, is the time commitment. The squad is particularly in need of people willing to work between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. – a difficult time to find volunteers, he said, as most people are working and picking their kids up from school. But, he added, it is fulfilling knowing you are performing an important — and critical — service for the community.

Debbie Skinner’s Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD), a not for profit, free recreation program for the children of Sag Harbor, is also in need of volunteers – students and parents alike.

“One, I need students to volunteer their time to be on the youth advisory board so they can tell us what kids would like to have, what programs, what trips, what is cool, what is not cool,” said Skinner. “Then we can give them what they want.”

Skinner said she likes to recruit a dozen students for that board, from grades eight through 11, to attend the two-hour monthly meeting, the only requirement.

“And it is wonderful for your transcript,” she added.

Parents are also crucial to YARD’s success, whether by serving on the board of directors or volunteering their time to chaperone events like this month’s winter trip to a skating rink in Hauppague.

 “Sag Harbor is wonderful in terms of the way parents chip in and volunteer,” continued Skinner. “I think a lot of parents tend to volunteer with the sports a lot, but this will bring light to other ways people can serve and share their skills.”

See the back page of this week’s issue of The Sag Harbor Express for a list of local volunteer organizations.

Mixing it Up at the Parrish

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Marianna Levine

Terrie Sultan, the director of the Parrish Art Museum, decided to do something a little different with the museum’s up-coming show, “Mixed Greens: Artists Choose Artists on the East End” which opens with a reception on Saturday April 18 at 6 p.m. Instead of presenting a traditional juried art show she decided to have local artists choose one artist each to co-exhibit with at the Parrish. The end result is a show that is not thematic but rather a mixture of artists working in a variety of media united only by their choice of location, hence the title “Mixed Greens.”

Sultan explains, “I generally don’t like to title exhibits, but I considered how we could describe putting a variety of things together in one show, and also wanted to use the color green since it is my understanding that green is one of the most difficult colors to work with, and I wanted to allude to the difficulty of working and living as an artist.”

The idea of having local artists handpick another perhaps less well-known artist to pair their work with was inspired by a comment Sultan heard artist April Gornik make about how she enjoys the artistic community on the East End, because people have the time and space to work and play together. Sultan tried to think of a way the Parrish could foster that community and facilitate introductions among artists who lived here. In the end, the Parrish decided to put out an open call for submissions from local artists and received over 260 responses. They then asked nine established East End artists to review all of the work.

Sag Harbor resident and artist, Gornik, turned out to be one of the jurors for the exhibit. Having to choose from the large number of submissions turned out to be a daunting task, she explained, but she was extremely happy to be exposed to so much excellent work. “It increased my admiration for the wealth of talent that’s out here.”

Gornik ended up selecting the work of Lucy Winton, in part because she felt Winton’s work hadn’t been given a lot of exposure so far, stating, “The great potential of a show like this is to introduce people to art they might otherwise not be aware of.” However, she also chose Winton’s work, which is primarily figurative, because she was really taken with her use of what Gornik refers to as an “animal consciousness.”

Donald Sultan, another Sag Harbor resident and artist, agrees that being a juror for this show was tough as the amount and quality of the work was so high. He decided to pick Steve Laub, an artist who currently works with shoes and teaches at Rutgers University. Like Gornik he ended up choosing an artist whom he felt could use a little more exposure.  However, Sultan stresses ultimately he went with the work he found the most interesting.

Donald Sultan, who is Terrie Sultan’s brother, enjoyed the selection process stating, “This type of process is more inclusive. It’s a good way for museums not to create hostility but rather to create inclusivity by allowing artists to be more involved in the (selection) process.”

Noyac resident and artist Kevin Teare was one of the nine artists selected to exhibit. He is showing a piece entitled “The Beatles Will Save Us” which is one of several pieces he has created around the concept of the Beatles. Teare explains a lot of his work is about cultural obsessions and clearly the Beatles are the ultimate “cultural Rosetta stone.” He also says he felt drawn to the Beatles as a young student in the 60s because “they were an artier group, but unfortunately a lot of the art related to the Beatles in the past has been pretty bad.”

His work was selected by artist John Torreano. Teare wasn’t familiar with Torreano prior to this endeavor and enjoyed the experience of meeting and working with him on “Mixed Greens.” As a matter of fact, Teare explained that they were selecting the work to be hung in the show together, and trying to relate it to each other’s pieces with the assistance of the show’s curator, Alicia Longwell.

All of the artists are looking forward to the opening party this Saturday (which is open to the public), as they’ll have a chance to see all the work hanging together as well as have a chance to hang out with one another. Three of the jurors will join the three artists they selected in a panel discussion at 6 p.m., followed by a performance by the experimental punk band the xframes. Peter Dayton, one of the artists selected to exhibit, is actually in the band along with artist Jameson Ellis, and Stan Stokowski.

Terrie Sultan, who took over as director of the Parrish Art Museum a year ago says, “I’m looking forward to the show as I’m new out here and I was amazed at the high level of art created in the area. I hope we’ll do this type of show again. Maybe we’ll do it in another three or four years, but I’m still waiting to hear from everyone involved if they liked this process. So we’ll see.”

 “Mixed Greens” will exhibit the works of John Alexander, Michael Combs, Mary Heilmann, Richard Kalina, Michelle Stuart, Joe Zucker, Jessica Benjamin, Randall Rosenthal, Frazer P. Doughterty, Jody Pinto, Ellen Wiener, as well as the artists mentioned above.