Widgets Magazine

An Ensemble Cast of North Fork Artists at Jonathan Weiskopf & Dena Zemsky's Winter Salon

GNF: Tell me about Winter Salon.JW: Winter salon is a new model for me and it’s a brand new opportunity for me to become acquainted with many of the best known long time North Fork resident artists. A lot of those introductions came to me through Dena, who is one of those best known, long-time Greenport resident artists. She is very deeply engaged with many of the other artists here and aware of / involved in this longstanding tradition of the winter salon in Greenport, which I think hasn’t taken place in a number of years. That’s what we have modeled this exhibition after.

DZ: in the 90’s there was another artist and homeowner who was in the commercial district over by First Street and he opened a gallery - he had wonderful shows there, mostly by artists on the North Fork, and I mean those were really mostly from new Suffolk to Orient, very, very close. They were a great success and they were a great community builder. So when I approached Jonathan when I met him after he had his second show, I said how about we do this? And he took to the idea, and we decided to co-curate it and it was also a great way for him to meet the more serious artists in this area, and the people. Many of whom came out here as part timers and now live here full time.

GNF: So you two met earlier this year I assume when Jonathan started the VSOP exhibitions?

JW: Yes early in the summer, shortly after the opening reception of the second exhibit.

DZ: It was the next day, I came in and just welcomed him to the community. I was so happy that someone wanted to come in and do a serious art gallery and not a store, not a craft store or something. And I invited him to see my work if I wanted to.

GNF: So you have 24 artists, all local ish…

JW: 24 East End artists, two from the South Shore, and a couple of artists from the great Long Island arts community, and many from Orient to New Suffolk & Mattituck.

GNF: And once again it’s a nicely eclectic mix of media.

JW: Yes, that’s one of the most important things for me here is to bring a very interdisciplinary approach to curating an art experience.

DZ: The other thing that has been great about this show is that Jonathan has finally been able to utilize his garden as a sculpture garden, so Arden Scott has three sculptures in the back.

JW: This is my first foray into housing large scale outdoor sculpture, these three pieces are by Arden Scott who is one of the most beloved North Fork, Greenport artists, and she’s agreed to let us live with these pieces through the winter.

GNF: Doesn’t she have a studio up by Bridge Street? I think she lives next to one of my good friends. Sort of like ship inspired sculpture.

JW: Yep, you’ve probably seen these pieces out in front of her studio.

DZ: She is a master sailor also, so she’s inspired by the sea, and we also have one of her beautiful pieces by the window.

JW: Another very important thing is that the art is involved in the revitalization of the roller rink right on Third Street here – their massive efforts to bring back the old building there. So we are donating half of the proceeds to that effort to revitalize it.

GNF: that’s cool, I love skating!

DZ: I have to tell you when I first moved here and my daughters were small, because I’m here 24 years, we went roller skating there it was great. And they had girl scouts were there and everything, it was a great place but the infrastructure fell apart so they’ve been doing fundraising for a long time. They just renamed it after one of our beloved citizens who died prematurely, so I’m not sure exactly what the name is now.

JW: Its Burton Potter – Lets Skate Again is the name of the effort towards bringing that space back to what it once was. We’re excited in participating in another community project like that.

GNF: are you half and half in this collaboration or is it or would you say it mostly Dena or yourself?

JW: No we’re co curators, Dena made all of the introductions to the artists for me. Together we did 25 studio visits, once with each of the participating artists. That was an amazing opportunity for me to become far more aware of and knowledgeable about how art is made out here – in which many cases were big eye opening and encouraging moments for me. Because my model here is that I bring in work from artists from around the world, and this is my first exhibition with a large number of local artists, and as a small local business its super important for me to know how art is made here - specific to this area. I mean there is a rich history of art making on the North Fork. This was a huge eye opener for me.

DZ: And it’s really the tip of the iceberg, there are so many others, and so many other galleries out here that are showing people, you know there are much more than 24 people. But it was a nice introduction and it opens the possibility for Jonathan to have long term relationships with different people going forward. He can still have his model but, maybe have one or two shows a year that are local people.

JW: I absolutely see it extending to where I have many of these artists participating in the gallery year round.

GNF: What about yourself? Can we expect a new Jonathan Weiskopf original in the future?

JW: Certainly not an exhibition of my work, though I am including a piece in the show, a lighting piece that I designed – so that’s being installed.

GNF: Nice.

DZ: I’ll just keep encouraging him to also make art!

GNF: Can I ask you what the price range is? You mentioned in the release it was an affordable art show.

JW: Yes, so the work spans from under $100 to you know, $18,000 for one of Arden’s outdoor sculptures

GNF: That’s if you can one through the door.

JW: They disassemble for transport.

DZ: But there are a great deal of works below $1000, most of it’s below, and a good chunk is in the $100 – 500 range. So you know, it’s kind of all over. Also what we try to do with some of the artists whose work is in other galleries and sells for a lot higher numbers, we ask them to include some pieces that are affordable, so if you loved an artist you could say “Well I can’t afford her $3,000 piece but I can afford a $300 piece.” We encourage the artists participating to give people the opportunity to start collecting them at a number they can afford and then you know, once they get it home they love it so much they decide they have to save up for the other one.

GNF: That’s how you get them started

DZ: Yep.

JW: Dena also had this ingenious idea for the show which is that many of the artists have extensive exhibition histories locally, and Dena made a point selecting work from many of those artists that may be a little less typical. Some of it may be surprising to people who have seen their work on exhibition over the years. You know, Dena being far more knowledgeable about the body of work that artists have produced over the years, has had her eye on work that would be a little bit more surprising to people who collect frequently.

GNF: So the salon used to be a Greenport tradition?

DZ: Well I don’t know if you’d call it a tradition, we did them for about four years. Geoffrey Leven had his art gallery called the Yellow House in a commercial space during the 90s – many of the artists in this show used to be in his gallery and thought, “Remember when we used to do those salon shows it was such a great experience!” The other thing reason why I wanted to call it the Winter Salon, was that I wanted to key into the (which is a real tradition) salon show experience. Going back all the way to France, you know the great salon shows there where you would have a lot of artists and a lot of work, hanging almost floor to ceiling. I also took a recent trip to the Barnes collection and he shows that way at the Philadelphia History Museum – the walls have become these wonderful – what was his word? Assemblages of work.

JW: Ensembles – took me a moment!

DZ: Ensembles, that was his word – so that was a real inspiration for me for hanging it, and I felt very strongly that once we got all the work together, we could start to create these rooms with a lot of art, and not having it feel busy but feel like – an ensemble.

JW: And have real conversations between the work of these artists - who may or may not know each other, who may or may not have exhibited together in the past – it’s an amazing opportunity for these works to be in conversation with each other. The style of the presentation affords us, and the works that possibility.

GNF: So almost 25 artists, about how many will be present for the reception?

JW: Just about all of the artists will be present here.

DZ: One of our artists, one of our young local women who grew up here, Patience Pollack, she’s in New Mexico.

GNF: Any relation to Jackson Pollack?

DZ: No, I think everybody asks her that, but she grew up here in Greenport, she happens to be in the Southwest right now. One of our other key artists is also a very accomplished musician and he’s preforming this weekend so that’s unfortunate. But I think everyone else will at least stop by!

GNF: That really is an ensemble for sure, in every sense of the word.