Cover photo credit: Joe Foster, Dapp Studios; all others courtesy Kara Hoblin
Q: How did you get to the North Fork?
A: I’ve been visiting the North Fork since I was about 15 and moved out here about three and a half years ago. I had been living in Brooklyn after college, working at a photo and styling agency in the Soho Tribeca area.
The moving process was traumatic. I made the mistake of packing my car the night before the big move and it was broken into. I lost all my camera equipment, a lot of clothes, a lot of stuff. It was really unfortunate. The break-in was a real test of patience and lesson in the art of letting go.
Q: Cameras? I didn’t realize you were a photographer, I think of you as a chalk artist, painter and mixed media artist.
A: I went to college for photography, getting my BFA from SUNY New Paltz. My thesis was printed, manipulated photos that I painted over, I always tried to use a bunch of different mediums. I chose photography because it was something I didn’t really fully understand.
I’ve been painting since before I could talk—my mom’s an artist, very into quilting and crafting and painting. I just started at a young age, and continued throughout school. At one point I was really gunning to be a marine biologist, but when push came to shove I went with my gut and chose art. When I lost my cameras is when I got back into drawing.
Q: So you landed on the North Fork stripped of your professional tools, your cameras; so what did you do?
A: I started doing social media and marketing out here, also in the wine industry. I met Sarah Phillips of First and South, which has this huge chalkboard wall. I explained my skill set, and she asked me to do her chalkboard.
I told her I didn’t think I could do it, but she said, if it’s terrible I’ll just erase it. She liked it, so I’ve been doing it every month or so ever since.
2017 is the first year I’m solely creating art as my main career. I do a lot of chalkboards now. I like how ephemeral that medium is. I also do a lot of pen and ink drawing. I’m illustrating an infographic about super sunflower seeds, that’s mainly watercolor and ink.
I’m also working on more coloring books, a second volume on the North Fork and one for the South Fork.
Q: That’s great that you’re able to focus on your art career. You mentioned liking how ephemeral chalkboards are—that’s really unusual. So many people are striving for permanence in their creations. Immortality really. What is it you like about the ephemeral nature of chalk?
A: Chalk came into my life really randomly. As Sarah said: If it’s terrible I can erase it. I think that pertains to a lot of things in life.
Terrible things happened to people. Unexpected, unplanned, tragic things. I’ve accepted those things happen and can let them go. Keep moving forward out of those dark times and into the light.
Just being able to erase it—you put so much of yourself into the art, just to be able to erase it is really powerful. If you can do that with your work, you can do that with everything else.
I had my first solo show last August and it was called “The Art of Letting Go.” I invited everyone to help erase about eight 4’x4’ chalkboards. These were personal pieces I spent days and days and days making. They took a lot of time and emotion to create. At the show the idea was that my art could work as a tool and help people accept letting go. Being able to come together to erase the work.
There’s something that really connected everyone —lawyers, accountants, farmers, real estate agents, little kids, all these people in participating in the same event.
People tell me—I can’t believe you erased that!
When I was getting ready for The Art of Letting Go, to help prepare myself to say goodbye to each of the drawings, a friend gave me some readings about Buddhist practices, where the monks spend so many hours creating these really elaborate sand paintings (mandalas) and then they blow them away and erase them. It’s amazing how old this idea of letting go through art is.
Q: That art opening sounds like an incredible experience. Do you have any shows open or opening soon?
A: I have one opening on April 8 at First and South. It’s a solo show, a lot of new art—paintings and drawings inspired by our native flora and fauna in a very magical style. I see the North Fork as a truly magical mystical place. I’ll also do a new chalkboard at the restaurant that coincides with the show.
It’s the first day First and South will be open for the season. There will be free snacks, and a cash bar, it will be a fun spring awakening.
Q: That sounds so cool—a popup art reception and opening during Taste the North Fork Saturday. First and South is right across the street from one of the Greenport bus loop stops, so perhaps the winery hoppers will stop in for a look. Any other interesting projects on the horizon?
A: Yes. I’m organizing and curating Sea Something, Save Something, a rotating show of East End Artists that will pop up in various venues starting April 29th. Each venue’s show will have a different beneficiary and a different collection of work on display.
The first one will be at Borghese on April 29th, benefitting Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Programs, which supports habitat rehabilitation, our bays and estuaries, SPAT, and further educational programs.
I’m hoping the art puts some emphasis on our environment. And this show helps bring people together not to let go but to start investing in protecting our world.
I just had some work up at Love Lane Kitchen, and will be hanging some work at Borghese in the front room shortly, a small solo show separate from Sea Something, Save Something.
I think I already mentioned this but I’m working on more coloring books. My first one is a mix of everything North Fork—the 67 steps in Greenport, the hedge maze in Harbes, a ‘what’s in season page.’ Unfortunately I couldn't fit everything in that first one. In Volume 2 some of the places I’ve already finished are Greenport Harbor Brewery, the Carousel, The Times Vintage.
Q: Is anything particularly inspiring your art these days?
A: Well, I’m always very inspired by human experience and interaction, and by stars and galaxies, about how we’re all literal stardust, but right now I’m really working on things inspired by nature and water, and our local and flora in particular, perhaps because of the environmental crisis we’re in. Or perhaps because I enjoy it so much and feel at home in our natural environment.
Find Kara anytime at KaraHoblin.com