Widgets Magazine

VSOP Projects Takes Root in Greenport; a chat with Founder, Director, and Curator Jonathan Weiskopf

This interview was conducted May 1; VSOP has had its ‘soft opening’; the Grand Opening is this coming Saturday night from 6-10 pm.

Q: What is VSOP Projects?

A: VSOP Projects is a multi-use, contemporary art space. We stage exhibitions of artwork by emerging and established artists and designers, and we have a retail shop with a wide variety of furnishings, accessories, and objects for the home. Our large private garden will be a gathering space for the community -- a place where we will screen films, host artist talks, and have live performances. Additionally, we are excited to sponsor artist-led projects in the community, offer free educational programs, host events for kids and families, and bring more public art to Greenport.

Q: Right now you’re in full renovation mode converting the building, so it’s a little hard to visualize the final product—although your old wood wide plank floors are gorgeous. What will the experience of the space be like when it’s finished?

A: Thank you! The wide plank floors are original to this building, built in 1868, and they are a huge part of why I fell in love with it. Because we will have an evolving and rotating collection of art and objects in the space, and will bring in new pieces weekly, guests can expect a different experience every time they visit.

Lightbox oil on cotton painting by Alexandria Mento, Conversation Seat II by Katie Walker, Beni Ourain Rug from Morocco

We have a number of rooms that will serve different functions. Some spaces will be formal art galleries with paintings, photographs, and sculpture on display. We will have another space that’s dedicated to video art. And, we will have a “VSOP Shop” that will feel a bit more like a store with furniture, rugs, and gift items for sale.

Memobottle, a slim, reusable, eco-friendly water bottle made in Australia

The whole property is being designed to give our visitors a really good sense of how any piece they find at VSOP could feel in their own home. I think that’s a valuable experience, and one that I often find is missing in other gallery or retail settings.

Installation photograph featuring a monumental mid-century Swedish credenza, ceramic architectural sculptures by Vermont artist John Brickels, Arch Mirror by Bower Studio, signed black & white photograph of Bob Dylan by Danny Clinch, Beni Ourain rug from Morocco.

Q: Sounds like a place to visit and experience for sure. What do you mean when you say VSOP Projects will also be a performance space?

A: Well, our shows will feature an evolving group of really exciting artists, designers, and creative thinkers. For example, I work with a painter that is also a costume-maker; a sculptor who is also a performance artist; and a ceramic artist who works very much like an architect. During these shows, visitors to the gallery may find one of our artists doing a pop-up performance in the building or in the garden.

And, as I mentioned, we will be producing a whole bunch of interesting and interactive readings, screenings, workshops, family-friendly art days, and other pop-up events.

Installation photograph featuring Early 19th Century American portrait painting, rare mid-century Milo Baughman leather recliner, signed color photograph of Jay-Z by Danny Clinch

Q: Speaking about the Garden, you mentioned TERRA! Earth chairs. What are those?

A: TERRA! chairs are these amazing outdoor chairs that are built right into the ground and have live grass grown over them. They are super comfortable and are perfect for stargazing or watching a movie outside on a summer night.

We’ve installed a sofa and two armchairs in the garden, and have kits for these, as well as child-sized ones, available at the VSOP Shop.

Q: This is such an interesting project and elaboration beyond what it normally means to be an art gallery or a store. Why did you pick Greenport for the location?

A: I’m a native Long Islander. I moved to Southold last year after finishing graduate school in Boston. I love it here-- being close to the water, eating food and drinking wine that is grown on farms around the block from my house.

Jonathan Weiskopf

Greenport is really an incredible community with a wonderful, creative, dynamic energy. There are so many young people opening new businesses and it’s an everybody-knows-everybody kind of place. I can’t wait to meet everybody and couldn’t think of a better environment to live and start my new business!

Pair of Oil on linen paintings by Copenhagen-based artist Line Busch

One of our deepest commitments at VSOP Projects is to be good, active listeners. Our goal is to gain an understanding of the needs and wants of our community-- children, underserved populations, other businesses, our visitors, and customers-- and to use our space to support those needs and wants. It is our hope that we can use progressive art and design based programs to provide opportunities for local artists and important local voices to exhibit and share their work.

Q: That community commitment is great, because this building—311 Front Street—was the home of CAST, a beloved local community group. (Now they’ve moved across the street.) Will you specialize in any particular kind of art or artist? What really attracts you to a work? Do you have a particular aesthetic you like to feature?

A: It’s funny - I didn’t love art as a child, and it’s difficult for me to describe why I love art now. I have had experiences with art that really moved me. It seems like a nuanced difference, but it’s the experience of the art that I found most compelling. These experiences occurred in museums, galleries, art school, around artist friends, as a curator and organizer, etc. These are the experiences that has made art so important to me.

Arrow III, Gouache on Solid Pine by Charley Friedman

So, no, we won’t specialize in a particular kind of art making or aesthetic, but my goal is to create these kinds of compelling experiences for our visitors, guests, the Greenport community - for people who love art or people who don’t know that they love art yet (:-)).

Q: When is opening day? Will you have some kind of special event to mark the occasion?

A: We will do a ‘soft’ open the week of May 15th. We may still be moving some things around and putting some finishing touches on the space and the garden, but I can’t wait any longer to show off the new digs and make new friends! The Grand Opening will be on May 27th. We will have a reception that EVERYONE is invited to join us for from 6-10pm. That’s the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

The inaugural exhibition will feature over 20 artists from around the world, including celebrated British furniture maker Katie Walker; sculptor, photographer and performance artist Charley Friedman; Copenhagen-based painter Line Busch; Istanbul/New York based photographer Devin Yalkin; Brooklyn’s Bower design studio; and the late ceramic master Don Reitz. Several of the participating artists are being shown here for the first time in the United States.

Q: That’s this Saturday! Sounds fun.  Any last thoughts or comments to introduce VSOP Projects?

Thank you, Abigail, for taking the time to speak with me today. This is a really exciting time and I appreciate the opportunity to tell people about what we’ve got planned.

For those who are interested in learning more about VSOP, you can find us online at www.VSOPProjects.com or on social media (@VSOPProjects). And, for those who visit and share a photo on Instagram using #VSOPProjects, we’ll be offering 10% off in the VSOP Shop for the first month.