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An Art Walk Down Sag Harborís Main Street Draws Support For Preservation Campaign

Originally Posted: June 30, 2009

Colin M. Graham

Brenda Siemer, Margret Garrett, Randall Rosenthal and April Gornik at the Silent Art Auction to benefit Save Sag Harbor. Photos by Colin M. Graham

Sag Harbor - Despite predicted reports of continuing rain, the weather on Saturday, June 27 turned out to be perfect, if not a little muggy, for the Sag Harbor Art Walk and Save Sag Harbor Art Auction. The Art Walk, which began at 2 p.m. by the iconic Windmill by the Long Wharf, canvassed 11 local galleries before ending at the Chirsty's Art Center for an art auction to benefit Save Sag Harbor that began at 4:30 p.m.

Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean with Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Joe Petrosik.

Close to 60 local artists donated pieces to help raise money for Save Sag Harbor, along with two limited vintage bottles of wine to be raffled off signed by April Gornik: a Bedell Blanc de Blanc and a Malbec from the Benziger "Imagery" series. The auction featured a who's who of highly regarded artists including Eric Fischl, Ann Chwatsky, Doug Kuntz, Donald Sultan, Laurie Lambrecht, Joe Pintauro, Dorothy Frankel, Ralph Gibson, Dan Rizzie, Randall Rosenthal, and John Alexander to name just a few.

The tour was organized by Tulla Booth of the Tulla Booth Gallery and Rebecca Cooper of The Gallery. The first stop on the walk was Canio's Bookstore, proceeding to the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, and then down the West side of Main Street to the Delaney Cooke Gallery, the Grenning Gallery, Tulla Booth Gallery, and Urban Zen, before heading back up the East side of Main Street to the Kramoris Gallery, Gallery Merz, Sylvester & Co., The Gallery, Wintertree Gallery and finally ending at Christy's Art Center.

"We did a tour in conjunction with two of the gallery owners here in Sag Harbor who have done this art tour several times," explained artist and Save Sag Harbor board member Gornik at the auction. "We were offered [the Christy's Art Center] very kindly by Michael Eicke but we didn't want to make our event exclusive to this space - we wanted to open it up to the rest of the village and thought that an art tour in combination with this auction would be a great way to get people all around Sag Harbor."

Approximately 60 local artists had work for sale at the silent auction. Here some interested buyers are looking at a sculpture by Dorothy Frankel.

Maps were handed out so that people were able to join and leave the tour as they pleased. At the auction event, Gornik related that "the sale of this art is going to fund all of the various projects that Save Sag Harbor is involved in and to try and keep the Village from becoming overdeveloped, overrun, lose its character, etc. Save Sag Harbor is still very concerned about the big box pharmacy that had threatened to come in because it is still not resolved, but we're incredibly pleased that the Village passed the revision of the zoning code, which is a very important way of trying to curb spaces and uses so that big boxes will be discouraged from coming in, but it's not a guarantee," she said with a hint of cautious optimism.

Mia Grosjean, president of Save Sag Harbor seconded Gornik's sentiments. "This benefit is really to top off our kitty as it were. We really encouraged the Village board of Trustees last year and the year before to redo the Village codes for the commercial district. We spent quite a bit of money doing that and now the Village commercial district code has been passed." Grosjean went on to say that they were very thankful for Gornik's work in helping to pull such a wide array of local talent to come out and support their cause. "April is our artist as it were and she is wonderful, and has been an amazing board member. There are a lot of great artists in Sag Harbor. It's a wonderful community and it's great to get them all out, I've been here since 1988 and I had never really been involved with too many of the artists here but to get them involved in what we're doing is terrific."

Artist Lynn Matsuoka was on hand doing portraits of people at the Christy's Art Center.

While some of the work that was for sale was donated, Gornik explained that as an artist, she gave artists the option of either donating the work entirely, or keeping up to 50 percent of the proceeds. "Being someone who is asked all the time to donate works to various benefits I was very aware of the need, in my opinion, to make sure that artists get some compensation too," she said. "I think a lot of the public doesn't realize that when an artist's donates a work of art they can't take a tax deduction for having donated it; they can deduct the cost of materials, which might amount to say $10 for a canvas and $6 for paints or something like that so we've offered artists to take a percentage up to 50 percent of whatever the profit is of the sale of their work here."

One of the artists who donated work to the event was photographer Blair Seagram, who has been involved with Save Sag Harbor since its inception two years ago. "I had gone to a couple of meetings and I woke up one morning and realized that I had a photograph of every building on Main Street; I had gone out and shot pretty much every building on both the West and the East sides. I put it together and lined it up top and bottom and I contacted Barbara Roberts and April Gornik and told them they could use the picture," she recalled. "I made a big 80-inch print and they just took it from there. Part of that print is on the Sylvester & Co. awning."

While Save Sag Harbor won a coup in getting the Village board to revise the zoning code, Gornik points out there is still more work to be done. "There are a ton of things we're working with and we've been continuing to research creative ways of approaching various problems as they come up. For instance, if someone wants to build a gigantic condominium that would block the view of the entire village, what can you do to stop that while respecting the business community and property owners rights; it's a very complicated thing."

Rick Friedman And Cindy Lou Wakefield.

"We've also started reaching out to other community groups," she continued. "We had a big community meeting about a month ago that was incredibly successful and we want to keep being able to host things like that so we can brainstorm with all of the community groups and the business association and anyone else who wants to participate in trying to determine the future of this village. I'd love to see legislation in New York that would allow a village to have a little more clout when it comes to determining its future."

Although the future of Sag Harbor may be up in the air, Gornik is hopeful that the recently elected Mayor and Board of Trustees have a good grasp on the best interests of the Village, and although she was clear to point out that Save Sag Harbor is a non-partisan, apolitical organization, and was not for or against any of the candidates, she expressed on a personal level that she was looking forward to working with the new administration. "I was pleased that it was a very issue oriented campaign; people really talked about the things that the Village faces both environmentally, developmentally, and because everyone that was running seemed quite aware of all the challenges that the Village faces - I think there is reason for optimism. I'm looking forward to working with the Mayor and the Board of Trustees and getting their input and hopefully they'll be open to receiving ours."


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