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INTERVIEW: North Fork-Based Award Winning Aerial Photographer And Gallery Owner Alex Ferrone On Being Fêted In Spain, Her Work, And More

T.J. Clemente

Alex Ferrone's Winter Aerial Observations Eight. (Courtesy Photo)

In October, North Fork-based aerial artist and gallery owner Alex Ferrone won a few awards at an exhibition in FotoNostrum Art Gallery in Barcelona, Spain. Her specialty revolves around aerial photography, usually taken from helicopters.

Her first camera was a little no brand name 110 that her dad gave her when she was 11 living in North Merrick. She said, "My dad was always interested in art and also photography. He introduced me to it and I just started when I was a kid." Ferrone went digital "about ten years ago, when everybody did."

Now, Ferrone wears three hats. She explained, "I am a fine arts photographer, a commercial aerialist photographer. and I own a gallery [Alex Ferrone Gallery in Cutchogue], too."

Ferrone explained that the aerial part of her photography career stared back in 2002 when as she explained, "I knew somebody who had a helicopter and they offered me a ride around Long Island. I absolutely fell in love with the Island from the air. So I decided then to figure out some way to make that into a business. I established a commercial aerial photography business and I started working with builders, realtors and folks in the hospitality industry, such as Gurney's and the Montauk Yacht Club." She added, "I love Montauk. My dad had a home on Kettle Hole Road. Montauk is such a great place and I have flown over it quite a bit over the years. Now, at first, aerial photography was a part time job, but I decided to move to the East End because most of my client base was out here. There were so many choices, but I chose the North Fork because it was a little bit more subdued and there was a strong artistic community already on the North Fork. I decided to live in Southold. It was a great choice."

When I asked Ferrone about going to Spain in October to see her work exhibited, she confessed it was her first trip to Spain and Barcelona was new and exciting. "We had great short sleeve shirt weather," she said. "They have wonderful wine there, the food was great and the people were fantastic. Barcelona is a very walkable city with terrific seaside areas."

Ferrone's work was being exhibited in the new FotoNostrum in Barcelona, a 10,000 sq. ft. gallery with two levels of space. She noted, "It's all white inside with new grey concrete floors with hundreds of photographs inside. I had six of my own up. I had submitted six as a series and the series was accepted. They had a panel of jurors and the jurors chose the panel as series."

The artist was amazed how many exhibits were from photographers from all over the world. She recalled, "This was a global event and a global exhibition, there were people from everywhere, at least 30 to 40 countries." At The 13th Pollux / Worldwide Photography Gala Awards, in Barcelona at the PhotoNostrum, Ferrone's series of six images received awards in three categories - Professional Landscape (Winner), Professional Abstract and Professional Nature (Honorable Mentions in each).

Her partner in life, Richard Abatelli, of the Abetelli Real Estate family (Douglas Elliman), was by her side as she entered the exhibition, along with Ferrone's brother from Italy. Ferrone, whose first exhibition ever was back in her college days at a Providence, Rhode Island public library, was "overwhelmed" when she first saw her series in a prime location not too far from where folks entered the gallery and exhibition. She told us, "Richard looked at me said, 'Wow that's a great spot.' I was overwhelmed, here we were in Spain with my work on the wall in this new gallery in this beautiful space in this beautiful city. I just couldn't believe that I was standing there watching people walk by and I enjoyed catching their reactions. They were examining my work and that was really nice. Of course, I walked around to view the rest of the exhibition and couldn't believe the caliber of the artists that were in this show. I was so proud to be there."

The award ceremony was the second day into the show as Ferrone recalled, "It was very informal, it was a dinner where they recognized everybody [the award winners] and they did put labels on my series that said winner. Amazingly, with all the photos I took in Barcelona while I was there, there is not one photo of me standing alone in front of my work with the award label."

Additionally, Ferrone has been recognized by the International Photography Awards (IPA), an "Honorable Mention" was awarded for her Winter Aerial Observations series; and, her September series was awarded two "Honorable Mentions" from the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards - an international competition for female photographers. The JMCA competition was juried by Elizabeth Avedon, Independent Curator and Photo Editor; Rebecca Robertson, Editor Photo District News (PDN); and Analy Werbin, Curator - Worldwide Photography Gala Awards.

When I asked Ferrone of her most treasured moment as an artist, she said, "There are so many, but what I do treasure was a review titled, The View from Above: The Aerial Artistry of Alex Ferrone by Charles A. Riley, II, PhD."

For more information, visit www.alexferrone.com.

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