A collective is a group of entities that share a common interest and are motivated to achieve a common objective. For seven young artists living and working on the East End, that objective is to bring varying mediums of art together in an approachable, unpretentious place, and share their work and ideas with the masses. The North Fork Art Collective on Front Street in Greenport is a pop-up working studio and gallery in a temporary space with a lasting goal.
Featuring founding members Emma Ballou, Scott Bluedorn, Madison Fender, Kelly Franké, Jeremy Garretson, Kara Hoblin, and Peter Treiber, the Collective is a space reminiscent of an art museum, stripped bare and painted white, housed in a former real estate office. Walls don mixed works offering an all-encompassing showcase of the creatives behind it all. On lease through January, each artist shares what the collective and a pop-up means to them.
Working in oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints, Ms. Ballou draws inspiration for many of her East End landscapes from the seasons. “I am most inspired by the beautiful, gradual change of the seasons, which have a mood and rhythm all their own,” the Eastport-based painter shares. “The seasonal mood always sneaks into my artwork, even if it’s not something I’m actively seeking.”
Ms. Ballou’s portfolio contains a thoughtful compilation of paintings depicting the natural scenes of the East End. Changing ocean tides, calm tree-lined skylines, and a North Fork favorite – endless farm fields, are just some of the images to expect in the artist’s work.
Though born and raised in the Hamptons, Mr. Bluedorn has strong ties to Greenport. Thanks to a partnership with Greenport Brewery where his works are featured on the labels, and now with the pop-up, the multimedia artist has made a name for himself on the North Fork. It is the visible maritime heritage of the seaside village that inspires Mr. Bluedorn’s various paintings, drawings, and collages.
“My work explores the contemporary connections between people and the sea, and I hope that the viewer takes a sense of wonderment home with them,” says Mr. Bluedorn. “Opening a small collective gallery here has been a great opportunity to bridge the gap between the artist communities of the two forks, and it’s really fun so far!”
Bridging another gap is Ms. Fender, a photographer who through her portrait work she has captured many faces on the North Fork, and throughout the world. Over the winter she traveled to Vietnam and Indonesia, bringing home to Greenport with her powerful images of fellow humans, offering a unique perspective on how others live while showing how different, and how similar, we all are. The Collective has now offered her the space to showcase these different subjects, while exploring her fine art photography.
“Some of my older work that has been sitting on my hard drive have been my more popular pieces,” the photographer explains, adding she gets new perspective from people who view her work. “For example, I have a photograph of a man walking across a bridge and one of the same man sitting on a giant rock. These were taken in Arizona where I grew up going with my family, and the man is my brother. A customer told me that it shows the strength of the person both physically and environmentally, and I had never looked at them this way; I thought that was really powerful.”
Seven creatives in one space may seem like a lot, but according to Ms. Franké there is power in numbers. She is an illustrator specializing in linear landscapes, and is the owner of Cleared Artists, a service that brings artwork cleared for use by film and television sets to the big screen with more than 60 artists in its database. For Ms. Franké, the concept of gathering a group of artists both on and off screen is similar; you create an entity that can’t, and shouldn’t, be ignored.
“We created a gallery space for greater visibility, a group studio to encourage production and inspiration, and soon workshops for others to join,” Ms. Franké says of the Collective. “Art is culture, which goes hand in hand with community. Everyone benefits; artists and art lovers alike.”
Mr. Garretson is a photographer that uses a combination of creativity, technical expertise, and practical knowledge of materials that bring his vibrant images of the East End to life. Sharing that his North Fork community is a rich landscape full of great compositions, the photographer uses research to go after the shots he is looking for.
“Most of the shots I take involve some amount of planning,” Mr. Garretson explains. “I study maps, weather, sunrise/set times, and even astronomy. Doing research doesn’t guarantee an epic shot, but it increases my odds of being in the right place at the right time. In all my work, I try to capture the ever-changing light and its relationship to the landscape.”
One of the prominent focuses of the Collective is the pop-up factor. While the venture itself is meant to last, the physical space is only temporary. There’s a great similarity to this in the work of Ms. Hoblin, a chalk artist who also serves as the Collective’s manager, as much of her work is purposefully erased. Sharing that this journey has been a long time coming after being inspired by similar operations she has seen throughout her career, Ms. Hoblin credits the community for making this working studio and gallery a success.
“For me, and this is even apparent in my work with the Art of Letting Go and the North Fork coloring book, things have come full circle with us all working together,” Ms. Hoblin says. “There are so many different types of people; oyster farmers, lawyers, and more. Everyone comes together in a positive way over art. The Collective is an extension of that.”
Farming is one of the most notable industries on the North Fork, serving as inspiration for many of the artists that founded the Collective. Multimedia artist Peter Treiber takes it to another level as he himself is also a farmer. While many feel there is a slow down after Labor Day on the East End, Mr. Treiber says there is still an incredible amount of work to be done in preparation for the cooler months. Knowing things are seasonal gets the creative juices flowing.
“It forces you to come up with ways to make sure things aren’t being wasted,” he says of the farm, adding the same goes for creating artwork. “Keep your head down and work really hard at your passions, in this case growing food and creating new works, and things will happen organically. People want good, local food to eat and the same goes for artwork. So here we are as a farm, and here I am as an artist.”
The North Fork Art Collective is a space in which these seven artists come together to work, critique, learn, experiment, and grow by stepping outside of their respective comfort zones. It’s a collaborative effort where seasonality may not be such a bad thing after all.
“I love that the North Fork Art Collective currently has a pop-up gallery in Greenport until January because by that point the tourism season has truly quieted down, which gives all of the artists a quiet moment to take a breath and do what we do best,” Ms. Ballou says of herself and fellow artists. “Create.”