Each August through early December the village of Greenport hosts gallery walks on the first Friday of every month. We recommend you make the excursion, but if you miss it we bring you some of the galleries and artists featured. Greenportvillage.com
Illusion of Water
Isabelle Haran-Leonardi is an award-winning realist landscape painter best known for her vibrant large-scale oils of the North Fork’s vineyards and waterways, from Laurel (where she lives) to Orient. She spends fall and winters painting vineyards and farms and the rest of the year on the area’s abundant bays and inlets.
The artist admits to a lifelong fascination with water, especially the challenge of capturing its movement. She prefers to use pure pigment straight out of the tube, rather than blending colors. “I lay down long lines of unmixed color that I hope create the illusion of water.” Her paint of choice these days is a German oil paint that has been formulated to replicate the hues used by Vincent Van Gogh.
Her studio is set up inside her Greenport gallery, Nova Constellatio, in a building that began life in 1907 as an A&P. Visitors, “who come and go all day,” are welcome to share in her painting process. A contingent of local kids comes by regularly to ask for advice or even critique her work. In summer she sets up an easel outside. Others purchase pieces from her prolific output – about one painting a week. She listens to music while she works, “listening over and over again” to the same piece and sometimes “driving people crazy.” She prefers a large format as it allows her to “get my whole arm going,” arriving at a “much looser and freer” result.
In My Life
Primarily a printmaker, Caroline Waloski’s images reflect her “experiences of being a woman in the 21st century.” She gathers content from “everything that has happened in my life.” Her relationship with her sister shows up in a series that explores how things can “look rosy,” while in fact there’s trouble brewing. Her images recall a “garden of earthly delights” but with a serpent in the background. Images of her son show up. One intaglio captures him as he reclines on a bed, not feeling well, the ghost of a monster hovering in the background.
The artist often references images from mythology and fairy tales such as the Medusa and Frog Prince to “interpret what’s going on in my life.” But it is perhaps the sea that most informs her work. Born on an island, Manhattan, and now living in the “historic maritime village” of Greenport, she says she has always been surrounded by water. “Water is my muse,” she says. “We all came out of the sea, it’s where we came, where we are going and who we are.”
Her chair series is born from the idea that “inanimate objects have personalities.” Chairs, she says, “take on the personality of the person who sat in them.” In a cooperative studio she shared in SoHo, there was a boudoir chair that fascinated her. “It had been owned by a lady of ill repute working at the turn of the century.” Waloski layered on a ghostlike figure to suggest that though the lady of the night was long gone, her spirit lived on.
She also curates exhibits at her own salon-like Greenport gallery. “I called it Sirens’ Song because I wanted to lure people in to educate them about fine art.” She chooses art, much of it water influenced, which is “exploratory” and that conveys the artists’ unique views and emotion. Her work has been exhibited worldwide and is in such permanent collections as the Library of Congress and New York Public Library.
Chalking It Up
Kara Hoblin lived in Brooklyn before moving to the North Fork for “the love of the community and environment.” The Greenport artist recently discovered chalk as her predominant medium. “Chalk came into my life when I needed to learn a very important life lesson,” she says. “How to let go.” She describes its ephemeral nature as a vehicle for “helping me move forward.”
Chalk has been used in art for eons, the earliest known works dating to the Stone Age. It was also used by such artists as Michelangelo and Rembrandt. While Hoblin uses chalk in her own work, she also is “chalking up a storm” at numerous East End businesses from vineyards to shops. At Greenport’s First and South restaurant, Hoblin lets loose her imagination every month on a 25-foot wall. This month’s theme, North Fork to Neverland, is a fantastical montage of mermaids, deer, sunflower fields and tall ships flying through the sky – a testament to what the area means to her: “beautiful, connected community.”
At the North Fork Roasting Company in Southold, she’s in charge of another wall, this one the shop’s menu. At Harbor Books in Sag Harbor, her mural of the store’s logo – a ship coming out of a book – is so treasured by owner Taylor Rose Berry that she has kept it up permanently despite the original plan to change it regularly. At her board at the Marie Eiffel Market on Shelter Island, Hoblin refreshes the menu – executed in typography – when items change.
Her non-chalk projects include hand-painted signage for such companies as Main Road Biscuit Co., a coffee house/takeout shop due to open in Jamesport this fall. She also created a logo for Adventure Paddleboards in Hampton Bays. For the many weddings for which she is commissioned, she not only designs invitations, but also paints on such romantic items as wine bottles or driftwood.
Also an illustrator, her first coloring book, A North Fork Coloring Book, which highlights her favorite North Fork spots, was released in September.