Gallery North launches Community Art Center

Gallery North launches Community Art Center

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Artist Sungsook Setton demonstrates Asian brush painting. Photo by Heidi Sutton

After three years of planning and a groundbreaking ceremony last October, Gallery North officially opened its Community Art Center to the public last Sunday afternoon with a launch party followed by a ribbon cutting.

Baldassano Architecture of Patchogue designed the 1,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art building, which features LED lighting, radiant floor heating and an insulating glass wall. Construction company LoDuca Associates of Holbrook paid tribute to the site’s history as a 1935 Mobil filling station, keeping the original front door and garage door.

The new center, located adjacent to the gallery, will offer innovative fine arts education and outreach activities for children and adults, advanced workshop opportunities for professional practicing artists, inspiring ArTalks — combined visual and educational experiences — and arts- and film-related discussion series. Its open layout has been designed to cater to art-making processes, including printmaking, sculpture, drawing and painting.

Hundreds of community members, along with local artists and elected officials, came out to help celebrate and show their support. The event featured a tour of the facility, art activities for children such as monotype printing and working with clay, live music by the Roberta Fabiano Trio, refreshments and a champagne toast.

The highlight of the afternoon was the unique art demonstrations, featuring Asian brush painting by Sungsook Setton, batik-making by Fernanda Vargas — which models the Japanese art of cloth-dyeing — and several different types of printmaking techniques by Lorena Salcedo-Watson and Larissa Grass.

“The future community art center at Gallery North is here [and] it’s really exciting,” said Gallery North’s Director Judith Levy who went on to thank sponsors, donors, the teaching staff and the board for all their continued support.

“We want to be a resource for the community, not only here in this room … where classes are offered for children, teens, adults, professional artists and adults with disabilities and early stage dementia,” said Nancy Goroff, president of the board. “We are trying to offer programs for the whole community and we are really gratified by the response we’ve gotten.”

Elected officials also spoke at the event.

“[The gallery has had] a long 50-year legacy of bringing art and culture and education to adults and kids alike and building this, creating this just will expand that legacy,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “I know there were struggles along the way, but thank you for your perseverance, for sticking with it, because you are going to do so many great things and so many children, teenagers, adults will have an outlet for their creativity, and who knows what can happen because of that?”

Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) added, “This is such an ideal year to have a community art center on the 50th anniversary of Gallery North. It was a vision and now it is a reality … It’s so important that we stick together as a community, and this is a perfect example of that.”

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) commented on how wonderful it was to see everyone supporting the growth of arts in the community “and Gallery North’s contribution to that over a third of a century now has come to a crescendo with this spectacular re-construction of a pre-existing building.”

“Congratulations to the trustees for your vision and determination in taking an old garage that was filled with broken auto parts and grease and transforming it into this,” he added. “Hats off to all who’ve been involved … and now our children and our families and all the creative energies of our community have a new focus.”

If you would like to find out about upcoming events and studio art classes at the new Community Art Center, located at 84 N. Country Road in Setauket, please call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.