Gallery North is mourning the loss of illustrator and friend Jeffrey K. Fisher. Beginning Friday, March 27, the gallery honors this dynamic illustrator with a one-man show titled “By Default: The Work of Jeffrey K. Fisher.”
Judith Levy, director of Gallery North, speaks of Fisher with both tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. “I knew Jeff for four and a half years. He helped me with a couple of important exhibitions. He was an exuberant person!”
The name of the show evolved from a joke Fisher had with Levy in which he said he was “only in the Gallery’s shows by default.” It was his tongue-in-cheek way of joking about why his work was included in its shows. Fisher’s passing has left a void in the art community. Levy said the reception and show will “represent the spirit, the energy and the fun of Jeffrey Fisher.”
Fisher, an award-winning artist, cast his spell on everyone he met. Adrian Sinnot, illustrator and friend of Fisher, shared words of praise, which will resonate with those who knew the artist. “He was a giant of a man both physically and artistically. At 6 feet 4 inches he towered over the members of the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.” He continued to say that Jeff was a “prime example of a fellow artist who was always willing to help other artists in the highly competitive professional work they were engaged in.”
From professional organizations such as the Society of Illustrators to his formation of the Long Island Drawing Studio in Smithtown, to the Joe Bonham Project, Fisher left behind many people who miss his presence. Amanda Reilly, a freelance illustrator who was a student of Fisher’s for two years, at the Drawing Studio, is grateful for his guidance. “He always found the time to talk to me about my work and I will always remember the support and confidence he gave me. Through his continued criticism, he made me realize that I am always learning and growing.” Reilly laughed about the crazy drawing exercises he would make them do, such as drawing with their nondominate hand or with their feet. Reilly and other members of the studio are proudly renaming the studio “The Jeffrey K. Fisher Studio” to honor the commitment and dedication he shared with the students.
Victor Juhasz, fellow illustrator, met Fisher in the early 2000’s when they were serving on the board of directors for the Society of Illustrators. Juhasz reflected, “Jeff was one of those guys who goofed around but when he talked about art and drawing he was utterly fluent and poetic.” Juhasz and Fisher worked together on the “Joe Bonham Project” where they would spend hours talking to wounded service members about their war experiences while documenting their stories through drawings. “I literally think of him almost every day,” said Juhasz.
Fisher offered so much of his life and passion to the art community and his family. Sinnot added with pride, “[Fisher’s] passing leaves a great hole in the lives of the many thousands of people he touched through his teaching and his art. One of the great things we do as artists is to leave behind a part of ourselves in our work for future generations to share and enjoy.”
“By Default” offers visitors an opportunity to experience an array of work that Fisher created over the years, which according to Levy “includes a variety of illustrations prepared for various books and other publications.”
“To see one of Jeff’s pieces brings him back to us if only for a moment. If you never had the chance to know Jeff, get to know his work, as he lives and breathes through it,” reflected Sinnot, Fisher’s friend and colleague of 25 years.
Please join Gallery North on Friday, March 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the opening reception, which will not only honor Fisher but also keep alive his humor with live caricaturists and calligraphers drawing for guests.
“By Default” will run from March 27 through April 17. Gallery North is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information contact Gallery North at 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.