By Talia Amorosano
Born in Puerto Rico and currently residing in New York City, photographer, writer and art critic Ruben Natal-San Miguel knows what it is like to experience life in vastly different places. With photography exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Mexico City (among other national and international locations), he has a knack for capturing images that display the human spirit in unique and varied settings.
His visionary eye for capturing people and life has been brought to Long Island’s own Ripe Art Gallery in Huntington. An artist reception was held on Aug. 8. The Rights of Summer photography exhibit, juried by himself and Sean Corcoran (curator of photography and prints for the Museum of the City of New York), showcases his original photography alongside the work of over 25 other photographers from Long Island to Japan (to Portugal, to Canada, to Missouri, to California).
“Everybody’s summer looks different depending on where and how they live,” said Cherie Via Rexer, owner of Ripe Art Gallery, who has worked with Natal-San Miguel during past exhibitions.
This statement uncovers the main controlling idea of the exhibit, that different people of different socioeconomic classes, cultures, lifestyles and locations experience and celebrate summer differently. “We wanted to see what summer looked like for the 99 percent as well as the 1 percent,” said Via Rexer, who noted that the Ripe Art Gallery is the perfect place to showcase this theme, based on its location between New York City and the Hamptons.
The result of sorting through over 300 submissions is a final set of 57 images that each convey summer living in a diverse way and showcase “a little bit of everything,” according to Via Rexer. The styles of the photographs range from portraits to landscapes to abstract, but they all illustrate the Rights of Summer.
A particularly striking photograph that Via Rexer believes embodies the theme of the exhibit is “Bronx,” by Natal-San Miguel, in which a man stands in front of the ocean with the iconic word visibly tattooed across his back. “It shows a beautiful beach that is surrounded by projects and all kinds of living situations,” she said. “It shows the ocean but visibly zeroes in on a location.”
Also notable are the six established fine art photographers whose work will be on display at the exhibit: Richard Misrach, Christopher Rauschenberg (related to photographer Robert Rauschenberg), Karine Laval, Gillian Laub, Amy Arbus (related to photographer Diane Arbus) and Arlene Gottfried.
Eleonora Ronconi captured Best in Show with “Corn Stand,” first runner up was “Girl from Palm Springs” by Dolly Faibyshev, second runner up was Robert Herman’s “Heat Wave NYC NY” and third runner up was Luis Carle’s “Abanicos.” Honorable mentions went to Lauren Welles for “Coney Island 1,” Jennifer McClure for “Untitled,” Nancy Oliveri for “Coney Island Venus” and Russ Rowland’s “Brighton Beached 3.”
All are encouraged to view the artwork on display until Sept. 5. This event is sure to excite photography and fine art enthusiasts alike and offers a great opportunity for Long Islanders to view art by both internationally recognized and local photographers.
Ripe Art Gallery is located at 1028 Park Ave., Huntington. For more information, call 631-239-1805 or visit www.ripeartgal.com.