No matter when alighting at Art Sites gallery in Riverhead, there’s bound to be something interesting to see and experience. The artists who have exhibited there come from all walks of the art world: Abstract expressionists, outsider art, Japanese ceramicists, conceptualists and realistic photographers. Environmental art-makers and site-specific installations have all found a home at Art Sites. No matter what, each artist and each exhibition has its own story to tell.
The artists hail from Long Island, the United States and the world. Ted Victoria, Alan Wexler and Lillian Ball have exhibited there. So have artists just beginning to make a dent in the art world. In all cases, it’s the artwork that speaks the loudest and is the spark that ignites interest in gallery director Glynis Berry.
Many times, artists are referred to Ms. Berry by other artists. Story after story poured from Ms. Berry demonstrating how one artist’s generosity lead to discoveries that resulted in intriguing exhibitions.
Since the beginning, Art Sites has had the knack of tapping into clusters of artists who bring a range of interesting art and unusual projects. The gallery moved from Greenport to Riverhead in 2006, after being closed for three years while the new space was renovated. In Riverhead, the gallery was expanded and has sprawling indoor and outdoor spaces with lots of places to create and exhibit art.
Art Sites was founded by architects and spouses Glynis Berry, AIA, LEED AP and Hideaki Ariizumi, AIA. Their design firm, studio a/b architects, is located in the building. See studioabarchitects.com for information.
As architects, their philosophy is to create environments with a varied experience, which connects to nature and has a conceptual underpinning to the design work. As gallerists, they’re drawn to present themed shows that tell interesting stories, engage viewers and involve the community at large. Many shows also have an ecological tie or concern.
Since reopening, Art Sites has held a continual stream of exhibitions and events. There have been panel discussions and community days. Several site-specific environmental projects have been installed in the gallery’s grassy property that’s hidden from the busy streets of Riverhead. Shows inside the gallery have included themes of feminism, urban sprawl and interests of outsider artists.
Regardless of whether themes are deep or whimsical, each springs from the artwork and its relationship to each other. This departs from many galleries who choose themes first and select art to explore the idea.
Right now, the Art Site’s “back yard” has two simultaneous exhibitions. Large-scale sculptures by Avital Oz are installed around the grounds. Originally from Israel, Mr. Oz has exhibited around the world. One sculpture was recently moved from Pratt Institute to be part of the Art Sites exhibitions. The art remains on view through 2009.
YC3 (Yurt City 3) features a series of artist-enhanced tents and structures. The project was inspired by nomadic people who inhabit yurts and by cultures that treat guests with generosity and reverence. The show is curated by Brooklyn artists Laura Ten Eyck and Sheila Ross.
Yurt City began as an installation at the Dam Stuhltrager gallery in Brooklyn in 2006. YC2 was installed in Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. In September, a version will travel to Holland as part of a larger traveling group exhibit, HUF/MOLD. YC3 included a Peconic River Day where some exhibiting artists created recycled boats that were launched on the river, which runs along the Art Sites property. YC3 remains on view through October 18.
Inside the gallery is another artist-community collaborative show. It is curated by Flanders artist Andrea Cote. “Found: Celebrating Conservation and Community” features eight contemporary artists who are each interested in ecology and community.
The work includes a recycled “crate house” that will contain local history, lore and urban legends gathered from residents by Matt Bua. Large-scale sculptures made from plastic spoons and drinking bottles by Maire Kennedy, and Styrofoam ice bergs and shopping-cart birdhouses by Charles Butterly are also part of the show. Many of the artists have exhibited at museums or received prestigious grants for their work.
The show remains on view through August 30. Children or Family workshops will be held on August 1, 2 and 9. Guitarist Liam Murphy will perform on August 15. An Artists’ Talk and Panel Discussion will be held on August 30.
Art Sites is located at 651 West Main Street (Route 25), Riverhead. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5pm and by appointment. They have published three artist or architecture catalogues. Visit artsitesgallery or call (631) 591-2042 for information.