Ward Hooper and Holly Gordon have the easy banter you’d expect if theirs was a decades-old friendship. A Long Island based photographer, Gordon is recounting one of their recent art destinations when Hooper, a watercolor painter, interrupts to mention how she got lost on the way.
“It’s always an adventure,” Hooper said.
For the past year, Hooper and Gordon have spent one day a week traipsing around the North Shore, revisiting the places where Hooper once found artistic inspiration. There’s Seymour’s Boatyard in Northport, a gas station, the beach…the list goes on.
“He’s the navigator, he plans the route, even tells me exactly where he stood and what he did,” Gordon said. “If he didn’t like that tree, he got rid of it. He’s taken me to places he hadn’t been to in years, and I’m bringing back to him the world that he could no longer maneuver himself.”
The places Hooper navigates them to, fill up the walls of his Northport home. Every inch has a watercolor painting hanging on it or leaning against it. Even more are stacked in the studio on the second floor of his home. The space is cozy, well lived in but with the light an artist must need. Gordon’s studio is almost the opposite. Still cozy, but her home studio is modern with a huge Mac taking up most of the room on her desk and an even larger printer taking up the other wall. It’s here she brings the photographs she takes on her adventures with Hooper, creating works of art that resemble paintings, each complementing Hooper’s watercolors.
Pieces of each of their artwork will be on display in a collaboration of creativity at an exhibit entitled the Bush/Lens Project at the Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery of the Art League of Long Island this August.
“This has become so much more than anything I could’ve imagined,” Gordon.
It all started with the Internet. Writer Elise Pearlman mentioned Hooper’s name to Gordon, and she plunged into a Google search finding a photograph Hooper had posted of Long Island. It jogged Gordon’s memory of a similar image she took, and she added her photograph to Hooper’s post. A Facebook conversation ensued.
“I stormed into his life,” Gordon said.
The Facebook conversations continued, next with similar pieces of tulips. Last August, the two finally met in person, connecting over their artwork, shared work experiences and the personal hardships each had faced having lost a spouse.
“Being an artist is a lonely experience,” Hooper said. “ We share our thoughts bounce ideas off of each other.”
They continue to work on the Bush/Lens Project meeting once a week to review works and also plan new outings. When the exhibit opens, they anticipate having at least 30 paired pieces of work, and their own artistic tendencies influence each other.
“I never would have done Coindre Hall so detailed,” Hooper said. “That’s Holly’s influence.”
All from a Facebook conversation that turned into an #IRL meeting that turned into a very special collaboration.