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Breweries, barber shops, more unexpected places art is popping up

Tom Gavaris of Great Neck gets his hair

Tom Gavaris of Great Neck gets his hair cut by Samuel Nektal at Peter's Barber Shop, where a Hansi Fruchtman watercolor is on view. Credit: Marisol Diaz

As co-owner of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Ann Vandenburgh can rattle off a lengthy list of good pairings for craft beer, say, a crisp lager with a nice steak.

But since its 2009 opening, the brewery has served the malts and pale ales with one unlikely accompaniment — artwork.

“The artists I feature do not mind the grain on the floor or the aroma of beer in the air,” Vandenburgh says.

Apparently, the customers don’t either. Vandenburgh, 52, a Southold resident, is the gallerist for the second-floor space of the remodeled 1800s firehouse where she curates “progressive, innovative and cutting edge” artwork, attracting crowds of art enthusiasts and craft beer lovers alike.

Breweries are among the unexpected places on Long Island where art is becoming commonplace and, in some cases, an attraction on its own, business owners say.

Community centers, eateries and even barbershops also regularly host the work of local artists on a rotating basis — and most of the time, it’s for sale. Here is a sampling:

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company

Visitors can see Peter Treiber Jr.’s paper collage collection, “New Stories Simply Told,” through January in Greenport. The brewery’s Peconic tasting room has limited-edition prints depicting images of Greenport history by Scott Bluedorn, a Hamptons artist who also designs the brewery’s beer labels.Vandenburgh changes the art exhibits — typically a mix of established and emerging artists — every three to four months.

Toast Coffeehouse

Toast Coffeehouse has highlighted the works of international and local artists from Brooklyn to Montauk including such notable Long Islanders as Jeffrey Allen Price and Colin Goldberg since the opening of its first location in Port Jefferson in 2002.

“Our gallery walls have hosted the works of FRESH artist collective and the works of Art Studio E,” says James Skidmore, general manager of the Patchogue location. “We also include local musicians doing original music on our in-house playlists.”

Skidmore is the chairman of Alive After Five, an annual summer music and arts festival held in Patchogue.

Beth Giacummo and her husband, Dan Lachacz, are co-owners and co-directors of Criterion Contemporary, a private arts firm specializing in exhibition management. They have curated the art at the Toast Coffeehouse locations for the past year.

“An artist — designer or creative — had their hand in everything around us, so it only makes sense for art to be exhibited, performed and listened to in establishments like Toast and other alternative venues that may be at once considered unexpected or alternative venues to the traditional white-box gallery,” Giacummo says.

The “Made in Chile” exhibit on display in Patchogue through Jan. 22 features watercolor, acrylic and oil on canvas and wood panels, photography and sculptured ceramic works by Chilean artists.

“I hope that it encourages folks to take a second look and perhaps dig a little deeper into our collective psyche,” Skidmore says. “Art is powerful. I want people to leave with a deeper connection to one another.”

Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center

Susan Seelig says the biggest challenge she has faced in her role as fine-art director at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in Greenvale has been to capture the interest of children, teenagers and adults amid the various health and wellness programs offered at the facility.

“I am always delighted when I see them take a moment — or more — to really look at the art or talk together about what they see,” says Seelig, a Syosset resident. “That’s when you know the importance of putting art where you might not expect to see it.”

Since the early 2000s, the JCC has had biennial juried exhibitions, sometimes with a Jewish bent, in the hallways of its building. Artists submit photography, collages, drawings, paintings and sculptures for consideration. Seelig says she curates the gallery with an inspirational theme, including the current collage art exhibition featuring the works of Bert Taffet of Roslyn and Tony Wells of Yonkers.

“Occasionally there is some controversy, but we are always happy to provoke as well as entertain and enlighten with the art,” Seelig says.

Peter’s Barber Shop

The wooden chairs aren’t the only things that rotate at Peter’s Barber Shop in Great Neck — the art on the wall does, too.

Samuel Nektal, 48, a barber at the decades-old shop, helped establish “a tiny tradition” of showcasing street art, paintings, portraits and photography from local artists after he was approached more than a decade ago by a man looking to have his work featured for free. Nektal has continued the practice on a bimonthly basis since.

“It gives a different type of ambience — a tranquil feeling,” Nektal says of the paintings and mostly black-and-white portraits he features.

The display currently features a watercolor painting by Hansi Fruchtman of Great Neck. The images are always just for show, not for sale.


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