Melissa Gabrielsen (left) and Verona Peñalba (right) opened VEME Studios in Greenport...

Melissa Gabrielsen (left) and Verona Peñalba (right) opened VEME Studios in Greenport that offers various art workshops.  Credit: VEME Studios

Artists and novices alike can order from a "bar" menu at the North Fork's new VEME Studios. Instead of drinks, the studio's art bar serves up open sessions where creators can work on a project of their choosing based on mediums like drawing, pottery and painting.

VEME opened in Greenport in August after operating temporarily out of a former barn in the area in the spring.  Its name takes inspiration from the first two letters of the names of its owners: Verona Peñalba and Melissa Gabrielsen.

Previously a figurative painter in her native Nicaragua, Peñalba has focused on abstract art since arriving in the United States in 2015, painting and working on commissions for several years before she began leading workshops using alcohol ink, where you use your fingers instead of a brush. Gabrielsen, who grew up in Jamesport and worked as a hairdresser, began running hand-built ceramic workshops about two years ago, which she learned during a trip to Indonesia.

Often running workshops out of the same local wineries and a Greenport hotel for about a year and a half — Gabrielsen working with clay; Peñalba, teaching abstracts — the artists became friends and decided to open a studio of their own this past April.

“This space came available and we made a commitment to have our studios here,” Peñalba says. “I teach people how to approach a blank page and how to turn to their intuition and let the medium guide them.” 

In addition to pottery and abstract art, current workshops (most $60 and up) include painting on clothing, acrylic paint pouring and using dye with natural pigments  Workshops for kids teach utilizing collage, watercolors and other media.

“We are going to have more traditional painting workshops moving on,” says Peñalba, adding that they will also have guest artists offering one- to three-hour workshops in the space geared for all skill levels.

VEME also offers birthday parties and work gatherings, studio memberships and sells upcycled silk-screened T-shirts and button-up shirts.

At the studio's  art bar, guests can walk in any time and work for up to two hours on a craft of their choosing from a list including clay, painting and drawing projects. Prices range from $25 (draw) to $50 (pottery).. 

VEME also offers meetings held several times a month where members of the community gather to connect, collaborate and share ideas. “It’s our way to stay connected with the community and to give a space for creatives to come together, share and support each other,” says Peñalba.

VEME Studios, 214 Front St.; Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 


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