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Trash turned into art at Riverhead gallery

Barbara Schneider poses with

Barbara Schneider poses with "Re-incarnation," a piece consisting of two turtles. Saying she is known in the East End art circle as the "Turtle Lady," Schneider also enjoys drawing and painting them. She owns four pet turtles. (July 20, 2012) Credit: Fran Berkman

One person’s trash can be another person’s art, apparently.

Old bottle caps, scrap metal, corks, egg cartons and dental floss were among the items used to make many of the pieces on display at the new Found Objects art gallery in Riverhead.

“I just thought it would be an interesting departure from oil painting and photography,” said Jane Kirkwood, the gallery director.

Kirkwood said about half of the 100 submissions she received were selected to appear in the gallery. The majority of the pieces in the show were created by Long Island artists, and most of the works were on sale for prices ranging from about $100 to $2,500.

Kirkwood selected Jonathan Pearlman to be the juror for the gallery. Pearlman is an East Quogue-based artist who recently had an entire gallery of his found-objects art on display at the Water Mill Museum in Water Mill.

Pearlman awarded the “Best in Show” distinction to Mill Neck resident Jim Gemake’s assemblage piece titled “All for Naught.” Gemake’s piece was a mounted sculpture consisting of metal, wood and paper. While the gallery was for found objects, Gemake said he specifically looks for a specific type of found object to use in his art: those that have been discarded.

“My role as the artist is to give it a new life,” Gemake said.

Gemake found one crucial element of his award-winning piece while on vacation in Sorrento, Italy in 2005. He has a large inventory of found items stored in the studio in the basement of his house. Though his assemblage art may not initially seem to have a rhyme or reason, Gemake said he knows exactly when a particular object will fit in a piece he is working on.

“I live for the eureka moment,” Gemake said.

One main departure this show had from a “normal” art show, according to Kirkwood, was the found objects gallery attracted mostly male artists. Regardless of the gender, however, Kirkwood said she was extremely impressed with the quality of the work in the show.

“It blew me away,” she said, “the way they were able to assemble things into beautiful art.”

Guests seemed equally impressed on the opening night. “This is a fun show,” and, “Very creative!” were some of the comments that could be heard as visitors perused the three-room gallery.

The opening reception for the gallery was held on Friday at the East End Arts Council’s David-Corwin House on Main Street. The gallery will be open for free public viewing until Aug. 24. The gallery is open weekly Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.