Now through January 19 the Alex Ferrone Gallery in Cutchogue is showcasing its seventh small works national juried exhibition, “Portals.” The theme depicts gateways of all kinds through various mediums, all 12×12 inches or smaller, representing artists across 22 states. The juror this year is Franklin Hill Perrell, who enjoyed working for over two decades as chief curator for the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, where he managed more than 50 exhibitions. Now living in Southold, this is Perrell’s first time working with Alex Ferrone Gallery.
His top pick was “Unseen This Eternal Wanting” by Marisa White from Colorado Springs; second place went to “Crypt Door” by Loretta Marcus of Cutchogue; and third “Skyview Apartments” by John Manno of Brooklyn. The Indy caught up with Perrell to discuss the show.
How does the art community on the North Fork compare to that in Nassau County?
I think it’s so exciting out here. There are terrific artists in Nassau and up island — Smithtown, St. James, Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor. However, I would say the North Fork is as close as you’re going to get to East Hampton or Springs during the 1950s. You’ve got a tremendous synergy. It’s creative people out here, and they’re strong in all media.
You have several galleries out here that are making significant statements. On Wednesday nights I’ve been going to Greenport Harbor Brewery in Peconic and we have a group of artists that gathers there. Half a dozen to two dozen people who will meet at any given time. There are gallery nights all over and a lot happening, in addition to the 50 to 100 studios.
What does the theme “Portals” mean to you?
It’s the idea of mystery — the unknown. One opens a door or a window, it’s a metaphor about changes in life circumstances. The rites of passage like birth, marriage. Going to the beyond. I love where you have that idea of suggestion of something unknown and something that can engage the intellect and the imagination, the spirit of something emotional in us as opposed to something that has an instantaneous meaning or something should be pragmatic or something should be descriptive. I love it where an image has some power in that perspective.
Portals are always in a painting or the work of art. The most compelling idea for a portal is a change of consciousness so that we have the physical world that’s before us. And then we have the world imagination or other realms.
With over 60 works how did you choose the winners?
I did not know the name or identity of these artists. I was simply looking at images. I must have examined maybe 150 pieces, initially digital reproductions, and I examined them on the computer screen, which obviously when you have the physical work, it’s a little bit different. While the show does have various media it’s mostly photography and it reproduces very well digitally. I had the opportunity to survey a lot of really exciting works.
The initial round was to make a decision as to which works would make the cut to be in this particular show. It may be that there were some nice pieces or wonderful pieces that failed to resonate with me, but they would probably go well with somebody else. Then I had already a fairly good idea of themes within the selection. But I noticed how people were pursuing this. Then I saw all the work physically and examined them, and then made selections as to which would be the prize winners.
Describe how Marissa White’s piece, the first place winner, resonated with you.
I was looking for something that would surprise me and would amaze me. I thought to myself, this is a classic. When I saw the piece I recognized that if this was blown up to the scale this could hold its own in any museum, in any collection with other major work. The concept of the piece, the beauty of the execution, the originality; and it was a very touching piece. There is something 18th Century about it. An image of a young woman opening an armoire or wooden cabinets and she’s peering in but we don’t see what’s in the interior. Behind her is a lamb that’s observing her, investigating whatever is in there. It has a sense of poignant mystery to it. I just really haven’t seen anything quite like that.
What would be your portal image if you painted one?
There’s a 1930s-era hotel, the Lido Towers, in Lido Beach on the South Shore in Nassau County. The building looks a little bit like a Byzantine church. What approaches this building is East Broadway, which is punctuated visually by a sequence of light posts. The eye is drawn toward a center point by the perspective of these light posts. In my painting there is a curve and a doorway of two doors, and way in the distance is this hotel. That is my emblem of the land of dreams. So, if I had to submit for the show, I would have given that picture.
Alex Ferrone Gallery is located at 25425 Main Road in Cutchogue. For more information visit www.alexferronegallery.com.