Serving Dinner with A Side of Art

Artist Kara Hoblin works on an in-progress chalk art at the Southampton Arts Center (SAC) in Southampton. Lori Hawkins photos

Woven into our natural environment, there are of all the creatures and critters that move about, nesting in trees, grazing in grasses, weaving through tall stems between earth and water. Sometimes unnoticed, the flora and fauna of the East End deserve our appreciation for what they give back. Pollinators are critical to agriculture, providing not just food, but jobs. Honoring what all of these beings contribute to humanity, artist Kara Hoblin brings them to the forefront in striking fashion through chalk art drawings that amplify their presence. Now, in-between the space of summer and autumn, she illustrates the dark chalkboards of restaurants, wineries and art galleries in time for harvest season.

The natural beauty of the environment and the various species that inhabit it is where Hoblin draws her inspiration, regardless of season. Incorporating the life growing around her, and her travels and experiences, she creates works of art for various clients, often with complete creative freedom.

“Usually something in their surroundings is tied in,” Hoblin says of her client work and locales. “Whether the viewer realizes it or not, each piece is tied to a place or people. With fall foliage, there are always things native to here.”

A recently completed, large scale chalkboard at the Tap Room at Corey Creek in Southold is a vineyard scene with an oversized butterfly Hoblin noticed at the winery. Flowers in vibrant shades of deep pinks and yellows on the foreground are offset by a sunset and a full moon. Though not occurring simultaneously, each has their place in that exact location. At the Winemaker Studio in Peconic, a chalkboard of the Shared Table Farm depicts various animals, a favorite subject of Hoblin’s, with an apple tree, which is a nod to the winemaker’s new hard cider.

Harvest Inn, Main Road Biscuit Company, Sannino Vineyards, Coffee Pot Cellars, The Menhaden, Brixton, Mattitaco, Spirited, Aldo’s Café, Noah’s, Little Creek Oyster Company, Port, SagTown Coffee, Harbes Vineyard, East on Main, Prohibition Kitchen, Southampton Arts Center, Berry & Co., Amber Waves Farm, Marie Eiffel Market. That’s the short list of Hoblin’s recent work.

First and South, where she created her first chalkboard, is one of Hoblin’s current projects for the harvest season. The winners of an Instagram contest will have their pups drawn onto the restaurant’s chalkboard wall. “Top Dog Greenport” will feature dogs doing fall things, as she says, wearing flannel, picking pumpkins, baking apple pie and playing in leaves. This was inspired by a summer board in a New York City office with employees’ dogs. On the North Fork, it’s a perfect addition.

Artist Kara Hoblin works primarily with chalk.

A mix of imagination and real elements, creating art with chalk is an organic, almost fluid practice. “I don’t sketch things out usually,” Hoblin says of her process. “I start by talking, getting a feeling for what they’re looking for or inspired by. I then come to the board and draw onsite, starting with a white outline, which usually changes as I go, and go through a few layers of detail.”

Hoblin may first and foremost be known as an artist, but she is also an activist. She has been involved in various environmental organizations, supporting their initiatives through her work. After a residency with the Southampton Arts Center this past winter, Hoblin was asked to do a live board during their summer gala inspired by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark installation. Portraits of endangered animal species are accented by real population numbers to raise awareness of these animals as they head toward extinction, hoping to reverse the frightening trend. Inspired by this show, Hoblin’s chalkboard features a large jaguar and other animals from the Amazon, highlighting its deforestation from the recent fires, and a glacier at risk of disappearing as climate change and global warming loom around the world.

Embodying the idea of thinking globally and acting locally, Hoblin hopes her work as both an artist and activist will raise awareness of environments near and far. “This board is inspired by the show and a shared similar mission,” Hoblin explains. “These are things people need to think about.”