A Photo Essay By Michael Heller
The Express Magazine sent photographer Michael Heller to capture the images of a half dozen local gallery owners in the places where they work. We asked each of the gallerists to speak a little about their seasons ahead and to dress in their favorite summer clothes, in a style and with accessories that spoke to who they are and their personality.
For the photographer, the assignment was not without its challenges.
“Ideally, a successful environmental portrait incorporates elements of the space within the photograph, so that the environment informs and complements the subject’s personality,” said Heller. “In this case, all of the environments the subjects were to be photographed in were — effectively — all the same: white-walled boxes with artwork on all sides.”
How, then, to differentiate the portraits.
“The answer lied in spontaneity,” said Heller. “With only a few moments allotted for each portrait, I accepted that each space was a reflection of each of my subjects, and just went with my gut for framing and composition, purposely, without overthinking it. In this manner, it became the true personality of the subjects that ended up shining through.”
Roman Fine Art, East Hampton
Damien Roman’s style is as eclectic as his taste in art. “You can find me in the gallery casually dressed in Adidas sneakers, jeans and a graphic tee one day and in a jacket and tie the next,” he said. Roman is pictured in his East Hampton gallery wearing an outfit by Ralph Lauren, shoes by John Varvatos and jewelry collected from around the world. He admits bright colors don’t often fit into his personal pallet. “I often pair white jeans or pants with pink, lavender or blue,” he added. “Once the weather turns cooler, I’ll be in black and gray for eight months. Summer is my time to be more playful with my fashion palette.”
Roman’s gallery kicks off summer with a Memorial Day weekend reception for the work of photographer Alex Moore. The annual “Art on the Edge” show opens June 28 and features a roster of contemporary artists. Roman will feature an exhibit at his Park Place gallery in August on a new set of still life portraits by artist Dan West. The gallery consistently features work by Alex Moore, Lizzie Gill, Leah Schrager and Ciara Rafferty.
Grenning Gallery, Sag Harbor
As an art dealer, Laura Grenning likes to surround herself with beautiful objects. The job, as she sees it, is to adorn people’s homes with beauty and thinks it’s “important to dress the part.”
“I do so by mixing and matching different pieces,” said Grenning, pictured at her Main Street gallery in an Italian pantsuit. “New clothes paired with vintage clothes, inexpensive finds from T.J. Maxx paired with Italian-handmade shoes. I like to wear color. Art dealers are known for wearing black, but we’re out in the country, by the beach, in the summertime. I want my clothes to reflect upon our joyful lifestyle.”
On this page, Grenning shows off her Cole Haan heels as well as a family heirloom necklace containing a South African Krugerrand.
The Grenning Gallery kicks off summer with a solo show for Carl Bretzke, who nearly sold out of his work last summer, according to Grenning, and will be on display this year through June 9. Grenning will unveil the latest from John Morfis and Marc Dalessio in a show that runs June 15 to July 7.
RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton
“My personal style and fashion has always been an integral part of my life, and is not seasonally determined,” says Richard Demato, owner of RJD Gallery in Bridgehampton. Demato spent 30 years working in the fashion industry, has travelled the world and still loves the color, texture and tactile nature of fabrics. On a recent visit to the gallery, Demato wore a belt (pictured below) he purchased from none other than Gianni Versace on a visit to Milan in 1979 as well as a 24-karat sterling silver bracelet designed by Lotta Hasselblad in Stockholm.
“My style somewhat represents how I feel at that time,” said Demato. “However, I do enjoy wearing a vest and occasional scarf to complete my outfit from time to time.”
Demato, pictured next to “El Matador” by Jorge Santos, is wearing a rare vintage Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirt, aDries Van Noten over shirt and a Varvatos American Flag scarf from 2014.
He has assembled a host of new and accomplished artists who will debut work this summer, including “Strokes of Brilliance & Across the Open Sky,” featuring the work of Andrea Kowch, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend and runs through June.
“And our established gallery artists have created challenging new compositions, and some of their best artwork ever,” Demato added. “It’s going to be our best year yet.”
Janet Lehr Fine Arts, East Hampton
Janet Lehr is a believer in wearing black inside her East Hampton gallery in order to best showcase the art, and frequently mixes leather with milled or woven fabrics. The accents often come in her jewelry. The necklace in the photograph was one of eight she bought in Tel Aviv in 2017. Her boots are one of three acquired in Be’er Sheva, Israel, and, the Chanel earrings were acquired in Paris.
Featured work at the gallery includes the photography of Bert Stern along with paintings and other visual art by Milton Avery, Wolf Kahn and Adam Handler.
Borghese Vineyard Gallery, Cutchogue
“I would say my personal style is eclectic, whimsical and especially colorful in the summer months,” says Kara Hoblin, pictured wearing a vintage 1960s dress in the gallery space at Borghese Vineyards in Cutchogue. Her closet is full of unique vintage pieces from The Times Vintage in Greenport as she loves “the sustainability and one-of-a-kind looks vintage offers.” In the summer months, Hoblin prefers flowing dresses for openings and events and finds some of the best at Alex Vinash Boutique, which also supplied her shoes, pictured at right, and Crinoline Fashion Boutique. Her “persevere” bracelet is by Alexa Seuss of Common Ground Adornments.
Hoblin’s work will be all over both the North and South Forks this summer. At Borghese Vineyard Gallery there will be a “Painters of the North Fork” show in late June and a large summer show to benefit the Peconic Land Trust, with dates and details to be announced later. And, she added, “It’s a secret right now but I can drop a hint: I’m working on a large outdoor art experience with a few local artists and other gallery owners and curators later this summer. Keep a look-out.”
Catherine McCormick and Andrew Marcelle
MM Fine Art, Southampton
Catherine McCormick and Andrew Marcelle of MM Fine Art in Southampton like to blend a traditionally classic style with a touch of contemporary. They tend to wear high-end designers but dress them down with casual wear for functionality and aesthetic purposes. Marcelle is wearing Levi’s jeans with Grucci moccasins he inherited from his father, gallery owner Peter Marcelle, a 1980s Rolex watch and a Brooks Brothers gingham button-down shirt. McCormick is wearing J. Crew jeans with a Hermes belt, a Madewell t-shirt, a vintage Dashu jacket and shoes by Gucci. “The Hamptons over the summer have a more casual vibe then what we experience in the New York City fall and winter months, so we like to straddle the line between classic, sophisticated and cool,” they said.
Painting and photography featured this summer at MM Fine Art will include photographer Renate Allerrunning concurrent with her show at the Parrish Art Museum, New York City-based monochromatic artist Susan Grossman, internationally known portrait and lifestyle photographer Christophe von Hohenberg and rising contemporary artist Justin Lyons.