The Long Island Museum’s collaborative arts group met earlier this month to discuss plans to unite the numerous galleries across Long Island.
Together, panelists brainstormed methods of possible collaboration that will soon create more opportunities for artists, collectors, patrons and curators to work together.
As a starting point to facilitate discussion of partnership between Long Island arts venues, four panelists lead the conversation.
John Cino, the Artistic Director of the Patchogue Arts Council and an artist who specializes in sculpture, was one of the panelists.
“What is it about Suffolk County?” Cino said, reflecting on the fact that there are many galleries on Long Island, but often they are overlooked in favor of the the work of artists from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
“We don’t have that kind of coordination to produce somebody of quality to receive a grant,” Cino said comparing the Long Island art scene to its New York City counterparts.
“I see two things so far, one is the fact that artists are so far spread out in Suffolk County that we don’t have enough connection to encourage each other to go the next step.”
Cino says the second issue is his concept of “Long Island Regionalism,” in which artistic microcultures, each represented by different arts councils across the island, surface and compete for the same county funding, in turn stifling the growth of the others.
“This is an issue that has to be dealt with,” he said. “We need to have something that is collaborative throughout the county, that is non-competitive so that people feel like “we will do this together,” then the artists will come out from wherever they are in the county towards this because it is a step in the right direction.”
For local artists, the pressure of financial insecurity is increasingly prevalent.
“The arts are something very important and unfortunately since money is tight, it is usually the first thing that gets cut,” Christina Strassfield, the Museum Director and Chief Curator of the Guild Hall Museum and a self-proclaimed advocate for the arts, said. “The arts have a place and they continue to have a place but we do need help for the federal government and state.”
Karen Levitov, the Curator and Director of the Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University, was another panelist at the Art of Collaboration panel.
Levitov said the panel discussed how to interact with each other and different artists across the region easily and frequently.
“There are a lot of little pockets of interesting places to see art, but they are kind of isolated on different parts of Long Island and there’s not a lot of connection or collaboration,” Levitov said.
One initiative in the push to unify artists is an idea called “Slide Slam.” The slide slam event will feature the work of specially selected Long Island artists on a projection slide.
According to Levitov, artists will submit ten or so images of their work to be quickly displayed during show, interconnecting work virtually.
Along with artist interconnectivity, Levitov hopes to increase tarting with the Zuccaire Gallery, Levitov wants to expand the work beyond the university.
“Community involvement is something that I’m really interested in and getting the word out, that we’re here, we’re free, we’re accessible, we’re not just for the campus,” Levitov said, “Our primary mission is for students faculty and people on campus but we’re here for the community as well.”
Chasey Chalem, an artist from Sag Harbor, feels that because of computers, communication between artists has improved.
“It has grown, there are many more people that are able to work out here because they are working with their computers,” Chalem, a New York City native and graduate of University of California Berkeley, said. According Chalem, working out of Long Island is difficult even for an established artist. “A lot of galleries have gone out of business but I think many more artists are trying to do something independently.”
According to Levitov, for a centralized website for all things art, including exhibitions, opportunities for artists and audience members alike, the official Long Island Arts Alliance site is a valuable trove of information.
The panel discussed other means of artist and gallery collaboration. Similar to most fields of work today, networking is a key aspect of interconnecting artists across the island.