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Celebrating the Art of Eastville and SANS

Tue, 05/09/2023 - 09:45
Donnamarie Barnes, Jeremy Dennis, and Judith Henriques-Adams will discuss the present and future of art in Sag Harbor's Black beachfront communities at The Church.
Donnamarie Barnes, Simon Howell, and Judith Henriques-Adams Photos

The Church in Sag Harbor will celebrate the creative and artistic legacy of that village's Eastville and SANS communities (Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach) on Friday afternoon with a panel discussion, a tour of The Church's current exhibition, "Return to a Place By the Sea," and a reception, hosted by the Celebrating Creatives of Color committee and E.T. Williams, a longtime supporter of African-American artists.

Titled "On the Present and Future of Art in the Historic Black Beach Front Communities of Sag Harbor," the panel discussion of artists, set for 4 p.m., will feature Judith Henriques-Adams, Donnamarie Barnes, and Jeremy Dennis. Sheri Pasquarella, The Church's executive director, will moderate.

When Ms. Pasquarella began her tenure there last August, plans for the current show, which honors four Black artists who have lived and worked in Sag Harbor, were already in place. 

Noting that the mission of The Church is to foster creativity on the East End and to honor the history of Sag Harbor as an innovator's village, Ms. Pasquarella said, "A very big part of that history is of course the historic communities of Eastville and SANS." 

Convinced that "Return to a Place By the Sea" would offer an opportunity to expand upon the history of those communities, she began a dialogue with Mr. Williams, an Eastville resident who is on the board of The Church and who, with his wife, Lynn, began collecting and promoting work by Black artists more than 60 years ago.

After spending time with Mr. Williams and touring Eastville and SANS with him, "We were talking about the forthcoming opening of the exhibition, and I asked if he and I could collaborate on some kind of party or celebration that would engage the SANS community more directly."

Further conversations with Mr. Williams and Olivia White, a SANS resident who is the former executive director of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, led to the idea of the panel discussion, where plans for a late-summer community art exhibition organized by the Celebrating Creatives of Color committee could be announced.

The panel discussion will be followed at 4:30 by a tour of the exhibition led by its co-curators April Gornik and Sara Cochran. The reception will occur after the tour.

"It makes a lot of sense to bring the SANS community into mainstream Sag Harbor," Mr. Williams said. While he has served on countless boards, among them those of the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Schomburg Society of Black Art and Culture, he is "off all boards now," he said. "I think it's time for the younger people to come on."

However, when Ms. Gornik and Eric Fischl, The Church's founders, asked him to join their board, "I said yes, because they're just such terrific people, how could I tell them no." 

The Celebrating Creatives of Color committee came about two years ago, when Mr. Williams asked other residents to become involved, among them Ms. White, Andrea Cottman, Beverly Granger, Gwen Hankin, Victoria Pinderhughes, Jennifer Segre, and Paula Taylor. The committee's first community art show took place last summer. 

Friday's program sold out in one day, but "Return to a Place By the Sea" will remain on view through May 27. "The exhibition has been wonderful on so many levels," said Ms. Pasquarella. "It has been successful in furthering a relationship with people who are already familiar with our programming, and I think it has been successful at bringing in new people as well."

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