On Greenport editor Gwen Groocock talks with chalk artist Kara Hoblin, owner, manager and curator of the new and exciting North Fork Art Collective (northforkartcollective.com) at 15 Front Street, in the heart of Greenport Village, whose 2018 members include multimedia artist and photographer Dalton Portella, draftsperson Kelly Franké, photographer Sarah Prescott, environmental artist Cindy Pease Roe, painter Emma Ballou, photographer Madison Fender, painter Verona Penalba, and multimedia artist Scott Bluedorn.
Kara: “First, I must say that I really rely on the skills and expertise of the other annual members to make the collective a success. Community is incredibly important to me, and the collective’s focus of being a community-driven creative space for working artists to grow and collaborate stems from that key value in my life. Emma Ballou and Scott Bluedorn play a large role in curation, vision, and administrative work. Madison Fender and Kelly Franké help out with local support and activities, since they both live in Greenport. We’re excited to be working with some new members and can’t wait to see how their unique skills and talents will elevate the collective.”
So, what is the philosophy of the collective?
Kara: “The space acts as a studio for the artists and a place to exhibit. It’s meant to be a platform for artists to grow and learn. It’s different for every artist and how it will affect their practice. The idea is kind of like an “incubator concept;” once the collective has served its purpose for an artist, a new artist can rotate into the annual membership. This will be our first full year and everything is a learning process for us, and we’re open to experimentation. I like to think of it as a symbiotic relationship between the artist and the collective similar to how the clownfish finds safety in a sea anemone, and in turn the anemone is protected by the clownfish. As well as protecting each other, we are forcing each other to grow in a positive direction and inspiring each other to keep creating.”
Can you tell us about when and how the collective formed?
Kara: “This has been a dream of mine for many years. It manifested itself differently than I expected, but I couldn’t be happier that it’s a reality now. We had our first physical space after Rena Wilhelm from The Weathered Barn reached out to me when a space next door was unexpectedly vacated in the middle of the summer (2017); she said it might be the perfect place for an art collective. After speaking with the landlord, I spoke to like-minded artist friends who are also community driven and serious about their art careers, and thus the collective was born.”
What kind of reception have you gotten so far from the Greenport community?
Kara: “An incredibly positive reception! We have been welcomed with open arms. Honestly, that’s what really made it clear we had to continue. The positive feedback and encouragement was only eclipsed by the outpouring of support for the collective to reopen in a new space. It’s wonderful how our community has stated its desire and need for a local artist collective. We definitely wouldn’t be here without our community!”
How do you all decide who gets to join?
Kara: “It’s an evolving process, but everything we do has a level of calculated curation, including input from our annual members. All of our artists are dedicated to their practice and are serious about their commitment to their art.”
And giving back?
Kara: “I think the best part for us is the impact we’ve had on our community. The collective’s structure for this season is to focus on our artists’ specific interests, skills, and schedules. We believe this will make a real impact on our small organization and through a variety of partnerships we already have lined up for this year, it will also benefit our community.”
So, what’s on the schedule for this season?
Kara: “Although we are not an event space, we’ll be hosting openings mostly correlating with the Greenport BID Gallery Walk.* We will have three community shows this year and also host art classes. The collective also has many local partners and will be working on events throughout the North Fork and South Fork. We love collaborating and are always looking for new ways to grow the arts in our community!”
* The Greenport Gallery Walk is the first Friday of the month, June 1 through December 9. Participating galleries stay open late; The Siren’s Song, Nova Constellata, Gallery M, South Street Gallery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Gallery, Olive Studio, VSOP Projects, Hector deCordova Studio and the North Fork Art Collective.