Avital Gallery 336 in Great Neck unveiled the work of local artists on Saturday evening, marking a sort of christening for the gallery as it began its first major exhibition.
Many artists were from Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington and Queens. Avital Kornblum, who began the gallery, said it was an opportunity to showcase artistic talent from the area.
“I am very excited about the local artists,” Kornblum said. “I know it’s very hard to have a space and a gallery.”
The work of 21 artists lined the vestibule and hallway of the gallery at 770 Middle Neck Road. The items ranged from a portrait of charcoal waves to a photograph tattooed and twisted onto metal. There are a few pieces in the so-called “permanent gallery” too, with paintings from Israel and other places.
“It’s a broad range. We’re not limiting it,” explained Mario Tucci, a co-founder and judge of the gallery who first met Kornblum at My Gallery in Port Washington about five years ago. “Quite often an exhibition will limit itself to only painting, only photography, or only something.”
But while the exhibition is rather open, Tucci said, that did not mean everyone who submitted work necessarily won a place. Each of the roughly 50 pieces was subjected to the scrutiny of a judge. This was the case with the previous three galleries Tucci worked on.
“This is set up like a competition,” Tucci said.
Each artist was competing to win first prize, which would allow the piece to be shown in the window and highlighted. The winner was Humberto Piloto’s “Stormy Night,” which featured dark cascading waves and a red moon overlooking the sea.
Piloto, who moved to the United States from Cuba in 1994, said that works like this came naturally to him. Not only was he born into a family of artists, but he said he practically grew up in the water since he was surrounded by it.
“It was your life,” Piloto said.
Artists present in the gallery varied wildly in origin, experience and style, Kornblum explained. This is especially the case in Great Neck, which is a melting pot with a large Iranian community and multiple generations.
“I cannot make a generalization because we have a very unique situation in Great Neck,” she said.
Patricia Brintle, a Haitian-born artist whose work is featured in the gallery and in Temple Judea, began her artistic career making greeting cards at home. She said most galleries she has been in or seen were in Manhattan, but they lacked something the Avital Gallery had.
“There is a closeness,” Brintle said, noting the conversation buzzing among the artists in the tight space. “People have to speak to each other… This is purposed to that.”
The current exhibition will be open until May 6. The Avital Gallery does not have a website but plans to start one as soon as possible.