A passel of Port Washington artists helped the Sands Point Preserve present the largest exhibition of original artwork in Port’s history during the successful three-week run of the inaugural Design Showhouse, which is now planned to be an annual affair.
The event was held at 100-year-old Hempstead House, which is part of the preserve’s Guggenheim estate, and about 2,500 visitors viewed more than 120 paintings, photographs, and sculptures created by 50 Long Island artists during the showcase’s run from Nov. 2 to Nov. 24.
To complement the Showhouse rooms, the artwork was on display in the mansion’s entry foyer, along mahogany-paneled corridors and in the Guggenheim’s master bedroom suites. The event raised over $125,000 for renovation of Hempstead House.
The art exhibition organizing committee was heavy with Port artists: Diane Lennox Bares, Shelley Holtzman, Ellen Haillie Schiff, Victoria Selbach, Barbara Silbert, Barbara Lewis Spivak, Barbara Lynne Stein, and David Wollin. Organizers also included Friends of the Sands Point Preserve Executive Director Jean-Marie Posner and artists Theresa Giannuzzi of Glen Cove and Howard Rose of Woodbury.
“On the 100th anniversary of Hempstead House, we honored the Guggenheim’s passion for design and art collecting with this remarkable Showhouse event and exhibition,” Posner said. “The exhibition became an important feature of the Showhouse as we looked at the various forms of art that have emerged and influenced society over the last 100 years.”
Of the 12 rooms, one—“A Room of One’s Own”—was the setting for three artists to create new works.
Port artist Silbert, Margaret Weissbach and Fabiola Knight all took inspiration from the 1915 to 1935 setting, a period in which art, music, and literature brought forth new ideas on social mores, human rights, and equality for women. Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking novel and the legendary Bloomsbury Group came to mind.
“When I first saw the Virginia Woolf room, I was enthralled,” Silbert said. The furnishings, the paintings, the fabrics and lamps were absolutely beautiful and created a mood that reflected the era. When the lovely model sat down to pose on the chaise lounge, she just fit right in, and the scene was transformed into a Manet or Toulouse-Lautrec painting that I couldn’t wait to capture.”
“The character of the room inspired us to produce something beautiful,” said Knight. “It made me think that maybe Hempstead House—in the time when it was inhabited by the Guggenheims—also provided opportunities for artists to develop works of art.
The Masquerade Ball that kicked off the Showhouse had “guests in their party masks who [added] to the experience, as voyeurs from another place or time, looking into a world of the past, while the three artists painted a figure in the present,” said Weissbach, “It was surreal.”
For information about the Sands Point Preserve and or purchase a 2014 Annual Pass see www.TheSandsPointPreserve.com, call 516-571-7901 or visit the Gate House at 127 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point, daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.