Art Outside the Box

For quality works in Sag Harbor, there is no shortage of space
The Dodds and Eder Sculpture Garden Carrie Ann Salvi

   An art exhibit opened on Saturday night. A few dozen people hovered around the room as they chatted about how great life is and how much the art speaks to them while wine and hors d’oeuvres were passed.
   This sort of thing happens all the time, right? True. But what made this event unusual was the setting: a hair salon.
   “I am very happy with how my art translates to this space,” said Lane Berkwit, a photographer who chose Salon Xavier in Sag Harbor to display 37 images from her newest series, “The Beach,” in which she captures ethereal vignettes on sand and sea.
   Salon Xavier’s walls are no strangers to art. Xavier Merat, the salon’s owner and an art lover, opened his business in conjunction with an art show five years ago and usually hosts a different artist every month. “Hairstyling is also an art,” said Mr. Merat, whose upscale clientele have purchased as many as 14 artworks in one day. “My work and an artist’s work complement each other, so it’s natural that we work together.”
    The artist population is growing more quickly than the number of stark white walls traditionally used to show their works. But for quality works in Sag Harbor, there is no shortage of space.
    Sean, a French men’s clothing store on Main Street, has also gotten into the act. The store is open year round and normally rotates the artists each month. Vincent Brandi, the shop manager, proposed art installations as a way to draw in customers during the sluggish economy.
    “It has made an extremely positive impact on business,” said Mr. Brandi, also a local artist who paints oil-on-canvas landscapes, with knives and fingers instead of brushes. His works are on display at Sean through December. “Women and young people, who wouldn’t come into a French clothing store, are now coming in because of the art.” According to Mr. Brandi, the synergistic relationship has broadened the store’s client base, as well as sent his art sales through the roof. “It’s just another example of how Sag Harbor supports local artists,” he said.
     Before Saturday, Hadi Toron, a Syrian-born artist who now lives in Sag Harbor, had only shown his art in the usual gallery setting. Through his friendship with Laurice Rahme, founder of Bond No. 9, works inspired by his time in Sudan grace the rear walls of the fragrance store’s Main Street location next to the American Hotel. “As long as it can be seen clearly without shelves and other distractions in the way, art should be shown at any type of venue,” said Mr. Toron, a former United Nations diplomat. “I would certainly consider another show in a nontraditional place.”
    Ruby Beets, a shop that combines decorative antiques, vintage and contemporary furniture, lighting, and accessories, also shows works from 15 local artists, as well as vintage photography. The business selects art that blends well with the store’s vibe, and the owners are constantly looking for works to fill “very limited” wall space.
    Dodds and Eder on Bridge Street wears many hats: Primarily a landscape design and garden center, it also hosts events, and is expanding its gallery component. New this season, sculptures by local artists are displayed in the outdoor garden. Inside, there are pieces from five New York City metro artists who work in paintings and mixed-media. This year’s exhibitions were conducted by a guest curator, with whom the business hopes to collaborate and expand future shows.
    The cooperation between an artist and business owners is not dissimilar from the more traditional relationship with a gallery. Each gets a cut or percentage of the sale. The advantage for the customer or art patron is that the business is offering more than just one kind of “product.” A little variety seems to go a long way.
    Additional non-gallery businesses where art can be found in Sag Harbor include (but are not limited to): Sylvester and Co. on Main Street, exhibiting pieces from a collection of more than a dozen artists, and Urban Zen on Bay Street, offering digital photographs from Elizabeth Jordan’s “The Colors of Poverty” exhibition and Philipe Dodard’s illustrations on paper. All proceeds of sales from Mr. Dodard’s work go to relief efforts in Haiti, and 10 percent of Ms. Jordan’s sales go to Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation.