The Church, a nonprofit arts center in Sag Harbor, N.Y., founded by the artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, will begin to welcome visitors on April 15. Two tours of the center, a former Methodist church built in 1832, will be offered daily, Thursday through Monday.
“This opening is the culmination of the vision of a lifetime,” Fischl, a longtime resident of the area, said in a statement. “We want the Church to stand as a beacon of hope and renewal through continual exploration and reinterpretation, which is the domain of the arts.”
The center’s first guests will have the opportunity to view art by Kerry James Marshall and Awol Erizku as they become acquainted with the 10,048-square-foot space. The two pieces, “Untitled” (2008) by Marshall and “Teen Venus” (2012) by Erizku, have been arranged by Fischl and Sara Cochran, the Church’s executive director and chief curator, as an installation meant to stimulate “dialogue about nature, beauty, history and race.”
A collection of portraits by Fischl, of 20 cultural luminaries who had strong connections to Sag Harbor, which is on Long Island’s East End, will also be on view — on the building’s windows. Subjects include Betty Friedan, Langston Hughes and Herman Melville. “This is a way of celebrating an ongoing tradition and the heritage of Sag Harbor,” Cochran said. “Eric calls them our saints — I like to think of them as our rogues gallery.”
The tours are the first in a series of events planned for the coming months that will celebrate the Church’s renovation (led by the architect Lee Skolnick) and the official beginning of the building’s life as an exhibition venue, artist residency site and community resource.
In February, the center inaugurated its residency programming by welcoming the Martha Graham Dance Company for a two-week stay. The painter Jim Gingerich is currently in residence in the building’s studio space.