by Julianne Mosher |
Anthony Freda grew up in Port Jefferson before moving to Manhattan to study at Pratt Institute. After staying there for 35 years, he decided to come back to the island and open up his own art gallery right on East Main Street.
“I always had a dream to have a space in the town with my art and my friend’s art,” he said, “So this is a dream come true.”
Now residing in Mount Sinai, managing Star Gallery is Freda’s third job – he’s an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is an illustrator for different national publications including Time, Rolling Stone and the New Yorker.
“I wanted to come full circle,” he said. “It’s fun to be back here, where I grew up, showing my son around… These streets are my back yard.”
With help from his wife and business partner, Amber Star, Freda came up with the name Star Gallery to honor her. “I just love that name and I love my wife,” he said.
The gallery originally got its start in New York a few years ago with different popups. “We had a lot of prominent artists, some really top-notch, world-class artists,” he said. “They started working with us and we were honored to show and sell their work.”
But the couple decided to take their special type of gallery to the island where they planned to raise their son, Antonio. They wanted to combine their love of art with their passion for helping others. The gallery plans to work with local charities, nonprofits and organizations by donating a portion of proceeds from events to the different groups.
Located at 206-208 East Main Street in the village, it just opened last month in the old Kroman Gallery. Consisting of two rooms, each space is designated to a different group of artists– global and local.
“I want to have both,” Freda said, “One foot in the town and
one foot out into the rest of the world.”
Freda said that he wants to bring the community into his space and for it to be inclusive.
“There’s a lot of people around here that probably haven’t been exposed to this type of art— contemporary, pop-art and illustration,” he said.
The walls of the global room currently are decorated with the gallery’s latest exhibit, Star Power, and features over a dozen artists. With a modern-day pop art feel, the walls are covered with the mash-ups of different iconographies.
Hanging vertically on the white walls, you can see a vivid portrait of Bill Murray as Batman or Uncle Sam with a skull face. A life-size standing photo of Bob Ross stands in the doorway.
“I want to bring more global work into this little town;
some of these artists are from all over the world and are well-known prominent
artists in their own right,” Freda said, “So it’s about bringing a New York quality
art gallery to the town.”
To the right of the global room is a smaller room designated to local artists, including some of Freda’s own work and some from local Belle Terre artist Grainne de Buitlear.
Art collectors and lovers can purchase the pieces inside the gallery, as they are all for sale. Freda is offering affordable prints of some of the pieces, while other originals can go for thousands of dollars.
“I try to get the artists to give us good prices so people can make a purchase that I think would be a good investment,” he said. “People are willing to spend money on art, and that’s really promising to us and exciting… We’re going to keep building from here.”
While he and his wife were looking for a spot to move their former Manhattan gallery, Freda immediately considered East Main Street because of its sleepy appeal along with its admiration for art and culture.
trying to revitalize,” he said, “This is an arts district and we want to
generate some interest and enthusiasm about the arts in Port Jeff.”
Star Gallery has a long list of ideas and plans to tackle now that the doors are open, Freda added.
“We have a lot of plans to revitalize Port Jeff as an arts center,” he said, noting that some of the plans include public murals, street art, and some contemporary art, all with the main goal of keeping the art with traditional town themes, like the history of Port Jeff or ships and sailing.
As for now, the Start Power exhibit will continue to be shown throughout the end of the month with a closing reception on Aug. 30 and 31 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
“We’re hoping that we can get a following here,” Freda said. “And we’re just getting started.”
Scroll down to see photos of Star Gallery.