Sag Harbor Express: “A Really Big Painting”

Sag Harbor Express: “A Really Big Painting”

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Getting a big piece of art into a small gallery space is no easy feat.

Last Thursday, “Carousel,” a 6'5" high x 14'6" wide oil on canvas by Jamaican artist Phillip Thomas, came into Sag Harbor for an opening at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery. And it, like many other things crossing Main Street, entirely stopped traffic.

The piece, which had been on display for the last six months in Washington D.C. at The World Bank and at the headquarters of the Organization of American States, arrived somewhat unexpectedly, setting into motion a noisy honkfest and a well-meaning effort by the typically ticket-happy traffic cops.

As gallery owner Demato described it, “Everything happened all at once. The trucking company decided to deliver the artwork earlier than expected, and didn’t give us the 30 minute notice.”

The truck came up to unload where the gallery is located — in front of Sag Harbor Cinema — just as the Suffolk County bus and Jitney’s Hamptons Ambassador liner came in to pick up passengers. A stand-still ensued before the truck was sent off to circle, the passenger pick-up for the two buses taking 20 minutes.

Then the fun started.

As Demato explained, “It took three people to simply get it off the truck and then it barely fit through the front door of the gallery. Then we ‘had’ to get it upstairs; it’s the key to the exhibit.”

“Our first attempt failed, because our limited understanding of geometry made it ‘wedge’ and get stuck. A second attempt, angling the art diagonally up the stairs, got it stuck, too.” stairs, got it stuck, too.”

Flushed and frustrated, Demato hit on a solution, calling in “the guys at the gym,” reaching Rich Decker of Studio 89 and the Sag Harbor Gym, who brought with him “Big Mike,” a man Demato described as having “arms the size of legs.”

Still, five sets of hands, heavy artillery and all, the painting wouldn’t make the turn that was needed. It wasn’t until the painting nearly fell 12 feet that fear, adrenaline and an improbable shift of weight pushed the piece onto the second floor.

Now that it’s in place, perhaps it’s time to ask, “How’s it going to come down?”

Either way, it’s not likely to move much until the show comes down August 26.

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