In an artful and productive spirit of community, a quiet little corner of downtown Quogue has undergone a transformation. The intersection of Jessup Lane and Quogue Street has been turned into a delightful destination for shopping and gallery going.
The team at Austin Patterson Disston Architects renovated the corner building at 44 Quogue Street that formerly housed Custom Cool textiles and took an office there. They leased out the rest of the building to boutique stores that all connect into each other, making for an upscale mini-mall of sorts that all came together to open this year.
The Quogue Gallery, which faces Quogue Street, is run by Chester Murray, co-chairman of the Quogue Historical Society. He also works with the Quogue Library and the newly opened Inn at Quogue across the street. “We’ve had a terrific reaction to this building and a nice buzz in the community about the gallery and the retail spaces,” Murray says. “We’re rebuilding a historic district here that involves many generations of families that have lived in Quogue.”
The Quogue Gallery opened in July with a show by Barbara Vaughn called “Waterscapes.” The colorful, bright series of reflected boats, flags and marina buildings on the water line the gallery walls, while one-of-a-kind jewelry and glass works gleam in cases and iron sculptures by 80-year-old Nol Putnam dot the floor space. White-on-white cowhide covered chairs by Southampton artist Jeff Muhs provide stylish seating by the window.
“I’ve been an art collector for a long time,” Murray says, “and it’s a real treat now to put shows together and meet the artists. There is a great story behind all of this art and that’s what makes it more meaningful.”
Murray and his wife travel extensively and find artists along the way they like. For example, Putnam, a retired school teacher who was making wondrous works of art using iron blacksmithing, hails from Virginia. “We had to talk him into exhibiting with us,” Murray says. ‘But now he’s thrilled with the attention.”
The back of the gallery connects to Q44 Décor, a home décor store with a beachy vibe. A family act, the store is run by Katie Barbatsuly and her sister and mother. They also have stores in Delray Beach, Florida and San Francisco.
Barbatsuly’s mother is an interior decorator who joined a small co-op shop years ago in Florida. That led to Barbatsuly having a small room of her own to showcase her design finds and the business grew nationally from there.
“Our emphasis is on coastal color décor,” Barbatsuly says. “We have lovely items for beach homes and hostess gifts. It’s high quality items, all American-made. We have some vintage, but mostly new merchandise. I just love big, bright, bold colors for homes and clothing—teal, peacock, turquoise, tangerine and accents of metallics are my favorites.”
The store stocks embroidered pillows, shell-encrusted mirrors, artwork, hand-painted ceramic plates, octopus-shaped candlesticks and silver-plated horseshoe crabs.
Next door to Q44 on Jessup is Mr. Q, a men’s clothing and accessory store that sells nifty lobster and anchor printed shirts, canvas beach totes, trays printed with maps, and more. Mr. Q is run by Theresa Fontana of the Lily Pad, a clothing store and consignment shop located up the street by the historic Quogue Market.
“We are doing a lot of cross marketing and retailing as well as design services,” Barbatsuly says. “So all these stores opening into each other makes for a unique shopping experience. We are calling it the Quogue triangle boutique corner. Now with the luxe Inn at Quogue open across the street and Beth’s Café on the other side, people visiting here can have places to eat and stay and shop right here in Quogue without braving the traffic into Southampton or East Hampton.”
Quogue Gallery’s next show opening will be paintings by Susan Vecsey, whose work is in Guild Hall’s permanent collection. The group of stores will be open into the fall.