William Ris Gallery: Loving the North Fork

Mary Cantone at William Ris Gallery
Mary Cantone at William Ris Gallery. Photo: Daniel Pollera

Mary Cantone, sister of William Ris, stepped in to assist her mother, Barbara, the co-founder of William Ris Gallery, 10 years ago. She determined then that she wanted to carry on the legacy of the gallery and build on its reputation and history. “To do anything else is not an option,” Cantone says. That was in Stone Harbor, New Jersey and William Ris Gallery had already been an arts destination there for 45 years.

In the meantime, Cantone’s daughter and son-in-law purchased a home in Jamesport. Upon her first visit there she knew immediately that she wanted to relocate her life to the North Fork as soon as possible. “Closing Stone Harbor was bittersweet,” she says, “but I knew I wanted to be in Jamesport. I wanted to devote my efforts and time on the North Fork and decided to permanently relocate the gallery.” So she bought a home and began the search for a new space for the gallery. Eventually she met John Mazur, who was relocating his store, Material Objects. “I told him what I was looking to do and he offered me a great opportunity to take over his space.” It didn’t hurt, in her estimation, that the Sherwood House Vineyards Tasting Room is just across the street.

The newest incarnation of the William Ris Gallery—before the Stone Harbor location, it was the Camp Hill Gallery and Academy of Arts in Camp Hill, PA—moved into 1291 Main Road in mid February of 2016, opening with a collection of work from artists already represented by the gallery. By the June opening celebration Cantone had added several Long Island artists to the collection and continues to do so. The gallery currently represents such local artists as Dan’s Papers cover artists Daniel Pollera, Keith Mantell, Max Moran and Charles Wildbank, among others. “There’s a talented and enthusiastic arts community on Long Island,” Cantone says, adding “I feel immensely fortunate for the opportunity to meet new artists.”

Having been exposed to fine art from a young age, Cantone says she is able to identify work in different genres, subjects and mediawhich add to the reputation of the gallery. “Discovering new artists is a favorite part of my job. I take pride in building relationships with the artists [and] enjoy the experience of nurturing the connections I make with my artists. It’s all about trust and communication.”

What, you might be asking, sets William Ris Gallery apart from the myriad other galleries scattered across the East End? To start, the gallery has a varied and unique collection—hung in a classic salon style, which makes for an interesting presentation—and does not identify with only one genre. “I like to show the viewer how a collection of paintings can work together regardless of subject, palette and genre.”

Almost one year after opening in Jamesport, Cantone is fully satisfied with her decision and is confident that her brother, William, who opened the original gallery together with their mother in 1966, would be thrilled by the galleries growth and direction. Cantone herself is also thrilled. “I feel a connection to the East End of Long Island and I’ve only just begun to discover all it has to offer. There’s an art vibe here and I want to be part of the scene.”

Visit William Ris Gallery to see the stunning work of Jane Hartley; assorted ceramic work by Liz Kinder, Collette Smith and Barbara Sebastion; sculpture by Katherine Stanek; and much more.

To keep up-to-date on the goings on at William Ris Gallery visit williamris.com or check out the gallery at 1291 Main Road in Jamesport. The gallery space is also available for events and collaborations. 609-368-6361

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