My Hamptons: April Gornik – Artist, Activist, Guitarist

April Gornik in her North Haven studio
April Gornik in her North Haven studio

Landscape artist April Gornik is one of the East End’s best known artists. A feminist and environmentalist, she is married to fellow artist Eric Fischl and spends most of her time in their North Haven home, where she enjoys walking her Bengal cats.

Laura Euler, editor of our sister publication, Behind the Hedges, interviewed Gornik for the “My Hamptons” segment in the magazine.

BTH: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons? Why do you love it?

AG: Eric and I have been coming to the Hamptons since the 1980s. We were most attracted to Sag Harbor for its quirkiness and character. But what’s not to love? It has everything: nature, beaches, culture!

BTH: You’re spearheading the movement to save the Sag Harbor Cinema. Can you update us about what’s going on there?

AG: We’re almost half of the way toward obtaining enough money pledged by July 1st to know we can move forward. An angel donor [now revealed to be Gornik’s husband, Eric Fischl] pledged $1M and Billy Joel made a substantial contribution by pledging for the Popcorn Stand. We have several other naming opportunities, including the three theaters that will occupy the Cinema. Every day more people are stepping up. And the best thing about it is that the community is so behind this! Last week Elizabeth Dow, fabric historian and designer, offered to donate all the fabric for the new seating, and John Battle, sculptor and metalworker, is repairing the badly damaged sign. It’s so moving.

BTH: If you could have anyone at your Hamptons dinner party, dead or alive, who would you invite?

AG: It’d have to be somewhere huge. I would love to see Edgar Doctorow again, sigh. And Kurt Vonnegut and Sandy Gallin. And since I can pick anyone, Elaine and Bill de Kooning and Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock and that whole crowd, but also some of the more amazing obscure people here. Some of the people who lived in Eastville, the whalers and their families. Minard LaFever, who designed the Old Whalers Church and the Whaling Museum. Thomas Moran! Pyrrhus Concer, one of the first Westerners to set foot in Japan. Since I’ve been doing the walking tours for the Sag Harbor Partnership, I’ve become obsessed with the wild and wonderful history here!

BTH: Describe your perfect day in the Hamptons in detail.

AG: A sunny day in June. Start by walking our cats with Eric, then a little classical guitar practice (I’m terrible but I love it), yoga, a local egg with dandelions or kale, take a walk around Sag Harbor, work in my studio and see friends for dinner. I am blessed to have my life!

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