There are a couple of places one might find Gia Schifano’s work. “There was a time when I would paint on anything for anyone,” she says, adding, “There are a few people out there who have my work on mailboxes, pillows and toy boxes.”
One can also find it at b.j. spoke gallery in Huntington. Her current show there, Finding Peace: An Artist’s Journey Through Chaos, which runs through June 24, is about coming through a very difficult year full of change and loss. “It’s a way of honoring the things, places and people that sustain and inspire me. Each painting is meant to take the viewer away for a moment from the hectic pace of life and refresh the soul.”
This week’s cover, “Muse 1,” however, can only be found in a private collection. “This piece was sold recently at Guild Hall’s 80th Artist Members Exhibition,” Schifano tells us. “I’m sure the new owner will be excited to see it on the cover of Dan’s Papers.”
What was the inspiration for this piece?
The inspiration for this piece is the boat itself. I’m obsessed with it, and I don’t know who it belongs to or why it sits there year after year, still and peaceful in the same spot. I have done five paintings with that boat as the subject. Reflecting on the 100 or so pictures I have of it, I’m sure there are more to come.
Where do you find inspiration on the East End?
The boat [in the cover painting] is anchored in a secluded area in Towd Point in North Sea, one of the places I find most of my inspiration. All the creeks and harbors associated with Peconic Bay are what I love most. The reflective qualities of the water and nature in these remote spots, particularly in early morning or evening, are my favorite subjects.
Are you a plein air painter?
I’m not. If you saw my studio you’d understand why. I can’t imagine condensing what I need to work with into a small workstation. I admire people who have mastered their craft and can produce incredible work, working with just what they need. I work from my own photographs and memories in own comfortable space.
What are you most looking forward to this summer on the East End?
I look forward to just immersing myself into everything I love about the East End: the sun, the beach, the outdoor living, getting food from farmstands instead of supermarkets, and let’s not forget the art scene. It has been a very trying year for me, so it’s time to get out, take it all in and celebrate getting through it all. Summer on the East End is where I feel the most alive and confident in any direction life may take me.
Can you talk briefly about b.j. spoke gallery and the importance of artists working together toward a common purpose?
As a member of a cooperative gallery you become part of a family of artists who support each other and have a say in the business of running a gallery. Artist members can exhibit work as large or as small as they like. This can be very freeing when most open shows have size restrictions. It has allowed me to really open up and spread my creative wings.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I think Edward Hopper, on the balcony of his painting “Second Story Sunlight.” I’d ask about his use of light in his paintings. As a master of light and shadow he could bounce light off the smallest detail in a dark space, and allow you to really think about what’s taking place in that scene and contemplate the mood that the figures might be experiencing.