By Carrie Parker
Art galleries are sprinkled up and down Main Street in Northport, but there is one that, quite literally, stands apart from the rest.
Haven Gallery, opened in June of 2015 by husband and wife team Erica Berkowitz and Joseph Weinreb, is tucked in the Carriage House, a historic brick building set slightly back from Northport’s main drag. The setting reinforces Haven’s divergence from the nautical paintings and decorative canvases found elsewhere in town.
“We definitely show work that’s a bit edgier,” Berkowitz, 31, said, though she personally doesn’t see it that way.
Still, the genre is very new to the artsy harborside village.
Haven’s two-floor gallery showcases works with touches of fantasy or surrealism. Emerging and established artists from around the world create paintings, drawings and sculptures for new exhibitions each month, often looking to illustration, comics and sci-fi for inspiration. Each exhibition begins with a public reception featuring food and drink from local businesses. The artists are regularly in attendance as well.
Haven Gallery brings the village a taste of New York City’s diverse art scene, minus the expensive and laborious trek. And Northport was an obvious choice to place their art gallery, Berkowitz said, with its strolling culture and arts-focused community.
Berkowitz hopes their selection of art leaves a mark on those who visit.
“We’re not afraid to make people feel a bit too much, maybe feel something a bit sad or a bit haunting,” Berkowitz said. “Sadness, horror, anger, happiness - all those feelings are part of being a human. And I think that they shouldn’t be sequestered but should be shared.”
Berkowitz has had an extensive career working in or directing Manhattan and Long Island galleries.
But she said she never wanted to own her own gallery because the “pressure is incredible.”
But Weinreb, a successful self-taught artist a degree in graphic design, insisted they try.
“I just knew it would work out because I know how hard she works and how much she cares about everything,” Weinreb, 32, said. “Something inside me just said to do it.”
Opening a gallery is the hardest thing she’s ever done, Berkowitz said, but nothing’s been more rewarding.
“It’s something we strongly believe in,” Berkowitz said, “not just for the sake of selling art and allowing artists to have a career by curating but also through education and providing culture.”
Berkowitz and Weinreb, who currently reside in Levittown, are looking forward to moving to Northport later this month, make an optimal team for the gallery. Berkowitz directs the business and sales aspects while Weinreb offers an artist’s perspective on transactions. With complementary skills, Berkowitz and Weinreb are able to facilitate between artists and customers in town or across the globe.
While Haven’s inventory may be a bit out of some people’s comfort zones, the gallery has been well-received, Weinreb said.
“People have been very happy when they come in here, which is really nice, to offer them something that has not been offered to them yet,” Berkowitz said.
Education is an important part of Haven’s mission. Berkowitz, with degrees in art history and contemporary art, loves sharing her knowledge and giving “someone experience and perspective that they may not have access to.”
Berkowitz said she hopes to encourage kids who don’t realize that there is a future in the arts if they are willing to work hard.
Their next show, “Mythos,” begins Saturday and runs through May 7. Work by artists such as Andi Soto, Rebecca Yanovskaya, and Weinreb himself will reflect themes of humanity, mythology and storytelling.
Haven currently shares the Carriage House with Ameriprise Financial, who Berkowitz and Weinreb said are “the best neighbors in the world.” But if there was a viable opportunity in the future, they would love to have the whole building be an art space.
“It’s really inspiring to be surrounded by all the art and everything we love,” Weinreb said. “We feel very lucky to be able to do it as our job.”