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Jul 5, 2016 12:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Art Southampton's Fifth Annual Fair Features Kevin O'Leary, Brooke Shields

Jul 7, 2016 9:48 AM

More than 70 galleries will be represented at the fifth annual Art Southampton opening Thursday, July 7, a modern and contemporary art fair presented by the producers of Florida’s mega art fair, Art Miami.

Returning to the Nova’s Ark Project sculpture field in Water Mill, under a 100,000-square-foot pavilion, the fair will include a number of special events and panels over five days, and some special exhibitions designed to aid charitable efforts.

Kevin O’Leary, of “Shark Tank” fame, will be on hand opening night to introduce his contemporary photography exhibition “Irreconcilable Images,” presented by East Hampton​’s Gallery Valentine. The installation will benefit the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, a nonprofit named for the son of Pamela Cohen and stepson of Art Miami director Nick Korniloff. Perry and his friend Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old, went missing at sea July 24, 2015, after setting off on a boat from Jupiter, Florida, for a fishing trip.

Mr. Korniloff explained that the foundation’s mission is rounded around what Perry’s life was all about: wildlife, marine science, boating and entrepreneurship—Perry had a car wash and detailing business. While a major prong of the foundation’s mission is engaging America’s youth to educate them about boater safety through the U.S. Coast Guard, it also supports teenage entrepreneurs.

All of the funds raised through the sale of Mr. O’Leary’s photos will support the latter efforts.

“When people come to see the images, they’re going to be quite surprised at how diverse these are, and the geographies where these were taken,” Mr. O’Leary said.

While Mr. O’Leary is known as an investor and television personality, with the nickname Mr. Wonderful, he explained that he once made a living as a commercial photographer. “I always carry a camera with me wherever I go,” he added.

He ran into Mr. Korniloff at Art Miami last year, and they developed a friendship. “Nick helped me negotiate the purchase of a Warhol there,” Mr. O’Leary recalled. Since then, Mr. O’Leary has shown his photos at Art Miami’s fairs Art Wynwood and Art New York and at a Beverly Hills gallery to benefit the foundation.

Mr. O’Leary said being an artist has helped him as an entrepreneur. There is a yin and a yang, he said, and the “wonderful chaos” of the arts is a helpful contrast to business.

Art can also be a good investment, he said, though he noted that he purchases only art that he likes, because art is something one lives with and an expression of what one finds interesting.

“I collect a lot of art with my wife,” Mr. O’Leary said. “We have multiple homes, and we have the art installed around the world.”

Oscar winner Adrien Brody will also attend the opening night. He will present the second series of “Hooked,” his colorful paintings of fish.

Actress and Southampton homeowner Brooke Shields, a new trustee of the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca, and academy President David Kratz, also a Southampton part-timer, co-curated the exhibition “Call of the Wild” featuring paintings and sculpture by academy alumni focusing on the natural world and animal kingdom. A cocktail reception in honor of the exhibition will be held Friday, July 8, at 5 p.m.

Chicago’s Jean Albano Gallery will host a book signing and preview at its booth for graphic novel “Cousin Joseph” with author and illustrator Jules Feiffer of East Hampton on Saturday, July 9, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Artist Kevin Berlin will debut a line of luxury top hats during the fair. A top hat art installation will be at the McNeill Art Group booth during the preview reception, and on Saturday, July 9, from noon to 2 p.m. a meet the artists mimosa reception and hat signing will be held.

Many more events and symposiums are planned.

“We have a very diverse program,” Mr. Korniloff observed. “We’ve been able to really position ourselves as the premier contemporary and modern show out on the marketplace.”

He said that when Art Southampton had its first fair four years ago, critics said “you couldn’t sell high-end modern and contemporary work in a vacation environment.”

When the fair was getting off the ground, it was a marketplace for $6,000 to $10,000 art transactions. Now, the average transaction is between $20,000 and $25,000, he said.

“It’s a very social environment, and that, to me, is what really pushed the fair along,” Mr. Korniloff said.

The VIP Preview Party, to benefit Parrish Art Museum and Southampton Hospital, is Thursday, July 7, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $150. The fair continues Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, from noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 10, and Monday, July 11, from noon to 6 p.m. A one-day fair pass is $25 and a multi-day pass is $40. For ages 12 to 18, and 62 and older, admission is $15 per day. Children 11 and younger are admitted free. Group rates are available online only. Visit art-southampton.com.

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