ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
From her gallery in East Hampton, Justine McEnerney, owner of J. Mackey Gallery, leads the next art evolution.
A flyby visitor might mistake the Hamptons – the summer playground for New York’s elite best known for its sandy beaches, nightclub scene, and impressive mansions – for an artistic desert. However, quite the contrary, it is home to a dynamic art scene that hosts nationally recognized art fairs, exhibitions, concerts, and houses some of the finest galleries in the world. And what would have taken some decades to accomplish, in the last two years, thanks in part to the East Hampton and Bronxville-based, creative powerhouse team of Justine McEnerney and her husband Neal-James Stufano, AIA, Principal of NJ Caine Architecture, who founded J. Mackey Gallery in East Hampton. It has quickly emerged as a nexus for established and emerging artists.
Upon entering J. Mackey Gallery at 62 The Circle, you’re struck by a gallery of vibrant color and unique art in an engaging and chic space. “The mission of J. Mackey Gallery is to bring original works of art to the Hamptons community, mainly focusing on creations of Long Island and New York area artists,” explains McEnerney. “We are committed to fostering the impact art has to enhance spaces, provoke thought and stimulate the senses aesthetically.”
McEnerney’s love of the arts began on a break from college studies. “While home in New York from the College of Charleston, I worked alongside a New York potter specializing in French Faience and the import of highly prized pottery from France,” she remembers. After college, she began a career in development and event planning for prestigious independent schools in New York City and Connecticut, but art was still one of her passions as she volunteered for the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Eventually, I combined my interest in the arts, education, and development by becoming Director of External Relations for the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU,” reflects McEnerney.
Brushstroke II, Eliza Geddes
While pursuing her graduate degree in curatorial studies and museum administration from St. John’s University in New York, McEnerney was the Gallery Manager for several years at the OSilas Gallery in Westchester, where she managed several high-profile exhibits, including the breakout exhibition “Young, Gifted and Black” curated by Antwaun Sargent. At OSilas, McEnerney was introduced to the work of artist Arthur Pinajian, a contemporary of Willem de Kooning. This introduction led to the J. Mackey Gallery currently representing a significant selection of Pinajian’s work.
McEnerney recalls, “With the encouragement of Elizabeth Vranka, the Executive Director of OSilas Gallery, and my husband, I began to pursue opening my own contemporary art space and envisioning what I would want in a gallery experience.”
Jaguar Jaguar, Eliza Geddes
Deep End of Peace, Phyllis Baker Hammond
Stufano’s extensive experience working with private art collections and artists such as Richard Serra, installing large-scale works into his architectural designs, was another critical factor in turning their passion for art into a space others could enjoy. It was an “art meets architecture” moment when they decided to open J. Mackey Gallery.
The success has been undeniable in the two years since the gallery first opened. J. Mackey Gallery represents highly regarded Long Island artists and several emerging artists from around the country. The intent of the curators is to ensure that the artwork exhibited is engaging and creates an inviting and unique visitor experience and a place of reflection. At this time, the gallery represents prolific artists- Eliza Geddes, Phyllis Baker Hammond, and Arthur Pinajian.
No. D101, Arthur Pinajian
No. 347, Arthur Pinajian
“The scholarship around the artwork I represent is important,” says McEnerney. “I value the years of study and training artists put into mastering their skills. All of the artists I represent have impressive artistic accomplishments. Neal and I admire and understand the sacrifices an artist makes and the risks they take in their lives to push themselves when creating original work. The effort that goes into reimagining space and mediums resonates with me.”
Painter Eliza Geddes, is known for her large-scale paintings, where she carves an image from layers of house paint with a palette knife creating compositions ranging from abstractions to portraits of iconic figures. Geddes’ work is sought after by collectors all over the country, leading to collaborations between J. Mackey Gallery and Well Made Home in Palm Beach, Florida, and HF Bar Ranch in Saddlestring, WY. Several of Geddes’ paintings were recently installed in the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. She was commissioned this past fall to paint the portrait of the founder of Tiger Global Management for their New York Headquarters.
Phyllis Baker Hammond
Forward and Reverse, Phyllis Baker Hammond
Phyllis Baker Hammond
Phyllis Baker Hammond is a powerful force who has had a great influence on McEnerney. Hammond, a 94 old Hamptons sculptor who broke boundaries as a female artist in the 1960s and 70s, continued to make innovative art pieces well into her 90s and recently retired to Los Angeles. Her work spans over 70 years, including pottery, bronzes, and bold metal pieces. Among her many accomplishments, Hammond sculpted the prestigious Will Award statue for The William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theater. Her large-scale metal sculptures were installed in front of the United Nations in New York for several years, and one of her most prominent pieces is permanently on display in Nagasaki, Japan. The gallery is planning a retrospective of Hammond’s work in the summer of 2023.
In a tribute to the rich history of the abstract expressionist movement that took root on Long Island’s East End, J. Mackey Gallery is honored to be representing over 30 works by Arthur Pinajian, an abstract expressionist who was a contemporary of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Pinajian, an Armenian-American, skilled artist, and war veteran, lived a reclusive life in Bellport, Long Island, where he painted prolifically along with some of the great abstract expressionists of his time. He died unknown. Only in the last 15 years did his work gain the respect and attention it deserved. McEnerney states, “It is an honor to work on preserving the legacy of this great Long Island abstract expressionist and to find the right collectors for his work.” This past summer, two of his largest masterpieces were sold to a collector of de Kooning.
McEnerney’s love for the arts is apparent. “My time in the gallery, surrounded by the art that I have been entrusted with, is when I am most happy and at peace. The work is no longer just an object, but it becomes a friend. A beautiful piece that I am able to share space with and introduce to others. Often when they sell, I miss their presence in the gallery. That is how I know it was a good piece.”