A ceremony was held Wednesday to officially welcome the new artist residents of the Artspace Lofts in the Village of Patchogue.
More than a hundred people attended the event, which included a short ribbon-cutting ceremony, two art exhibits, live art demonstrations, housing tours and an outdoor barbecue.
The C2 Gallery, a commercial gallery located under the Artspace housing units, was also open to visitors.
Painter Cheryl Frey-Richards was the first resident to move in. She is renting a three-bedroom duplex and resides with her husband and two children.
“It’s really great," Frey-Richards said. "The kids love the place, I love the place. There’s so much room.
"The people are wonderful, the community is fantastic. I’m really very, very happy. Everyone we work with is really great."
Resident Lisa DiStefano was one of the chairs for the exhibition committee at Artspace and is a member of the Patchogue Artspace Liasion (PAL). She is a potter, painter and print-maker. A former resident of Smithtown, she heard about the artist complex at the Patchogue Arts Council's booth at last year's 'Alive After Five' street festival.
"I was one of the first people that moved in," DiStefano said. "I moved in March 1 and everything’s been great. We’re going to keep [the exhibit] up until September. I hope that we’ll do fundraising through there and we will probably set up a schedule for everybody if they want to do their own specific exhibit. But right now, we’re just riding the wave with this one."
Kim Kaufer’s father is a cinematographer by trade and always had a studio space in Manhattan as well as on Long Island.
“Once I started having kids, he wanted to be closer to the grandkids," Kaufer said of her father. "It was time for him to leave the city, so when this came up it was ideal. It was ideal for him, it was ideal for our family. And he’s working part-time and doing still-photography now. And he loves it."
East Patchogue resident Barbara Gustanson attended the opening anxious to see inside the new space.
“I’ve been watching the building going up and I had heard about it through various news sources," she said. "I wanted to see what it was all about. I wanted to see the apartments and I wanted to see the galleries. And I am very impressed.
"I think it’s great for young artists and not so young artists also. It gives them a sense of community. It gives them a gallery space. I would really like to wish them lots of luck and success."
Rich Belsky creates stained glass and mirror artwork and couldn't wait to be back on Long Island after moving away to Arizona.
"It’s been a lot of fun work," Belsky said. "It’s definitely been work, but it’s definitely been a lot of fun. Everyone here wants to do stuff, not just for themselves. It’s incredible they’re all in one place."