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CAST ‘New Views for Old Pews’ live auction set for April 13

When the New Views for Old Pews project was announced last year, some artists thought it too ambitious, according to Glynis Berry, the artist who came up with the idea.

 “It’s really funny because a lot of the artists said ‘oh what a terrible idea’ and then they ended up starting and then really got into it,” Ms. Berry said.

The multi-phased project — which called for artists to breathe new life in the retired pews from Southold’s Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation’s Treiber Gathering Hall — has been successful leading into a reception and live auction at the Gathering Hall on April 13. The reception starts at 5 p.m. with the live auction to follow at 6 p.m.

The auctioneer is Barry Bergdoll, the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University. Mr. Bergdoll, who lives in Orient, has directed exhibitions for numerous institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, where he served as chief curator of architecture and design from 2007 to 2013.

The proceeds from the auction will be divided three ways, 40% to the artist — some of which plan to donate the proceeds of their sales to the nonprofits — 30% to CAST and 30% to North Fork Contemporary, a new arts nonprofit started last year.

On the stage at Treiber Hall stands a single pew, showcasing the starting point of the artwork.

There were many submissions for this project, but 13 artists actually built and created artwork including Ms. Berry. She created a chair and nested stool out of her pew.

Allan Wexler, an interdisciplinary artist and educator, and resident of Southold submitted 48 proposals and built two of them, “Negative Positive” and “Flat Pack Pew.”

In “Negative Positive,” Mr. Wexler cut out parts of the pew to construct a chair. In “Flat Pack Pew,” he took a pew and cut it into smaller sections and used mending plates and wing nuts to reassemble half of it.

“I think [New Views for Old Pews] is very timely because so many congregations don’t know what to do with these church pews and they’re beautiful and to rethink them … [give them] a second life, it’s wonderful.” Mr. Wexler said. “I feel good about not putting these in the landfill.”

Orient architect/artist Hideaki Ariizumi also made four pieces of artwork. He submitted about 19 designs, the highlight being four puzzle-piece-shaped chairs made out of one pew. They separate and connect as if they were a jigsaw puzzle. He created his artworks over two weeks.

“It’s a very important thing because pews have such an iconic image, so to [give] a different life to the pew is a wonderful thing,” Mr. Ariizumi said.

Scott Bluedorn, an artist from Sag Harbor, created two proposals and built one piece of artwork. He turned his pew into a motif based on the Torii gate, which marks the boundary between the sacred and mundane in the Shinto religion, the oldest religion in Japan.

“This is right up my alley in terms of material and concept,” Mr. Bluedorn said. “I was just really excited to see experimentally what I could make from the existing pews.”

“New Views for Old Pews,” is a partnership between North Fork Contemporary and CAST. Siobhan O’Neill, the arts programing director at CAST, said the support from the community has been “incredible.”

“We’re hoping to have the future where we’re walking around the North Fork, the library, maybe at CAST and we’re running into these pieces that are living in these spaces so hopefully they’ll be with us for a long time,” Ms. O’Neill said.