Focal Point Gallery, a fixture in the City Island community for the past 35 years, is celebrating its anniversary with a showing of “self portraits” representing the lives of contributing artists.
The self-portraits are in several different mediums, gallery owner and professional photographer Ron Terner said. Terner founded Focal Point Gallery back in 1974, down the street from its current location at 321 City Island Avenue. He lived in back of his original store.
For his own self-portraits, which will be shown at an opening on Friday, September 11 and in the weeks that follow, Terner has selected several photographs of himself and his surroundings dating back to the gallery’s founding.
“I thought it would be interesting if I put together some photographs that were self-portraits, representative of my time on City Island,” Terner said. “I didn’t want to do a retrospective of myself that would take up all of the space. The show will be a story of all of the artists who have been a part of this gallery over the years. I am giving everyone the opportunity to show what they think of as a self-portrait of themselves.”
Terner chose 14 pictures. Among these are photographs of the unheated room he lived in behind the gallery’s first location at 296 City Island Avenue, pictures with his newborn son Rajeev in 1979 and his daughter Ruby, and of him traveling in Mexico.
Terner said that he decided to move to the nautical community after attending an arts and crafts fair organized by Warren Sonberg, an Islander who appreciated fine arts.
“Warren was the person responsible for my showing photographs here for the first time, and from the very beginning City Island was very receptive,” Terner said. “Back then, the artistic community was more noticeable. There were three studios that opened after I got started, as well as a leather shop, silversmith, stained-glass-maker and many antique stores. People liked me, and wanted me to photograph them.”
During his time on the island, Terner has come to photograph many of the locals and was able to capture on film people like sea captains, dock builders, riggers and others that he describes as the “salt of the earth” of City Island.
“While I am happy to look back with nostalgia, I don’t get caught up in pining away for what isn’t anymore,” Terner said. “I haven’t stopped photographing people and places on City Island, and know my current photographs will bring back fond memories 30 or 50 years from now.”