They kicked off their venture with a car show last August.
Before you go picturing the typical gathering of gear-heads sitting on folding chairs and sipping Dr Pepper next to 1960s muscle cars, click here for photos. (Take your time; we’ll wait.)
You’ve just entered Auto Body.
The shop, so to speak, is run by a clique of like-minded artists and musicians with connections to Bellport. They took over a long-vacant auto body shop in the middle of the village’s business district last August.
Auto Body has hosted 10 shows since that time, and this past week the artists were readying for their latest show to be held on Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.
The Car Show exhibit of August 2014 involved the co-founders and fellow artists driving a yellow, 1964 Ford Econoline van into the shop and tapping a keg while displaying oil stick drawings of auto parts around the space.
One of the eight founders, Bellport native Johnny Knapp, said the idea is enrich and enliven the community by holding off-the-beaten-path art shows with a focus on incorporating the work of out-of-town artists.
While he said local artists are great, it’s nice to show people something different.
“It’s an extension of ourselves,” he said of Auto Body. “But it’s also a void we were looking to fill as an outlet for the community, to create a hub for people to come to share ideas and experiences together.”
He laughs aloud while describing the group’s Ho-Hum exhibit from weeks back, when the artists displayed various pieces of trash they collected from Bellport Village’s Ho-Hum beach on Fire Island.
“We had a beach cleanup,” he said. “Then we displayed a color wheel of all the debris and garbage. People were tripped out, just amazed that we had found all this just at Ho-Hum.”
They’ve also set up an artistic representation of a bookstore, and allowed people to enter the shop over the course of a week and peruse the selection.
“Each book came with a hand written book mark with information about who donated the book, and why they chose that book,” Auto Body’s website reads.
Saturday night’s show, called SCAPES, will feature the works of five artists, which includes Audo Body co-founders Tyler Healy and Charlie Stravinsky, as well as two artists from San Francisco.
Stravinsky described the show as “a broad interpretation of landscapes.”
“And it’s bringing two bays together, Bellport Bay and the San Francisco Bay area,” he said. “Though one bay’s a lot smaller.”
Knapp said all the artists work regular jobs and pool their money to rent the space.
He said he wouldn’t describe Auto Body as a hobby, or a project, and it’s by no means a business.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “It’s certainly not economically viable, but it gives us something that you can’t really put a price on.”
The SCAPES show is open to the public and admission is free, though there’s a $10 suggested donation.
Auto Body is located at 150 South Country Road in Bellport Village.
Main photo: Auto Body co-founder Johnny Knapp outside the studio Friday. (Credit: Michael White)