RJD Gallery and the Sag Harbor Cinema in Sag Harbor were destroyed by a fire on Friday, December 16, 2016, along with several other buildings along or adjacent to Sag Harbor's Main Street. The iconic Sag Harbor sign that was part of the historic movie theater was removed and salvaged before the building was razed on Friday night, reported The Southampton Press. RJD Gallery and the Sag Harbor Cinema were housed in the same building and shared an outdoor covered entrance.
Other business badly damaged by the fire include Compass Real Estate (formerly Strough Real Estate), SagTown coffee; Brown Harris Stevens and several apartments housed in the buildings. The fire may have started on an outdoor deck attached to Compass Real Estate, reported The Southampton Press.
The art located inside RJD Gallery was lost to either flames, smoke or water damage caused by the fire, according to the gallery. In the immediate aftermath following the fire's outbreak, gallerist Richard Demato sent an email to assure family, friends and gallery artists that the staff was fine, the gallery will continue, and a new location will be secured after regrouping.
An alarm at his gallery alerted him to possible trouble around 6:18 a.m. The gallery was already engulfed in smoke, fanned by high winds, and flames were shooting from the tops of the buildings when he arrived a few minute later, he said.
RJD Gallery is a year-round art gallery that opened in Sag Harbor in 2009. Presenting curated exhibitions featuring contemporary realism with a focus on narrative portraiture, imaginative realism and contemporary landscape, the gallery has participated in art fairs including Art Hamptons, Art Southampton and the LA Art Fair. Since inception, RJD Gallery has hosted annual fundraising exhibition benefiting The Retreat as well as art fundraisers benefiting the Southampton Animal Shelter and Fountain Gallery in New York City. They have sponsored a "Women Painting Women" group exhibition curated from an Open Call since 2013.
Earlier this year, the gallery exhibited the solo show "The Sweetest Poison" by Pamela Wilson; "Parallel Universe" featuring art by painters Andrei Zadorine, Salvatore Alessi, and the painting team Igor + Marina; and "The Princess and the Provocateur" featuring paintings by Alexander Klingspor, Margaret Bowland, Yana Movchan, Margo Selski, Odile Richer, Adrienne Stein, Frank Oriti and others.
Sag Harbor Cinema was a beloved theater whose facade and art deco neon red sign formed an iconic identity for the Hamptons village. Built in the 1920s, the theater was purchased in the 1970s by real estate developer Gerald Mallow. Keeping its single-screen format, the theater screened foreign films, art films, documentaries and independent releases. The theater had been up for sale at the time of the fire, according to the The Southampton Press, with efforts underway by community members to try and preserve the theater.
In an unexpected twist, some of the auditorium seating from the theater survived the fire as the rear section of the theater was not lost in the fire, reported Lisa Finn of Patch.com. The theater layout was such that people entered into the lobby and continued walking its length to reach the room where movies were screened.
No one was injured in the blaze, reported The New York Times. Battling frigid temperatures, the fire was battled by fire departments from across The Hamptons including Sag Harbor, Springs, Hampton Bays, Flanders, Amagansett, Montauk, East Quogue, Quogue and Suffolk County, reported The Southampton Press.
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