Two Man Show at the Historical Society

By By Joey Macellaro ~ Art has returned to the walls of the Ocean Beach Historical Society after a year’s absence and a well-attended reception held on the evening of July 17 was evidence that people were happy to celebrate it. The exhibition features the work of photographer Robert Sherman and the assemblage sculptures of Brian Norris.A Seaview resident, Sherman has been a contributing photographer at Fire Island News since 2017 and now also serves as a columnist and social media editor for the publication’s Instagram page. An accomplished pianist born in Chicago and raised in northern California, Sherman wrote for the BMI Composers’ Orchestra and other projects throughout New York before teaching music full-time at the Calhoun School on the Upper East Side for a decade. It was the gift of a new camera from his wife, Alessia, seven years ago that encouraged him to begin to explore the medium of photography.“My niche is whatever rocks my world,” Sherman said regarding the subject matter of his work. Surf and surfers feature prominently in several pieces in the new exhibit. “I’ve spent a lot of time surfing but don’t surf as often now. This keeps me connected to the source.”Sherman loves to photograph faces. “The bench is full of beautiful faces,” he said, referencing the Bench Boys in Ocean Beach, a close-knit group of residents who are seen in the exhibit. He pays particular attention to framing faces properly when taking individual or group portraits.“Composition is just as important in photography as it is in music,” said Sherman. “I see this work as an extension of my work asa musician — a new way of writing songs.”He entered the field of photography in the digital age, and he’s glad he did.“I feel like it’s a luxury to be able to use digital,” he said. “I might not have had the patience with film. We’re dealing with a new generation of photography now where we can instantly see if a shot works or it doesn’t.” He recognizes the value of traditional photography, but adds, “Bach would have loved synthesizers,” if he were alive today.The beach artifact sculptures of fifth generation Ocean Beach resident Brian Norris are also not to be missed. With a Joseph Cornell type of sensibility – some even with an electric current component – Brian’s intricate assemblage objects are both curious and very special.“My art is my escape and keeps me grounded,” says Norris. “I am hesitant to put myself in the spotlight, but I realized I had something to say. I ask people to take a breath and look around.”The 36-year-old Norris says he has no formal training, but credits local legend Kenny Goodman as being a mentor.“I was always hanging around his studio watching him work and being fascinated with the scraps of silver around his shop. Then of course there are my parents, one could not hope for a more supportive family, and in a changing world Fire Island remains a constant for us.”The enjoyed an excellent run before closing on July 31st.  The Historical Society’s space at the east end of the Ocean Beach Community House. Gallery hours may vary but are generally Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. Shoshanna McCollum contributed to this report.