New gallery aims for interactive feel

It’s not just the art that makes Haven SBX unique—the potluck dinners held Sundays to lure new patrons into the gallery help set it apart.

The facade of HavenSBX displays “Fibber/Loser” in the series titled Clinton/Trump. Photo: Alana Pipe
The facade of HavenSBX displays “Fibber/Loser” in the series titled Clinton/Trump. Photo: Alana Pipe

Haven SBX offers potlucks and art instruction

Haven SBX, an art gallery that recently opened at 128 Alexander Avenue in Port Morris, is hard to miss. Brightly captioned portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hang in the window, beckoning passersby. Inside, giant light bulbs in the shape of human heads are perched in front of a panel painted with a leering Green Goblin.

But it’s not just the art that makes Haven SBX unique—it’s the potluck dinners held Sundays to lure new patrons into the gallery that set it apart.

“The gallery acts as a doorway to another place for many in this area that often don’t get to travel to France or Spain in the summer,” said Barry Kostrinsky, the owner.

Kostrinsky, 56, opened Haven SBX in July. His family owned Grand Silver, a metal factory that opened in Mott Haven in 1962 and closed in 2006 due to competition from India and China. With his new gallery, Kostrinsky hopes to link thematically-related artists, and to create a community meeting place.

At Sunday potlucks, a long table is set up in the gallery, or on the sidewalk, when weather permits. Locals stop by for a plate of food or a drink.

Hiram Perez, a nineteen year old Bronx native, now living in East Harlem was drawn to back to the Bronx to see what Haven SBX offers. “I haven’t been to Mott Haven in over 3 years,” he said. “It’s unbelievable how much is going on here.”

Haven SBX features works by artists Dan Asher, Andy Golub, Jerome Lamaar, Heide Hatry among others.

Longtime Port Morris resident Marivel Alicea, 54, says she has been painting for the last two years and is proud to have her works displayed. She comes to Haven SBX to paint and to mingle, and says the gallery has the ventilation she needs in order to paint during the summer months.

Along with potlucks, the gallery offers Drink and Draw sessions on Wednesdays, when Kostrinsky provides oil paints, basic painting instruction, and occasional short lessons in art history. The event is BYOB, and many residents bring their children.

Melrose resident Cynthia Santos said she is planning to come to Haven SBX  for live sketch drawings.

“Before this gallery opened I had to go all the way down to 57th street for live drawing,” said Santos, who has had several drawings displayed in the gallery, some of which were drawn on toilet covers. Santos has been working with oil paints and pencil for decades.
This isn’t the first time Kostrinsky has run an art gallery in the area. He opened Haven SBX in the South Bronx, from 2004 to 2006, and again between 2007 and 2009, but had to shut down due to lack of funds.

But one thing is different this time. Now, says Kostrinsky, he hopes developers will be interested in buying some of the art he puts on display for their buildings and for their private collections.

“The area has affluent, black, white, green, Hispanic and strawberry flavored people walking in the door,” he said.

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