Cornell Galleries is moving to what’s fast becoming a major arts hub in Bellport


The two buildings that will soon house the Thos. Cornell Galleries in Bellport Village. (Credit: Michael White)

After 15 years in Patchogue Village, Thos. Cornell Galleries auction house and retail center is moving back to Main Street in Bellport.

That’s just one of many big changes in the local arts scene going on in Bellport Village, which one local appraiser said is fast becoming “the fine art and collectables capital of the South Shore.”

Cornell Galleries will be completely out of its 15,000-square-foot location at 76 West Main Street in Patchogue by the end of February, said co-owner Rosemary Cornell, who’s husband, Thomas, is a licensed and bonded New York City auctioneer and appraiser of home furnishings, furniture, antiques and art objects.

They will be moving to two buildings in Bellport: the former Brown’s car dealership immediately to the west of MVP Automotive and the old auto body shop that for a couple years was being used by the artist cooperative Auto Body (photo above).

Cornell said she and her husband weren’t quite sure yet which building would be used for retail.

The business was established in the 1990s and had actually operated out of the same former Brown’s building during that decade before moving to Patchogue in 2000, she said.

Without getting into details, Cornell said the gallery had to move from its current location, and Bellport was “close to home.”

Thos. Cornell deals in estate sales and buys and sells fine antiques, she said.

What else is happening in downtown Bellport?

• With Cornell coming in, Auto Body is out.

“However, we are still planning events and programming at different sites around Bellport for this upcoming summer,” said artist Georgia Read, on behalf of the group.

• Circa Something gallery is moving to Paper Cup Studio, which is closing.

Circa Something owner Robert H. Baker, a master appraiser of fine arts and antiques, said his lease in a storefront next to CVS was up and he wanted more space to display his fine artwork and sell merchandise, such as hand-crafted jewelry.

The business first moved to Bellport Village in 2008 from Westhampton Beach.

“It’s beyond being a gallery,” Baker said. “We have fun here. It’s like the ‘Cheers’ of the art world. Not that it’s all fun and games, There’s a lot of hard work involved in putting this stuff together and making something that is beautiful to see.”

The owner of the Paper Cup Studio building, LuAnn Thompson, said the studio was never meant to be permanent. (See her extended statement below.)

Prior coverage: Why this Bellport framer rescued an art studio

But she has freed up space for some of the art classes and other happenings at Paper Cup in her framing studio next store, Bellport Arts & Framing Studio.

• Bellport Wine & Spirits is moving to Gallery 125.

The liquor store near the corner of Station Road and Main Street is moving to a larger storefront to its immediate west — the actual corner — in the same building.

This is the current home of Gallery 125.

Gallery 125’s executive director, Thomas Schultz, said he’ll be shifting the focus of Gallery 125 to estate management of art collections — all in the building’s second and third floors.

The Pinajian Collection will be on permanent review by appoint only, he said.

Required reading: Bungalow buyers find art by Arthur Pinajian appraised at $30M

“The liquor store will be moving into the current gallery space and vacating their current space at 129 which will be avail for rent on Feb. 1,” Schultz said.

When asked about three art appraisers operating within a stone’s throw to one another, Schultz said the more art-minded businesses in Bellport Village, the better.

“I see Bellport as continuing its march at becoming the fine art and collectables capital of the South Shore,” he said. “The more galleries and artist studios, the better for our community.”

“I have seen an influx of collectors explore Bellport for acquisitions,” he added. “In my case they are seeking Pinajian, thus the reason I am now going to focus where the greatest success is: Pinajian.”

Photo: The two building that Thos. Cornell Galleries, currently of Patchogue, is moving into on the south side of Main Street in Bellport Village. (Credit: Michael White)

Statement from LuAnn Thompson on the closing of Paper Cup Studio:

The closing of “Paper Cup Studio” is a success because we set out as owners of a building in the village to not close another shop while looking for someone to take the space. A popup business perhaps with a lot of love!

I own the building but yet I am a business in the village, faced with an empty store across the street, and at the left and right of my business is no good for us! My husband, Jim, and I felt as the landlord and as a business in the village our responsibility was to make the empty space look the best it could, make it a business that might be also a gathering for Bellport.

It might have been a business that continued for however long it took for something better to come along. It was not meant to be a forever business but felt it might take a few years to find someone to take the space over. This is why we put a lot of money into the space to step it up.

I did hope perhaps a coffee shop would want the space and a few people that approached me looked at the space but were afraid to take that leap. Circa Something with Bob Baker and his daughter Amy have been an established business in the village and this was a win-win for us because knowing a business that will come into the space for a longer time period would help us out.

I have done business with Bob for years it is a business that will bring much more activity to a space that is special to me that I could never give the proper attention to.

Bellport Arts & Framing Studio is an extremely busy shop and I need to focus on my own business. We also will be taking a little of the Paper Cup Studio experience with us and will be incorporating classes and exhibits in our existing space.