The Work We Do: Mary Cantone, William Ris Gallery

My name is Mary Cantone. I own the William Ris Gallery on the North Fork of Long Island in Jamesport. My brother’s name was William Ris and the gallery’s named in his memory. [My brother and mother] started the gallery back in the ’60s. I moved to the North Fork about 19 months ago.

Prior to that, I was running the gallery in Stone Harbor, N.J. A couple of times a month I do receptions that highlight artists’ work. I might have a one-person show, a two-person show or a group show. This show that I have hung for this event is all about fashion and figure. I have two artists’ work hung for this: Marilyn Weiss, a New York City artist, and Anahi DeCanio, a Long Island artist. We stripped down the gallery on Wednesday and we completed the hanging process on Friday, so it was a couple of days because I had to take all the work that I highlighted last week and move it. It was a lot of work to do because we needed to readjust everything, but it’s always a pleasure.

Mary Cantone. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

My day to day is different every day. My priority is representing my artists and connecting them with collectors. Every day has to do with hanging, re-hanging, adjusting, sometimes taking work to clients’ homes on approval. It’s physical, but it’s very satisfying. For me, all the effort that it takes to make this gallery beautiful is worth every bit of energy I put into it.

I would say I rarely sit down. My favorite part of my job is encouraging people to realize how important the arts are in one’s life. I was raised in this — I’ve been in this business since I was 14. I knew at a young age how important the arts are. In those years, I helped a lot for the seasonal events for shows, receptions and my mother would sometimes say, ‘You can pick something out in this area.’ So, I was collecting since I was 14. It feeds what I think is important in my life — and that’s the arts.

‘The Work We Do’ is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. This weekly feature is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview.