By Carol Tannenhauser
Wine, art, and activism meet at West Side Wine, on 83rd Street and Columbus Avenue.
Michael LeGue is the manager and wine buyer for this local wine and spirits store, which specializes in organic, biodynamic, and natural wines. “It’s been around for nearly 40 years, but the current owner bought it about two years ago,” Michael said, when WSR visited recently. “Great name, great logo, no reason to change it. It’s doing very well.”
The artwork in the store was created by Upper West Sider Catherine Freudenberg. West Side Wine offers its walls — and, in Catherine’s case, its ceiling and couch — to local artists free of charge, changing shows every eight weeks.
“Catherine’s art was a perfect fit,” Michael explained. “She’s all about saving the oceans. We feature wines and spirits that do charitable things. There’s one for the nonprofit Save the Oceans. They give 20% of their profits to the Billion Oyster Project.”
Catherine also donates 20% of her proceeds to the Billion Oyster Project, which is working to clean up New York Harbor. Her art depicts “bottom feeders,” or “Citizens of the Sea,” as her series of prints is called. They are made from deep-sea photographs, through a process known as Solar-Plate Lithography/Etching.
Catherine was born on the Upper West Side 80 years ago and has lived here all her life, except for her childhood on Long Island, which she waved off. “I love living in New York City!” she said. She has been a nurse practitioner, community activist, teacher, printmaker, and environmentalist, among other things. She is a board member emeritus at Goddard Riverside.
“For the last 20 years, I have been an installation artist to save the environment,” she said, touching the colorful whale that hangs from the ceiling of West Side Wine, trailed by a calf. The pieces are made of material derived from recycled plastic bottles, as are the pillows on the couch. “It’s a way to make the art green,” Trinity Reeve, Catherine’s assistant, a Barnard student, explained.
Catherine does two or three exhibitions a year in America and Europe. “I’m trying to bring attention to the environment, especially during this administration when it’s been negated,” she said.
“Citizens of the Sea” will run through November 30th. If you go into West Side Wine and ask Michael to call Catherine, she might come over and give you a tour.