Northforker Weekend: Making Southold an even prettier place

Artist Emma Ballou paints the east side of Grace & Grit in Southold. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

How do you beat this current heat wave on the North Fork? If you’re artist Emma Ballou, you don’t.

You may have noticed the Eastport artist’s mural work popping up in Southold, where she was commissioned to paint at North Fork Roasting Co. and Grace and Grit. 

On Wednesday, she was close to wrapping up the second project, despite temperatures in the upper 80s. It was her fourth day on that particular job.

“I like doing it,” the Maine native said of sweating through the day, making Southold just a tiny bit more beautiful. “It’s really fun having people come up to you and chat with you while you paint.”

For Grace & Grit caterers, she worked with owners Jennilee Morris and Stephanie Coleman on a peach theme to show something both “culinary and beautiful,” Morris said. At the coffee house directly across the street, which Morris owns with her wife Jess, Ballou painted the fence in a floral design.

Jennilee said the murals are instantly rewarding, as the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People tell me it’s so beautiful and they love to drive by and see it,” she said. “I wish I had even more buildings she could paint.”

Ballou continues to put the finishing touches on her latest mural Wednesday. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

For Ballou, who met the Morris’ through the North Fork Art Collective, where she’s a founding artist, murals are one more way she hopes to make some money as a full-time painter. She quit her day job as a museum curator about a year ago to focus on her true passion.

She’s been commissioned by some other folks to work on similar projects at private residences — a home garden and the back of a house — but she loves how the Southold gigs are something she gets to share with everyone who passes by.

“It changes the community,” she said. “That’s so cool. Art is so powerful.”

Drop Emma a note if you think a mural could make your home or business a more special place.

And thanks for braving the heat to make the prettiest place around even nicer.

The nearly complete mural. She still hoped to add some pink tones to the peaches. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

• Speaking of the North Fork Art Collective we have a couple stories coming soon on them. Contributing writer Lauren Parker attended the latest Palette to Palate dinner the group hosted at Bruce & Son in Greenport (coincidentally featuring Grace & Grit’s cooking inspired by the artists’ work). I also wrote a piece and cut a video on bayman and photographer Chris Hamilton for our special Working Waterfront issue of Northforker. The magazine will be distributed the week of Aug. 22 and we’ll be posting the video on Aug. 27.

• And on the subject of interesting tasting dinners, thanks to Estefany Molina for contributing a piece on NoFo Champloo at Stirling Sake. Few posts have made me hungrier than that one of late. I erroneously added in some future dates for the dinner not realizing they had been changed, so be sure to keep an eye out for when they’re doing it again.

• Today our magazine team is meeting for the first time to plan out our next special issue, which will be on Women of the North Fork. We’d certainly welcome some suggestions on women you’d love to read about. Don’t hesitate to email me at gparpan@timesreview.com with ideas.

• Looking for a weekend event pick? I’m a big fan of downtown Riverhead’s Cardboard Boat Race, which will be held Saturday. There are so many fun and creative themes and costumes each year that it makes for a nice, low-key day of people watching on the Riverfront. It pairs well with lunch at Turkuaz Grill, Mazi, PeraBell and more.

• We also did a piece this week on luau’s being hosted Thursdays at Pace’s Dockside. A Lure in Southold is also doing a Hawaiian night on Wednesdays, making for one heckuva tasty back-to-back night out.

• Looking for some more North Fork coverage from some other media outlets, Newsday wrote about North Fork Brewing Co. a couple weeks back, RiverheadLocal had an update on plans for the former Joe’s Garage space in Riverhead and Variety has an piece on special guests at the North Fork TV Festival in September.

• Two more notes for readers:

Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered to appear in our new video series Taste Test. It’s short videos we’ll be publishing with someone having to taste two different local products and guess which one came from which place. In other words, can you tell an IPA from Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. apart from one brewed at Moustache? Is this a merlot or cab franc? Anyway, our first one will be tomatoes from two different farms and we’ll be rolling out more as time goes on.

Also it meant so much to me to see some of you come out for the recent screening of “Gone” at Floyd Memorial Library. A few people came up to me and said they read about it in this column, so I’m glad I did that and it helped spread the word a bit.

Grant Parpan is the content director for Times Review Media Group, overseeing a number of things, including content planning for northforker.com and magazine, the posts and videos we create for advertisers, and the company’s digital platforms. Have an idea for a story? Email him at gparpan@timesreview.com.