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Lucas Natali and Julie Keyes pose in front of a recently sold painting by Clintel Steed. (Credit: Lee Meyer)

Contemporary art meets a beloved community staple in Greenport at the Fiedler Gallery.

Lucas Natali, North Fork local and a knowledgable figure in the local art world, has partnered with East End gallerist Julie Keyes on the new Natali/Keyes at the Fiedler Gallery, which was previously managed by the late Richard Fiedler, who passed away in 2018.

“I wanted to continue what Rich had been doing and honor his legacy,” Natali said.

After a few smaller exhibitions late last year, he called Keyes to transform the gallery into a contemporary art space that would engage both the local community and showcase major artists from all over.

Natali initially wanted to do some renovations on the gallery, but Keyes had other ideas.

“Winter was initially going to be for renovations, but Julie said no, let’s do a major show,” he said.

The first official show at Natali/Keyes is “Afrofuturism,” which is part of a multi-gallery festival led by Carnegie Hall, showcasing “an ever-expansive aesthetic and practice — where music, visual arts, science fiction and technology intersect to imagine alternate realities and a liberated future viewed through the lens of Black cultures,” according to a statement.

Some of the featured artists for the show at the Natali/Keyes gallery include Clintel Steed, Claude Lawrence, Faith Ringgold and Erika Ranee. 

The two-story gallery is filled with color and personality. On the spacious second floor, there are views of Main Street, allowing natural light to complement the bright, well-lit walls adorned with interesting pieces from various artists, including Chinese antique ceramics, a passion of Natali’s.

Natali and Keyes are both very hands-on and Natali stressed that this undertaking wasn’t a vanity project.

“I’ve done everything from sweeping the floors to installing art to being a gallery director,” said Natali, who was previously the associate director of the Charles Cowles Gallery and the director of the Brenda Taylor Gallery in Manhattan. Keyes currently owns Keyes Art Consulting in Sag Harbor.

“I’m a blue collar guy,” Natali said. “My grandmother had a house in Water Mill for many years. We used to come to Claudio’s on rainy days.”

When he was younger, Natali worked several jobs throughout Greenport, whether it be scallop shucking, “schlepping furniture” and more.

Keyes said Natali is just someone who works really hard.

“This is your passion. Correct?” she asked him. “Because in the long run, I feel like the grace is just to go for it no matter who you are.”

Natali and Keyes are clearly a partnership meant to last.

“Afrofuturism” will be on display through March 31, 2022 at the Natali/Keyes Gallery at The Fiedler Building, 207 Main Street, Greenport.