The Church and its organization, Edge and Center, Inc.
Edge and Center, Inc. is the not-for-profit organization that is doing business as The Church. It is an IRS-registered 501(c)3 organization recognized by the State of New York and its Attorney General.
Photo credit: Michael Heller Creative
Founders Eric Fischl and April Gornik
Eric Fischl was born in New York in 1948. He graduated from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, in 1972, and was a teacher between 1974 and 1978 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Fischl had his first solo show, curated by Bruce W. Ferguson, at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Nova Scotia in 1975 before relocating to New York City in 1978.
Fischl works in multiple mediums such as painting, sculpture and prints, and is mostly known for his large scale, naturalistic images of middle-class American life. His suburban upbringing provided him with a backdrop of alcoholism and a culture obsessed with image over content. Subsequently, his early work became focused on provocative yet truthful issues deemed repugnant by polite society. The powerful underlying sexuality in his works, often portray intimate moments that the viewer is helplessly made privy of and address the dark and disturbing undercurrents of mainstream American life. Fischl’s large human-scale figures only emphasize the voyeuristic feeling of his images, and imbue them with a psychological, almost dream-like intensity. His earlier paintings are highly reminiscent of the Photorealism works of the 1960s, and during the 1980s his style expanded to fragmented images split into separate panels, which he used for paintings and etchings.
Eric Fischl has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. He is held in the collections and had exhibitions in major institutions such as the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée Beaubourg in Paris, France; and the The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Fischl’s work has been featured in over one thousand publications.
Artist April Gornik’s paintings and drawings of land, sky and sea are anchored in observed reality and a world synthesized, abstracted, remembered and imagined. They offer the viewer an opportunity to explore dichotomies between past and present, expanse and its circumscription, intimacy in immensity, stillness and the inexorable momentum of atmospheric change. Her canvases – roiling seas, brewing skies, mountains and endless plains – internalize and engage nature’s proscenium. In these captured moments, the natural world triumphs and the mirror of time stares back.
Her work may be found in the public collections of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Cincinnati Museum, Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; Fisher Landau Center, Long Island City, NY; Fort Worth Museum, Fort Worth, TX; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Jewish Museum, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; United States Embassy, Beijing, China; United States Embassy, Moscow, Russia; University Gallery, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.
Executive Director and Chief Curator Sara Cochran
Sara Cochran has begun her Directorship of The Church with plans to lead the institution by work with Fischl, Gornik and the Board to open it, expand its board, build staff, establish strong relations with the community, and plan for its future growth.
Cochran worked most recently with artist Gregory Sale on his year-long project Future IDs on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. She was previously Director and Chief Curator at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where she doubled the museum’s annual attendance, increased its earned revenue and vastly expanded its presence on social media. During her tenure there, she curated eight exhibitions, including major projects with Betye Saar (2016) and Postcommodity (2015). She also organized a diverse series of programs including discussions with Founding Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz, Robert Irwin, Tom Sachs, Henry Rollins, Megan Rapinoe, and Dan Savage among many others, as well as running innovative events such as national film premiers, stand-up comedy, a book club, maker events, an escape room and collaboration with the City of Scottsdale to celebrate diversity.
As Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Phoenix Art Museum, Cochran organized fifteen exhibitions including premiering and traveling Kehinde Wiley’s Memling Series in 2013. Under her leadership, the museum acquired over 200 works of art by artists such as Dan Graham, Sui Jianguo, Glenn Ligon, Maya Lin, Ruben Ochoa, Jennifer Steinkamp, Lawrence Weiner and Kehinde Wiley. Earlier in her career, she held curatorial positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She earned her Ph.D. in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and has a Masters from Université de la Sorbonne, Paris IV. In 2015, she was participated in the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University.
Director Jeremy Dennis
Jeremy Dennis (b. 1990) is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY. In his work, he explores indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. Dennis holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, and a BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, NY. He currently lives and works in Southampton, New York on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
Photo Credit: Simon Howell
Director Tommy John Schiavoni
Tommy John Schiavoni is a native of Sag Harbor with a life-long appreciation for history, nature and the legacy of the arts on the East End of Long Island. Having been graduated from S.U.N.Y. Cortland with a B. A. in Education, he began teaching Social Studies at the high school level and went on to earn a Master’s Degree from S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook while working. In 2018 Tommy John retired from teaching after a 30-year career at Center Moriches Union Free School District where he taught U.S. History, Global History, and college level Economics, and State and Local Government.
Tommy John has also been an active member of local government since 2008 when he was first appointed to the North Haven Village Zoning Board of Appeals. In 2014, he was elected to the North Haven Village Board, and in 2016 he was appointed to the Southampton Town ZBA before his election to the Town Council in 2017. He, also, served on the Sag Harbor School Board from 2014 to 2017. As Town Councilman, Tommy John focuses on practical solutions to problems in our communities maintaining his commitment to a healthy environment, a sound local economy and support of the arts and education in all its forms.
Director Nicole Seligman
Nicole Seligman is a globally recognized corporate leader and lawyer. She currently serves on a number of corporate boards including Viacom, where she chairs the Nominating and Governance Committee, WPP plc, where she is the Senior Independent Director, and MeiraGTx Holdings PLC. Until September 2019 she served as Chairman of The Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization whose flagship residential program, Ready, Willing & Able, transitions the formerly homeless and incarcerated to independent lives, and she remains active with criminal justice reentry initiatives.
Ms. Seligman was the President of Sony Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, from 2014 to 2016. She simultaneously served as President of Sony Corporation of America, where she oversaw all corporate functions of Sony’s U.S. headquarters. Ms. Seligman had served as the global General Counsel of Sony Corporation from 2005 until 2014. In that period she oversaw legal and compliance matters for Sony globally and at various times also oversaw trade, internal audit, SOX, group risk, and other corporate functions globally. Ms. Seligman had joined Sony in 2001 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Sony Corporation of America (SCA) and was appointed SCA President in June 2012.
Prior to joining Sony, Ms. Seligman was a partner in the litigation practice at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C., working on a broad range of complex civil and criminal matters and counseling a wide range of clients, including President William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
Director Sally Susman
As Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer, Susman directs the company’s communications, public affairs and philanthropic activities around the world.
During eight years in government service, she focused on international trade issues – first, as Legislative Assistant for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and later, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S Department of Commerce.
Currently, Susman serves on the board of WPP, the UK-based global advertising and marketing company, and as co-chair of the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee. She is also on the board of the New York Botanical Garden. Susman is a frequent commentator in newspapers, magazines and broadcast programs.
Susman holds a B.A. in government from Connecticut College and has studied at the London School of Economics. She and her wife, Robin, live in New York City and Sag Harbor, NY.
Moisés A. Cerdas is a builder located in the heart of the Hamptons. He is the founder, owner and leader of Moises A. Cerdas, Builder LLC. He has been practicing in the Hamptons for over 25 years. His work includes residential and commercial buildings.
While his projects are typically custom family homes, he was drawn to the opportunity to be a part of a project for the community. He is passionate about the vision that led to the Church’s establishment.
As an entrepreneur, he brings multidisciplinary insights to his work. Moises weaves a common thread between business and the arts. With empirical experience in construction, architecture and design - both in the Hamptons and Costa Rica, he remains true to his “Tico” roots. Through his upbringing, he learned from his mother the value of handmade, artisanal craftsmanship and how a detail - oriented, personalized approach, can bring great joy, and a sense of grounding to a client’s envisioned space.
Moises is passionate about staying true to clients' needs while creating a collaborative approach to problem solving, all in efforts of bringing their vision to life. In his free time, Moises enjoys traveling, tennis, spending time with his family.
Director Dini von Mueffling
Dini von Mueffling is the founder and CEO of Dini von Mueffling Communications (DVMC), an award-winning, public relations firm located in New York City that amplifies the work of people and enterprises in numerous sectors including luxury lifestyle, design, art, books, technology, finance, healthcare, health and wellness, as well as high profile individuals. It is highly regarded for its work on social issues and previous campaigns for clients Monica Lewinsky and Sandy Hook Promise have won 15 Cannes Lions, 9 Webbys, and have received 3 Emmy nominations and garnered scores of other industry awards from the One Show to the London International Film Festival.
DVMC’s work with Sandy Hook Promise on the campaign “Evan” was inducted into the Platinum PR Hall of Fame. Founder and CEO Dini von Mueffling has been recognized as one of the Top Women in PR by PR News. Her repositioning of Monica Lewinsky, whose TED Talk has been viewed over 17 million times, as an anti-shaming and anti-bullying activist is taught in universities.
Prior to founding DVMC, von Mueffling began her career as a journalist and has written for countless news and lifestyle publications. She is the author of two books and the co-founder of the twenty-eight-year-old nonprofit Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, the leading provider of HIV/AIDS education to the youth of New York City.
Director E.T. Williams
E.T. Williams, CEO of Elnora, Inc., attended Brooklyn College in 1955. At that time, he served as president of the Brooklyn College Chapter of the NAACP, raised money for sit-ins in the South, and received the Rheingold Good Neighbor Award for his community service. Williams received his B.A. degree in economics in 1960 and received his real estate and insurance license in 1959 to take over his father’s business while his father recovered from an illness.
After teaching at a junior high school in Brooklyn, New York, he went to work for the Peace Corps. In 1963 in Washington, DC, Williams stood behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his “I Have a Dream” speech. Williams then moved to Washington, DC, where he continued his work with the Peace Corps.
In 1969, Williams became the first African American officer of a commercial bank in the State of Maryland. In 1971 when he returned to New York City, joined Chase Manhattan and began working in institutional banking as a lending officer. Williams left banking in 1982 and returned to real estate as chairman of the board and head of the Fordham Hill Project. He retired in 1992 and began Elnora, Inc., a private family investment company. He serves on the Board of Directors of Fiduciary Trust Co. of New York and served as chair of the audit committee for eight years.
Williams is an avid African American art collector. Included in his collection are works of art by Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Aaron Douglas. He sits on several museum boards, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Other boards include the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; the Nature Conservancy (the Long Island Chapter); the Trinity Church Wall Street; the Central Park Conservancy; and the Cathedral Church of St. John The Divine. Williams continues to collect art in New York City, Sag Harbor, Long Island; Dark Harbor, Maine; and Naples, Florida; where he resides with his wife and family.
Facilities Director Thomas Brokish
As Facilities Director, Tom Brokish is an integral member of The Church staff. His broad range of responsibilities include the realization and installation of exhibits and events as well as working closely with the artists in resident. He oversees the historic structures of The Church and manages the use of its facilities. Caring for the Church and helping expand its vision is a unique opportunity for him. His enthusiasm for this project is grounded in his professional experience, having spent his career working seamless across artist’s studios, galleries, workshops and building sites.
Born in 1960 in Dubuque (Iowa), Tom received a BFA in sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and was selected for the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. In 1980 he moved to New York to pursue a career in sculpture. His career evolved from being mentored by artists including Siah Armajani, Scott Burton, Dennis Adams, Vito Acconci, and Barry Le Va to to working in their studios. In 1989 he began assisting Eric Fischl in his studio and with his encouragement developed a career as a furniture maker.
Bringing four decades of experience as a maker across a range of disciplines, Tom is excited to welcome the local community in this beautiful setting and engage them in events and programs centered on creativity. He is proud that his work contributes to the continuation to the long and rich history of innovation in the Village of Sag Harbor.