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Artist Transforms Ordinary Items Into Art

Jonathan Pearlman's artwork is now on show at the Water Mill Museum.

Jonathan Pearlman, of East Quogue, wasn't always an artist. In fact, he had spent some 40 years in a Manhattan office writing documentaries. But, it was during those years that he sat across from a sculptor and painter, who he watched with intense curiosity.

"I think I absorbed so much watching him work," Pearlman said. "It was like I apprenticed with him. He was my mentor."

Paul Degen, his officemate and friend, has since passed on, but Perlman said much of him lives within the art he creates using discarded items.

Pearlman, who started showing his work two years ago, said his art is aimed at "making the world new again."

"It's kinda like recycled art, taken to a new level. And if it is a successful piece, it will elevate the discarded objects," Pearlman said.

Pearlman said he accomplishes this by transforming old objects into completely different things. For example, one of Pearlman's pieces, made from an old woman's shoe, using wood and other items, was changed to resemble a bird.

Most people, he said, wouldn't even realize that the piece was made from a shoe, unless they look really hard, but he said, eventually, the viewer will discover it.

"It becomes magic for them, something they have not seen before," said Pearlman, who creates his art by night, constructing his pieces spontaneously.

When deciding what discarded treasures to use in his art, he is very picky. 

"I look for shape, texture, color and unusual items," he said. "It's like when you see something out of the corner of your eye and it you think you see a deer, but it turns out to be a box."

Pearlman's work is now on display at the in Water Mill and will run through July 9.

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