Photography exhibition highlights Offbeat Artifacts


Offbeat Artifacts has become a community event in Sea Cliff for the past decade, a chance for neighbors to meet up, purchase strange and wonderful items, and raise money for the Sea Cliff Village Library. Now an exhibition by local photographer Geri Reichgut at the library captures the memories of the first year of Offbeat Artifacts, offering a window to the past and a chance to reflect on the impact on the history of the event.

Reichgut’s photos are displayed on three walls in the back of the library, in addition to several photobooks she compiled from 2013-14. This is her second time showcasing these images at the library, having done so back in 2014 as part of the Sea Cliff Arts Council’s programs supporting local artists.

Many of the photos on display feature iconic figures in Sea Cliff life, some of whom have subsequently died, like the renowned Theodore Roosevelt impersonator James Foote. Others show children who for years helped out with the event or visited with their parents who are now in college, providing long-time residents the chance to relive their memories of Offbeat Artifacts’ earliest days, as well as enjoy some photos from more recent sales.

The photobooks that are on display were also made by Reichgut in years past, and each one focuses on different themes and subjects who attend Offbeat Artifacts. One of them is focused on the children who attend the event,

“I mean, it was the perfect opportunity on a Saturday morning to get outside and be a part of the community,” Reichgut said. “When Jerry Seinfeld said, ‘There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family,’ obviously he never went to the Offbeat Artifacts sale in Sea Cliff.”

Offbeat Artifacts began in 2013 by Sea Cliff resident and retired firefighter Mike Lennon, who said he got the idea while helping to clean out old homes and estates, where he came across numerous forgotten but interesting items which were left over from estate sales. Lennon said he held an impromptu garage sale with the items on the village green, and would give all of the money he made to the library.

Over time, the event grew larger and larger until there were dozens of Sea Cliff residents bringing various household items of varying levels of esotericism to give back to the community and keep the items a part of their village. Although Offbeat Artifacts was originally held every Saturday morning, due to its increasing size it became logistically difficult to do so. Now it’s held only once every few months.

Lennon said it’s been amazing to get the chance to relive some of the memories through Reichgut’s photography.

The official opening will be on Saturday, coinciding with Offbeat Artifacts’ first event of the year.

“It was kind of mind blowing to see all of those photos up there in a gallery setting,” Lennon said. "It was like a rush of memories from the past 10 years came flooding back.”

The exhibition is part of an ongoing program run by the Arts Council. While previously the exhibitions would remain up for only two months, this will be the first one that will be up for three.

Kathleen DiResta, co-chair of the Arts Council, has been to many Offbeat Artifact sales. It’s been amazing to watch the event grow over the years, she said adding she believes this exhibition captured one of the most unique aspects of life in Sea Cliff.

“It’s extra special because we’re collaborating with the library and honoring one of the library’s biggest fundraisers,” DiResta added. “And seeing kids in the pictures that are growing up, and seeing community members that aren’t with us anymore makes it extra special too.”