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Form Meets Function At Gallery 37 

Axel Yberg describes Arbil de Cereza, which was featured in Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship’s window and is now on display in the window of Northport’s Gallery 37, a new venture by six artists with close ties to Huntington.

When you walk into the funky Manhattan-flavored Gallery 37 at 12B School Street in Northport, the first thing you’ll probably notice is a ping-pong table like no other.

It’s called “Pingtuated Equilibripong” – a play on the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which deduces that evolution is caused by rapid, explosive change in organisms.

Created in August 2011 by Huntington’s Axel Yberg, the one-of-a-kind ping-pong table, which also doubles as a  dining room table, represents a bit of punctuated equilibrium in his own career as an artist – it was a piece that helped put him on the map.

“When I built this table, I was making these other pieces under the radar, privately, in a little shop. Nobody knew about me,” he said. “This was recognized internationally… This is the explosion point.”

Now, Yberg is one of six artists – most with roots in Huntington – who are embarking on another artistic journey after opening Gallery 37, an artist’s cooperative focusing on functional and fine arts, united by an emphasis of modern aesthetics, in Northport Village this Saturday.

In addition to Yberg, the gallery features Mondays, a ceramic collective featuring Brooklyn residents and Huntington natives Signe Yberg, Jennifer Fiore and Nina Lalli; fine art by abstract artist by Kerry Irvine; and sculpture by John Clement.

The name of the gallery is a reference to another serendipitous occurrence in his artistic life. Yberg makes a living through his woodworking business, AKKE Woodworks, which produces finished interior woodworks, and AKKE Functional Art, which creates one-of-a-kind modern furniture. After working as an equity trader until 2001, Yberg started a carpentry business in 2006 in which he created finished interior woodworking for homes and businesses. One of his early contracts was with The Paramount in Huntington village. He approached Paramount partner and friend Dominick Cattogio in search of space to do the work; the partners offered him unit 37 in an industrial park on East 2nd Street, where his company stayed for 18 months. When it came time to move, Cattogio told him about space on School Street in Northport, which he took in November 2012.

Not only did the new space work well as shop space, it also gave him the first idea to display his functional art. It grew into the idea of opening Gallery 37, which would give him and his friends gallery representation.

“I want to go to the big shows like Design Miami and ArtHamptom, but you need gallery representation for that, and they take 50 percent of your sales. I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “So I called all of my Huntington friends who are artists.”

AKKE Functional Art got a major boost in 2011 thanks to a last-minute entry in the 2011 International Contemporary Furniture Fair, which led Bloomingdale’s to put his piece, “Arbil de Cereza”, in their 59th Street Manhattan window. The suggestion to sign up for the fair came 10 months earlier after an architect friend saw “Reverse Dowry,” a coffee table Yberg made for his mother-in-law as she renovated her beach house. He was reluctant to sign up initially, but 10 months later he changed his mind and took the plunge.

“It came out of nowhere,” he said.

As to why it’s all going so well? Yberg recalled a recent trip to Burbank, Calif., accompanied by childhood friend Matt Gai, a Huntington Bay native who works with him at AKKE Functional Art, to present a poker table – the world’s most expensive to 2013 World Poker Tour Player of the Year Matt Salsberg, who shared his philosophy on poker with the artist.

“It’s 50-percent skill, 25-percent luck, and 25-percent karma,” Yberg recalls being told. “I believe that. You put it out there, you do the right thing, and things happen.”

The gallery is open by appointment. For more information, call 631-988-8108.

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