Thursday, May 29, 2008

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
Scene Has Changed For Truly Local Artists
By Pat Rogers
May 27, 08 2:36 PM

The days are gone when practically every East End gallery exhibited artists who live and work in the Hamptons. Now, trying to find the pulse of the strictly local arts scene—at least from a gallery standpoint—can require a little searching.
Last weekend, two galleries made that search a bit easier by putting on view works by East End artists. At these two galleries, it’s possible to take in a brief survey of old school modern art and what’s happening right now.
The Spanierman Gallery at East Hampton has put on view “An East End Tradition: Six Artists,” featuring Dan Christensen (1942-2007), Jimmy Ernst (1920-1984), Balcomb Greene (1904-1990), Gertrude Greene (1904-1990), Charlotte Park (b. 1918) and Betty Parsons (1900-1982).
The exhibition puts art on view that spans at least one decade of each artist’s life. In Gertrude Greene’s case, the show provides a mini-retrospective, ranging from drawings from the 1930s to paintings that reflect her changing interests in the 1940s and ’50s.
The Gideon Stein Gallery in Bridgehampton has put fresh local faces on view in “Local Yield.” All of the artists are emerging, beginning, or trying to advance their careers. The gallery itself is new, having launched its first show last fall when Mr. Stein moved to the area and made himself an “artist-in-residence” in Bridgehampton.
The show includes paintings by gallery owner Gideon Stein, Lynn Dunham of Southampton, Tom Connor of Wartermill. Sculpture includes work by Dennis Leri of Springs, Hunter Herrick of Westhampton and Scott Partlow of Bridgehampton. Mr. Stein has several installations on the grounds.
Both exhibitions opened on Saturday. The show at the Spanierman Gallery at East Hampton continues through June 23. Works at the Gideon Stein Gallery remain on view through June 11. Separately, representatives from both galleries expressed a love for the artwork and the belief that the works on view represent a slice of time and a sense of place.
According to Helen Spanierman, the artists on view incorporate the sights and sounds of the East End into their works, whether it’s Balcomb Greene’s geometric abstracts of Montauk landscapes or the colors and shapes found in Charlotte Park’s abstract art made in her Springs studio.
“It seemed to us that the area has riches of artists and cultural happenings,” she said. “One of the reasons they come here is the light that makes this a garden spot of the world. The light is so exquisite and is matched only by the light in the North Sea area of Europe, where artists also gather. This is because of the content of moisture and the way the light refracts. The greens you experience are breathtaking.”
Each of the artists has been exhibited before in solo or group shows at Spanierman’s East Hampton gallery. The gallery opened in 2006 with a mission to exhibit area artists who have been an integral part of the Hamptons art colony and whose work has had an impact on American art history. There is something special about the artists who have lived and worked here that deserves special attention, Mrs. Spanierman said.
Spanierman has two galleries in Manhattan: Spanierman Gallery LLC and Spanierman Modern. Spanierman Gallery LLC focuses on American art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Spanierman Modern exhibits contemporary masters.
The Spaniermans are longtime residents of East Hampton who saw a need for a gallery devoted to the art stars of the East End. The gallery took over the former Lizan Tops Gallery, whose focus was on local contemporary artists. Last year, the Arlene Bujese Gallery closed its doors after nearly 10 years in East Hampton. Its focus was also on contemporary area artists. The gallery was located across a shared parking lot from Lizan Tops.
“We have the longest and oldest active artist colony in America and that bounty of artists from the area that form its core is an important one,” Mrs. Spanierman said. “We opened the gallery here with the intention to show these artists and bring attention to them.”
Like his gallery, Mr. Stein is a newcomer to the Hamptons, though he summered in East Hampton and Bridgehampton as a child. After artistic stints in Woodstock and Brooklyn, he decided to move to the East End and change his primary focus from artist to gallery owner. His gallery is located two doors down from the former Elaine Benson Gallery. Like the Benson Gallery, the Gideon Stein Gallery has outdoor space to exhibit sculpture. Mr. Stein’s gallery will focus on new and emerging artists from the area, he said.
“Local Yield” features artwork he has discovered and been enchanted by in the last six months. He spied Mr. Herrick’s work at a Bonac Tonic group show at Ashawagh Hall. Mr. Partlow’s wood sculptures were spotted at Daria Deshuk’s studio in Bridgehampton. He learned of Ms. Dunham’s work after meeting her at Mark Borghi Fine Art in Bridgehampton, where she works. Mr. Leri and Mr. Connor heard of the new gallery and showed Mr. Stein samples of their work, which he considered top-notch.
While future exhibitions are expected but not yet planned, Mr. Stein said he intends to continue exhibiting works by local artists. Shows will be held at the Bridgehampton gallery, next summer at Ashawagh Hall and in alternate venues as the opportunity arises. He is especially impressed with the energy manifested by the new Arts 4 Bonac Tonic collective (Arts4BT for short) and plans to exhibit the work of members. Mr. Stein exhibited some of his own work at Arts4BT’s Umbrella Show held last weekend at Stella Maris.
“They’ve got such great energy and they’re making things happen,” Mr. Stein said. “These are the artists I want to show. Young artists and emerging ones who are just starting to make their names in the art world.”
Of course, the Spanierman Gallery at East Hampton and the Gideon Stein Gallery aren’t the only places to see sprawling group shows of work by area artists. The Ross School Gallery in East Hampton is currently exhibiting “Narratives: Real and Imagined: Eight East End Artists.” The show was curated by the school’s seventh-grade students. Local artists featured are John Alexander, Michael Butler, Eric Fischl, Jim Gingerich, April Gornik, Lisa Kiss, Randall Rosenthal and Lounah Starr. The show remains on view through June 11.
Ashawagh Hall in Springs features principally weekend shows that frequently feature artwork by area artists. The annual Springs Improvement Society Art Show was held there last weekend. This weekend brings the 20th anniversary show of the East End Photographers Group. The show opens on Saturday and remains on view through June 8. The 70th Annual Members Show at Guild Hall puts local art front and center. The show, featuring artists with last names beginning with A through L, remains on view through June 7. Exhibitions at the East End Arts Council Gallery in Riverhead typically include artists from the Hamptons.

Ms. Rogers did not include every gallery in the Hamptons featuring local artists. There simply would not be enough space. I will take this opportunity to highlight the Fire Place Project in The Springs, East Hampton. The Fireplace Project is a contemporary art gallery located in the former Talmage garage at 851 Springs Fireplace Road, in the Springs historic district across from the Pollock-Krasner house. It features solo exhibitions, curated group exhibitions, and artists’ projects. The gallery presents artists - but does not represent artists.
The Fireplace Project is directed by Edsel Williams, formerly the exhibitions director of the GREEN BARN in Sagaponack, and GLENN HOROWITZ in East Hampton.
Hours are Friday through Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00 PM and by appointment. Please call to confirm hours. The organization also hosts
Pollock-Krassner Lectures Series .


g said...

Bravo Lynn! Your blog is Awesome!! Viva Local Art!

Mary A. Gravelle said...

It sounds like the local artist is revered in the Hamptons even if it is appearing otherwise. I wonder if local artists everywhere experience this dilemna where they live. I know it is certainly one of my concerns here in Silver City, New Mexico. It's a small place with a huge number of artists. The galleries here seem to want to represent artists from somewhere else, almost anywhere else. My new heroes from your article are Mr. Stein and Helen Spanierman for their interest in promoting the local artist. To Ms. Spanierman, yes, there are reasons why artists congregrate in certain areas. She mentions the light and that is also why artists come to New Mexico. The New Mexico light can be seen in my southwest landscape paintings at Lynn, good luck with your show. I'm glad that you are a valued local artist.

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