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Mar 27, 2018 9:50 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

'East End Collected' Returns To Southampton Arts Center For Fourth Edition

Paton Miller at the Southampton Arts Center. DANA SHAW
Mar 27, 2018 10:15 AM

This Saturday, March 31, the Southampton Arts Center will open its fourth annual “East End Collected” exhibition, “East End Collected4.”

Artist Paton Miller has curated the exhibition since its inception six years ago, when Southampton Village’s Southampton Arts Center was still taking shape.

“I was invited to go to David Bohnett’s house. Then-Mayor Mark Epley and David were hosting a think tank about how to move forward with the building, which had been vacated by the Parrish Art Museum. They wanted an artist’s point of view,” Mr. Miller said. He suggested showcasing the work of East End artists, borrowed from collectors. “I’m very aware of the important relationship between artists and collectors.”

“East End Collected” launched, with Mr. Miller at the helm. He included his own art—Mr. Miller is an oil painter with a vast oeuvre—in the inaugural show in 2015 with the vision of a one-time experience that East End art patrons could enjoy.

The show was an unexpected success, and it was decided, nearly immediately, that Mr. Miller should curate subsequent shows, also highlighting the work of local artists. Since its inception, the “East End Collected” series has shown approximately 130 artists, with no repeats. “The joy of this,” said Mr. Miller, “is that the shows are consistently very strong. What has gotten better is my ability to curate the show.”

Mr. Miller also owes the success of the shows to Amy Kirwin, the Southampton Arts Center’s director of programs, who is responsible for organizing the players necessary in a busy week-by-week calendar. Ms. Kirwin and the staff and board of the Southampton Arts Center, Mr. Miller said, are instrumental to the longstanding success of the series.

This year, as in the past, “East End Collected” will feature both established and new artists, with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds. “I think it’s a core sampling of what’s happening out here,” Mr. Miller said. Take, for example, Shimon Okshteyn, a classically trained artist who hails from Russia. Mr. Okshteyn has shown his work all over the world. Mike Ahearn, on the other hand, an artist specializing in pencil on paper, will be making his debut in this show.

Because the physical space of the Southampton Arts Center is vast and high ceilinged, Mr. Miller believes that a combination of hung art and sculpture round out each show. “The connective tissue of the show is the sculptures,” he said, emphasizing the importance of the medium.

Mr. Miller came to Southampton in 1974, at the end of a period of world travel. Having spent several years in Hawaii, where he studied at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, he took advantage of a round-the-world airline ticket and traveled to Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East. A standing invitation to visit the Hamptons parlayed itself into an impromptu dog-sitting gig for two Chihuahuas. Ultimately, Mr. Miller never left. He visited Southampton College, met with the head of the department, showed work he had completed on his trip around the world, was invited to participate in a scholarship program, and won. More than 40 years later, Mr. Miller is now deeply entrenched in the art scene and has carved out a niche for himself as a successful full-time artist.

“It has really been a great place for me,” he said. “I’ve been able to make a living here as an artist. Before I was able to make a living as an artist, I was able to make a living as a tradesman.” Mr. Miller’s dedication to the East End finds a passionate outlet in the “Collected” shows, which are, at their heart, an ode to this particular time and place. Or, as Mr. Miller said, “there’s not an overriding theme—the theme is basically ‘us.’”

In addition to the free public opening reception on Saturday, March 31, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Southampton Arts Center will host an illustrated talk with several artists from the show. One of these artists, Abigail Vogel, will demonstrate a technique she uses that has been ascribed to Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. This talk will take place on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. and is free.

“East End Collected4” will run through Sunday, May 20, and will conclude with a curator’s gallery tour and Champagne toast that day at 3 p.m. Admission is free. The Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton. For more information, visit southamptonartscenter.org.

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great turnout last evening!
By bigfresh (4662), north sea on Apr 1, 18 7:57 AM