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Hamptons Life

Mar 25, 2013 11:14 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

'Paperworks' Pushes Boundaries

Mar 26, 2013 9:28 AM

Rip it, paint it, crumple it. Ink it, print it, sculpt it.

Suddenly, a piece of blank paper does not look so ordinary. The medium is exploding with potential for shape, for color, for life. And its only hurdle is the imagination.

“When people think ‘paper’ around this time of year, they’re usually thinking ‘taxes’ and nothing else,” Arlene Bujese, who is curating the Southampton Cultural Center’s upcoming exhibit, “Paperworks,” said last week during a telephone interview. “This way, I’m elevating ‘paperwork’ to high art. They will see paper in a whole new light.”

The 10 Hamptons-based artists Ms. Bujese selected for the show range from illustrators and photographers to painters and collage artists, oftentimes with some overlap. This exhibition shines a light on some of the newer faces hitting the art scene, among them architect Gregory Thorpe.

Whether sketching a nude at his Sag Harbor home or designing a project at Stelle Architects in Bridgehampton, Mr. Thorpe always has art on the brain. He discovered his creative streak at age 4, and it’s developed significantly since. Though he primarily works with graphite on paper, Mr. Thorpe sometimes throws in ink, spray paint, charcoal and even soil, he said last week during a telephone interview.

“I’m interested in space-time relationships to the individual, whether it’s myself or others, in the way that we see and apprehend the space,” he explained, and laughed, “If I can get any more obtuse than that.”

Figurative painter Mary Stubelek said she is literally surrounded by her artistic inspiration while sitting in her studio, watching nature bathed in the East End light, feeling the spirit of the land and the legacy that came before her. Her home in Shinnecock Hills sits just across the road from 20th century painter William Merritt Chase’s house, Ms. Stubelek reported last week during a telephone interview. And growing up, she lived down the street from Southampton painter Mary Abbott, though she didn’t know it at the time.

The two women finally met nearly 30 years later when Ms. Abbott needed a framer, and they subsequently became friends, said Ms. Stubelek, who is currently archiving Ms. Abbott’s work.

But now, at the Southampton Cultural Center, it is Ms. Stubelek’s chance to shine, Ms. Bujese said.

“As far as I’m concerned, Mary Stubelek has pretty much hid her light under a bushel for far too long,” the curator said. “She’s someone to watch.”

Artist Gail Miro has been on Ms. Bujese’s radar for quite some time, she said, from the days she used to show in the curator’s former East Hampton gallery. She never ceases to surprise, Ms. Bujese said.

With every one of her life experiences, Ms. Miro’s work has morphed. The most dramatic shift was in 1999, Ms. Bujese reported. Ms. Miro’s husband, Albert, had died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

“When he was gone, I kept on painting,” Ms. Miro said last week during a visit to her Southampton studio. She dreamily gazed at her newest works. “And Albert is in all of my paintings.”

She smiled and gestured to the four pieces of artwork that will hang in the “Paperworks” exhibition.

Her husband’s exaggeratedly long, lean figure can be seen lying across the horizons of her paintings, or along the sides and bottom, even upside down. Sharply colorful imagery of birds, fish, mountains and water surround him, though the swimmers are in the sky and the flyers in the sea.

“I love the idea of playing around with things that don’t normally do what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Ms. Miro, who has taught art at Southampton High School for 27 years. “Painting is not a profession I chose, it’s just something that I do. I’ve done it all my life. I’ve lived through some tough times. The fish are symbolic of me resting here and the birds always meant me being elsewhere. My birds have always meant flying outside of myself.”

And in her imagination, while painting on paper, she is flying with her birds. She is free.

“Paperworks,” an exhibition of collage, drawing, painting and photography, will open on Monday, April 1, at 11 a.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center. Artists include Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Margery Harnick, Anne Sager, Roseann and Walter Schwab, Gail Miro, Mary Stubelek, Gregory Thorpe, E.E. Tucker, and Hans Van de Bovenkamp. A reception and book signing will be held on Saturday, April 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit southamptonculturalcenter.org.

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