For the third year in a row, Paton Miller has curated an exhibition for the Southampton Arts Center featuring an entirely new roster of East End artists.
“The first year I thought it was going to be a ‘one and done’ thing,” he said at the reception for “East End Collected3” on Saturday, while hundreds of people strolled through the halls and viewed the works. “If I’m invited back again next year to do the show a fourth time, we may end up circling the loop. But we may not. There are 32 artists represented in this show; we’ve covered, all told, about 100 artists. And there certainly are enough artists out here to have new people in the show every year.”
Mr. Miller, an accomplished painter in his own right, arrived on the South Fork in the mid 1970s after leaving his home state of Hawaii and touring Asia, honing his artistic abilities and riding the waves along the way. Though a series of serendipitous events, he landed in Southampton, was awarded a scholarship at Southampton College based on his travel-related works on paper, and put down roots on the East End. He’s raised a family out here—in fact he will be helping his son, Sam, interview the King of Polynesia on film this week at the United Nations.
“I find this place extraordinary,” Mr. Miller said of the East End. “I’ve been to other places that don’t have this mix, this vibrancy. It doesn’t matter how extroverted or shy you are. In the end, all artists are performance artists; they need some sort of feedback. And out here is a community where artists can live and create and be part of.”
And community is the key word, as far as Mr. Miller is concerned. “If my house catches on fire, someone comes and puts it out. If my son breaks his arm, there’s a hospital with people to set the bone. I deeply appreciate that feeling of being taken care of, and I’ve always gotten that here. And so have a lot of other artists. So, in a way, this show is a love letter from me to this area.”
Works this year feature all manner of media, from photography and sculpture to paintings in oils and acrylics on paper and wood, linen and glass. Some pieces sport frames while others do not. Modern meets traditional, abstract hangs next to figurative, the established share space with the emerging. And while large wall paintings dominate the lofty space on Jobs Lane, small works also receive their due.
One would think putting together an art exhibition of this magnitude would be a headache—especially since some of the pieces are borrowed from private collections—but Mr. Miller insists that the process is organic. He chooses the works based on his own process, making notes throughout the year on art he has seen in other shows at galleries, museums, libraries and other places. And it all comes together within the last few weeks before the exhibition opens.
It’s not until the art is in the space that he begins the task of deciding what will go where. But again, it falls into place easily. “One of the joys for me is to hang this show,” Mr. Miller said. It takes him about two to three hours to place the pieces, he said, and then Scott Bluedorn and Scott Santangelo—artists who have both exhibited in Mr. Miller’s “East End Collected” shows in previous years—come and install the works. “I start with some major pieces, but then it falls into place.”
“Someone said to me while we were hanging the show last week, ‘I really love this show, even though there’s no theme.’ But there is a theme. The theme here is ‘Here,’” Mr. Miller said. “‘Here,’ in all its diversity. It’s a celebration of ‘Here.’ And that is a great theme.”
“East End Collected3” features the works of Arthur Carter, Jennifer Cross, Janet Culbertson, Franco Cuttica, Josh Dayton, Eric Dever, Adriana Echavarria, Christopher Engel, William Falkenburg, Brian Farrell, Terri Gold, Lautaro Keudell, Mary Lambert, Laurie Lambrecht, Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Gerson Lieber, Judith Lieber, Brett Loving, David Bunn Martine, Lynn Matsuoka, Jonathan Morse, J. Alan Ornstein, Pamela O. Ornstein, Simon Parkes, Gabriele Raacke, Olivier Robert, Maria Schön, Eileen Dawn Skretch, Neill Slaughter, Dinah Maxwell Smith, Susan Tepper, Diane Tuft, Sarah Jaffe Turnbull and Frank Wimberley. The show will run through May 29.
A free artists talk will be held on Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m., and will feature the artists Brett Loving, Mary Lambert, Neill Slaughter, Bill Falkenburg and Diane Tuft. The gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, visit southamptonartscenter.org.