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Hamptons Life

Nov 10, 2009 2:30 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Artists added to Guild Hall collection talk about their work

Nov 10, 2009 2:30 PM

For anyone who has ever wondered why eastern Long Island is known as a place for art, the current exhibition at Guild Hall in East Hampton might just have the answer. Currently on view is a mini-survey of work included in the museum’s permanent collection made by artists living or working in the Hamptons.

The exhibition, “ac.qui.si.tions,” puts on view artwork recently acquired by the East Hampton museum. All of the works were donated by collectors, the artists or an artist foundation or gallery within the last five years.

Represented are 40 artists spanning history, in work from 1925 by James Britton (1878-1936) to art made in 2008 by David Gamble.

There’s a 1932 watercolor by Fairfield Porter (1907-1975), a 1954 sculpture by Ibram Lassaw (1913-2003) and a 1965 graphite drawing by Howard Kanovitz (1929-2009).

A 1972 painting by Jimmy Ernst (1920-1984) and a 1970 silkscreen by Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) are on view. So are a 1981 lithograph by Jim Dine and a 1982 watercolor by Claus Hoie (1911-2007).

Work from the 1990s includes pieces by artists Paul Brach (1924-2007), Stephanie Brody Lederman and Laurie Lambrecht. Contributing artists in the 21st century include, in addition to Mr. Gamble, Cornelia Foss, Peter Dayton, Robert Goodnough, Elizabeth Peyton and Rima Mardoyan.

“ac.qui.si.tions” includes art by Jennifer Cross, Tom Ferrara, Dorothy Frankel, Michael Goldberg (1924-2007), Eunice Golden, Ingebord ten Haeff and John Hardy. Helen Hoie (1911-1964), Stanley Kearl, Mel Kendrick, William King and Cynthia Knott. Harry Kramer, Edvard Leiber, Conrad Marca-Relli (1913-2000) and Paton Miller are in the show. So are Kyle Morris (1918-1979), Hans Namuth (1915-1990), Costantino Nivola (1911-1988), Miriam Shapiro, Joan Semmel, David Silva and Darius Yektai.

Besides a dash down through the years, the show presents a variety of mediums. Paintings, sculpture and drawings all have a place, as do lithographs, collage, silkscreen and woodcuts. A range of photography—from gelatin silver print to black and white film toned with sellinium to color c-print to archival inkjet on canvas—is included.

Exhibition curator and museum director Christina Mossaides Strassfield believes the show is a strong one due to the range of mediums and because each piece is a strong work by the artist. There are no “weak links,” so the show sparkles evenly throughout, she said.

One reason the quality is so high is because of the rigorous process applied to all potential acquisitions, Ms. Strassfield said. Artworks accepted into Guild Hall’s permanent collection are reviewed by a committee of cognoscenti involved in the visual arts, including curators, art historians, critics, collectors and museum professionals.

Even if the artist has been identified as desirable by the museum, any artwork has to be a strong example of his or her work, Ms. Strassfield said. The size of the artwork is another consideration: after the work is accepted into the collection, it has to be properly stored. These rules of thumb can make it tricky when artwork offers don’t match the committee’s parameters. Regardless of the challenges, though, the result is a high quality collection that strives to represent a large cross section of some of the best art made in the Hamptons.

“The mission of the museum is to represent the art of the area and to support the artists that are here,” Ms. Strassfield said. “Some of the ways we do this are the annual Artist Members Show, which results in a solo show by the Best in Show winner, and by exhibitions that showcase art by area artists or art inspired by the area.”

Concurrent with the “ac.qui.si.tions” show is a solo show by Priscilla Heine in the Woodhouse Gallery across the lobby. Ms. Heine’s work was named best in show at the 69th annual Guild Hall Artist Members Exhibition, Part 1, in 2007. She will discuss her art with critic Amei Wallach on Saturday, November 14, at 3 p.m. at the East Hampton museum.

The museum’s permanent collection represents another means by which the museum can fulfill its mission, Ms. Strassfield said. The collection accomplishes this in two ways: First, every artist represented in the collection must have some connection to the area. In this way, the collection becomes a record of the artists of the Hamptons.

The museum also helps “spread the word” of notable area artists by circulating artwork in the collection to other museums. Selections from the collection are currently traveling through the country through 2011.

The connection between area artists and the community could be seen last Sunday during a series of talks by some of the artists with work in the “ac.qui.si.tions” show, who talked about their pieces in Guild Hall’s collection and how they relate to their art in general.

Presenters included Paton Miller, Bastienne Schmidt, Stephanie Brody Lederman, Nan Orshefsky, Philippe Cheng, Cynthia Knott, Eunice Golden, David Gamble and Linda Alpern.

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