'Garden of Friends' Artists Show at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts - 27 East

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‘Garden of Friends’ Artists Show at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

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Installation view of Bill Stewart's work in The Leiber Collection exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Bridgehampton. BILL STEWART

Installation view of Bill Stewart's work in The Leiber Collection exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Bridgehampton. BILL STEWART

Frankie Kadir Vaughan on Jan 8, 2024

In a unique collaboration, The Leiber Collection in Springs has joined forces with New York gallerist Kathryn Markel at her East End outpost to present “Judith and Gerson Leiber with Leiber Garden of Friends.” The show, which opened at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Bridgehampton on January 6, features work by 17 East End artists working across a range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, video and still imagery.

Curated by Ann Fristoe Stewart, director of The Leiber Collection, while the exhibition contains pieces by the late handbag designer Judith Leiber and her husband, abstract painter Gerson Leiber (the couple, who died within days of each other in 2018, created The Leiber Collection museum on their property in 2005 to showcase their artwork), it also highlights some of the Garden of Friends artists whose work has been featured at the Springs museum.

In a recent interview, Stewart explained that the Garden of Friends exhibitions came about in response to the pandemic.

“During COVID, we were allowed to open sooner than a lot of galleries and museums because we had our outdoor space,” she explained. “People were crying out for some way to get together, and outdoors we felt safer. So we started the Garden of Friends and it’s just been such an incredible gift to the community.”

Upon entering the Bridgehampton gallery exhibition, Philippe Cheng’s work is one of the first to greet visitors. His large-scale inkjet print is displayed alongside a few smaller prints and it asks questions of size and mobility — how can a fragile butterfly be so large and colorful, yet its materiality be so harsh and textured?

“He’s an amazing photographer, and actually the first sculpture he’s ever made was at The Leiber Collection for the first show we had four years ago,” said Stewart of Cheng’s work. “The piece is absolutely stunning. But this piece is kind of a tongue-and-cheek sort of comment. He makes photography, and in photography you are always trying to be anti-grain and to get the grain out of your image, but he is printing on sandpaper. Instead of making it grainy, it gives it this super soft feeling where you just want to pet it.”

Also on the first floor gallery, surrounding Cheng’s prints, are dynamic shapes and colors printed by Almond Zigmund, vibrant — yet meditative — woven fabric sculptures by Candace Hill-Montgomery, and ornately constructed and pastel-colored ceramic ice cream bowls by Monica Banks.

In the upstairs galleries are site-specific installations by Laurie Lambrecht and Scott Bluedorn. Described by Stewart as “a long-time flower artist, and punk rocker,” Peter Dayton’s brilliantly painted (and printed) yellow daffodils welcome viewers to the outdoor gallery space. Outdoors, Jill Musnicki exhibits a hanging sculpture made of suet and bird seed, and Erica Huberty-Lynn displays embroidered fabrics of birds, and one cat— with wings. Jeremy Grosvenor, and Bill Stewart also have work exhibited in the outdoor space.

“I love when artists just have a space, and have full authority over it,” said Stewart of the Bridgehampton exhibition. “ Kathryn Markel donated this space to us — and other local arts organizations. Last January, she donated the space to us as well, and it was fantastic. So many people came in from the street, and so many people came that were at The Leiber Museum, and they raved about how it was something to go to in January. This space brings the community together.”

Throughout all three gallery spaces at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, color fills every corner of the room, and visitors will soon forget they are in the Hamptons during the gloomy winter months. Stewart shares that she is “drawn to color and light, and this is hard to have when it’s winter. But it’s great because people will come in and say, ‘This makes me so happy!’”

“Judith and Gerson Leiber with Leiber Garden of Friends Artists” remains on view through January 28. Exhibiting artists include: Monica Banks, Scott Bluedorn, Philippe Cheng, Peter Dayton, Jeremy Dennis, Sabra Moon Elliot, Saskia Friedrich, Jeremy Grosvenor, Candace Hill-Montgomery, Erica-Lynn Huberty, Laurie Lambrecht, Jill Musnicki, Toni Ross, Bastienne Schmidt, Christine Sciulli, Bill Stewart, Almond Zigmund with Judith and Gerson Leiber. Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is at 2418 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton. The gallery is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment at info@leibercollection.org.

Frankie Kadir Vaughan is a graduate student at Purchase College, SUNY, earning an MFA and MA in sculpture and Art History.

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