East Hampton’s Guild Hall welcomed five artists of various stripes to its new Guild House on Dunemere Lane in March for the nonprofit arts institution’s first artists-in-residence program to foster emerging talent.
Now, as their two-month residency approaches its end, the artists will discuss their work during the inaugural AIR Works at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater on Sunday, April 17. The free event is an afternoon of short films, readings and an exhibition, plus a Q&A that will encourage community members to get to know the artists and understand the motivations and methods behind their work.
“There’s going to be a lot of conversation, as this program has been planned to integrate Guild Hall with the community and with the young artists,” said Ruth Appelhof, the executive director of Guild Hall.
The program was also designed to be a reinvigoration of East Hampton’s longstanding artists colony.
The diverse slate of artists includes a prose writer, a poet, a painter and a pair of multimedia artists. They will all benefit from at least one mentor.
The collaborative duo Jennifer Hsu and James Wang work in video, photographing, digital and analog painting, text and installation. Their mentor is experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson. For their residency, they have been pulling archive films of the East End, and putting together an artistic presentation.
Iris Smyles is the author of “Iris Has Free Time” and the forthcoming follow-up “Dating Tips for the Unemployed.” The former is modeled after “The Divine Comedy” and the latter is loosely modeled on “The Odyssey” but written as if it were an internet column. Alan Alda and Bob Balaban are mentoring her.
Tom Yuill, whose poetry collection, “Medicine Show,” was published by the University of Chicago Press, will read new poems Sunday. He is being mentored by Philip Schultz, the founder of The Writers Studio.
Arcmanoro Niles, a 26-year-old D.C.-born painter who now lives and works in Brooklyn, previously took part in residencies in China and Costa Rica. His mentor is North Haven artist Eric Fischl.
Though he is a painter, his process involves a variety of media and methods. He begins with a sketch from his imagination, then a photograph of the figure that he edits in Photoshop before painting over the image or collaging different images together. On Sunday, Mr. Niles will show five paintings he made during his East Hampton residency, and five older examples of his work.
“I felt very honored that they picked one painter, and it happened to be me,” Mr. Niles said.
Guild Hall has kept the nomination process close to the vest—even the artists aren’t certain how they got there.
“The recommendations were made by some of the most famous artists in the nation, so it was quite a wonderful effort by everyone,” Ms. Appelhof said.
She explained that for the first season, at least, they wanted a quiet process. In the future, the nomination process may become more formal and public.
The artists-in-residence program is the result of more than two years of planning. Ms. Appelhof lauded Mr. Fischl for helping to develop the program and present it to the Guild Hall trustees for approval.
“He’s really the ambassador of the program, and he’s also the president of our Guild Hall Academy of the Arts, which is a group of about 200 people who live out here full- or part-time,” Ms. Appelhof said.
Not only does the program afford the residents time to work on their art and writings, they have visited other cultural institutions on the East End, including The Watermill Center and the Pollock-Krasner House. They have weekly dinners with artists and members of the community and have been offered complimentary meals at East Hampton restaurants such as Rowdy Hall and 1770 House. They were also extended free memberships to the East Hampton YMCA.
“It’s been an outpouring from the community to make these folks feel welcome and supported,” Ms. Appelhof said.
She expects the artists to become regular guests of Guild Hall. “I do think it’s important that the community knows that they will be returning,” she said. “There is a path after the program is over, that we’re encouraging them to take, which means they’ll be invited back all summer long. We’re going to have them as our guests enjoying so many of the programs that we have here.”
AIR Works takes place at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, on Sunday, April 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Visit guildhall.org for more information.
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