Opinion: Behold Fecundity

We all know that so many artists live here among us, but the density is remarkable when one comes face to face with it
Paul Moss seemed like a Duane Hansen sculpture among the artwork on view at the opening of “Amagansett Art: Across the Years” at the Amagansett Historical Association’s Jackson Carriage House last Thursday. Durell Godfrey

    Given space constraints, I will not be able to list every artist with work on view in the Springs Invitational at Ashawagh Hall and “Amagansett Art: Across the Years” at the Jackson Carriage House on Main Street in Amagansett. Even with several duplicates, it is sufficient to say that the talent contained in East Hampton Town alone is certainly a marvel to behold.
    We all know that so many artists live here among us, but the density is remarkable when one comes face to face with it. Then again, it happens every year around this time, when the annual invitational show to benefit the Springs Improvement Society is unveiled. With strong work in every corner, one realizes in the end how many were also missing.
    That said, Jennifer Cross did a fantastic job of pulling rabbits out of her hat, choosing some fellow employees of the Ross School, such as Christopher Engel and Alexis Martino, and other less obvious choices, along with names more familiar to Ashawagh’s walls.
    It was a bit thrilling to see these new juxtapositions. I particularly liked the pairing of Mary Ellen Bartley’s “Blinds, Sea Change” series and Ann Chwatsky’s “My Solar Two,” the strict lines of one imposed on an undulant sea melding nicely with the orbital text recorded on top of a blurred image of a night sky. Arlene Bujese and Ty Stroudsberg also paired well. Eric Ernst’s painted sculpture looked great in front of the exhibition space’s window, its shard-like sections evocative of stained glass.
    Of course, it was even more gratifying to see pieces by Joan Semmel and Jane Wilson on view in this setting. These standard-bearers of the old school of East End artists, abstract and figurative, call across the room like sirens offering glimmering jewels, even in their simplicity. Ms. Wilson’s “Weather” paint­ing is both pensive and sublime. Ms. Semmel’s simple study of crossed arms, elegant in its timelessness, recalls Renaissance preparatory sketches while still being unmistakably modern.
    Over in Amagansett, artists with ties to the hamlet were invited to submit work for a show organized by Isabel Carmichael, Nina Gillman, Elena Prohaska Glinn, Jeanne Stiles, and Pamela Williams.
    Overlap between the two shows included the art of Michelle Murphy Strada, who offered a portrait of a dilapidated but sunny cabin in the Caribbean for the Springs exhibition, and a watercolor of what looked like white impatiens but seemed so much more refined in Amagansett. Ralph Carpentier had a very yellow but moody landscape in Springs, and one of his pencil drawings (my own favorite medium of his) in Amagansett. Janet Jennings was another artist in both shows.
    Two of The Star’s photographers, Durell Godfrey and Morgan McGivern, can also be seen in Amagansett, Ms. Godfrey offering an image of winter surfers forming a stark geometric pattern in the quiet seascape, and a more summery image of a lifeguard chair with father, child, and seagull in the gloaming. Mr. McGivern submitted an early experimental work of a black cat that goes nicely with Ngaere Macray’s cat sculptures.
    Other artists in the Amagansett show include Richard Baxter, Nicole Bigar, Zoe Pennebaker Breen, Lucy Cookson, Susan D’Alessio, Kate Davis, Elliott Erwitt, Victoria Fensterer, Nina Gillman, Burt Glinn, Sue Gussow, Hope Harris, Toby Haynes, Michael Henkel, Teri Kennedy, Elizabeth Levine, Rick Liss, Vincent Longo, Steve Loschen, Aaron Monet, Pamela Morgan, John Opper, Gosta Peterson, Zak Powers, Ray Prohaska, Denise Regan, Susan Wood Richardson, Ken Robbins, Anne Seelbach, Sarah Stacke, David Stiles, Jeanie Stiles, Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas, Mi­chelle Stuart, David Suter, Veronika Vogler, Rosario Varela, and Lewis Zacks.

The installation of the Springs Invitational at Ashawagh Hall is an eclectic mix of surprises. Jennifer Landes