The Art Scene: 01.26.12

For Black History Month
    The Southampton Cultural Center will celebrate Black History Month with an exhibit titled “Visual Heritage III: 4 Contemporary Artists” opening on Wednesday in the center’s gallery on Pond Lane.
    The artists featured in the exhibit are Sheila Batiste, Nanette Carter, Danny Simmons, and Frank Wimberley. A reception will be held on Feb. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. As part of the celebration, the artist Danny Simmons will hold a poetry reading and book signing to introduce his third collection of poems, “Deep in Your Best Reflection,” at 2:30 p.m.
    Ms. Batiste earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and has exhibited widely. Her art features graphite-on-white expanses that yield gestural yet figural forms. The show will include her wire sculptures.
    Ms. Carter attended Oberlin College and the Pratt Institute, where she is now on the faculty. She has exhibited her work at Yale University, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Library of Congress. “Bouquet for Loving,” her series of paintings on paper, was inspired by the late Al Loving, a highly regarded artist who was her mentor and friend.
    Mr. Simmons is self-taught and inspired by Surrealism and African culture and history. He will show abstract paintings on canvas, monotypes, and a new series of paintings.
    Mr. Wimberley brings his abstract imagery to painting as well as collage and assemblage. He has exhibited widely and has won a Pollock-Krasner Award. Here, he will show a series of pigment prints, including a tribute to James Baldwin.

Benjamin in Greenport
    The Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. will exhibit Laura Benjamin’s wrapper assemblages beginning Saturday with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The show, called “Wrapper’s Delight,” will be on view through February and uses torn, cut, and expired candy wrappers to depict often famous subjects in unusual and colorful ways.
    Ms. Benjamin, who lives in East Hampton, said her work is “inspired by food and the carnal delight of candy.” But the recycled nature of the artwork and its preoccupation with gluttony and pop culture infuse it with more topical meanings.
    She graduated from American University and earned a master’s degree in art education from New York University and an associate’s degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. A teacher of art who has freelanced as a textile designer for most of her career, Ms. Benjamin has been recognized for the “successful practice in crossing the digital divide through art and technology” by the federal Department of Education. She has studied at the Art Students League, Parsons School of Design, and the New School in New York City.

Maiwald Goes to Jersey
    The work of Christa Maiwald of Springs is in “The Wicked Twins: Fame & Notoriety” at the Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University-Newark. The exhibit, which was organized by Anonda Bell and includes 11 artists, will open tonight with a reception from 5 to 7 and remain on view through April 19.
    Her two series, “Blue Chip,” from 2009 to 2011, and “Musical Chairs: Economic Crisis in G Minor,” from 2009, will be featured. “Blue Chip” entails hand-embroidered portraits of 50 established and financially successful artists, among them Dan Flavin, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Jennifer Bartlett, Marcel Duchamp, Lynda Benglis, Dennis Oppenheim, Gerhard Richter, Alice Aycock, Joseph Beuys, and Roy Lichtenstein.
    “Musical Chairs” takes as its subjects a number of people now famous or infamous for helping to lead the world economy into collapse. In this selection of six children’s school chairs are hand-embroidered portraits of Milton Friedman, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geith­ner, Lawrence Summers, Alan Green­span, and Bernie Madoff.

The New Gruen
    John Gruen, who has trained his camera lens on practically every important New York artist of the postwar period, has a new book, “As Time Goes By: Portraits by John Jonas Gruen.” The cover, which features Larry Rivers and Marisol, gives a hint of the lost world of midcentury artistic elegance and debauchery some of the photographs evoke.
    Mr. Gruen will sign copies at the New Museum in New York City next Thursday at 5 p.m.