The East End’s gallery scene recasts itself at such a fierce rate that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Art outgrows its walls; leases run out; business partnerships split up. But nothing seems to stop artists from showing their work here.
“This place was, is, and will always be a community for artists,” said Sara Nightingale, whose namesake gallery moved from Water Mill to Shelter Island and back to Water Mill all in the last few years. Besides her gallery, which is currently showing works from Ross Watts, Peter Sabbeth, Dalton Portella, Eric Dever and Perry Burns, Ms. Nightingale also recommends Water Mill’s newest gallery, Hampton Hang.
Each town has its own personality. Here’s a rundown of what’s new in the East End art world.
Away from Main Street, the far end of Newtown Lane has recently become a haven for art-lovers. “Of course you get more traffic in the center of Newtown Lane,” said Jeremy Sanders, an independent curator for Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, “but you also get less ice cream spilled on the artwork and rare books.” In business since 1995, Glenn Horowitz‚ specialists in rare books, art, manuscripts, and archival documents, recently relocated to the former Waterworks space, two doors from its original location, which it shared with Harpers Books. Tiled floor mosaics, remnants of the now-defunct kitchen-and-bath store, can still be found in the gallery/bookstore.
“We were going to remove the old flooring,” said Jess Frost, the gallery’s director. “But we are finding that the floors add interest and work well with our space.” (They need not worry about visitors staring at the floor when nude photo/process drawings and cyantotypes by Ryan McGinness hang on the wall.) The business did put its own stamp on the space with custom details such as handmade furniture by Jameson Ellis. The next show, to be previewed on Sunday, will showcase a collection of album covers designed by Andy Warhol.
Halsey Mckay’s owner and director, Ryan Wallace, personally took on the big renovation project to customize his two-story gallery. Mr. Wallace and a friend also reinstalled flooring and geometrically staged lighting. “It took a lot of work to create a personalized space for our gallery,” he said, “but all of the wall-building and painting was worth it.”
Halsey Mckay moved into its new digs in May 2011, after lease negotiations broke down for another location less than 100 yards away. The gallery, which hosts exhibitions year-round, is currently showing Picasso-like drawings by a Spanish artist, Jose Lerma, and bold graffiti-inspired paintings by Eddie Martinez.
“More space” was the primary consideration when Victoria Munroe and Emily Goldstein decided to pack up and relocate their gallery, The Drawing Room, away from the Newtown Lane alleyway where it had been for over nine years. “Our customers are very loyal,” said Ms. Munroe,” and others who wanted to find us in the inconspicuously situated old location, always could.” Besides three times the area, the gallery now has “street frontage, which is a bonus, and also, we get great natural light.”
Since it’s on the far end of Newtown, people can usually find parking spots, she said, pointing out that art galleries in upscale communities are typically on the main drag’s fringe. “This end of Newtown Lane creates a destination for people who want to come and look; it’s quiet inside, and they can focus on the artwork.” The Drawing Room currently features photographs by Mary Ellen Bartley and sculptures by Constantino Nivola.
“It’s the only block in town,” said a smiling Julian Beck, when asked why he located his eponymous fine-paintings salon on Main Street in Bridgehampton. He opened his first gallery, on Madison Avenue, in 1974, and he recently retired to nearby Sagaponack. “I missed my old routine‚ selling paintings and discovering new talent,” said Mr. Beck, who specializes in abstract expressionist works by East End artists. “We seldom have the luxury to sell only those artists whom we like; this time I decided to do just that.”
His 1,300-square-foot, two-story gallery lends itself to variety, and he said almost all visitors spot at least one painting they like. Currently up are works by living artists Alex Russo, Thomas Szabo, and Sonja Grineva, School of Paris works by Jules Cavailles, Edouard Cortes, and Jules Herve, and abstract expressionist pieces by Jimmy Ernst, Balcolm Greene, Larry Zox, Robert Dash, and Cleve Gray.
An art dealer for over 30 years, formerly with locations in Southampton, Peter Marcelle decided to launch his namesake gallery in Bridgehampton earlier this year. “You can’t get to East Hampton on 27 without first passing our gallery,” said Catherine McCormick, the director. “It’s also hard to miss us because we’re the largest gallery in the Hamptons.” The 3,000-square-foot space, previously occupied by Plum TV, now boasts front-lawn sculpture that can be enjoyed from one of two porches. Inside, the freshly redesigned gallery gets lots of natural light and room to view art from every angle. The gallery’s newest show opened on Saturday and exhibits paintings, collages, and works on paper by Dan Rizzie.
Housed in an early-19th century building on Main Street, Rocco Gallery is said to be the oldest continuous art exhibition space on the East End. In the art world, that sort of longevity usually depends on one key factor: “I own the building,” said Rocco Liccardi, who has been a gallerist since 1961.
Mr. Liccardi recently moved into the rear of a converted three-car garage, which collapsed during a heavy snowfall in 2010 and has since been rebuilt. His current show features strategically placed puzzle pieces on canvas, coated with layers of paint in an abstract, Pollock-esque manner. “You’ll never find other artists’ works in my gallery,” he said, smiling. “Most people think their creations are worth more than they really are.”
He leases the property’s other storefronts to three businesses, including a new art gallery, the Hooke Sculpture Gallery. In winter, Mr. Liccardi closes shop and heads to Florida.
Down a driveway on Main Street is ILLE Arts. Its owner, Sarah De Luca, moved to Amagansett full time a couple of years ago, for its “low-key, beachy feel.” An artist herself, she had never owned a gallery until this season. “Some artists isolate themselves,” she said. “Owning a gallery fulfills the social element that I crave in relation to art.”
She focuses on works by local artists. The painter Mary Heilmann curated her current five-person show, which blends paintings, functional furniture, and photography. “My gallery’s aesthetic is Chelsea-meets-the-ocean,” Ms. De Luca said. “The prospect of venturing off of Main Street’s sidewalks sometimes acts as a deterrent, but once they get here, they’re captivated by how beautiful and relaxing it is. “It’s like a secret garden.”
ILLE’s next opening, “Raw,” will be on Sept. 14, showing works on unprimed canvas.
Red and blue stones decorated to resemble M&Ms, and sculpture by Dan Colen‚ signal that Karma art gallery and booksellers is nearby. (The gym equipment on the same front lawn belongs to the gym next door.)
Brendan Dugan serendipitously opened Karma on Aug. 4, to supplement his business of the same name located on Downing Street in Manhattan. The 2,000-square-foot Amagansett location sits in the former WEHM radio station offices, and like Glenn Horowitz Booksellers, Karma’s flooring tells a story of the former occupants — where their cubicles were, anyway.
Asked why bookstores and art galleries make a good match, Mr. Dugan replied, “They’re both based in creativity,” adding, “East Enders have a lot more space to collect both than do city residents.” Karma’s current shows include the truly eclectic range of Piotr Ulclanski, as well as paintings by Dan Colen.
“I’ve been flipping shows every two-and-a-half to three weeks,” Scott Bluedorn said, upbeat. He recently opened Neoteric Gallery smack-dab in the middle of Main Street, exhibiting works from young local artists. He hasn’t done any traditional advertising, he’d never owned a gallery, he hasn’t even renovated the venue formerly occupied by Balasses House antique store, yet the two-storefront space had a packed house (and courtyard) for its recent openings — a 10-artist multimedia show, aptly themed “Hybridized,” and a surfboard-as-canvas show called “Exquisite Corpse 2.”
“The arts scene in East Hampton is somewhat sterile and caters to well-established artists,” Mr. Bluedorn said. “Neoteric is all about energy, and new names and ideas.” He said people of all ages have come to the gallery’s openings. The next one, on Saturday, will have a photography theme, and Mr. Bluedorn and a resident DJ, Jody Gambino (a k a J’TiL) are plotting a “silent rave.” “Each attendee will be given headphones that will stream dance music as well as give a guided art tour,” Mr. Bluedorn said. “We had one noise complaint last time, and this will definitely reduce the possibility of it happening again.”
“It’s not easy to own an art gallery here,” John Pagliaro said. “We have a substantial arts community on Shelter Island, so it’s essential that we have a location to show our work.” Mr. Pagliaro is a lifetime artist who produces a variety of sculpture and furniture that harmonizes with nature. Recently deciding to show work by other artists, he opened Handwerklab, a venue he envisions as a combination of an art gallery and think tank.
“I just completed a showing of German-born artist Christine Matthai, who photographed minimalist skyscapes on Shelter Island,” he said. “I will probably end the season with an exhibition of my own pieces.” Expect shadowboxes that contain his subtly colorful clay pottery.
In a mixed-use building containing a wellness shop, lawyer’s office, and family residence, he personalized the storefront with a cedar facade and other “intelligent handwork,” elements that lend to better curb appeal. “Parking is sometimes a problem,” said Mr. Pagliaro, whose shop is located on Route 114 near Town Hall. “People can always use the nearby church parking lot; it’s always empty.”