Making a Place for Creative Thinking

The gallery has become a center for creative thinking, display, interaction, and discourse.
Scott Bluedorn has brought many manifestations of art to Neoteric, his Amagansett gallery. Lauren Steele

   Pale of feature and hair and slender of form, Scott Bluedorn does not look like a ringleader or potent cultural force, but then looks can be deceiving. On a recent winter evening, he passed around a plastic container with the fruits of one of his latest projects — worm farming — as he projected slides describing its ideal conditions.
    His talk was part of a symposium at Neoteric Fine Art, an idea he borrowed from the Parrish Art Museum’s popular PechaKucha nights, where East End creative minds describe what they do using 20 slides and about six minutes of talk. His own talk, incorporating the area’s traditions of art and farming, was followed by Mark Crandall, Denise Lassaw, James Ryan, and Serge LeComte speaking on a variety of topics that drew on art, philosophy, charity, and sound.
    Any notion that Mr. Bluedorn might be infringing on the Parrish’s turf can be dispelled in light of his participation as a speaker in the Water Mill museum’s latest PechaKucha, last weekend. Mr. Bluedorn’s events do not stick to the rigid confines of that Japanese model, and the engagement with the crowd is much more interactive and boisterous. It is a vibe that carries over into all of his gallery’s presentations.
    Since he started Neoteric Fine Art on Main Street in Amagansett last summer, the gallery has become a center for creative thinking, display, interaction, and discourse. Mr. Bluedorn’s efforts have attracted the old guard of South Fork artists and intelligentsia who are accustomed to supporting the arts, but even more important, the youth of the community who have steadily shown their support for such endeavors at various weekend shows but have not had many opportunities here to do so regularly.
    It was a dark day when Pamela Williams closed the door on her Amagansett gallery in February of last year. The salon-like atmosphere and engaging shows of work by South Fork artists added to the hamlet’s offbeat and more genuine vibe, which it has kept intact despite creeping signs of high-end gentrification.
    Neoteric is something else. Mr. Bluedorn has taken an old antique-store space and transformed it into its own unique, young, quasi-hipster, quasi-local center for art and creative endeavor. It is not as considered or forced as it sounds. In fact, it is quite organic and adaptive. In the past season he has played Exquisite Corpse, an old Surrealist game, with surfboards, held an AudioVision festival in conjunction with the Hamptons International Film Festival, and presented “Amagansett Armageddon” on the eve of the Mayan apocalypse that wasn’t. On Sunday, he hosted a conference to examine how regular citizens can address the climate-policy needs of the East End.
    The show that opened over the weekend and marks the beginning of a new season for the gallery fits in well with the model. “A Varied Form” is a group show devoted to the figure and includes young and older artists such as Nick Weber, Molly Weiss, Ivan Kustura, Anita Kusick, and Breahna Arnold. Mr. Kustura showed previously at Ms. Williams’s gallery. Ms. Arnold served as curator. It will remain on view through March 23.
    Neoteric’s improvisational sense stems from its inception. “It all came together so quickly. I didn’t even know I’d have the space until June,” Mr. Bluedorn said recently. The landlord happens to be a family friend, so that helped.
    He started in a front room with the idea that it would just be a “pop-up gallery for the summer, very minimal,” but it snowballed from there. He brought in Mike Solomon, an artist as well as a consultant and director of foundations for artists such as Alfonso Ossorio and Charles Addams, to advise him on the space and programs. He put together a show of artists he went to school with or whom he has worked with previously, and they became his core group. “I wanted my focus to be emerging artists primarily from the East End.”
    Although the space came together at the last minute for him, Mr. Bluedorn had been thinking about a gallery for some time. “My first show as Neoteric was in 2006 at East Hampton Studios. I thought it would be a good name for a collective.” He knew then that he wanted the show to be the beginning of something even though it was only a one-night event. The cross-discipline show of young artists and musicians became a template for his future presentations.
    The money he raised through the show went to East End Hospice, which had cared for his mother before her death from cancer in the previous year. It was a way for him to give back to the organization, but also to his generation of artists who lacked places to show their work.
    In the intervening years, he went back to working on his own projects until this location “fell into my lap.” It is not clear how long he will have it. The property is for sale, and while he was speaking, work was being done, loudly, on the roof and exterior walls. He went in with the idea that a temporary space would help the owners raise the profile of the building and show how it could be used commercially. “It’s pretty much what I’m still doing.” In the meantime, he has expanded into the rest of the building.
    “I’m looking at it as a long-term project, now, whether I stay in this space or not.” Part of the plan is for a nonprofit artists residency Mr. Bluedorn would like to establish either where Neoteric is now or somewhere else. “The property here is completely set up for it. It has all these outbuildings in the back that are perfect art studios and a two-bedroom apartment upstairs.”
    He hopes the argument that a place for arts and culture is far preferable to another high-end retail outlet will help him. “That’s what I’d like to see this become, a cultural center with the kind of things I’ve been doing, the symposiums, readings, theatrical productions, screenings, special presentations, outdoor events.”
    The AudioVision festival was one of his favorites. “I thought about how art and the moving image interact with sound, and decided to make it about those elements.”
    The curated invitational show featured artists who did work on records and album sleeves. There were screenings and a session of the Rock ’n’ Roll Shrink interactive performance piece by Peter Dayton. Local bands played with some from Brooklyn, and there were fire dancers and a “silent disco” of different D.J.s playing on separate channels accessed through headphones.
    While Mr. Bluedorn had to be relatively freeform last year in his programs and how he went about mounting shows, he would like more organization this year. Still, he wants to keep the experimental approach. “As an artist, I like thinking about this space as my canvas. Some shows flop, some shows are great.”
    In the future, he wants to incorporate more design and artist-designed objects. “I’m also interested in the cross-pollination of it all: how music, video, performance relates to painting and sculpture and the whole experience of art.”