Guild Hall Welcomes First Residents

Artists were nominated and selected by members of Guild Hall’s Academy of the Arts
Guild Hall’s first five artists in residence will spend the next two months living in Guild House, which is adjacent to the arts center on Dunemere Lane. Mark Segal

After almost a year of planning, Guild Hall has selected the first participants in its Artist in Residence program, who will be ensconced in Guild House, around the corner from the cultural center on Dunemere Lane, through April 30. At a reception on Saturday, Ruth Appelhof, executive director of Guild Hall, together with the organization’s staff and members of the local arts community, will welcome Jennifer Hsu and James Wang, a multidisciplinary collaborative duo; Arcmanoro Niles, a painter, Iris Smyles, a writer, and Tom Yuill, a poet. 

For the program’s first iteration, artists were nominated and selected by members of Guild Hall’s Academy of the Arts. Marianna Levine, who is the program’s administrator, said academy members would assume the nominating role for two years, after which a decision will be made on whether to switch to an application process.

Artist residents are required to spend four days a week in East Hampton. Most will stay longer, but some have day jobs that might necessitate brief absences. Each artist has his or her own room; Ms. Hsu and Mr. Wang, a couple in life and art, will share a bedroom. Two outside studios will accommodate the visual artists, while the writers will work in the house or, if they prefer, at the East Hampton Library.

“Ruth Appelhof and Eric Fischl have really been the champions of this program,” said Ms. Levine. “It hasn’t been the easiest project to push through because of financial considerations and staff limitations, but Ruth and Eric put a lot of thought into this.” One concern was that rising property values have made it difficult for young artists to live and work here.

“Eric has been very concerned that we keep the artistic community vibrant by bringing in younger artists,” said Ms. Levine. While Guild House has a full kitchen where residents can prepare their own meals, 1770 House has donated one dinner a week in its main dining room for all the artists for the duration of their residence, and breakfast every Saturday. Rowdy Hall will also provide a dinner and drinks one night each week. 

Ms. Hsu and Mr. Wang work in video, photography, film, digital and analog painting, text, and installation. The artists, who live in Brooklyn, “believe in increasing empathy and subsequent social change . . . between artists and viewers, between writers and readers, between teachers and students, between resistance and social groups, between rich and poor, and between humans and non-humans, including flora,” according to their website.

Born in Washington, D.C., Mr. Niles, a figurative painter, has expressed his interest in being representational but inviting deeper analysis. “I see figurative painting as complex narratives embedded with many different meanings,” he has said. “I’m interested in contradictions and opposites.” In a recent series titled “Life Was A Party To Be Thrown,” he explores what it means to control and maintain power over the body.

Iris Smyles’s stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Observer, BOMB, and other publications. She has written two books of fiction: “Iris Has Free Time,” and “Dating Tips for the Unemployed.” She lives in New York and Greece. “Iris Has Free Time,” Kurt Andersen wrote, is “the perfect frenzied bildungsroman for an era when coming-of-age can be postponed practically to middle age, as funny and sharp as can be but unafraid of seriousness and consequence.”

Tom Yuill, who teaches literature at Old Dominion University in Virginia, is the author of “Medicine Show,” a book of poetry published by the University of Chicago Press. The book mixes plain, down-home speech with free translations of Catullus, Villon, Orpheus, and other figures of high culture who are, according to the publisher, “placed alongside Jagger and Richards, skinheads, and psalms . . . high culture meets pop, city meets small town, and provincialism confronts urbanity.”

A free public program will take place on April 17, during which the artists will present their work and participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience.