Art Commentary: ‘Art at Home’ at Pritam & Eames

"Lumber Lane II" by Aubrey Grainger, Oil paint on canvas. (cropped)
"Lumber Lane II" by Aubrey Grainger, Oil paint on canvas. (cropped)

As much as some people think they know about the Hamptons art scene, there are still places that are unfamiliar: little gems that show quality art without great fanfare. One such venue is Pritam & Eames in East Hampton, a furniture shop that has been selling handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces since 1981. The store itself is housed in an early 20th century building, which was once a steam-cleaning facility for a laundry. The structure is unique, possessing lots of character, and so are the contents: the furniture and, currently, the exhibition “Art at Home.”

Initially, we can’t help but be impressed with the aesthetics of the furniture on view, particularly Michael Hurwitz’s 12-leaf resin table, where material and design form a synergistic relationship. David Ebner’s walnut chest, eloquent lamp with a graphite finish and a library ladder also have notable style and substance. Judy Kensley McKie’s chest with birds appliquéd on the surface is another work that is especially striking.

The painting exhibit on the walls is arresting as well, but the works do not distract from the furniture. Selecting such pieces is a difficult feat, to say the least, with so many aesthetic qualities competing with each other. Yet, Linda Capello’s subtle nudes and decorative settings seem to fit the surrounding decor of the furniture, her style recalling Matisse. The artist’s female bodies also blend in with the paintings’ composition. Thus, the abstract patterns painted on the nudes match the designs created in the works’ background.

Wait… by Linda Capello Conte crayon, pastel on wood veneer 21.5"H x 17.5"W x .5"D
Wait… by Linda Capello
Conte crayon, pastel on wood veneer
21.5″H x 17.5″W x .5″D

Capello’s figures take diverse poses; some are gestural, some are not. Whether the females are sitting on the bed or lying on the floor, there’s a sense of grace and character. We believe we know these individuals personally, and yet there’s a feeling that evokes mysteriousness, too.

Karen Kluglein’s paintings seem familiar as well: still lifes of flowers, leaves, an ear of corn, colored stones, sea shells. The objects also seem mysterious, like Capello’s pieces. They exist in their own world, but it’s an eloquent place where precise details give the images character.

Ornamental Kale/Brassico Oleracea by Karen Kluglein  Watercolor on vellum
Ornamental Kale/Brassico Oleracea by Karen Kluglein. Watercolor on vellum

The remaining exhibit, with works by Jennifer Alnwick and Aubrey Grainger, also conveys specific, special worlds. Alnwick’s photographs, in both black and white and color, evoke the life of cowboys on the range where both figures and horses become connected to each other, and are equally important. The compositions are real, yet appear mythic. Consider, for example, a group of horses being herded by men in the background. While the humans exert an influence on the animals and are an integral part of the setting, a fantasy-like ambience is created.

Leading to Pasture (CO), Working Cowboys series by Jennifer Alnwick Color photo print
Leading to Pasture (CO), Working Cowboys series by Jennifer Alnwick
Color photo print

The same is true of other images, one showing horses crossing a river and another, a lone cowboy crossing a different terrain, a panoramic view of the hills. This is an arresting iconic image, reminding us of a scene from a John Ford movie: man juxtaposed with his environment.

Finally, Aubrey Grainger’s local landscapes signify a world that’s at once familiar and iconic, the artist capturing the barns, trucks and fields that give our area its unique personality. Grainger’s “plein air” technique is well known, contributing authentic colors, space and atmosphere. But there’s also a sense of make-believe present, allowing viewers to imagine whatever they wish, to position themselves in the middle of their dreams.

“Art at Home” is on view at Pritam & Eames, 29 Race Lane, East Hampton, through December 23.

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