Montauk artist-in-residence Aubrey Roemer recently passed the 25 percent mark in her ongoing effort to paint portraits of 10 percent, or 400, of Montauk’s 4,000 year-round residents.
Roemer’s Leviathan: The Montauk Portrait Project got underway in April, and as of mid-June, she’s painted portraits of more than 100 residents—all on fabric “forged from the town,” such as T-shirts, handkerchiefs, tablecloths, bed sheets, pillow cases and more.
“In 30 minutes or less, I photograph and paint the individual, simultaneously capturing their actual physicality and a perceived gestural expression rendered in paint,” Roemer explains. During this painting process, the artist notes that a mono-print is simultaneously created by the paint leeching through the cloth of the original painting and onto a giant scroll of fabric, roughly 150 feet, that features all of the mono prints from every portrait painted.
As part of her project, Roemer is installing the work at key locations during the season. Her first installation was on clotheslines along the beach at Culloden Point during this summer’s Blessing of the Fleet, and she intends to do it again in conjunction with the Hamptons Art Fairs. The culmination of her work this summer will then be displayed at Eddie Ecker County Park in early September.
“I will invite viewers to watch the sun set over the works—with people coming by sea on their boats and on land with their feet,” Roemer says, adding, “I envision the paintings strung along the docks and the scroll installed on shore, being that the paintings and mono-print are on raw cloth, their two-sided nature calls for multifaceted viewing.”
Roemer work is focused on portraiture, but delves into more conceptual realms, thanks to her unique methods of display and execution. The artist often uses community as a platform for her creations, with projects such as painting the employees of a strip club, photographing houses along one road and, of course, painting the people of Montauk.
She has done a similar project painting portraits of Texas death row inmates on swatches of fabric. Concepts like this add facets of journalism, anthropology and socioeconomic commentary to Roemer’s oeuvre.
Watch the video below or visit aubreyroemer.com to learn more about this dynamic artist.