Tonic Artspace Exhibits at John Jermain Library in Sag Harbor

Tonic Artspace at John Jermain Memorial Library
Art from Tonic Artspace at John Jermain Memorial Library, Photo: Courtesy Tonic Artspace

Dan’s Papers cover artist Grant Haffner and his Tonic Artspace pop-up gallery are back this week with a new group show at John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor. An opening reception with the artists is scheduled from 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10.

The show, simply but aptly titled Tonic Artspace @ John Jermain Memorial Library features works by a familiar selection of artists from Tonic’s stable of regulars, including Chick Bills, Matthew Brophy, Tonic cofounders Scott Gibbons Carly Haffner and Grant Haffner, Sarah Leary, Christine Lidrbauch and Oliver Peterson.

Haffner says that library visitors will encounter a nice array of the bright, colorful and energetic contemporary work that local art fans have come to expect from Tonic Artspace (previously Bonac Tonic) exhibitions. “I’m really pleased,” Haffner notes, explaining that his artists’ work fit well within the library space, though the installation and curatorial process were challenging at times. “Everything looks like it should be where it is,” Haffner says, while noting that he had to work around various instructional posters and other obstacles necessary for the library’s day to day operation.

Tonic Artspace @ John Jermain Memorial Library was more than two years in the making, according to Haffner, who says the library first contacted him two years ago, but the birth of his child and other commitments kept him from exhibiting until he was asked a second time following his Grand Royale show this June. “It’s such a good opportunity to have a public space to show your work,” Haffner adds, describing the benefits of exhibiting in such a heavily trafficked community space. “We reach a different audience,” he says of the library’s many visitors, who may appreciate art, yet never actually attend a gallery show.

For the exhibition, Haffner says he chose mostly artists who he knows well, who are easy to work with and who make art he loves. “It’s easy to place all these people’s work together,” he says, noting that the artists on view are all quite different, but their work shares a certain synergy. Haffner has a long history of showing with all but one of the eight artists on view, and his inclusion of newcomer Sarah Leary is an important part of what Tonic Artspace has set out to do.

He recalls that Bonac Tonic began as a group of young artists who were struggling to break into the Hamptons gallery scene, and eventually decided to mount their own shows. The collective was immediately lauded as a breath of fresh air, and it became known for displaying a wide range of young, exciting work. Many of the original Tonickers and their guest artists have since gone on to show regularly at established galleries, but Haffner notes the great value of continuing to support new artists on the East End. He says Leary has been incredibly helpful and her enthusiasm about show, which is her first, has been infectious—and “That’s the whole point.”

Tonic Artspace @ John Jermain Memorial Library will be on view during regular library hours through Friday, October 24 at the John Jermain Memorial Library (34 West Water Street) in Sag Harbor. An opening reception is scheduled from 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10 and an artist talk may be forthcoming. Call 631-725-0049 or visit

Bios for the other artists in the show are presented in alphabetical order below.

Chick Bills
Existence for the aware seems to be a cycle of repetition. On the larger scale, conflict is the most notable example. Mostly avoidable, and driven by the worst parts of human nature, it sweeps up individuals for whom it devolves into cycles of banality, boredom and terror. Good and evil become irrelevant, only the trappings, hardware, jargon and camaraderie of the involved are available to give meaning to the microcosm.

Matthew Brophy ‘They were right’  2013 acrylic on canvas
‘They were right” by Matthew Brophy

Matthew Brophy
Born in 1984 and raised in Sag Harbor since 1987, Brophy studied art at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and currently works in his studio in Brooklyn. His colorful, geometric paintings are loud and “in your face,” while remaining rather simple and refined. Brophy has been developing his painting process for more than a decade, building a powerful portfolio of abstract works his a unique and clearly recognizable style. The painter’s work has been exhibited throughout the East End and he is looking forward to expanding to new markets.

Scott Gibbons You Lie Like a Rug - Don't let go! fabric, felt, buttons, mixed media framed
“You Lie Like a Rug – Don’t let go!” by Scott Gibbons

Scott Gibbons
Currently a resident of East Hampton, Gibbons’ heart and mind really reside in the whimsical world of plush sculpture creatures and the scenes he constructs for them. The artist works with media outside conventional art circles in that he manipulates textiles to his bidding in order to convey his cartoonish and childlike whims. From small “Bubbie Monsters” to framed scenes and large scale installations, Gibbons forms his own universe by using his best asset—his incomparable imagination.

Grant Haffner ‘the Volcano’  2011 acrylic, marker, pencil and paint pen on wood panel
“The Volcano” by Grant Haffner

Grant Haffner
Born in 1978 in Berkeley, California and raised in East Hampton, Haffner is well known for his propulsive and colorful paintings of local roads and power lines. He comes completely to life while driving, and for a small moment, in between this place and that, he is free from reality. Haffner and his truck become a motion of blurred color, barreling through space and time—with windows open and only the sounds that traveling makes—he enjoys the smell of the landscape. Every trip is a new one, not one sunset is the same. On the road, Haffner is part of the painting. He is movement, color, sound, adventure and emotions. This is his landscape.

Carly Haffner ‘Mysterious Realms of Caldor’ acrylic on canvas
“Mysterious Realms of Caldor” by Carly Haffner

Carly Haffner
A Springs native, Haffner  attended California College of Arts and Crafts (B.F.A.) in San Francisco, California and Hunter College (M.F.A.) in New York City.  In 2005 she co-founded a local art collective called Bonac Tonic. Haffner is known for her bright, colorful, playful paintings and sculptures that have an irresistible folk-art feel. She has shown her work at Silas Marder Gallery, Mosquito Hawk Gallery, Werkstatte in NYC, Park Life in San Francisco and ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.

"Catch My Drift" by Sarah Leary
“Catch My Drift” by Sarah Leary

Sarah Leary
A new addition to the Tonic Artspace lineup, Leary is an emerging artist who is extremely excited to be showing some of her paintings for the first time locally.

Christine Lidrbauch                                             ʻBlack and Silverʼ 2012                                     plastic car bumpers, aluminum, automotive paint
“Black and Silver” by Christine Lidrbauch

Christine Lidrbauch
Using a variety of media to communicate the melding of male and female cultures, Lidrbauch’s sculptures most often include discarded plastic auto bumpers, reshaping and combining them to make new forms, with a focus on symmetry, and suggestion of the human figure. The works are an homage to industrial production and design, and speak of recycling and waste in the use of the discarded items. Many of the pieces refer back to well-known historical artworks.

"Surrogate Oracle" by Oliver Peterson
“Surrogate Oracle” by Oliver Peterson

Oliver Peterson
Finding inspiration everywhere—graffiti, structural decay, the pop zeitgeist, literature, politics, history, religion and his personal experience—Peterson’s mixed media work is driven to challenging places by a diverse range of subject matter. His paintings are very much about the media from which they are built. The artist frequently experiments with paint and patinas and often applies random studio detritus to compositions that have been described as energetic, complex, masculine, dark, and even gentle.

Tonic Artspace at John Jermain Memorial Library
Tonic Artspace is exhibiting at John Jermain Memorial Library

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