The New Forms Group celebrated their 41st Holiday Art and Fine Craft Show this past Saturday, November 15, and Sunday, November 16 at the Remsenburg Academy.
The Academy is a magical venue for an art show. Once one has escaped the bustle of Montauk Highway by turning onto South Country Road and meandering past mature maples and evergreens, there is a distinct feeling that time has reverted back to Colonial America. Picturesque houses landscape every bend leading to the charming white structure that houses the Remsenburg Academy, a former private boys school, circa 1885. Owned by the Town of Southampton and now devoted to presenting work by local East End artists, the Academy is a complement to its bucolic surroundings.
As it does each year, this show offered a wide range of arts and crafts, including fiber art by Greenport’s Sarah McNamara, woodwork from East Quogue’s Will Paulson, jewelry by Alice Van de Wetering of Calverton, photography of Wading River’s JoAnn Dumas and paintings by Gina Gilmour of Mattituck. While the New Forms show is over, the participating artists are all available on the East End and continuing to create and show work throughout the holiday season.
Sarah McNamara identifies her fiber work as traditional with the technique having been developed after 1850. She used a British technique called “proddy,” the artist explained, to create the relief appearance of one eye-catching framed piece, blossoming with colors. Nearby, a quilted lamb was made by rolling intricate pieces of yarn to form the coat.McNamara’s quiltings are nostalgic allowing the viewer to step once more into grandmother’s front parlor. She can hardly find enough time in one day to accomplish all that has opened up for her and her work. McNamara teaches rug hooking classes on the North Fork and is planning an exhibit at the Hallockville Museum Farm after Thanksgiving.
From McNamara’s table, a quick turn to the right led to the eclectic jewelry of Alice Van de Wetering. Those searching for something different, something exciting to give that special person, will find it in Van de Wetering’s one-of-a-kind pieces. “Stones tell stories,” Van de Wetering says—and it’s easy to see what she means by viewing her collection. One particular necklace on view featured of shadowy branches embossed on stone.Van de Wetering surrounded this stone with sleek, silver limbs, creating a wearable enchanted forest. Another appealing side-note to her work is the special detail Van de Wetering puts in some of her pieces by hammering and polishing them into delicate carvings. Her petrified sand dollar was particularly unique. Its creamy luster would make for an impressive fashion statement on any décolletage.Van de Wetering doesn’t just make jewelry—she creates art. She holds a fine arts degree and finds infinite satisfaction in her chosen career as a jeweler. Her precious pieces may be found at East End Arts and at galleries throughout the state.
Will Paulson displayed his woodwork in the center of the hall. His love of this art form was inborn as he is the third generation in his family to keep up the tradition. Paulson is enthusiastic in his desire to constantly take on new challenges—a credo worth following. Sitting on a substantial, and quite comfortable, bench he had carved, Paulson explained that he is pastoral in his approach. He chooses to work with local trees, particularly the copper beach of Greenport, and he delights in milling the wood himself. As he spoke, a polished dome sculpture, illuminated beneath the overhead lights, with natural, pencil-thin and swirling grains, began to compete for attention. “It doesn’t need a function to be beautiful,” Paulson said, referencing his stunning sculpture, its dome beautiful enough to grace any home. If the work’s only purpose is to yield an emotion, the artist achieved his goal. Paulson is currently working on the column bases for the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. He is constantly a man in motion, taking up challenges and creating innovative designs in his favorite medium.
Panels in different sizes hung along the left wall of the exhibition, each depicting JoAnn Dumas’ interpretation of such simple things as a drop of water. Dumas’ original perspective of the world sets her well apart from other artists. She views the world in a completely new and different way, creating a story not previously told. It is Dumas’ unique vantage point that distinguishes her art. Her subject is water, but she doesn’t depict the entire beach, instead focusing on a minuscule droplet. She breathes character and activity into each droplet, washing it in brilliant color and motion. Previously, the artist offered large scale photographs, but her work is now accessible for any size wall, or budget, with the introduction of small panels, which can be arranged in myriad ways. These droplets of water flow with the imagination, allowing the mind to wander down many paths. Dumas regularly exhibits her work on the Twin Forks, so be on the look-out for her next big event.
Gina Gilmour’s brilliantly abstract paintings adorned the back wall of the Academy. “The colors, the paints, tell you what to do next. It’s unconscious and visual,”Gilmour said, describing her process. Her splashes of colors evoke a sense of fun and humor. One cannot help but be instantly uplifted by Gilmour’s work. Her bright reds and yellows have the power to cut through even the gloomiest of days, but Gilmour’s style is not limited to vibrant abstracts. One display featured four framed charcoal drawings, each representing nondescript figures embracing. The gender is left to one’s imagination, allowing the mind freedom to drift into a multitude of scenarios. These works greatly contrast Gilmour’s vibrant abstracts, but they remain animated, lively and exciting.
The New Forms Group put together a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition at Remsenburg Academy. The artists on display are cut from the same cloth, and each of them proves that no limits can bind the true artistic mind. It will be a thrill to follow the directions these innovative East Enders take in the future.
Kirshner will sign copies of Madison Weatherbee-The Different Dachshund, at Castaways in Chandler Square, Port Jefferson, during the Dickens Festival, December 6 and 7 from 12-4 p.m. Meet Barbara and get your signed copy of her book for $10! Proceeds from each sale go to Save-A-Pet animal shelter.