It’s time to play ball on the East End, as the Hamptons is alive with the signs of the season. Though the area’s most famous softball game, the annual Artists & Writers showcase, won’t return for another few months, East Enders can celebrate the return of America’s pastime with Spring Training 2015: Artists & Writers Pop-Up Art Show, which will host its opening reception this Saturday, March 14.
The exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts Gallery in Bridgehampton features work by local and internationally known artists, many of whom have participated in the Artists & Writers game. Art collectors and baseball lovers can bid on pieces in person or online through paddle8.com, which opens the works to both local and international bidders, with proceeds going toward local charities.
“The show is an opportunity to tie more artists into the game, outside of showing up to play,” says organizer Ronnette Riley. The game, which has pitted the area’s artists against the writers for more than six decades, is notoriously hyper-competitive, and taking advantage of loopholes is a skill almost as valuable as catching and throwing.
“I gave a lot of latitude to the artists,” Riley says about the works that will be displayed, with many of the artists preparing pieces specific to baseball. “There seemed to be some sort of pressure among the artists when submitting work,” she says, as the competition on the field has now extended off the field as well. The exhibition also provides an opportunity for female artists who haven’t had a chance to play in the game to show off.
The show is the first public event that isn’t held the weekend of the game, and it keeps with the mission of Artists & Writers and the First Pitch cocktail party and benefit, which focus on community and charity. Proceeds benefit the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center in East Hampton, the Phoenix House Academy, The Retreat and East End Hospice. “The wonderful thing about this event is we’re sharing proceeds with artists,” Riley says. “They had a choice to donate between 50% and 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their work.”
Works range in price, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, for maximum accessibility to all. Bidding will open on March 14. “Raising money isn’t the only objective of Artists & Writers,” Riley says. “The real objective is to build community.” Each of the four charities have volunteered to staff the gallery for the four weeks that the show will be up. “We’re not just giving a check,” she adds. “The charities are intimately involved in the organization.”
With 55 pieces in the show, revelers can enjoy sculpture, painting, photography and mixed media. The lineup of artists in the exhibition include Walter Bernard, Lois Bender, Eric Ernst, Scott Bluedorn, Carol Hunt and Leif Hope, who organizes the annual game. “The game is a big passion for Leif,” Riley says. “It always struck me how tirelessly he works without credit.”
The Artists & Writers game began in 1948 as a pickup softball game in Springs that included such heavy hitters of the art world as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Writers joined the artists in the ’60s and ’70s, and the game has grown to become a treasured East End pastime.
“This event is artist-centric, but I’m hoping to also create an event where someone from the writers side can organize something for the writers,” Riley says. “I think if we can extend the brand, highlight the charities, keep the local community event, it will be beneficial for all.”
Spring Training 2015: Artists & Writers Pop-Up Art Show is now on view at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts Gallery, 2418 Montauk Hwy, Bridgehampton, through March 29. The Opening Reception is March 14, 6–8 p.m. Visit artistswritersgame.org for more details and paddle8.com/auction/artistsandwriters to bid on specific pieces. The 2015 Artists & Writers Game will be played on August 15 at Herrick Park in East Hampton.