Should you find yourself craving some good art this time of year, look no further than Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton. The beauty of the East End is that there is no shortage of great artists, both living and deceased, and each year Guild Hall makes a point of honoring that legacy during this season.
This year’s fall shows, which run through the end of December, are especially “local”—featuring the Yektai family of artists, Manoucher, and his sons Nico and Darius, shown together for the first time; Pamela Topham’s incredible tapestry paintings; and an interesting revisiting of the Permanent Collection. In the Education Corridor, you’ll find a fourth display—a selection from Jeremy Dennis’ “On This Site” project featuring photographs of sacred sites from the Shinnecock and Montaukett tribes, specific to East Hampton.
Upon entering the Yektai exhibition, commanding attention is a large-scale, curvilinear bench made by furniture designer and sculptor Nico Yektai, situated in the center of the room. It leads the way, visually, to his brother Darius’ monumental sculpture, “The Ascension,” made of small fragments of wood pieced together and jutting upward in full force. On the surrounding walls are their father Manoucher’s paintings—one side a grouping of his still-lifes and on the opposite wall a grouping of portraits he made of his family members. Both his portraits and still-lifes are loaded with paint, thick expressionist brushstrokes, and a great deal of white paint—both in the background and in what registers as the picture itself—marking his distinctive, painterly style. Considering the work of three different artists is being shown, there is a sense of openness and space throughout, and the variety of painting, sculpture and furniture design comes together harmoniously, allowing for the viewer to see the similarities and differences, influences and digressions within each Yektai’s work.
Tucked in the Spiga Gallery is a jewel of a show with a selection of small and mid-size woven tapestries by local artist Pamela Topham. Topham was awarded Top Honors for her layered tapestry in Guild Hall’s 77th Annual Artist Members Exhibition (2015), selected by awards judge Marla Prather, then curator in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an award that comes with a solo exhibition in Guild Hall’s Spiga Gallery. Topham makes use of a variety of wools and silks to achieve different effects of light and shadow, and her pieces are based on landscapes and seascapes distinctive to the East End. Her multi-layered panels are especially remarkable and worth seeing in person, as a photograph cannot capture the intricate detail.
Across the foyer in the Woodhouse Gallery is another noteworthy show: Recollections: Selections from the Permanent Collection. Curator Jess Frost mined Guild Hall’s Permanent Collection for works that would create a dialogue between artists of varying major art movements from the 19th century through present day and has included artists both older and younger, internationally distinguished and lesser known, allowing for some of the Museum’s rarely seen collection to be visible for the public. Among these are a Frank Stella, “Lanckorona III,” 1971, an enormous construction made of fabric, felt, wood and acrylic that in murky shades of brown, orange and yellow seem to spell out the year in which it was made, and an Al Loving draped fabric piece, “Untitled,” 1975, from the same decade. The exhibition also includes works by Elaine de Kooning, Fairfield Porter, Ross Bleckner, Bryan Hunt, Adolph Gottleib, Constantino Nivola, among others. The show marks the first of an annual series to be drawn from the collection and archives and is part of a greater digitization project.
In the Education Corridor, Jeremy Dennis: East Hampton Indigenous, inspires a greater respect and awe of our natural surroundings. Dennis’ photographs are from landscapes done at various archaeological, historical and culturally significant sites on Long Island, local to the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
The three fall exhibitions at Guild Hall Museum are on view through December 31, 2017, and Jeremy Dennis: East Hampton Indigenous is on view through December 11. The museum is open Friday, Saturday and Monday from 11-5 and on Sunday from noon-5. Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street, East Hampton. For more information visit guildhall.org.