NYFA Studio Tour Includes Gornik, Bleckner, Hamada

“Untitled” by Ross Bleckner. Independent/Courtesy NYFA
Ross Bleckner. Independent/Courtesy NYFA

The New York Foundation for the Arts leadership council members Carol Ross and Marjorie Silverman, along with board member J. Whitney Stevens, will host an intimate tour of three artist studios on the East End on Friday, August 3. Led by Andrea Grover, Guild Hall’s executive director, the group will visit the studios of artists Ross Bleckner in Springs, April Gornik in Sag Harbor, and Hiroyuki Hamada of East Hampton.

Past tours have featured artists including Alice Aycock, Quentin Curry, Mary Heilmann, Brian Hunt, Donald Lipski, Toni Ross, Joan Semmel, Arlene Slavin, Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas, and Joe Zucker.

Ross Bleckner’s work deals largely with notions of loss, change, memory, and mortality, particularly in relation to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. He received a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Painting in 1985. His work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions, including a 1995 mid-career retrospective organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum that traveled to the Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo, and the I.V.A.M. Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain.

Bleckner has used his prominence as an artist to advance philanthropic causes. He is on the board of the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, and was the first fine artist to be named Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations in 2009.

When The Independent caught up with Bleckner last week, he talked about his most current work. “It’s a dichotomy,” said the artist. “Some of the work I’m doing now is very dark, very agitated. That dominates one whole side of my studio. But the other half is inspired by Monet’s Waterlilies series. It’s light and, I don’t know, wistful, in a way. So, while one half of my studio represents the dark, the other half is the light — which we all have going on within us, all the time.”

Bleckner’s studio was previously the home and studio of Ibram Lassaw, the abstract artist and sculptor who buddied around with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and others who settled the art movement of the mid-20th Century in the Hamptons.

“It’s a gorgeous spot,” Bleckner said. “It feels so peaceful and removed from everything. I find I’m working out here more and more.”

April Gornik, who lives in Sag Harbor with her husband, artist Eric Fischl, is known to locals for the many causes she supports, most notably the Sag Harbor Partnership, of which she is at the helm. Gornik’s paintings of land, sky, and sea are rooted in observed reality and a world that is synthesized, abstracted, stored, and remembered. Her work is featured in many public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Museum of American Art and The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; and High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

In 2004, the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase organized a mid-career retrospective of Gornik’s work that traveled to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, NE. Gornik has received a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Guild Hall Academy of the Arts, and the Award for Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight Against AIDS from amFAR.

Hiroyuki Hamada is a Japanese-born sculptor who has exhibited widely in gallery and non-commercial settings alike, including at Guild Hall in East Hampton and the Southampton Arts Center. Hamada holds an MFA degree from the University of Maryland and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture with a Skowhegan Fellowship. Over the years, he has been awarded various residencies, including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, and MacDowell Colony. He has received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Sculpture, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Andrea Grover became the executive director of Guild Hall in September 2016. From 2011 to 2016, she was the Century Arts Foundation Curator of Special Projects at the Parrish Art Museum, where she initiated new models for temporary and off-site exhibitions via the museum’s “Platform” and “Parrish Road Show” series. Prior to that, she was the founding director of Houston’s Aurora Picture Show, a non-profit cinema specializing in media art and the presentation of multi-disciplinary performances and screenings.

In addition to 10 years of film and video programming at Aurora, she has curated film programs for the Dia Art Foundation and The Menil Collection.

As far as leading this tour, Grover was very enthused. “It’s such a rare occasion when one is invited into an artist’s studio, and into their creative process,” she said. “I find it inspiring, and it reinforces why so many of us turn to the arts to find meaning, especially during the increasingly confusing time we live in.”

The ticketed tour will conclude with a seated lunch at a private residence in Bridgehampton with the artists, and will benefit NYFA’s programs for artists throughout Long Island and New York State.

The tour is open to the public, with advance RSVP required. Tickets are $350 and available at www.nyfa.org.

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