The visual arts have remained a powerful force in East End culture going back more than 100 years—if not longer—to the days of William Merritt Chase and continuing through the most important movements of the last century. With 2018 at an end, we’re taking our annual look back at why painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and everything in between, is still as vibrant as ever in the Hamptons and North Fork.
We share these five moments below knowing that our community’s enduring legacy of incomparable light, and its legendary lineage, will also stand strong in 2019.
1. Peter Marino Announces New Arts Foundation and Museum in Southampton
At the July opening for his Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection at Southampton Arts Center, the architect and collector told guests he would turn the long-vacant former Rogers Memorial Library building (at 11 Jobs Lane) into the Peter Marino Art Foundation. The new space will feature a permanent public exhibition showcasing artworks from his vast collection, along with a rotating schedule of shows featuring local guest artists and collaborators. Marino plans to restore the two-story, nearly 8,000-square-foot building starting in September 2019.
2. Ray Johnson Is Resurrected at Guild Hall
Two decades after mail art master Johnson sent his last letters and choreographed his early exit from the world by diving off the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge and backstroking out to sea in frigid January water, Guild Hall Associate Curator and Registrar of the Permanent Collection Jess Frost unearthed a nearly forgotten cache of the artist’s work. The resulting show, Send To: Ray Johnson, Selections from the Permanent Collection, was as unforgettable as it was illuminating.
3. Shawn Heinrichs’ ‘Light on Shadow’ Delves Deep into Plight of Marine Life at SAC
Southampton Arts Center’s early summer exhibition, Light on Shadow, presented an intimate look at marine life under threat through a series of beautiful and challenging photographs by Shawn Heinrichs. The photographer’s images juxtaposed the majestic undersea creatures he captured in their habitat with the encroachment of man’s trash and wanton destruction of species for such unnecessary indulgences as folk remedies and shark fin soup. A particularly powerful room, kept dark, displayed images of sprawling Asian fish markets and the results of overfishing and disregard for undersea life. The show also provided a backdrop for our second annual Dan’s Rosé Soirée over Memorial Day weekend.
4. North Fork Artist and Gallerist Alex Ferrone Makes Herself Known
Aerial photographer and gallery owner Alex Ferrone, of the Alex Ferrone Gallery in Cutchogue, has always been driven and tenacious in all her efforts—whether it’s promoting her own excellent work, or supporting the artists she represents. But 2018 seemed to be a banner year for Ferrone, who always had several irons in the fire. In June, she was featured in three shows simultaneously, and that was just a small part of her very busy year, which also marked her gallery’s fifth anniversary. It’s hard not to commend her.
5. Shawn Hirst Succeeds Pat Snyder as East End Arts Executive Director
Riverhead arts advocacy organization East End Arts announced their hiring of new Executive Director Shawn Hirst in September. Longtime director Pat Snyder stepped down after more than two decades working with the local group, first as Education Director, from 1995–2001, and then Executive Director.