Meet SAC Takeover 2020! Artists Miles Partington & Franco Cuttica

Artists Miles Partington and Franco Cuttica
Artists Miles Partington and Franco Cuttica, Photos: Barbara Lassen

In addition to paintings and other works on canvas, Southampton Arts Center’s Takeover 2020! also features impressive works of sculpture—with intricate, small-scale pieces by Miles Partington and majestic, large-scale works by Franco Cuttica. Join Partington for a sculpting class this Saturday, February 29, and save the date for Cuttica’s outdoor experimentation workshop on April 4.

Miles Partington's Southampton Arts Center model in its early stages
Miles Partington’s Southampton Arts Center model in its early stages, Photo: David Taylor

Born and raised in Southampton, Miles Partington has pursued art for most of his life, interning for sculptor William King in grade school and continuing to develop his skills from there. His work has been displayed at Tripoli Gallery and Art Space 98, and he had the honor of painting a grand mural on the floor of the Montauk Oceans Institute to represent the 450 North Atlantic Right Whale remaining at the time.

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What are your plans or goals for your Takeover 2020! residency?
I’m just trying to get as much done as I can and trying to meet people and see what comes of it. No specific goals, but I’m looking forward to what comes out of this. I’m building a model of the front of the [Southampton Arts Center] building, but I think it’s going to take awhile. That’s one of the big projects I’m going to do.

Two of Miles Partington's impressive displays
Two of Miles Partington’s impressive displays, Photos: David Taylor

How did you select the works to display in your Takeover 2020! gallery space?
I mostly displayed my newest work. I tried to keep it all current.

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How has the East End influenced your work?
The scenery [of the East End] is beautiful, and there are a lot of really talented artists around. I’ve been really inspired by everything around here. That’s why I’m really happy being here where there’s a lot of inspiration.

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Franco Cuttica "drawing" with fire
Franco Cuttica “drawing” with fire, Photo: David Taylor

Emigrating from Argentina at age 6, Franco Cuttica grew up in East Hampton and developed a strong connection to the natural environment and oceans of the beach village. His work manifests itself in a variety of mediums, all intended to express the cycles of nature and what he calls “the flat circularity of time.” His driftwood horses have caught the eye of numerous art enthusiasts, and they, along with his gorgeous fire works, are a sight to behold.

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What are your plans or goals for your Takeover 2020! residency?
As I’m immersed in the community here, I feel like it’ll induce me to be more creative and interact with people, and then in that way I’ll feed off of people’s ideas and opinions. My main objective is to get out of my isolation as an artist—spending so much time in my studio alone. I think this place is special, because it opens us up to the community. To immerse yourself with other artists and exchange ideas, and really dive into the unknown and see where that takes me. In that sense, I would like to interact with people, but also, people I find interesting or who give back to the community. Maybe I can do a portrait of them or represent them though the technique I use with fire, using this energy that’s within us to represent them….Through that burning process, their life and essence comes through the art. That’s what I’m conceptually working for.

I use fire and horses a lot, because I feel like they’re very related in the development of people, civilization and human consciousness. Horses were a big influence on the development of people and how it opened us up to travel and to the world, exchanging products and war. In many ways, it elevated out perspective. In the same sense, fire, lit up the darkness at night. It opened up the possibility for the first artists in the caves when they used light to paint. Fire allowed people to get out of the caves and be outside in nature and grow as communities. It forced people to come together, socialize, exchange stories and consciousness separate from the animal kingdom. It’s not only me that has a passion for fire and horses, I think it touches a close part of each and every one of us….My fire work is kind of a reflection of being in a state of mind of presence, where you focus that energy into a point where things are balanced—the fire doesn’t go out and it doesn’t burn too much—it’s in-between. In many ways, we can all find that balance and apply it to any career.

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How did you select the works to display in your Takeover 2020! gallery space?
These are my forest fire fighting incarcerated women (pictured below). They were in prison, but they decided to go to forest fire fighting camps to serve the rest of their time, and I think that, symbolically, they have such a strong presence and set an example, not just for women, but for everyone in terms of courage, bravery and sacrifice. So fire also has that conceptual sacrifice and rebirth. I use it to burn these and show another kind of beauty in their service. And it’s kind of sad because they risk their lives and then [California] state doesn’t allow them to be hired by any fire department afterward….I think they set an example, especially in today’s world, where it’s hard to find heroes. These are real heroes who risked their lives, and they’re not accounted for or helped.

Franco Cuttica's driftwood horses in front of his female firefighter series
Franco Cuttica’s driftwood horses in front of his Prison Forest Fire Fighting Woman Portraits, Photo: David Taylor

How has the East End influenced your work?
I grew up in the city, and when I moved out here, I started seeing the abundance of driftwood on the beaches. Every summer I would go crazy making driftwood horses and selling them in front of my house on Newtown Lane in East Hampton. I would set five to 15 horses on the lawn and people thought it was nuts. I would sell them to anyone who could afford them. I really wanted to produce and sell, but also to make some summer money and not have to work a catering job. I continued making them every summer through college, and after college I continued more full-time. It’s nice to be part of a process, not just my own process, but the process of each piece of wood that just happens to fall into place where I am. It’s almost random, but at the same time, it feels like fate that what I want to make is just there, already on the ground….For me, forming the concept and the meaning behind my work is equally as important as the work itself.

Takeover 2020! is on view at Southampton Arts Center through April 12, with artist-led workshops each weekend. Don’t miss Sculpting with Miles Partington on Saturday, February 29 at 3 p.m., and mark your calendar for Outdoor Experimentation with Franco Cuttica on Saturday, April 4 at 3 p.m. Visit southamptonartscenter.org for more information. 

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