East Hampton artist and dealer Karyn Mannix, of Karyn Mannix Contemporary, has stepped in to fill the big shoes left behind by Vito Sisti, the unofficial mayor of Springs and longtime facilitator of Ashawagh Hall art exhibitions who died at just 51 years old back in 2013. As part of those duties, Mannix has taken on this year’s Annual Women’s Show, which returns with 17 Women for Mother’s Day weekend in Sisti’s memory.
The exhibition is just one of many projects for Mannix, who is also filling spots for Hamptons Iconic Artist Marketplace, her debut “art in the park”-style juried fine art fair coming to East Hampton’s Herrick Park in early August.
On view for two days only, the 17 Women show opens at Ashawagh Hall in Springs (780 Springs Fireplace Road) this Saturday, May 7 from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. with a special artists wine reception from 5–7 p.m., and continues on Sunday, May 8, Mother’s Day, from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Work on display comprises painting, photography and sculpture by an all-female roster of artists, including Barbara Bilotta, Beth Barry, Christina Ruggieri, Donna Corvi, Gabriele Raacke, Georgia Suter, Joanlee Montefusco, Joyce Kubat, Karyn Mannix, Kristin Ryan Shea, Lisa Weston, Mary Antczak, Rosa Hanna Scott, Rosalind Brenner, Setha Low, Susan Carlo and Teresa Lawler.
Mannix points out that this is her second year organizing the Annual Women’s Show, which Sisti ran until his death — a loss that left a gaping hole in the community he supported.
“He’s very important, like a lot of other people. He might not be Jackson Pollock-important, but he’s very important to the community,” Mannix says of her predecessor. “Last year was the first year I took it over and I picked the artists he had used previously,” she adds, noting that she wanted to bring in new artists alongside the local favorites this year, in keeping with Sisti’s way of doing things. “He always liked to change it up a bit, so I brought in a few new artists who have never shown at Ashawagh Hall, believe it or not. Some new faces,” Mannix says.
“It should be an interesting show. They’re all a little bit different from one another, so it should be really interesting,” she continues, noting each artist has been allotted 12 feet of space, where they will show three to five works of art. “So it’s going to be a lot of pieces,” Mannix adds. “It’s about women and celebrating women on Mother’s Day weekend.”
Among the newbies, Mannix names Barbara Bilotta, Donna Corvi, Georgia Suter, Joyce Kubat, and Kristin Ryan Shea, as well as Rosa Hanna Scott and Teresa Lawler who are new to the show but not to the area. “They’ve never shown with Vito. They’re all new coming in. It’s a lot of people,” Mannix adds, noting that she had been aware of all the artists in the show, and some, like Corvi, have exhibited work in other exhibitions she produces, including her popular annual Love & Passion show, which moved to Ashawagh Hall in 2020.
Mannix had run her own gallery at a few different locations over the years, but she eventually realized the benefit of dealing art without the burden of an expensive permanent space — a fact that’s especially true in the Hamptons.
“I’ve been at four different spaces out here, they’re way too expensive and I do not have the attention span,” Mannix says. “I travel too much. I travel all over selling art. For my personality, I need to be freer. I can’t have a gallery. I can’t sit there. That’s why I don’t have one,” she continues, painting a grim picture when it comes to gallery profitability. “Your rents are $8,000 and you have to double that in sales to even make your rent. And we’re not talking insurance and everything else — and your time. I had galleries and they were just money losers. They just took too much energy,” Mannix says. “I don’t like owning a space. I’ll do pop-ups. I’ll go to Palm Springs and do art shows, and then here I’ll pop up and do this women’s show and art fairs.”
She’s not the first, nor will she be the last Hamptons gallerist to realize this struggle and try something more flexible. The scene is also quite difficult for all but the most successful artists, which is how Mannix began working on Hamptons Iconic Artist Marketplace, taking place August 6–7, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at Herrick Park in East Hampton.
“I decided to start an artists’ market where collectors buy directly from the artists. So I cut out the middle man, which oddly enough is me,” she says, explaining that artists will represent their own work and no galleries or dealers will be invited to show. And entrants will be accepted or turned away based on a three-person jury so only quality work will make it to each of the 48 available 10’ x 10’ tented vendor stands.
To participate, artists must apply, with a fee, and anyone who’s accepted will then rent and manage their own space. “It’s an Art in the Park, just an upscale one,” Mannix says. “It just happens to be in the middle of East Hampton Village, which is a like small miracle in itself. I’m surprised I got the permit. I was shocked.”
Now that the permit is officially in place, Mannix is starting to spread the word and, hopefully, applications will begin pouring in. “I’m just going to make a go of it,” she says, pointing out that Hamptons Iconic Artist Marketplace will offer fine art only, and no crafts. “It’s going to be fine art, we’re not going to have someone who makes aprons, not that that’s a bad thing… It’s not craft. It’s fine art. … That’s why I have jurors.”
And as for this weekend’s 17 Women show, she says, “This is just art and women, that’s what this show is about.”
Learn more about these events and more at karynmannixcontemporary.com.