Arden Scott Shares Her Art & Life with Pair of Greenport Harbor Brewing Shows

Work on paper and sculpture by Arden Scott
Work on paper and sculpture by Arden Scott

A culmination of art and East End living will be celebrated with artist Arden Scott and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.

Totems and Transforms, a pair of exhibitions featuring Scott’s recent drawings and sculptures, will be on view at both of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s locations, in Greenport and Peconic, starting this weekend and continuing through August.

On Friday, June 10 from 6–8 p.m., GHBC will host an opening reception for Scott’s new drawings and works on paper at 234 Carpenter Street in Greenport, followed by the unveiling of her series of steel Ice Boat sculptures and vertical “Totems” in the open field at the brewery’s Peconic location, 42155 Main Road, on Sunday, June 12 from 1–3 p.m.

Arden Scott with her sculpture "Kokomino Kiss"
Arden Scott with her sculpture “Kokomino Kiss”Betsy Liegey

Arden Scott – A Life in Art & Sailing

Scott’s artistic drive began in New York City where she would spend time with her mother exploring museums and exhibits. As an amateur painter, her mother influenced Scott by constantly modeling creativity. Scott caught on quickly, and began making art of her own.

“My mother said I was drawing before I could talk,” Scott says.

As she grew older, Scott, now 84, became accustomed to experimentation in art, trying new things in her high school classes while being encouraged by her teachers to continue this exploration of her craft.

Specifically her art teacher, who Scott described as “fresh out of college,” pushed Scott and her colleagues to explore, bringing them to NYC’s 8th Street galleries in the thick of the 8th Street Abstract Expressionist movement.

Arden Scott with her Totems and other work
Arden Scott with her Totems and other workNoah Kalina

Pulling inspiration from Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, Scott recalls when she and her classmates tried similar projects of their own, attempting to drip paint from a rooftop onto a parking lot-level paper, and splashing a lunch lady with a truck full of cabbage.

As a former teacher herself, Scott recognized that her mentors focused not only on her talent, but also her passion in these stages of education.

“The passion has to be there, and often its expression might not look that talented, but eventually, you know, it comes out, it comes up,” Scott says.

Scott continued her education at the University of Wisconsin where there was no art department, but rather an art education field of study. She appreciated the fact that she was not being taught how to make art and instead could continue exploring. Plus, being so far from her home base, the school revealed a plethora of new inspiration.

“It was actually a blessing because I got to find out that there’s a whole world out there besides 8th Street galleries in New York, and that’s informed my work ever since,” Scott says.

Another major component of Scott’s life informing her work is her passion for sailing. The artist has been addicted to the sport since she tried it as young girl in summer camp. During her college years, she sailed on lakes with a sailing club, even during freezing winter temperatures, sailing to class on stern steerer ice boats.

"Starboard Tack Blue Purple," sculpture by Arden Scott
“Starboard Tack Blue Purple,” sculpture by Arden ScottJonathan Weiskopf

Following college, Scott returned to New York where she and her husband Keith helped a friend charter a fiberglass boat and spent every other summer sailing with her family on patched-up wooden boats. She felt this made all the difference in her family’s lifestyle, being that they were never too sure what they were doing, and instead learned along the way.

“At that time, there just weren’t that many people on the water, so here, this family comes in, and in this old, good schooner with four kids and two dogs,” Scott says. “It was a great time.”

Her time on the water and maintaining her boat left her with little time and wherewithal for making art. Scott sold her last boat due to her need for a studio, but then decided to build her own boat after a man approached her and proposed the idea.

Scott’s father’s influence came into play, since he had raised her to be knowledgeable in fixing plumbing, doing basic wiring and handling repairs.

“He had a wonderful workbench in our basement and I just grew up with tools in my hands, so to speak,” Scott says.

She called her boat construction an “abstraction” and a “sheer act of lunacy,” but the project also excited Scott and her physicist and mathematician husband, who seemed to view it as functional art.

Later, as a humble recipient of the Guggenheim grant, Scott used the funds to build a studio where she could work on this major undertaking for the next eight spring and summer seasons. Years into the boat-building process, Scott recalls asking herself what in the world she had taken on.

“If anybody asked me about the boat, basically it was eight years and blind determination,” Scott says.

This knowledge and love for art was something that Scott passed on through teaching students consistently at the Parsons School of Design and at various other gigs.

"DMentid," Totem by Arden Scott
“DMentid,” Totem by Arden ScottCourtesy Ann Vandenburgh

Being that Scott taught in the first year of the Parsons program, she had the opportunity to make the lessons her own and share her passion for art without immense structure or curriculum. She attempted to teach things that couldn’t be found in a book or, in the current day and age, on YouTube.

“That is just ‘knowhow,’ that isn’t the greater mystery of the whole thing,” Scott says.

And teaching was not the only activity Scott did outside of making art. She also raised four children while taking on jobs as a plumber, while also learning new skills such as welding and playing the bagpipes.

Throughout the course of her life, however, art has always been at the core of her being. In creating her many sculptures, drawings and other works, Scott always found it to be an organic effort. While many of her pieces resemble boats, Scott has very little introspection for her process.

“(I) just go with what’s happening right now because I’m excited about it — don’t worry about why I made a left turn at Albuquerque, as Bugs Bunny says — that would inhibit the adventure that I’m looking at now,” Scott says.

Arden Scott moving her work for the new show
Arden Scott moving her work for the new showCourtesy Ann Vandenburgh

Arden Scott: Two Shows on View

In her upcoming pair of connected exhibitions, Totems and Transforms, visitors can enjoy her her saturated, highly geometric charcoal drawings on display Friday in Greenport, where materiality comes to the forefront through the physicality of making them, visual thinking and Scott’s depiction of the heft of steel via abstract shapes.

On Sunday, Scott’s minimalistic yet abstract Ice Boat sculptures can be seen as representative of the ships once seen in the harbors of the East End, that were such a big part of her life. These large works are constructed from raw steel and materials salvaged locally and donated by close friends and family. Her series of floor-standing “Totems,” which appear as abstract totem poles of a sort, will be on view in Peconic throughout the summer and, for one night only, at her opening reception in Greenport on Friday.

Ann Vandenburgh, co-owner and gallerist at the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, became interested in Scott’s work through various exhibitions, and by forming a relationship based on the artist’s close proximity to, and continued support of, the brewery.

The art will be accompanied by live music and “excellent beer,” Scott says. However, above all else, the exhibition and celebration or her work will showcase the award-winning local’s dedication to her craft.

“Put it this way, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dull moment, I’ve never felt bored; My life, there’s always been something,” Scott says. “Essentially, it’s been centered around making art.”

Visit ardenscott.com to learn more about Arden Scott and her work.

Find more info about Greenport Harbor Brewing Company and both their locations at greenportharborbrewing.com.

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