By Annette Hinkle
When it comes to bringing people to the Main Streets of the East End, shops and restaurants are always a strong draw.
But for really getting to know the cultural pulse of a place, there is nothing like experiencing its artwork. The galleries of the East End are something akin to mini-museums — places where visitors can take in new work by artists they may know well, or those they’ve never heard of before. Regardless of what’s on view, the public is invited to be delighted, intrigued or challenged by the visions of the artists featured within.
For Kathy Zeiger, art is also a great way to unite communities, and she has made it her mission to offer events that do just that. Her background is in non-profit city-based groups, including “No Longer Empty” a public arts organization that installs exhibits in vacant real estate.
“We put eight shows in within a two year period — one every six weeks in places like Brooklyn, Chelsea and Harlem,” says Zeiger. “It opened my eyes to what I like about the art world, working with different artists and communities to set up site specific installations.”
That’s why Zeiger’s organization ArtWalk Hamptons is sponsoring Hamptons Gallery Weekend, three days of art happenings throughout the East End from June 28 to 30.
“I have this crazy idea that all the different villages can be like a Chelsea Art Walk, to bring attention and awareness to all the wonderful galleries and all the wonderful art here,” she explains.
It begins this Friday in Sag Harbor with “Art to the People” an interactive evening of art and performance throughout the village which is co-sponsored by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. At 5 p.m. Zeiger leads guests on a guided tour of Sag Harbor’s galleries beginning at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery at 90 Main Street. From there, stops will include galleries throughout the village where there will be talks by gallery owners and artists. The tour is a $20 donation (which benefits The Retreat), though people can take the tour on their own by downloading maps on Zeiger’s artwalkhamptons.com website.
But it’s not just art, Zeiger has joined forces with the Neo-Political Cowgirls, Kate Mueth’s dance theater company, which has made a name for itself by breaking down conventional walls between performer and audience. Mueth’s group presented “Zima” at February’s HarborFrost, an allegorical scavenger hunt in which audience members gathered clues from performers at various locations in Sag Harbor to solve a riddle.
The Cowgirls are back for ArtWalk Hamptons, but this time, there’s no riddle to solve. Instead performers will be stationed in galleries where they will offer a theatrical piece related to the space.
“There’s no story,” explains Mueth. “Each piece is individual and based on the environment they’re in, whatever art might be in the space. For example, Romany Kramoris is very funky, it’s an anything goes beautiful artistic space, so it might be a little loose, reflective of what is there.”
Mueth explains the vignettes will be comprised of short scenes such as a poem or a silent movement piece.
“They’re like little pieces of art that stand alone on their own,” she explains. “I feel like it will be two hours of perpetually ‘being on’ for the performers. When people come in they’ll see what they see. It’s an event and then it resets. Like a music box dancer.”
For Mueth, who delights in breaking down the fourth wall separating performer from audience, events like this allow interactions not typically experienced in traditional theater.
“I’m a big fan of letting audiences do what they will and love being surprised by what they do,” she adds. “That’s what excites me about my own work — watching the audiences’ response. I’m surprised by an audience member who might respond to a performer by dancing with her.”
Which is exactly why the community nature of the art walk dovetails nicely into what Mueth’s organization is all about.
“This art walk is really fun,” says Mueth. “It’s fabulous and right up our alley. I love the one-offs, finding ways to create moving art through theater, through spoken word and through movement.”
At 7 p.m., the Neo-Political Cowgirls will also present a fundraising performance at Dodds and Eder on Bridge Street.
“I’m very excited about what Kate’s got planned,” says Zeiger. “It’s going to be fantastic, they are very progressive. I like that a lot.”
The Cowgirls performances also frequently represent women’s interests, so Zeiger finds it fitting that proceeds from the art tour part of the evening will benefit The Retreat. She notes the goal of the weekend is to also to spread the word that there is amazing art to be had on the East End.
“There is some seriously curated artwork out here and people need to know that,” says Zeiger.
Hamptons Gallery Weekend
Friday, June 28 – Sag Harbor
Art Tour begins 5 p.m. at Richard J. Demato Fine Arts, 90 Main Street led by Kathy Zeiger. The Neo-Political Cowgirls perform in art galleries. $20 donation benefits The Retreat.
Benefit art performance for The Neo-Political Cowgirls. 7 p.m. Dodds and Eder, 11 Bridge Street, Sag Harbor. $20 suggested donation.
Saturday, June 29
Art Tour begins 5 p.m. at Neoteric Fine Art, 208 Main Street, led by gallery owner Scott Bluedorn. $20 suggested donation.
Art openings: Ille Arts, 216 Main Street, 6 to 8 p.m. and Neoteric Fine Art, 6 to 9 p.m.
“Tread Lightly” a swim and footwear trunk show, art, local food, filmmaking, music from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. behind Neoteric. From 5 to 7:45 p.m. appetizers and hors d’oeuvres provided by Amber Waves Farm. 8 p.m. screening of “Growing Farmers” directed by Michael Halsband. Closing reception follows. A portion of proceeds from trunk show sales benefit Amber Waves Farms.
Art Tour begins 5 p.m. Lawrence Fine Arts, 37 Newtown Lane, led by artist and curator Melissa Mapes. $20 suggested donation. Visits to Eric Firestone, Vered, Birnham Wood Galleries, QF Gallery, Harper’s Books, Halsey Mckay and Glenn Horowitz.
Art opening: Lawrence Fine Arts from 4 to 7 p.m. and Glenn Horowitz Gallery (87 Newtown Lane) from 6 to 8 p.m.
Art opening: Work by Cornelia Foss at Peter Marcelle Gallery (2411 Main Street) 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Film: Silas Marder Gallery (120 Snake Hollow Road) outdoor film after 9 p.m. Hitchcock’s “Rebecca.” Bring lawn chairs, picnic and blanket.
Art opening: Karyn Mannix Contemporary at Hampton Hang Gallery, 688 Montauk Highway with work by Maria Bacardi, Charles McGill, Gabriele Raacke and Claire Watson. Reception 6 to 9 p.m.
Event Updates found online events page @ www.artwalkhamptons.com