Tag Archive | "East End artists"

The Tonic Artspace Returns with “Phenomena” at the Kathryn Markel Gallery

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A print by Grant Haffner. Courtesy of the artist.

A print by Grant Haffner. Courtesy of the artist.

By Tessa Raebeck

A contemporary art collective in constant movement, both in theory and action, the Tonic Artspace returns with “Phenomena” at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Brigehampton.

Springs-raised Grant Haffner founded the Tonic Artspace as a way to showcase the East End’s emerging artists and challenge the limits of the traditional art show. Through his collective, Haffner brings unique group shows to different venues, using the experience both as inspiration for his own work and as a way to spread the talent of his friends, family and neighbors.

"Portrait of Phil Haffner" by Lori Weiss, 1974. Courtesy of Grant Haffner.

“Portrait of Phil Haffner” by Lori Weiss, 1974. Courtesy of Grant Haffner.

An “undefined, forever evolving pop-up art promoting machine that understands no boundaries,” the Tonic Artspace returns this year with “Phenomena,” which will showcase the work of six emerging East End artists. A 1974 portrait of Philip Clark Haffner by artist Lori Weiss will also be on view in memoriam of Mr. Haffner’s father, who passed away February 6.

Color print by Arrex. Courtesy of Grant Haffner.

Color print by Arrex. Courtesy of Grant Haffner.

The Tonic Artspace is an extension of Bonac Tonic, a collective of local up-and-coming artists founded in 2005 by Mr. Haffner and his twin sister Carly, who is also a painter and will exhibit her latest works in the show.

Inspired by the “phenomena” of death and severe illness in his family, the artist Arrex will show a series of screen-printed and hand cut skulls that “serve as a small reminder of our mortality and the fragility in life.”

The show also includes the work of painter and sculptor Maeve D’Arcy of Queens and Christine Lidrbauch, who uses various media and recycled objects “to communicate a melding of male and female cultures.”

The imaginative creatures and installations of Scott Gibbons, a core artist of the collective and “a creator of worlds unbeknown to conventional art circles,” will also be on display.

The “Phenomena” opening reception will be held February 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kathryn Markel Fine Arts gallery, 2418 Main Street in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit here.

Embroidering the Famous and Infamous at Guild Hall

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Christa Maiwald installation at the Museum at Guild Hall; photo by Gary Mamay.

Christa Maiwald installation at the Museum at Guild Hall; photo by Gary Mamay.

By Tessa Raebeck

What do Courtney Ross, Bernie Madoff and Osama bin Laden have in common? They are all subjects of the political commentary — by way of embroidery — of artist Christa Maiwald, on view now at The Museum at Guild Hall.

In “Short Stories and Other Embroideries,” Maiwald, who was named “Best in Show” at the 73rd annual Guild Hall Members Exhibition in 2011, highlights local artists, world leaders and celebrities through five series of stitched portraits, covering highlights from the last five years of her work.

Maiwald derives her work from her natural reactions to political goings on and personal relationships.

“If you ask me the name of this person, that person,” said Maiwald, “and about policies and really specific stuff, I don’t think I could talk about it. Because it’s more of a gut reaction to a situation — that’s what I work from.”

Maiwald explains that she has used creativity to capture her gut reactions her whole life. Before moving permanently to Springs, she tackled a variety of mediums, ranging from street performance to cooking school in Los Angeles, New York City and even Italy. She has tried her hand at sculpture, photography and video, children’s book illustration and writing screenplays.

“Finally,” she said, “I just decided, that’s it — I’m going back to art.”

Maiwald returned to painting and, following a practical decision brought on by the expense of transporting large canvasses, switched to embroidery.

For the past 13 years, the traditional “women’s work” has been her medium of choice.

She began with “sexy stuff” like body parts to work against embroidery’s classification as “this women’s thing.” After her daughter reached adolescence, she moved away from the sexy and instead focused on capturing the “crazy energy” of the teenagers now filling her house.

“It was a perfect medium to catch that energy,” Maiwald said, adding that the threads lent itself to the vitality of her daughter and her daughter’s friends, capturing the constant movement and unrelenting fervor of adolescence.

Although completely devoted to her art throughout the creative process, Maiwald finds she is often surprised by the outcome. Everything is done by her hand, which dictates the piece as much as her head.

“I just start working,” the artist explained. “I don’t have any preconceived notion of what color to use or stuff like that.”

Cultural commentary is her only constant.

“In most of my artworks,” said Maiwald, “my idea is to always have this kind of subversive quality to them.”

That subversion is prominent throughout “Short Stories and Other Embroideries.”

“Servitude,” a series of French maid aprons with portraits of public figures notorious for mistreating “the help” sewn onto them, portrays the likenesses of people like Ross, Martha Stewart, Thomas Jefferson and Naomi Campbell.

"Servitude" by Christa Maiwald, photo by Gary Mamay

“Servitude” by Christa Maiwald, photo by Gary Mamay

Stewart and Ross have homes on the East End and could very well visit Guild Hall, but Maiwald is not afraid of ruffling any feathers.

In “White Guys,” a selection from her 2008 “Dictators” series, Maiwald stitched portraits of Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Benito Mussolini — and George W. Bush, together.

“Musical Chairs: Economic Crisis in G Minor,” a 2009 series, has portraits on the seats of 13 children’s sized chairs arranged in the fashion of the popular game. The portraits represent prominent figures in the American economic meltdown of 2008.

“I picked musical chairs,” said Maiwald, “because it just felt like everything that was going on was a ‘pass the buck’ kind of thing. I pictured kids — or these economists — moving from one chair to the next and saying, ‘Well, no it wasn’t me — it was him!’”

“As one sort of left or committed suicide or whatever,” she continued, “because of what a mess it was, someone else would always be there to take his seat. And it didn’t seem like it was any better from the other, so it’s roughly that kind of structure that I found appealing.”

There is a portrait of former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, a chair with Alan Greenspan shouting and another with Ben Bernanke holding his head in his hands.

Wearing an incognito hat and trench coat, Bernie Madoff is featured twice.

“I have a few facts that I find out before I start something,” said Maiwald, “but it’s more like, the world’s a beautiful place, if only mankind didn’t mess it up….It gets me all riled up—– and then I end up doing a piece.”

“Short Stories and Other Embroideries” is on view at The Museum at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton, through January 5, 2014. For more information call (631) 324-0806 or visit GuildHall.org.

Artist Finds Life in Music and Light

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Frank Wimberley is an artist but said himself that he is not a carpenter. Still, standing outside his home on Hillside Drive East in Sag Harbor, he pointed out the ramps and levels of the porch that he designed and built. He mentioned in particular the extension he constructed in the front, a sort of stage where he can sit and listen to jazz records playing from inside the house (which he also designed) and where he and his wife Juanita have lived for over 40 years now.
Wimberley, in fact, once played trumpet in a jazz band, and says that often his abstract paintings are compared to the improvisatory style of the one true American art form.
“When you play in a band you try to produce different colors, different sounds,” he explained. “I try to use the same tactic in painting … it’s about personal expression, your expression, not borrowing from anyone else.”
From Thursday, July 24 through August 18, over 25 of Wimberley’s paintings from 1994 to 2008 will be on display at the Spanierman Gallery in East Hampton. According to the artist, Gavin Spanierman came to his home to select the works, and “surprised [him] by liking them.”
“I’m anxious to see what they’re like in the gallery,” said Wimberley. “I’ve had one man shows in other spaces, but none as fine as this.”
Wimberley attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he says his teachers were some of his first artistic influences. After that, his primary influences were the artists “that everyone knows about.” Wimberley visited museums frequently in the 1940s to “see what they were doing,” at first trying to mimic them in his work before developing his own style.
Earlier in his career, Wimberley did pottery, which he describes now as “kind of a humdrum exercise.” He recognizes, however, that he has maintained a potter’s mindset while painting — engaging a tactile, physical quality in his strokes. His colorful abstractions are very much a series of layers. He very much enjoys utilizing collage in his works as well.
Wimberley’s house is filled with his work. Canvases hang from and are propped up against the walls, his own sculptures mixed in among African crafts, spilling out into the yard.
“I want to give a painting movement and life,” he said, “So you see something you wouldn’t expect … something different.”
Wimberley splits his time between his home in Sag Harbor and another studio in New York City. He is more than happy to come out east to find some elbow room, however.
“You can’t stop paint from being slung from here to there,” he explained, making small gestures with his hands. “You need to come work in an open place.”
“It’s very much inspiring out here,” said Wimberley who added that the community of artists has been an inspiration. “They love to come see you and help you. They’ve seen my work change over the years.”
“And everyone talks about the light here,” Wimberley noted. “It’s very magnetic.”
He described how he has brought paintings he finished in New York City to his Sag Harbor home and seen them change completely. Wimberley remarked on how this “migration” can really help him in the process of completing a work.
In selecting the works for the upcoming show, Gavin Spanierman may have found a thread that Wimberley had not previously noticed. But when it comes to theme, Wimberley has his own philosophy.
“My theme is my hands,” he said, “how I work, what I do with the paint.”
Wimberley’s work will hang from July 24 to August 18 at the Spanierman Gallery in the Newcourt Mall, 68 Newtown Lane, East Hampton. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 329-9530 or go to www.spanierman-at-easthampton.com for more information.