There was meaning to Susan Lazarus-Reimen’s method when she added the word “Anchor” as the precursor to “A Whale of a Show.”
The new title would open the art show’s theme to interpretation, the curator explained, inviting new ideas into the annual exhibition at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, while reflecting on the venue as a true anchor for the community.
For the most part, it worked — for nearly every artist except her husband, abstract painter and fellow curator Dan Rizzie, who just can’t help but stick to the old tradition.
“I’ve been in it for six years or so, and every year I’ve done a whale, just because I think it’s a great shape and it’s something I would ordinarily never do,” he said. “This year, I cut a whale out of a large piece of wood — a large board about 2 inches thick — and then I worked on it with sculptural tools and carved out the edges.
“I’m usually a flat painter, so I’m forcing myself to work in three dimensions, and I kind of look forward to it,” he added. “I really enjoy making these things that I would, ordinarily, never make.”
The same may be said of writer Joe Pintauro’s abstract “Fare Well, Fair Whale,” painter Eric Fischl’s portrait “Spaghetti Trump” and author Arlene Alda’s photograph “Pic/Toon,” the curators mused. They did not give the 18 participating artists — including themselves — any guidelines or restrictions, other than size, and even that was flexible.
“Mine’s a little bigger than 18-by-24,” Rizzie admitted. “I’m gonna say 30 by 22 inches, or so.”
“That’s the reality of it,” said Lazarus-Reimen, who will include one of her collages in the exhibition. “In the letter we said different, but you know artists. They stretch the bounds a little bit.”
They both laughed, guilty as charged.
“It’s a fun show to look at, it really is. I love what people come up with. And this might be a little bit more out of the ordinary than usual, this particular show,” Rizzie said. “The interesting thing is how diverse and different each piece is. That said, hanging the show can be a real bitch.”
“But Dan is a real master at it,” Lazarus-Reimen said. “He is the master. He really is. I have my ideas about hanging, but Dan has a very good idea for putting things together. I oversee it as well and say, ‘No, no, no, not that.” It’s about how pieces interact with one another on the wall or in the space.”
Last year marked their first effort curating an art exhibition together, and this year will be their last — at least for “Anchor: A Whale of a Show,” and perhaps just for now.
“It’s essential that we pass the torch,” Rizzie said. “I talked about hanging the show, but you don’t want me hanging around the Whaling Museum every year while I bitch and moan. I’ll bring my own tools and then realize I don’t have a tape measure. It’s a real pain in the ass, having me around — believe me.”
“No, but in reality,” Lazarus-Reimen said, cutting off her husband’s self-deprecation, “I think it’s really great to be able to have different people with different perspectives bringing new work and new ideas to the show, for it to constantly evolve and change. And that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do it again in the future, but for now, I think it’s nice to be able to have other visions looking at and bringing new artists and different artwork to the museum.”
“But that said,” Rizzie added, “let’s make this year the greatest ever.”
“Anchor: A Whale of a Show” will open with a reception on Friday, May 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, located at 200 Main Street in Sag Harbor, and will remain on view through June 17.
Participating artists include Arlene Alda, Star Black, Michael Butler, Paul Davis, Dav-0, Pat Field, Eric Fischl, Mel Kendrick, Susan Lazarus-Reimen, Christine Moro, Lindsay Morris, Jodi Panas, Joe Pintauro, Dan Rizzie, Donald Sultan, Linda Sylvester, John Torreano and Bob Weinstein.
For more information, please call (631) 725-0770 or visit sagharborwhalingmuseum.org.