Artists “Take Over” the Southampton Arts Center

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Artist Jerome Lucani directs his assistants during the installation of artwork for the Takeover! Artists In Residence show at the Southampton Arts Center on Monday, 2/4/19
Artist Jeff Muhs moves a painting with help from an assistant during the installation of artwork for the Takeover! Artists In Residence show at the Southampton Arts Center. Michael Heller photos.

Inside Jackson Pollock’s studio, the paint cans sit abandoned on a shelf, brushes leaning against their sides, waiting to be plucked from the oils. Light streams in from the windows, illuminating the floor — a work of art itself, color splattered every which way.

Like so many others, Amy Kirwin can feel the energy in the space, once occupied by the late, famed abstract expressionist while he lived and worked in Springs. And though his studio is now open to the public, those belonging to most contemporary artists are not.

“Going on studio tours is such a special experience, but it’s not something that everybody gets to do — and they should have that opportunity because it’s so interesting,” according to Kirwin, artistic director of the Southampton Arts Center. “You get a sense of their personality and what inspires them from their space.”

Part of the installation by artist Paton Miller.

For seven weeks starting Saturday, Kirwin will hand over the galleries to nine East End artists — Ruby Jackson, Daniel Cabrera, Darlene Charneco, Jerome Lucani, Paton Miller, Jeff Muhs, Laurie Lambrecht, Scott Bluedorn and Kara Hoblin — each with an assigned space to set up a “pop-up” studio where they will both work and interact with visitors during specified times, the curator explained.

The residency, titled “TAKEOVER!” will work in tandem with “Handoff: Weaving in Space,” an Exquisite Corpse-style installation featuring 10 female artists, conceived by Christine Sciulli and Bastienne Schmidt.

“You don’t often get the chance to watch an artist at work, or be in their space. It’s a very unique opportunity,” Kirwin said. “And it’s great that all these artists, everybody I asked, was totally on board.”

Just before the opening, the artists caught up with The Sag Harbor Expressand shared how they plan to recreate their studios, the collaborative energy they expect to come from them, and the little details that make them tick.

Artist Ruby Jackson adjusts her artwork during the installation.

Ruby Jackson 
Age: 69
Location: Sag Harbor; Medium of choice: Glitter glue

What is your actual studio space like?

My actual studio is a converted garage and part of our house. I don’t have to go outside to get there. There is lovely north-ish light and a high ceiling. The walls and floors are white. I have a basement that I call “the Art Dungeon” where much of my work is stored. My favorite parts of my studio are the slop sink, the bathroom and the heat! It’s my lady-cave. It’s where I feel best.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I will take advantage of the very high ceilings to hang my mobiles. There will be framed mobiles on the walls, as well as works in progress. I will also be showing my clay miniature food pieces, by popular demand. On the tables will be a variety of things, such as my filament, pliers, scissors, wet work, drying pieces, pieces ready to hang, and lots of tubes of glitter glue.

What are you planning to working on during the residency?

I’ll be working on mobiles, what I call “Suspended Animations.” The pieces are made of glitter glue. They are very light and sway in the breeze. I will also work on framed mobiles, where the forms hang within a frame on a wall, and twist and turn with the slightest air currents. I may also work on earrings, where the forms will hang and twirl from the ear!

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I anticipate that this group shares high energy and a desire for a good time. We had a meeting that was warm and enthusiastic. These artists are all working in diverse materials, and I would love to share what we all do with each other. Nobody was a prima donna, and that’s a good sign.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I hope to forge a deeper relationship with the outside world, and with these other fine artists. I hope to be able to share the artistic process with visitors. I hope to inspire kids and adults to make art, for the fun of it. And I hope people look at my work and feel better. I decided to participate because I wanted to say yes to a new experience. Just say yes.

Artist Daniel Cabrera begins setting up his space.

Daniel Cabrera
Age: 29
Location: East Hampton and Amagansett
Medium of choice: Oil on wood or canvas

What is your actual studio space like?

I have set up my apartment as a studio. It keeps me in a present time for creating. I have surrounded myself with stones, wood, feathers. Most of them come from beach walks or hikes around the East End, where you can feel most of the elements — like water, sun — where I found lots of inspiration.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

Recreate old paintings by adding or altering them.

What are you planning to working on during the residency?

Work on some of drawing that I have made for painting during busy time in the summer, and some new unfinished pieces that I started this new year.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I think a positive energy and creative energy will surround us, might do a collaboration — still in the process.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I’m hoping [to] take away the best experience of sharing space, ideas and working with these talented artists.

Artist Darlene Charneco.

Darlene Charneco
Age: 48
Location: Westhampton Beach
Medium of choice: Mixed media artist and sculptor

What is your actual studio space like?

This time last year, with the help of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, I rented a wonderful large garage workspace in Sag Harbor Village to complete a series of works for my solo show “FutureNurture” in Chelsea. We’ve just recently moved home base, out to Westhampton Beach, and now I’m looking again for the right next studio space. For the time being, I’m working on smaller-sized works again at home and I do love the peace and intimacy, but will be needing to spread things out more again for all the ideas in the works.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

For the pop-up studio, I’m bringing in some of my worktables and a comfy couch and, of course, my tools and materials, as well as a small bookshelf and some favorite books. I work a lot on the floor, so my area will have to revolve around that center space. I’ll have some recently completed works up and a few older favorites that continue to inform my process, and I may change things around a bit as I go along.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I’m looking forward to working on several projects, but probably the most visible to visitors will be the slow creation of a new large prayerweave “Touchmap.” These weave/touchmaps are really about process and are built up of thousands of hammered nails. Each nail is added in with a positive thought, hope, prayer, wish for humanity. The hammering is like writing to me, and the accumulations form shifting landscapes and topographies of their own, which are then softened with layers of paint to become tactile “finger-readable” surfaces.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I love imagining how buildings and spaces hold memories and links through time, and this particular room I’ll be working in has a resonant energy and history that I’m thrilled to be a part of. Since this will be open to visitors, I’m going to have a bowl and papers there, welcoming people to write and add their own wishes for humanity and our planet that I will gradually pull from.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I’m the sort of person that doesn’t believe in coincidence. This local residency feels a bit like finding a puzzle piece in your pocket, which just happens to fit into a strange shape you were walking towards curiously in a dream. Yep, I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty interesting chapter in our interconnected journey.

Artist Jerome Lucani.

Jerome Lucani
Age: Born 1974
Location: Southampton
Medium of choice: Wood, lacquer, acrylic resin and paint, paper, pigments, collages, photography, UV reactive minerals

What is your actual studio space like?

My inspiration resides in nature, in life, in experiences. My studio space, in contrast, is very functional, very much a working studio, much more about creative processes than inspiration. I bought my home with the studio in mind. It is on the ground floor for easy access, in and out, of large pieces. It is flexible and adapts to the different mediums of expression I use. Pieces can easily travel through different zones — clean space for drawing and cutting prints and papers; the very drippy and stained, but dust-free, space for resins and painting; two large spaces for wood cutting and shaping that can get pretty messy; a space for my kids to come and experiment; and a creative design room for digital creations. I also enjoy just taking some of the creative action outside, in my garden, sometimes under a large tent during the warmer days.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I am bringing in five pieces from three different series that will create a conversation. In searching for meaningfulness, I stumbled on such questions as the nature of space and time (that which has no beginning or no end), the nature of reality (that which is material and transcendental), and finally “consciousness” and “feelings” nestled within. I will bring minimal accessories, a stained drop clothe I use, and material and tools to make art. Also, I have a collection of drift and decaying woods collected from nature that I hope to bring to complement this visual conversation. To me they are the ultimate art, arising from the earth and sculpted by the elements.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I will bring an unfinished piece from the “One Love” series — a dreamscape-like image of Bob Marley laughing blissfully to the universe, surrounded by birds and other animals. Bob Marley is the most famous member of the Rastafarian faith. He embodies, in my view, a pure authentic heart, someone to aspire to, a free healthy spirit, at one with himself and the universe, living blissfully his creative expression and connections with others and nature. I will paint over the print with pigment and resin, and invite others to do the same.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

Enthusiasm, joy, fellowship, I think, will be at the heart of this experience. The Hamptons has a very large creative community. How can it not be so, surrounded by so much natural beauty! Every step here open a new field of view, a new jaw-dropping landscape, sunset and sunrise majestic, beaches sculpted by the tides, and the ocean mood and colors shifting every day. As artists, we get to know each other over the years, mingle and collaborate. Hanging out at each other’s studio can often turn into a creative moment, a helping hand for large projects, a conversation to bounce ideas. But these visits that break some of the isolation inherent to the creative process are occasional. I hope to very much make the Southampton Arts Center be my home for at least a few days a week, as long as the show is up and get to make the art I don’t expect. I hope to cultivate a communal-like atmosphere, use mediums that are borrowed, open my art to direct coloration, invite others to paint or draw directly on my pieces.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I hope to come out with new friendships and a heart filled with creative energy. Get to show my art to the local community, my friends and family. I hope to engage into deep and meaningful conversations. Most of all, I welcome the unknown this creative melting pot will manifest.

Part of the installation by artist Paton Miller.

Paton Miller
Age: 65
Location: Southampton
Medium of choice: Oil painting

What is your actual studio space like?

When you first build a studio, it takes some time to break it in, like a new pair of shoes. At first, you go in there and it’s not really your space yet, but it becomes your space. A saturation process happens. Now, after 20 years or so, it is most certainly my space and not only do I paint there, but I teach there, also. It’s well saturated now.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I took a couple old easels — and easels are beautiful things — and drawing tables. People collect drawing tables, they’re beautiful things, too. And I have a tricycle, which is like a yard ornament from the ’50s, and that’s a drawing prop.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I’ll do some drawing. I don’t know if I’ll really get into painting because, for me, I use grinders and I sand my paintings down and repaint them, so it creates a lot of dust — and I don’t want to do that at the Southampton Arts Center. But I think I’ll probably do a lot of drawing and, when I teach, they’ll probably be working on their painting because they don’t make such a mess as I do, usually. So it will be business as usual.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

The camaraderie of the artistic community on the Eastern End of Long Island is something I missed when we moved away for three years. It’s something that is a wonderful aspect of living on the East End. It can’t be underscored how important it is for artists to have colleagues to bounce ideas back and forth, to see what other people are doing and to be constantly be amazed by the creativity that’s out there. The more artists collaborate together, the better it is for everybody.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

It’s a continued journey of being in this amazingly rich community we have. It never ceases to amaze me.

Artist Jeff Muhs.

Jeff Muhs
Age: 52
Location: Southampton
Medium of choice: Painter and sculptor

What is your actual studio space like?

I designed and built my studio attached to my home in Shinnecock Hills. After having several studios previously, I knew exactly what kind of facility I needed for my working style. It’s large, airy with lots of light and comfortable for entertaining.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I will recreate the atmosphere of my creative process by assembling my creations; complete and in development.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I will perform the important act of reflecting on the work I have done, contemplating future work and bouncing ideas about art off my peers and audience.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I have shared studios with other artists in the past. I am always inspired.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I hope to meet some interesting people and engage in discussion about art and other possibilities.

Artist Laurie Lambrecht begins setting up her space.

Laurie Lambrecht
Location: Bridgehampton
Medium of choice: Photography

What is your actual studio space like?

My studio space is airy and filled with natural light. It is about the size of a one-and-a-half car garage. It can feel cluttered at times when new projects start to take shape with new materials competing for space, overlapping with finished works, existing materials and equipment. There is a cast iron gas fireplace that adds a charming and cozy glow. There are numerous red cardinals flitting about outside my window and a neighborhood bully of a cat!

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I’ll bring in worktables, a rug, a laptop, a desktop printer, a standing lamp, research materials, books, a paper cutter, magnet boards to view works in process, and lots of tea.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I am planning to start a new project using the change of environment as a catalyst for fresh exploration. My work often reflects my observation of the natural world. I’m planning to photograph along the shorelines and nature preserves between Bridgehampton and Shinnecock, as I’ll be setting up studio space in Southampton Village.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

Working at a residency introduces people and circumstances that an artist doesn’t encounter working solo in one’s own studio. There is no collaboration conversation yet, but I’m open about the possibility.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I happy to rewire my perspective of what is familiar and local to me. Being involved in
“Takeover” is an opportunity to change my working rhythm and thinking patterns. I’m excited to meet new people and more intensely connect with artists I’ve known peripherally for a long time. It’s an inviting new path to explore.

Scott Bluedorn
Age: 32
Location: Springs
Medium of choice: Drawing and painting

What is your actual studio space like?

I’m in a kind-of loft space I share with my roommate, who is also an artist. It’s more of a painting- and drawing-only space that isn’t very big but has nice light and a wood-burning stove to keep things snug. Many flat files for works on paper and drawing tables.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

I’ll be bringing some work tables and large-scale drawing paper, as well as a selection of “inspiration objects” from my “wunderkammer,” which is like a collection of natural objects and curiosities, and maybe some art books. I want to keep it simple and organized, which is how I’d like my ideal studio to be — not how my current studio is.

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I’d like to do large works that I normally wouldn’t have room for in my studio, like a wall-sized drawing. Also, I’ll be working on a wood sculpture/construction that I started last year, as well as planning on a collaborative piece that involves natural materials.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I think it will be interesting to see how the dynamic of all the artists’ working habits will go. Collaboration happens when it makes sense, and I think things will happen organically with those whose practice cooperates with others.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I have done a few different residencies now and each experience is different, but I think this one will allow for great public discourse and exposure, which is not what I’ve done at other residencies. I’m participating because I think it’s a great idea to open up the creative process, encourage collaboration among local artists, and use the space in new and exciting ways. I’m hoping I’ll come away with some good work, meet some people I wouldn’t have normally had the chance to, and hope the public enjoys a look at the studio process.

Bastienne Schmidt and Christine Sciulli
Locations: Bridgehampton; Sag Harbor and New York
Medium of choice: Mixed media; Sculpture and light

How did the idea form for this installation?

Schmidt: It was a moment of serendipity as Christine Sciulli and I were talking about art installations of ropes, strings and other materials. I have been interested in art that includes strings and others materials for quite some time. A book of mine entitled “Grids and Threads” was published a few months, and it’s all about how we perceive space and reorganize it through threads and lines.

Sciulli: I a ran into Bastienne on New Year’s Day and told her how I’d love to experiment with macrame on a very large scale. I usually work with light projections, but the large sculptural installations only seen in the dark are starting to grab my attention as much as the light projected onto them. Basti and I started scheming a way to experiment with materials in a collaborative way. Just days later, we had a venue and some amazing artists lined up.

How do you imagine the project will unfold?

Schmidt: There is a beauty in the concept of not having a preconceived notion what the outcome will be. A collaborative process is exciting and inspiring in new ways. Our group of artists will take inspiration from each preceding artist, so there are many ways this installation can grow and change.

Sciulli: The invited artists have been asked to come for at least two work sessions, once in the beginning half of the installation period and once in the second half. This is in an effort to have each artist respond to moves made before and after their interventions are installed.

Why did you decide to include women exclusively?

Schmidt: It was not a predetermined concept to choose only women, it just turned out that we ended up with 10 women, because their artwork brought something different and special to the table.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this collaborative setting will produce?

Schmidt: There is a tradition of women working together. I hope we will create some great art and learn from each other.

Sciulli: I imagine that working individually with the installation after artists A, B and C have been there, and continuing the chain of connection via your own work to artists D, E, and F will be quite profound. And to revisit the installation for round two of your own work will undoubtedly hold unforeseen artistic ideas and surprises. I’m looking forward to seeing what I do in a different light.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

Schmidt: It could be a model of connecting us all in more than one way.

Kara Hoblin
Age: 28
Location: Greenport
Medium of choice: Chalk and pastel

What is your actual studio space like?

I actually do not have a set studio. I work wherever I can around my house and have rotated through friends garages, studios, dining room tables, basements, et cetera, depending on the project. In the end of 2017, I founded the North Fork Art Collective in Greenport, a creative space where the annual members can utilize it as a shared studio. I’ve created a lot of work in that space, as well.

How are you recreating it at the Southampton Arts Center?

Since I don’t have a set studio set up, many of my friends and fellow artists have offered to let me borrow some of their tables and furniture. I will be bringing my favorite couch from the Collective and, of course, all of my art supplies. My biggest studio dream was to have a giant chalk board wall and we will be creating that in SAC.

What are you planning to working on during the residency?

I’m going to be using the residency to explore new mediums and dive deeper into the ones I’m currently using.

What kind of energy do you anticipate this setting will produce?

I think it’s going to be really alive, I’m excited to be in such a creative environment with so many talented artists. I haven’t discussed any collaborations yet, but I’m open to exploring them once we start working in the space.

What are you hoping to take away from this experience?

I hope to grow as an artist and work through personal projects I’ve been meaning to explore. Collaboration is really important to me and comes full circle in my work. Also, as the founder of the NFAC, I think participating in such a wonderful collaborative is great for our community and the growth of the artists in it. I’m so grateful to the SAC for such an amazing exhibit and can’t wait to see what we create!

Artist’s Takeover will open with a reception on Saturday, February 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center, located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton. Admission is free. The exhibition will remain on view through March 24. For more information, and a schedule of visiting hours for each artist, call (631) 283-0967 or visit southamptonartscenter.org.

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