Escobar Builds an Untraditional ‘Playground’

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“Playground” by Esly E. Escobar

The Hamptons isn’t known as a “playground for the rich” without reason.

Guatemalan-born, Westhampton-raised artist Esly E. Escobar best explores that idea through his installation “Playground,” a site-specific sculpture that comments on the range of social strata on the East End through the sports they engage in, on view starting Saturday, August 18, at The Remsenburg Academy, located at 130 South Country Road in Remsenburg.

The work consists of figures made from nearly 10,000 balls used for tennis, golf, soccer, basketball and football, integrating them into what the artist describes as “a figure of positive energy.”

“Esly’s ‘Playground’ will live up to its name by uniting Hamptonites through something they are so passionate about — sports,” Corinne Erni, senior curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects, said in a press release. “Those who play tennis or golf typically don’t interact with those who play soccer or basketball, but in Esly’s world they do.”

By and large, sport and private clubs donated balls for the installation, as well as East Enders through word of mouth — a collaborative community effort, the release said.

Hundreds of golf balls came from The Bridge Golf Club — some imprinted with the private Southampton club’s logo — and multi-colored golf balls from Southampton resident and avid golfer William Mott. The Bridgehampton Club and the Buckskill Winter and Tennis Club in East Hampton donated hundreds of tennis balls. Southampton Youth Services provided dozens of soccer balls, and Southampton student athlete Elijah Wingfield donated basketballs.

Every element of “Playground” is created entirely of these balls. Abstract figures representing sport participants are combined into one monumental seated figure, estimated by the artist to measure approximately 12 feet high by 10 feet wide. “Toys,” or small sculptures made of the same materials, surround the central “Playground” character — a take on “playing a sport, while evoking the freedom and joy of children from all types of families playing in a communal space,” the release said.

The installation will be on the front lawn facing South Country Road, making it highly visible at all times to passersby on foot or in transit. In addition, Escobar’s abstract paintings will be on view inside the Academy, as part of the solo exhibition “Magnum Opus.”

The opening reception on Saturday, August 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. is free, but reservations are required. The show will remain on view through September 15. An artists’ talk with Esly E. Escobar and Jeremy Dennis will be held on Thursday, August 23, at 5 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

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