“Art In The Yard” Focuses On Community

Summertime routinely brings many things to The Hamptons. Some of these things we can frankly live without, like the intense traffic and the overwhelming crowds. Even so, while some aspects of life on the East End are equally intense and overwhelming, we welcome their appearance during the summer. We’re talking about the diverse art benefits, art fairs and studio tours: in a word, the art scene comes alive, going beyond the usual gallery exhibits held during the year.

Most of these events are strictly commercial, like ArtHamptons, yet there’s one particular activity that stands out because it is both commercial and charitable: “Art in the Yard,” a sale and festival sponsored by The Jewish Center of the Hamptons, which benefits its various community service programs, including the local food pantries and Maureen’s Haven.

The idea of “Community” is key to “Art in the Yard.” First, there’s the notion that the event will help local residents in need, particularly through Maureen’s Haven, a facility for homeless men and women during the winter and spring months. Run by Sara Blue and other volunteers, The Jewish Center uses a house on its property to provide meals and shelter one day a week in cooperation with other interfaith institutions, which also have their own individual buildings. According to Blue, The Center can only accommodate about 20 “guests” at a time while some churches can house about 200 individuals a night. Yet numbers are not the only aspect that’s salient. Rather, the commitment to “protect and empower the homeless” is one that “Art in the Yard” hopes to enhance.

“Community” also plays a part with the showing of work by Ellen Frank, featuring original illuminated pages from Hanukkah Illuminated: A Book of Days, an on-going project by Ellen Frank Illumination Arts. According to Frank, the manuscript is intended as a meditation on non-military conflict and represents a struggle for religious freedom. Thus, the work is meant for all ages and faiths, Frank’s images deriving from Islamic, Christian and Judaic sources which serve a world community.

Other community elements are served as well, including the 130 artists who will be offering their work for show and sale in the giant tent erected on The Center’s grounds. Co-curators Julie Keyes ( from New York’s Keyes Art Project ) and Andrea McCaffrey (Amagansette’s  Crazy Monkey Gallery ) are facing quite a challenge when it comes to hanging the more than 600 works from such artists as David Slivka, Eric Ernest, Chris Lilles, Michael Knigin, and Paton Miller. Asked how she will manage positioning all the pieces in the tent, Keyes answers that the work will be arranged in groups, with the artists being asked to hang their own art. “That’s how we will get ready-made volunteers,” Keyes notes with a laugh. “ We will just go for it.”

The motto, “Go for it,” also applies to the general good cheer with which this event was tackled. Co – chair Bobbie Braun ( along with Sara Blue ) were enthusiastic from the start, deciding to eliminate The Center’s annual yard sale and instead substituting an art sale accompanied by music, a cocktail party, dessert reception and children’s arts and crafts.

“We wanted to galvanize the art community,” says Braun, “and honor its creative spirit. ‘Art in the Yard’ is a part of something bigger than ourselves. It represents why we all live here.”

Art in the Yard” will hold activities on Saturday, July 21; the main event and art sale is Sunday, July 22, at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons ( 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton). Call 631-324-9858 or go to the website: jcoh.org

Contact Ellen Frank at Ellen Frank Illumination Arts at 631-329-0530 for more information about her non-profit work.

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