While historical societies dot the landscape in every Hamptons village, some are unknown to the general public. What can also go unknown are the exhibits these venues present throughout the year, celebrating artistic endeavors and historical artifacts and events. Currently at the Amagansett Historical Society is a comprehensive display by artists who reside (or who have resided) there. Some individuals live elsewhere, but they use Amagansett as a setting for their subjects. Coincidently or not, many pieces are about memories, which is certainly appropriate given the exhibit’s historical nature.
A particularly popular spot in Amagansett is Miss Amelia’s Cottage, and two artists have captured its spirit. Denise Regan’s “Miss Amelia’s Neighbor’s Window” is a bright, cheerful and playful depiction of objects that bring back the past. But it’s more than the past that distinguishes Regan’s image; it’s the sense of special memories recalling her early paintings about childhood. They evoke intense and positive emotions, just like the feelings demonstrated by her work in this current exhibit.
David Suter’s painting “Miss Amelia’s Cottage” conveys a different characterization: his somber colors and linear composition are more objective, signifying a more distant perception of the dwelling. Michelle Murphy’s watercolor of white sheets hanging on a line recalls the past as well, although the scene could be anywhere. Yet Murphy’s penchant for memories and “home” clearly delineates her Amagansett roots. Conversely, Toby Haynes’ “Amagansett Shed” is an isolated image, where the object against the landscape is more important than the people who might inhabit the area. Is this view connected at all to Haynes’ home in Cornwall, England, where isolation is prevalent?
There are other familiar scenes done by Amagansett artists, but they do not represent the area itself. Consider Priscilla Bowden’s “Wainscott Pond,” Ralph Carpentier’s “Lazy Point, Dusk” and Ken Robbins’ “Bathers, Fresh Pond” (a digital print). They are all images that pay homage to the local landscape, no matter where it may be. Even so, each place has distinct aspects and conjures up specific memories.
Finally, there are works by Amagansett artists that have little to do with the environment, like Michelle Stuart’s “Water Lily” and “Lotus,” abstract aquatint etchings that are delicate, yet primordial. Bill Durham’s small, impressionistic paintings are also fragile and not at all like the big, bold abstract works he was known for.
There are other local artists whose pieces mirror their signature style: Conrad Marca-Relli’s “Villa Nueve,” a lithograph with strips and patches resembling a quilt and Howard Kanovitz’s “Windmill Antilles,” a lithograph representing common objects displayed on a table laden with bread, jam and a coffee cup. We have a feeling that the image’s intention was to bring back memories as well.
“Art Across the Years” will be on view at the Amagansett Historical Society until Sept. 30. It is at 129 Main Street at the corner of Windmill Lane, Amagansett. Call 631-267-3020 for hours.