Neoteric Fine Art in Amagansett is bravely and refreshingly idealist. What owner, curator, and artist Scott Bluedorn set up in 2006 to be an artist collective representing young, emerging artists from the East End, has transformed into a gallery as of 2012, and yet retains its initial mission. The artwork selected for Bluedorn’s latest show, Amagansett Armageddon, reflects and builds upon that vision.
With an apocalyptic and prophetic theme, centered on the Mayan end of the world date of December 21, 2012, artists took various approaches to the given framework. There was an outspoken dissatisfaction, particularly from an environmental perspective, at the affects of greed, particularly in works by artist Rossa Williams Cole, such as “Credit Card Shanty Town,” and “Deepwater Horizon” (both mixed media, 2012). Living so close to the ocean, it’s hard to imagine not feeling the impact of the elements, and perhaps this generates a connectedness to, and appreciation for, the natural surroundings among local artists. With the ever-changing winds and tides, East Enders are truly at the mercy of this flux. One also bears witness to waves of people coming and going, oftentimes with little regard to the impact they have on the fragile ecological balance. It is not uncommon to see artists at Neoteric who have made use of natural and found materials, such as driftwood and clam shells, adding meaning to “the medium is the message.”
Other artists in this show adhered to two-dimensional modes of expression; paint on canvas and graphic works. Alexander McCue’s “Frank,” is a powerful image of Donnie Darko’s malevolent rabbit. The garishly bright colors mixed with splashes and drips of black paint harken back to German Expressionist paintings, particularly Nolde’s “Still Life with Masks,” (1911). The Die Brücke movement (“brüke” meaning “bridge,” metaphorically between the past and the future of art) of which Nolde was a member, expressed intense emotion through high-keyed hues. In the movie, Donnie asks Frank, “Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?” To which Frank replies, “Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?” (Is it our masks that lead us to ruin?) McCue’s painting bridges a centuries-old medium with a subject matter very specific to his generation. Donnie’s rabbit time-traveled back to the present from the future, providing one of many possible links to the prophetic/apocalyptic theme.
It’s not all gloom and doom. Bluedorn’s own work “New Atlantis,” is a vision of a utopian future. Made with Xerox transfer and watercolor on paper, intricate details from Sebas’ 18th century “Cabinet of Curiosities,” have been arranged and embellished to create an hourglass-like shape whereby the darker base, the decaying sea floor, is filtered through a rotating midsection, giving way to a lighter and airier top, abundant with flora, sea creatures, a new pantheon, and a magnificent underwater city.
Maybe it’s because Bluedorn is an artist himself that the gallery lacks the jadedness of many commercial models. It’s clear from the openings that Neoteric not only promotes local artists, but also provides a venue for creative people in the community to congregate and participate in an exchange of ideas. The gallery has hosted book signings, poetry readings, multimedia experiments, performances, and numerous DJ sets. Onlookers and contributors alike have an opportunity to take an active role in an artistic dialogue, thus broadening their experience and adding to the cultural richness of the East End.
On January 25th, the “Neoteric Symposium,” will take a more structured approach to this discourse, inviting local artists, curators, ecologists, brewers, and other individuals to present in the “PechaKucha” format, as made popular to the area by the Parrish Art Museum. What began as a discussion between architects in Japan, has now expanded to over 500 cities and includes a wide range of creative output. After the symposium, local singer-songwriter San Joaquin will perform from his newly released album Zerosims. The combined event is also a fundraiser, with a suggested $10 donation, to further help Superstorm Sandy charities. It’s easy to see that Neoteric is strongly connected to its environment from both a humanist and naturalist standpoint.
Amagansett Armageddon is on view until the end of January. “Neoteric Symposium” and San Joaquin‘s performance will be on 1/25, 7-11 p.m.
Neoteric Fine Art is located at 208 Main Street in Amagansett, 631-838-7518, NeotericFineArt.com.