Sculpture and Painting Collide at 4 North Main Gallery
by william norwich
For those of us who enjoy the privilege of summers in the Hamptons, one of the enduring pleasures is the East End’s arts scene. For me this means keeping up with the artists whom I know and admire here, including Ross Bleckner, Peter Dayton, Eric Fischl, Eric Freeman, April Gornik, Mary Heilmann, Henry Koehler, Steve Miller, Julian Schnabel, and Billy Sullivan. It’s spotting the art world’s most stylish ladies—Dorothy Lichtenstein, Mary Boone, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Susan de Menil, and Yvonne Force Villareal—on any Main Street. And it’s whatever Larry Gagosian is saying at dinner. On rainy days, it’s re-reading Studios by the Sea: Artists of Long Island’s East End, the coffee table book by Jonathan Becker and Bob Colacello. It’s Trip Patterson’s Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art in Southampton and gallerist Bill Powers’s new novella, What We Lose in Flowers, which people from Bellport to Montauk are talking about this summer.
Closer to home it is Cut & Paste, a two-person exhibition of recent works by the artists Dora Frost and Garrett Chingery at the 4 North Main Gallery in Southampton. As different as their works are—Frost’s deal with narrative collage, and Chingery’s portraiture and painted, sculptural cut-outs—in a shared space here is an explosion of color and feeling. “What our work does have in common is that it is very hands-on,” says Frost. “In both of our cases, it is just us; we’re our own team, the soup-to-nuts creators working without any assistants.”
I’m reminded of a posh dinner party I attended recently with some of the biggest collectors on the planet. The way they described the muscular making and transporting of the big pieces of art and installations they were buying, they could have been describing the latest military tanks, industrial and complex. Cut & Paste engages in more intimate dimensions.
Dora Frost was raised in New York City and Southampton, attended the Chapin School and Parsons The New School for Design, where she studied illustration, and was a student of the artist Pat Steir. In addition to her fine art, she is also celebrated for her exquisite paintings of the houses of assorted Hearsts, Fanjuls, de Guardiolas, Geary Rosses, and Taubmans, among others. This fall she will show more of her fine art, a series of paintings inspired by Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, at the venerated design firm McMillen, in an exhibition with furnishings selected by McMillen’s Ann Sherrill Pyne.
“I used to paint only from nature, and this is the first time in a very long time it is people,” says Frost, who often describes her work as “sentiment.” Her references are from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, with titles like New York 1951, Jacques Fath Angel, Ode to Freddie Mercury, and Country Day Advent Calendar.
Chingery, born and raised in New Jersey, studied at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers before transferring to Cooper Union in Manhattan, where he received a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing. Besides his fine-art work, which is included in the collections of art patrons Kelly and Jay Sugarman and Lauren Santo Domingo, he is well known for his decorative painting of interior spaces.
While much of Chingery’s work on view at 4 North Main is contemporary, imaginative portraiture, with themes of identity and self-expression captured in the human gaze, he describes other pieces, as “2.5 dimensional... bridging the gap between painting and sculpture,” using not only paint but also fabrics, household gadgets, glue, and clothing. But what—in the artists’ opinions—do they want their patrons to take away from the show, besides the artwork, of course? “We’re not looking to hit anyone over the head with any particular message,” says Chingery. “We work from instinct, and we want people to have their own experience.”
Cut & Paste: New Work by Dora Frost and Garrett Chingery is on display July 5 to 10 at the 4 North Main Gallery, 4 North Main St., Southampton, 283- 2495. Norwich is hosting a reception for the artists on Friday, July 6, from 5 to 8 pm at the gallery.