“Jaws of Victory II” (2017) by Graham Collins at Halsey McKay Gallery.
The Hamptons’ shimmering natural light and reflective landscapes have invariably served as inspiration for some of the world’s most beloved artists. Fifteen years in the making, five neighboring galleries on East Hampton’s Newtown Lane now offer an equally worthy discourse. “I wanted to maintain the energy and defiance of the city—kind of raise the bar,” says Rental Gallery founder and artist Joel Mesler. Having opened Rental last year, Mesler is the newest kid on the block. He, along with Harper’s Books, Halsey McKay, The Drawing Room and Eric Firestone, delivers uniquely curated shows in a singular context: art that feels fresh, thoughtful and exciting. Demonstrating commitments to East Hampton, each proffers an exhibit calendar during the offseason. “People recognize when you are genuinely a part of the community,” says Eric Firestone. Interestingly, while New York City gallerists bemoan dwindling foot traffic, Newtown Lane’s pioneers have noted a steady increase inpedestrians annually. The Drawing Room’s co-owner Victoria Munroe, who is currently planning their 15th-anniversary celebration, remarks that she is surprised by how many new clients they have each year. “Getting people inside to see a show is really why I do this,” notes Halsey McKay’s Ryan Wallace. Park once and stroll down the lane to view conceptually rigorous, recontextualized, emerging and/or locally produced art in a diverse yet cohesive enclave.
Different Shapes is a 1960s and 1970s painting and sculpture exhibition. The featured artists (Peter Agostini, Michael Boyd; Martha Edelheit, Jorge Fick, Sam Gilliam, Sidney Geist, Cris Gianakos, Charles Hinman, Ed McGowin, Bernard Kirschenbaum, Joe Overstreet, Philip Pavia, Miriam Schapiro and Silvia Stone) are significant figures who were often overlooked because their work could not be neatly categorized. They all create shaped canvases, disrupt the frame, and blur the line between painting, sculpture and craft. This show also provides a window into the exhibition history of seminal 1950s, 60s and 70s galleries. 4 Newtown Ln., East Hampton, 631-60402386. ericfirestonegallery.com
Gustavo Bonevardi is an East Hampton artist producing abstract watercolors that seem to have magically dropped onto the page. John Torreano, who has exhibited widely since the 1960s, divides his studio time between New York, Sag Harbor, and Abu Dhabi. He utilizes painting, cutting, sanding, and assemblage that pose the question of where painting begins and ends. Victoria Munroe and Emily Goldstein opened The Drawing Room in East Hampton 15 years ago. They are deeply committed to Long Island artists and present a diverse approach to making art in our exceptional environment. 66 Newtown Ln., East Hampton, 631-324-5016, drawingroom-gallery.com
Billy Sullivan is a painter based in the Hamptons and New York City. He is in the permanent collections of several major museums and is somewhat of a hero to art aficionados and earlier generations. Joel Mesler relocated from the Lower East Side in 2017 and shows artists who are “breaking the rules,” often emerging, and always challenging. 87 Newtown Ln., East Hampton, 631-527-5524, rentalgallery.us
Converter, showcasing works by Jedediah Caesar, Graham Collins, Elias Hansen, Rosy Keyser, Sam Moyer, Augustus Nazzaro and Jessica Vaughn, and the Ryan Steadman solo exhibition are on display from May 19 to June 24. All artists included in Converter utilize unique, intentional and specific found materials or objects to spark their creative process. Marble and quilted paintings, hanging pendant sculptures and other mediums make for a show less “Rauschenberg” than they may seem on the surface. Owner Ryan Wallace, a painter, sculptor and surfer, launched Halsey McKay seven years ago after falling in love with East Hampton when his wife was working as a chef here in the summers. 79 Newtown Ln., East Hampton, 631-604-5770, halseymckay.com
Maryam Eisler is a London-based, Iranian-born photographer, arts patron and editor. Here, her black-and-white female nude and landscape photography is juxtaposed with rare books, creating interesting reference points. Harper Levine, Chris Mansour, and their team have been melding the worlds of modern art with rare books and ephemera into a holistic experience since 2010. 87 Newtown Ln., East Hampton, 631-324-1131, harpersbooks.com