January 17, 2013
Neoteric Fine Art in Amagansett is bravely and refreshingly idealist. What owner, director, and visual 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 all of it’s initial mission. The artwork selected for Bluedorn’s latest show, “Armageddon, Amagansett,” reflects and builds upon that vision.
With an apocalyptic and prophetic theme, centered on the ancient Mayan end of the world date of December 21st, 2012, artists took various approaches to the given framework. There was an evident dissatisfaction and discontent, 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 “Deep Water Horizon,” a sculpture made of wood and bamboo.
Living so close to the ocean, it’s hard to imagine not feeling the impact of the elements and perhaps this generates an innate connectedness and appreciation. With the ever-changing winds and tides, we are truly at the mercy of this flux. One also bears witness to massive waves of people coming and going, often times with little regard to the impact they have on the fragile ecological balance. It is not rare to see artists at Neoteric, in this exhibition and in past shows, using natural and found materials, such as driftwood and clam shells, adding meaning to “the medium is the message.”
Other artists 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 hark back to German Expressionist paintings, particularly Nolde’s “Still Life with Masks,” (1911). The Die Bruke movement (“bruke” meaning “bridge,” metaphorically between the past and the future of art) of which Nolde was a member, was interested in expressing extreme emotion through high-keyed color. McCue’s painting bridges a centuries-old medium with a subject matter very specific to his generation. Said subject matter (the creepy bunny) time-traveled back to the present from the future, providing one possible link to the prophetic/apocalyptic theme. Upon relating “Frank” to “Still Life with Masks,” it seemed particularly relevant that 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?
It’s not all gloom and doom. Bluedorn’s own work “New Atlantis,” is a vision of a future utopia. Made with Xerox transfer and watercolor on paper, hundreds of intricate details reminiscent of illustrations from Albertus Sebas’ 18th century “Cabinet of Curiosities,” have been combined, overlapped, and arranged to create an hourglass-like shape whereby the darker base, perhaps the decaying sea floor, is filtered through a rotating midsection, and gives 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, “Amagansett AudioVisual Festival,” “First Friday’s Acoustic,” and numerous DJ sets, all presented by young, local talent. 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 Parish Art Museum. What began as a discussion between architects in Japan has now expanded to over 500 cities globally and includes not only architects but also really anyone who creates anything (wine, fashion, music, gardens, you name it). 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 Hurricane 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, 2013.
“Neoteric Symposium” and “Zeroisms” performance will be on 1/25, 7-11 p.m.
Neoteric Fine Art
208 Main Street, Amagansett