The Amagansett Free Library is launching a new series of conversations, beginning Sept. 12, about the art and artists of the East End.
Titled “Art/History/Amagansett,” the free five-part series will discuss topics ranging from life with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner to the genesis of The Art Barge, emerging artists of the East End, and a discussion with renowned painter John Alexander.
The series was organized by Ellen T. White, an author and artist from Springs who has produced cultural programming for venues ranging from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC to the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Mass.
Ms. White said she approached Amagansett Library Director Cynthia Young about the project in early June.
“She’s an incredibly open person who really likes to include people and take people up on suggestions,” said Ms. White. “At first I just wanted to focus on contemporary art, but then I realized Amagansett is the center of an art world that is both historic and contemporary, and I put together a series that just spoke to all of that.”
“The East End, and Amagansett in particular, have been a mecca for artists since the late 19th Century,” said Ms. Young. “The fascinating artists, authors, historians and gallery owners who live among us have a great deal to say about the source of inspiration that is the great draw of the East End. We’re so pleased they are willing to share their insights with the library.”
After Ms. Young agreed to have the library host the series, Ms. White then began exploring her network of artists and writers around Amagansett for experts to participate in the discussions. She’ll be taking a backstage role at the talks, letting the experts on the individual subjects dictate the course of the discussions.
The series will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m., with “Gossip Girls: Pollock and Krasner’s Biographers Tell All,” featuring Jackson Pollock biographer Helen Harrison and historian Gail Levin, author of the biography “Lee Krasner,” who will discuss the artists’ sometimes notorious and always interesting lives on the East End.
Ms. White enlisted NPR book reviewer Joan Baum, who had reviewed both Ms. Harrison and Ms. Levin’s books, to moderate the discussion.
“She was sort of the perfect person to do it,” said Ms. White. “Here are some real experts on the subject, who know what it was like to have dinner with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. I’m really interested in hearing if the two authors have disagreements or if they understand these people in completely different ways.”
Each hour-long lecture will take place on a Saturday evening from 6 to 7 p.m., with the exception of one Sunday presentation on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
On Sept. 19, Ille Arts director Sara De Luca and artist/gallerist Eric Brown of Tibor de Nagy in New York will discuss “Championing the Emerging Artist on the East End” with East Hampton Star art critic Jennifer Landes. They’ll discuss emerging art and artists, as well as the effect of place – New York City and the East End – on art markets.
On Sept. 26, art adviser Elena Prohaska Glinn, Art Barge President Christopher Kohan and artists/trustees Nicole Bigar and Michael Rosch will discuss “”The Genesis of The Art Barge,” a look back at the 60-year legacy of Victor d’Amico, who turned an abandoned Navy vessel into an art utopia in Napeague.
“The Art Barge is an incredible space, and it has such a peculiar and interesting history,” said Ms. White. “Victor d’Amico was the head of education at the Museum of Modern Art. He wanted to start an art school out here, and that was carried on by Chris Kohan.”
In the sole Sunday presentation of the series, on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m., lawyer and collector Carol Steinberg will discuss “The Business of Art: 10 Things You Should Know.”
She will give artists, gallerists, and collectors her top tips on copyright, fair use, and artist-gallery relationships. Artist Janet Jennings will moderate.
On Oct. 3, world-famous artist John Alexander, a Texas native whose work was initially inspired by the bayous of his youth, will discuss his process and his work, which often incorporates elements of natural and marine environments. Mr. Alexander, who works in a studio on Main Street in Amagansett, draws inspiration from the East End.
“From art instruction to new or aspiring to emerging artists, from the historic to the famous, everybody was so wonderful about saying ‘yes we’ll give our time. We’d love to do that,'” said Ms. White of the participants in the lecture series.