Collaborative Art In The Garden

Pictured Above: Monica Banks’ “Cloud Garden.”

Two innovative interactive outdoor installations by community artists-in-residence take to the garden at Guild Hall in East Hampton this October.

East Hampton artist Monica Banks embarked on her role as Community-Artist-In-Residence at Guild Hall by sharing her work and process through remote workshops with children from The Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center, working with artifacts from home to create a memory of this pandemic moment.

 The cloud sculptures created by the kids are part of an expanded installation in Guild Hall’s Minikes Garden, which opened Sept. 26.

“Cloud Garden,” a site-specific outdoor installation and community project by Ms. Banks, features delicate, ethereal tangles of wire, deer fencing, and other materials, coupled with multicolored artifacts from the artist’s everyday life, to create mobiles that bring together the childlike love of cloud gazing with the poignancy of art created during a pandemic.

Through reinventing her past work, incorporating commonplace, close-at-hand objects, Monica Banks has created the unusual and elegant sculptures in the trees in the Guild Hall garden which, like real clouds, offer a fresh perspective from every angle, a chance for visitors to engage with nature and their own imagination, and one artist’s visual record of this extraordinary time.

Ms. Banks is known for “Faces: Times Square,” a block-long sculpture which stood in Times Square from 1996-2009, for which she won an award from The Public Design Commission of the City of New York.

The exhibit is free and open to the public, and on view during regular museum hours, Friday to Monday, noon to 5 p.m., through October 12, 2020. The Guild Hall gardens are self-monitoring spaces; and the curators ask that patrons observe proper physical distancing, observe maximum capacity signage, and wear face-coverings on the grounds. 

Guild Hall will hold another outdoor art installation by Community Artist-in-Residence Rosario Varela titled Red, Gold, and You from Friday, Oct. 16 through Monday, Oct. 26, and an accompanying Blood Drive on Friday, Oct. 23.

Reservations are recommended for both the installation and blood drive with a suggested donation via the Guild Hall website.  

Installed in the Minikes Garden, Red, Gold, and You consists of cellular patterns of red paper and gold tape woven through the trees and shrubbery while a team of mindful artists alter and gradually redesign the piece, embracing the beauty of impermanence and chance.  

Ms. Varela’s artistic curiosity stems from a passion for tactile experience, and a unique eye for pattern. From organic and gestural to precise and organized, her work in painting and ceramics reflects the patterns found in her natural surroundings, and the responsive effect of material in her hands. 

Red, Gold, and You  expands the scope of her work, exploring a new medium and scale for the artist; returning to her roots in graphic design and architecture, and responding to the ever-changing circumstances of a global pandemic.  

Ms. Varela found herself paused in the studio when the pandemic first broke out. Not wanting to return to her ceramics or paintings, she discovered a roll of abandoned red paper.

In experimenting with the material, Varela began creating links of various diameters, connecting and interconnecting them, forming cellular patterns. At times when the paper would tear, she would rejoin the ends with gold tape; a nod to the Japanese practice of Kintsugi. The process soon became a meditative act, allowing the artist to reflect on her need, and society’s need for connection and restoration.  

Red, Gold, and You  expands this experience by opening the process to a team of artists comprised of Guild Hall’s Teen Arts Council and the viewing public.

Artists and patrons will interact to detach, reshape, and adjoin the paper links, replicating Varela’s experimentation and transferring the ownership and over-all design of the work from artist to community.

In the best of worlds, this process involves collaboration, respect, and risk-taking, embracing the beauty of decay, appreciating the impermanence of our creation, and applauding the performance of our community.  

In tandem with the installation, Guild Hall will host a blood drive in partnership with the New York Blood Center  on Friday, Oct. 23, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 Guild Hall has organized blood drives in East Hampton during the most threatening of times, responding to the needs of World War II in the 1940s and through the 70s during the Vietnam War. 

According to NYBC, blood from volunteer donors is needed every two seconds to help meet the daily transfusion needs of cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, newborns and mothers delivering babies, AIDS and sickle cell anemia patients, and many more. 

Today’s pandemic has shuttered reoccurring donation drives, causing an anticipated 75 percent decrease in donations. In hosting a blood drive during Varela’s Red, Gold, and You, Guild Hall transfers the artist’s reflection on connection and restoration towards the civic act of blood donation; acknowledging Guild Hall’s founding mission to be “a gathering place for the community where an appreciation for the arts would serve to encourage greater civic participation.” 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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