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Opening Reception for “Reinventing the Helm” at Sara Nightingale Gallery

June 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Jeremy Wagner

Sara Nightingale Gallery is pleased to present, Reinventing the HelmOpening Saturday, June 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

You unlock the flimsy door of room 101 with an actual key. They don’t have a second floor, and there is no one else staying here tonight, being that it’s mid-week in the off- season. As you step over a crack in the cold linoleum floor, a waft of bleach, mildew and what might be the stench of a dead starfish, but is actually the all encompassing odor of the full moon low tide, greets you with a nostalgic blast.

The irony that you have just come from cocktails on an immaculately varnished yacht does not elude you. Ever since your broker squandered your trust fund in junk tech stocks years ago (your reckless salad days had nothing to do with it), you have been stealthily concealing your cash deprivation from aging friends you’ve known since boarding school.

But now you are alone in this seaside motel, and there might be a finger of whiskey left in your flask. So you fumble for the lights, which yield an excruciating blend of cold blue fluorescent and dim yellow bulbs, a hue so excruciating, in fact, that you question the actual color of the furnishings in the room, which are few. The mirror, affixed to the back of the door with metal clips, has no empathy for your weary expression. But it does reveal the reason for your journey to this remote, foggy isthmus.

There she hangs on the wall above the bed, and despite being a bit more faded, weathered perhaps, she looks the same as she always does. Her pale thin frame of pickled oak does not outshine her countenance, which is plane and undemanding, quotidian even.

Still she has a story to tell. Of wind and waves and clouds that do not adhere to any real meteorological pattern. The listing ship, whose portrait this is, and whose name is obscured by a cresting wave, is bound for distant isles and oceans. The cargo in her hold is a mystery, as are her port of call and crew; but these are mere details. She is presented here, all sails full and by, shining in her generic glory, as a reproduction, so there may be thousands of identical prints in thousands of other motel rooms in seaside towns like this one. This thought comforts you; you have seen her before.

As you sip your whiskey and drift off into a groggy sleep, the painting, that is, the print of the painting, begins to come alive. It unfastens itself from its rusty wall hooks, hovers in the air for a fleeting moment, as if hesitating, then floats mischievously into your dream.

This is where the story begins.

Reinventing the Helm, an invitational group exhibition asks what happens when a crew of self-styled nautical activists (aka artists) pirate the genre of traditional maritime art. Will Captain Ahab and Moby Dick fall in love? Will a Siren’s call land in a text- based work? Will maritime tattoos culled from the Internet become animated? Will a sculpture be submerged at an undisclosed location in Peconic bay and its new owner given the GPS coordinates only upon purchase? Will there be paintings, cakes, clouds, sculptures and photographs of boats? Sharks too? Yes.

And there will be seagulls.

Reinventing the Helm opens on Saturday, June 6th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and runs through Aug. 3rd.


June 6, 2015
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Sara Nightingale Gallery
26 Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY 11963 United States
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