What do a clam digger, a puppeteer, an extreme sports photographer and a bookbinder all have in common? They were among the creative personalities who took part in the Parrish Art Museum
's third installment of "The Lightning Round". Each individual is allowed to present "20 for 20", meaning "20 slides or visuals, for 20 seconds each", giving the speaker a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds in which to encapsulate his or her life's passion.
Curator of Programs Andrea Grover. (Photo: John Wegorzewski)
Remember "Show and Tell" from your grade school days? Well, this power point presentation, powered by PechaKuka, is an adult version of "Show and Tell" - on speed. The pressure on participants (not all of whom are accustomed to public speaking) to keep up with the ever changing slides is like that felt by "Jeopardy" contestants. And to their credit, last Thursday's group gamely soldiered on to the delight of a very packed house.
The Museum's Executive Director Terrie Sultan
welcomed guests and promised an interesting ride before introducing Curator of Programs, Andrea Grover
. Grover gave the crowd a quick overview of the process before welcoming the first "player" to the stage, young writer Vesna Bozic. Bozic, who grew up in Sag Harbor and attended The Ross School, read some lyrical sections about her current life and her transition to a new world in New York's West Village. She spoke with the solemn wisdom of a 20 year old vowing to "make better mistakes tomorrow".
Paul Vogel, who has operated his Vogel Bindery in East Hampton for over 20 years and is widely considered one of the best in the country, made an interesting case for the permanence of rarely-seen-these-days handcrafted book bindings. He reached back in history from ancient Uganda stone etchings, to Babylonian times and the first Codex, to Egyptian papyrus scrolls and then forward to the modern day e-book. It was a fascinating time travel experience that made us want to rush home and cradle our leather bound volumes.
Brian Dolphin croons us a tune. (Photo: John Wegorzewski)
Arts Director extraordinaire Sherry Dobbin
of The Water Mill Center fame (and now Director of Public Art at the Times Square
Alliance where she is responsible for the stunning world class works of art which are projected all over the Times Square Jumbotrons) was absolutely charming in the way she described the serendipitous turns of her life. Sherry even recounted being asked to direct an opera and quickly agreeing to do so even though, as she sheepishly admitted, she had never seen an opera! This totally reinforced her feeling that "nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. You just dive into it."
Shelter troubadour Brian Dolphin entertained with his ukulele, singing long forgotten songs of the farmers, and time-traveling the crowd with tales of life on the East End and its coastal waters.
Riverhead restaurateur Dennis McDermott
charmed the crowd with his tales of finding unusual, abandoned spaces and transforming them into chic eateries. The proprietor of The Riverhead Project
(aka TRP), McDermott was named person of the year in 2011 by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce after being in town for only six months! Among his other responsibilities is directing "The Peace Project" which raises funds for Richard Gere
's "The Gere Foundation", aiming at preserving the culture of Tibet.
Restaurateur Dennis McDermott. (Photo: John Wegorzewski)
There were also some words of wisdom and simple joy from puppeteer Liz Joyce, founder of Goat on a Boat, who writes, directs and creates hand carved puppets for childrens' theater programs. Also displaying her many artistic skills was photographer Sunny Khalsa who grew up in New Mexico and India and now specializes in portraits of people form Mumbai to Manhattan.
Surely the most gregarious of the happy-time crowd was clammer and artist Albie Lester, whose family has been fishing the East End waters for three centuries. Albie, nicknamed "Round Swampa" as he lives behind his family's home on Round Swamp Hill, spends his days digging for those tasty bivalves. When not clamming, he honors the Native American tradition by carving wampum into jewelry and sculpture. Adorned with a necklace and bracelet of his own wampum creations, he demonstrated not only the art of clamming - which requires a great deal of patience - but also how he handcrafts his own clam rakes and traps.
Clam Digger and Artist Albie Lester. (Photo: John Wegorzewski)
Another real highlight of the evening was Southampton born photographer Andréanna Seymore. Adréanna, who already has a critically acclaimed body of work, uses photography as a means of inquiry into social class, subculture and counterculture. Her personal projects include "Tendencia-Heavy Metal in Cuba", "Scars and Stripes" and "The Culture of Modern Roller Derby". While shots of women lacing up before hitting the rink blinked behind her, she explained how her work was not simply about the race, but more about the dynamics behind the scenes. Known in roller derby circles as "Point 'n Shoot" Andréanna had a number of her roller derby pals on hand to cheer - just like at the matches.
All in all, it was a thoroughly fascinating look at the lives of creative individuals who make the Hamptons the unique community that it is.
The Lightning Round will be held quarterly. For more information visit http://www.parrishart.org