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Art For The Cure

Originally Posted: October 17, 2007

Nicole B. Brewer

The Southampton Artists Association opened their fall show, a visually stunning exhibition, "Abstract & Surrealism" at the Southampton Cultural Center on Friday evening. Over a dozen artists contributed works large and small for a great display of local talent.

Anna Throne Holst, Meg Taylor, Gail Tiska, and Nancy Graboski at the 3rd Annual
Birdhouse Auction. Photo by John Wegorzewski

Among those in the show were Martin Barzelay, Dom Lamontanaro, Hank Schneider, Ellen Paul, James Witker, Pat Wiegand, Neva Setlow, Marjorie Myles, and James Wightman. More then a few works caught our eye including Wiegand's powerful explosion of color all red, white and blue - an upside down American flag the international symbol for immediate rescue. The piece entitled "State of the Union" was filled with tiny lettering between the stripes with the words Mission Accomplished, Abu Grahaib and other hollow words from the coverage of the Iraq War. Neva Setlow's totemic sculptures were impressive as were Ellen Paul's softly colored abstract paintings and the bold works of James Wightman.

Equally powerful if not so political were Marjorie Myles' swirls of blue and orange colors on massive canvases that sucked the viewer in like a whirlpool. Myles is new to the group and was excited about the show. Inspired by the sea, sand, and her newfound freedom as a single gal she sees the new work she has produced as more alive and full of excitement. She puts her soul into each piece and joked that one massive piece in the foyer of the show even includes sand from her yard.

Bay Street Theatre gave area theater lovers a special gift - a free staged reading of Joe Pintauro's classic "Men's Lives" in celebration of Sag Harbor's 300th anniversary. The World Premiere of "Men's Lives", an adaptation of the book by acclaimed local author Peter Matthiessen, was the Theatre's inaugural production in 1992 - and set the standard for quality that has been the hallmark of over fifty Bay Street Mainstage productions since that date.

The reading of "Men's Lives" was directed by Emma Walton, Bay Street's Co-Founder and Director of Education and Programming for Young Audiences, and featured many of the original actors who created the roles 15 years ago, including Michael Downing, David Eigenberg, Jay Patterson, and Sloane Shelton. Additional cast members the reading included were Tom Gustin, Brian Schwartz, Victor Slezak, and Larry Keith, a familiar face to "All My Children" fan's as Nick Davis, a role he played for 26 years. The family drama with special resonance to locals tells the true story of the generations of East End fishermen, known as "Baymen," and their struggle to preserve their traditional way of life.

In addition to the complimentary tickets, theater goers were able to enjoy clam chowder and ale courtesy of the Southampton Publick House prior to the reading as part of the toast to Sag Harbor's 300th Anniversary.

Volunteers April and Susan Barylski with Liz and Kate Bulanowski at the 3rd Annual
Birdhouse Auction. Photo by John Wegorzewski

Though Renee Zellweger, Honorary Chair of the 3rd Annual Birdhouse Auction to benefit the South Fork Breast Health Coalition, was unable to attend at the last moment, the real stars of the evening, the cancer survivors, their caregivers, and the artists, were out in full force and the evening sparkled as brightly as a Hollywood premiere.

The Southampton Cultural Center's galleries were awash in the whimsical, fantastical, and sometimes downright outrageously funny birdhouse deigns by some of the East End's most prominent artists and celebrity personalities. Event Co-Chairs Karyn Mannix and Karen Saco along with Board members Susan Roden, Cindy Grant, Susan Barylski, Bernadette Meade, Martha Rogers, and dozens of helpers helped deliver an assortment of aviary aeries for even the most discerning Hampton starling. The perfect birdie beach house may have been the sea shell encrusted house or the sky high Mondrian-esque creation or the Preston Phillips see through Plexi-glass home for a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. Builder and real estate mogul Donald Trump, true to form, simply signed a barely varnished birdhouse.

More traditional and certainly a Hamptons classic was Jay Schneiderman's hand crafted - by the legislator himself - windmill bird house! Fashioned after the windmill in Water Mill each piece was hand cut from actual shingles. Jay joked that his hands no longer had splinters and that his kids helped by cheering him on from the distance of other rooms in their home. The project took all summer and he enjoyed every moment. He demonstrated that the windmill worked and that the shingles were to scale and not stained so they could weather alongside any Hampton's manse.

Also a big hit was artist Hector de Cordova's homage to the film "Tootsie", an almost life size Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie complete with the perfect birdie perch - big hoop earrings!

For the Frederick's of Hollywood daring birdie there was literally a feathered nest trimmed in bright red ostrich feathers. The recycler would have loved Michael Lownie's house constructed of salvaged pieces of wood from homes on the North Fork, Southampton and Massachusetts with a vintage New York City cop's night stick as a chimney or Renee Zellweger's masterpiece entitled "You Pick Up My Pieces (aka Home is Where the Part Is)" a Rube Goldberg style creation of watch and bicycle parts!

Alexia Hamm Ryan, Joanne de Guardiola, and Alexandra Lind Rose at the Preview
Party for The Haughton International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show. Photo by

Some pieces were pure Americana with stars and stripes and names of sports heroes. Olympic gold medalist and breast cancer survivor Peggy Flemming crafted a "House of Hope" as a tribute to early detection. Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin's piece, "Fly High" practically sang "Amazing Grace" as it was festooned with miniature records and music sheets. Survivor and fashion designing dynamo Betsey Johnson's rosebud covered birdhouse had the crown oohing and aahing while John Miller's "Hall of Famer" piece, complete with a prized Hall of Fame baseball signed by Yogi Berra and scores more, had the auction paddles flying.

It was heartening to see so many mothers, many breast cancer survivors, with their daughters manning the tables and fielding questions about each of the artworks. Also rare to see were so many of the current candidates running for office this year joined together in a common cause against a vicious disease that knows no political, racial, or economic divide.

Scoping the table displays, we spied candidates Anna Throne Holst, Nancy Graboski and Linda Kabot, artists Eric Ernst, Ellen Dooley, Alex Vignoli, Don Saco, Tom Steele, Kimberly McSparran, Sara Nightingale, Arlene Bujese, Jasmine Felt, David Gamble, David Slater, and SFBHC supporters such as Frankie de la Barre and Angela LaGreca. Artist Dan Rizzie, who created the painting for the event's poster, was busy signing and selling copies for the Coalition. It was a memorable evening made so by our most talented and generous neighbors who were on hand to remind every person fighting breast cancer, "You are not alone".

Christie's, New York threw open their doors to The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to kick-off their upcoming Preview Party for The Haughton International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show. Guests of the event were treated to a special viewing of Nan Kempner's Clothing Collection. A fashion icon and long time supporter of The Society, Nan donated an extensive part of her collection to be sold for the profit of this organization.

Jamee Gregory, Chappy and Melissa Morris, Robert Nahas, and Diana Quasha at the
Preview Party for The Haughton International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show.
Photo by PatrickMcMullan.com

The event was hosted by the Preview Party's co-chairs, a plethora of Hamptonites, included Joanne de Guardiola, Alexandra Lind Rose, and Alexia Hamm Ryan. The Society's President Leslie Jones, and the Events Connoisseur chairmen Muffie Potter Aston, Karen LeFrak and James G. Niven were also in attendance to celebrate and catch a glimpse of the couture clothing being displayed. Among the fashionable guests enjoying the evening were Cindy Adams, Jamee Gregory, Susan Fales-Hill, Preview Party Honorary Co-Chair Janna Bullock, Eleanore Kennedy, Joel Allen - from the Decorators Committee, Heather and Thom Leeds, Michèle Gerber Klein, Somers Farkas, Mary Davidson, Peter Jones, Lavinia and Brian Snyder, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, Louis Rose, Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross, Grace Meigher, Anne Grauso, and Nicole Limbocker.

Cathy Elkies, Director of Iconic Collections at Christie's, whose vision helped to create the evening of couture magic, was also on hand to greet many of the evening's guests as well as discuss some of the more important pieces. One such article was Nan's polka dot raincoat. Cathy described it as one of Ms. Kempner's favorite pieces, which she could be seen wearing on many rainy days here in the city. Other members of the auction house that were with us to celebrate this fete were Sara Fox, Kate Swan, the ever knowledgeable Laura Layfer and George McNeeley.

Supporters and fashionistas alike who were joining in the festivities on the mezzanine level of the world famous auction house included Melissa and Chappy Morris, The Society's new Executive Director Maryanne Greenfield, Frances Scharf, Diana Quasha, Lisa McCarthy, Hilary Califano, Stephanie LaCava, Edward Bohan, Mary Snow, Sabrina and Carl Forsythe, Nazee Moinian, Catherine and Bryan Carey, Alex Kramer, Ellen and Emily Mendez-Penate, and Candy Hamm.

Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com HamptonsOnline NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer

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