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INTERVIEW: Artists Alliance Of East Hampton President Mary Milne On "New Beginnings," A Virtual Members' Show

T.J. Clemente

A work by Fukuko Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

Mary Milne, Artists Alliance of East Hampton (AAEH) President, is "thrilled" about the 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation's new online virtual exhibition, New Beginnings. Milne told us, "Everyone is excited about this new exhibit that includes 47 members of the Artists Alliance of East Hampton." Then she added, "Although it will open online February 22, we left this show open-ended because the last virtual show that we had was up for about a month and a half and after it came down people were still looking for it. So, we thought with this one, we will leave it open-ended and leave it up until we are ready to put something else up."

About the present climate, Milne noted, "The virtuals have been great. The artists really enjoy it, and at this time due to COVID, we are not doing our traditional shows. When we did our four shows in Ashawagh Hall, we were limited by space and time on what we could exhibit, in terms of physical size and numbers of artwork. Now with 47 artists whose works and mediums are as diverse as Realism to Abstract and include Figurative to Landscape - not to mention Plein Air to whimsical. The number of artwork available to view due to the website has increased substantially. We have even acquired new members who like the idea of a virtual show."

When asked about the history of the Alliance and her involvement with AAEH, Milne explained that the organization is over 35 years old. "It was originally the Jimmy Ernst Artists Alliance," she said. Eventually, it was renamed Artists Alliance of East Hampton. "At present, I am the President of it," Milne shared. "We are open to all artists locally on the East End, but we have some artists who aren't quite on the East End, who are from the middle of the island. We are happy to have them in the organization."

She continued, "We really strive to get more community involvement and to do outreach. We are hoping by the fall that we will be able to do some outreach with the high school, with the youth, to encourage them into the art field. I started with glass when my husband enrolled me in a course years back as a gift. I had no idea then how that would influence my life. I remember my first sale - but what I fondly remember most was a show when I sold seven pieces. I have never sold that many again! Now many of the artists buy each other's pieces, because we get to know and admire each other's work. I was touched when a fellow member called me and purchased a glass piece of mine that his wife had coveted for her birthday."

When asked what kind of artists make up the Alliance, Milne revealed, "Mostly painters, perhaps 80 percent of works are oil and acrylic paintings, with some pastels, ink pieces and watercolors, as well as my medium: glass. With a virtual show, the artists are free to put in different types of work, different sizes of works. The in-person shows were limited." New Beginnings will also include sculptures in wood and photography. There will be "lots of pieces - even some that I find fascinating, like one of wire and mesh that hangs in the air and with the right lighting the shadow becomes part of the effect," she shared.

Many pieces featured in New Beginnings are new works that were influenced by these past months with COVID. "The artists used their talents to of course express the trauma of the last year and then there were others who perhaps chose to brighten the mood, composed new works using upbeat colors and subjects," Milne noted.

Milne invites all to visit the site, and perhaps even make a purchase (done privately with the artist). There is no fee to view New Beginnings, which is on display at aaeh-virtual.org.

For more information about Artists Alliance of East Hampton, visit aaeh.org.

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