The annual contemporary art commune at Martos Gallery’s summer space moved last year from the fussy confines of Bridgehampton to the wilder environs of East Marion, near the quiet fishing hamlet of Orient on the North Fork of Long Island. The larger, nearly 4.5-hectare space and looser campground vibe suits this year’s show, which includes 110 works arrayed within and around gallery owner Jose Martos’s offbeat Victorian home.
What lends this exhibition both quirk and intimacy is the fact that Martos, his wife, the artist Servane Mary, and their children live within the show, quite exuberantly, all summer. Several artists took up residency on the property during an improvisational installation; others have bunked up there during the show’s run. Assemblages of toy trains, pinned-up doodles and the usual summer melange of beach buckets, barbecue paraphernalia and garden gear intermingle with the art, some of which belongs to the house, but much of which was gathered by organiser Bob Nickas and the ‘artist-curators’ to whom he gave responsibility for discrete sections of the property.
Kelley Walker and Walead Beshty have filled the house’s first floor with pieces from their personal collections, including John Miller’s punk rock painting Welcome to My World (1999). Carol Bove kept the second floor, including the family bedrooms, appropriately beachy and personal while well within her natural sculptural lexicon, working with myriad seashells owned by art adviser Barry Rosen. Exceptional examples are those Bove embellished or encased with characteristic lightness and elegance. Ryan Foerster oversaw the basement and garage, keeping it in the family with a stingray-shaped, boho tapestry, Labyrinth (2014), by his mother, Janice Turner.
The exhibition’s sine qua non is its outdoor area, a pseudo-secret sculpture park co-organised by Nickas and artist Virginia Overton. Several artists who don’t typically create open-air work were encouraged to branch out, literally at times. Wayne Gonzales’s epic untitled grisaille of tangled branches, executed on 180cm-high panels, is brilliantly sited on the side of an outbuilding that serves as a ramshackle playhouse for Martos and Mary’s toddler. In a show that tends toward the conceptual, Gonzales, with his command of materials and quiet confidence, reminds viewers of the considerable aesthetic capacities of painting.
Other standout contributions include Greely Myatt’s floating sculpture Pie in the Sky (2008–14), Ugo Rondinone’s biomorphic bluestone-and-steel totem The Foolish (2014) and Mary’s duality-rich Shaved Women, Collaborators (2014), a vintage photographic print on Plexiglas that all but encloses one end of an otherwise open porch. It’s reflective, transparent and opaque all at once, and filled with verdant colours that interact with the landscape, producing an effect not unlike stained glass. The image is historical, women shamed and shaved for collaborating after the Second World War, as is its placement: Martos and Mary bought the house from a local historical society, and early photos show the porch was once enclosed in glass.
Jason Metcalf’s Flag of the Kingdom of Deseret (2014) flies out front, as the show’s standard. Like that onetime Mormon state, the exhibition is plucky, ambitious and provisional.
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue