Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting it right in East Hampton

Patrick Brennan at Halsey McKay 
Patrick Brennan, There is an Ocean, Halsey McKay Gallery

Curator and Co-Director, Hilary Schaffner

Co-directors Hilary Schaffner and Ryan Wallace opened Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton last week. Soon to be a go-to spot for the kind of contemporary art we often miss on the East End, their goal is uncomplicated: exhibit emerging artists they believe in, give their work the type of exposure it deserves and cultivate a community around those concepts.

Halsey McKay's opening show, There is an Ocean, features the work of New York artist Patrick Brennan, whose works blithely dance around the conventions of painting and assemblage.

Artist and Co-Director, Ryan Wallace

We sat down this afternoon for a chat:

Blinnk: This is your first gallery -- how did it happen?

Hilary Schaffner: All of this all evolved from one conversation. We had a group of artists whose work we really believed in and we started talking about trying to foster them and nurture their careers. We thought East Hampton was a perfect place to do it -- in a context that has such a long history of nurturing artists.

Ryan Wallace: It was a real opportunity to put this work in a different context -- all the artists we're working with show regularly in New York and elsewhere --  but for a collector -- you can only make it to so many galleries. You might be missing some of the art you've seen reviewed or heard good things about but just haven't had time to see. By showing this work here we have an opportunity to expose these artists to a really interesting cross-section of collectors and other artists.

BL: Tell me about Patrick Brennan. What do you like most about his art?

RW: At first, I didn't really understand this work. When I finally got it I responded to its casual and subtle qualities -- its humility. I really love it now -- way beyond the usual "I think this would be great to show" -- I mean -- I want to live with this work. It was a surprise, really. I knew his work was earnest, but I just didn't get it at first. Now I just love it. And seeing it in here -- the way it should be shown -- this is really inventive painting.

BL: What was Patrick's response to the installation?

HS: I think he was pretty psyched.

BL: A lot of these artists are your friends. I've met some of them, and find them -- and you -- to be incredibly upbeat -- positive. None of the usual sturm und drang.

RW: It's not accidental -- we've chosen to work with people that share our ideas about community, art and working together.

HS: I was just thinking the same thing. As a gallery -- at least to be the kind of gallery we want to be -- you have to spend a lot of time working with artists. You cultivate a community together, nurturing ideas, generating movement. It's not just a monetary transaction -- it's a relationship that develops through care and focus. It's a commitment on all sides.                 JMG

105 Newtown Lane
 East Hampton, NY 

sampling: Ray Rapp

    Islip Art Museum. Never a dull moment.

Ray Rapp

In Bloom
Curated by Karen Shaw