in Springs will open its doors once more for the 44th annual on Friday.
The longstanding exhibition features work from all mediums and a varied selection of local talent is invited to show each year. This year, guest curator Esperanza Leon, owner of the in Amagansett, has chosen 110 artists from the East End. The list of artists showing includes a number of men and women who have been in the invitational for years, but Leon has also chosen a selection of first-time participants.
“The goal for this year was really to make a fresh selection,” Leon said. She noted that the new blood does not diminish the importance of veteran invitational supporters, such as William King and Connie Fox.
While the invitational is an opportunity for local artists to sell their work, it is also a benefit for the and Artistic Committee for the Springs Invitational, which take 50 percent of each sale. Each year, the exhibiting artists become part of a tradition that began with the abstract expressionists that made Springs such a famous artistic community.
According to the Springs Improvement Society, the exhibition started as a one-day sale to benefit the group, and it included local heroes such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner and sculptor Ibram Lassaw, who died a Springs resident in 2003. Funds raised by the invitational grew over the years, and by the 1970s, there was enough to build the gallery space in Ashawagh Hall.
Today, the Springs Invitational still helps fund the improvement society, and it also contributes to a scholarship fund, which helps students who stand out in the arts.
Despite having 110 pieces to exhibit, Leon said she installed the art with enough room to breathe. “There’s such a diverse body of work from so many artists and so many different styles,” she said, noting that artists could only submit work 25 inches or smaller so everyone had enough wall space.
Most art shows at Ashawagh Hall are installed on a Friday and dismantled on Sunday, but the invitational remains open for two weeks, beginning with a reception on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and ending Aug. 21. Along with the regularly scheduled exhibition hours, several special events are highlighted each week.
A benefit preview and wine reception was held on Thursday. The event included Ashawagh Honors, which recognized great Ashawagh Hall supporters Jean Hoffmann, Abby Abrams and Ernestine Lassaw, the widow of Ibram Lassaw.
On Aug. 11, the society will host a night of poetry and performance called Ashawagh Speaks at 7 p.m. The event costs $10 and features exhibiting artists including Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Rosalind Brenner, Alexander Russo and Anne Sager, among others, as well as other local poets and performers. East Hampton historian and Town Crier Hugh King will also be on hand, Leon said, adding, “It should be a fun night.”
Leon will lead a curator’s tour of the Springs Invitational on Aug. 20, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. It is a free event and Leon said she hopes to have some artists present. “It would be nice to have a conversation about the show,” she said.
Leon said many of the artists chosen this year have expressed to her how honored they are to be included. “It’s such a tribute to the show and Ashawagh Hall,” she said. “It brings so many different artists together at one time, which is not always easy to do.”
The Springs Invitational will be open Sunday through Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.