Artists Are the Exhibition at SAC

Paton Miller set up his studio in the Southampton Art Center’s rear gallery, complete with easels, work tables, chairs, finished artworks, and — a tricycle? Mark Segal

Since opening in 2013, the Southampton Arts Center has lived up to its name, presenting a diversity of art exhibitions, films, live music, performances, lectures, and workshops for all ages. While some cultural institutions plan programs months, if not years in advance, the center, with only two full-time staff members and several part-timers, is a nimble operation, open to suggestions from artists, other cultural partners, and its own staff and board, and able to implement them expeditiously.

“TAKEOVER! Artists in Residence,” organized by Amy Kirwin, the center’s artistic director, is the most recent example of this receptivity to unconventional ideas. From Feb. 9 through March 24, nine East End artists — Scott Bluedorn, Daniel Cabrera, Darlene Charneco, Kara Hoblin, Ruby Jackson, Laurie Lambrecht, Jerome Lucani, Paton Miller, and Jeff Muhs — will establish pop-up studios in the galleries where they will create new work, install completed pieces, conduct workshops, and be available to engage on an intimate basis with members of the community and each other.

“I’ve always been interested in the creative process and opening up the curtain,” said Ms. Kirwin. “It’s such a special experience to be let into that private world and to watch somebody at work. The idea just came to me when we were brainstorming about how to fill this open time slot, and everybody said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ ”

A site-specific project, “Handoff: Weaving in Space,” will unfold in the center’s entrance gallery concurrently with “TAKEOVER!” Conceived by the artists Christine Sciulli and Bastienne Schmidt, “Handoff” follows in the tradition of the “exquisite corpse,” in which words or images are assembled by a succession of collaborators. When the center’s doors open on Feb. 9 for a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., the initial components, created by Ms. Sciulli and Ms. Schmidt, will be in place. 

Other artists, among them Louise Eastman, LoVid, Sabra Moon Elliot, Saskia Friedrich, Toni Ross, Morgana Tetherow-Keller, Virva Hinnemo, and Almond Zigmund, will add ropes, threads, and textiles to the piece, whose completion as a large-scale woven installation will be celebrated when the exhibitions close in March.

Each of the nine artist residents will have a designated area. “Everything will be wide open,” said Ms. Kirwin. “There will be no walls around the individual workspaces. When I approached the artists, I said ‘Bring your favorite chair, your work table, your easel.’ I almost said, ‘Bring your dog,’ and that might happen too.”

“I’m looking forward to working in front of an audience,” said Ms. Lambrecht, whose practice bridges photography, knitting, weaving, and embroidery. “I started teaching workshops the past few years, and I realize people have an appetite for seeing how things are done. I like the idea that it’s a process, and not just objects on a wall.” Ms. Lambrecht, who is a Bridgehampton native and for 10 years took a break from photography to design and knit sweaters, will be working on a frame loom and will teach a weaving workshop for adults.

Ms. Kirwin noted that a variety of mediums will be represented, including sculpture, weaving, chalk, painting, drawing, and mixed media. Ms. Jackson will bring mobiles and framed pieces made with glitter glue. Of the mobiles, she said, “Because the center has such high ceilings, they are getting longer and longer. I’m curious to see how long they can grow and still be able to move in the air currents.” She will also teach a workshop for all ages focused on making small figures with Sculpey clay.

“I feel like I’m going to kindergarten, where there will be all these other kids to play with and new and exciting things,” said Ms. Jackson, who lives in Sag Harbor. “At home there are so many things that can take me away from the studio. At the center it’s going to be very focused and very public. I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting to the space of privacy and solitude necessary to make art while in a public spot.”

Ms. Hoblin, who lives in Greenport, works in ink and watercolor but is perhaps best known for her chalk installations. Her large studio wall at the center will be painted with chalkboard paint. “I don’t have a dedicated studio at the moment, so I’m really excited about having a large space to work in. I have a sketchbook full of ideas I’ve never had the space to execute, so I’m going to experiment with a bunch of new mediums and new ways to use chalk.”

Because she has a commercial company that creates chalk murals for restaurants, offices, and private homes, Ms. Hoblin is used to working in public but doesn’t always have time to talk to people while on the job. “I want people at the center to be encouraged to come and talk and not just watch me work. For the center to open its doors to nine crazy artists is amazing. I think they’re pushing the boundaries in the best way.”

Jerome Lucani works in a variety of mediums and styles at his North Sea studio. “What drives me today is that I’m fascinated by the idea of painting on trees,” he said, showing a visitor a large collection of limbs and branches on his lawn and a massive log he is painting on a table outside his studio.

Regarding working in public, he said, “I look forward more to the creative juices I will get from the other artists. If I brought a log like this and put it on a big table and told people to do whatever they wanted with it, I’m interested in seeing what can come out of that. There’s a lot of isolation to being an artist, and this offers a chance to break through the bubble.”

Another feature of “TAKEOVER!” will be free “hangouts” to which the public is invited every Thursday evening from 6 to 8. “When I was talking with the artists about ideas for programs, it came out that Paton and Jeff and Jerome get together regularly to play Ping-Pong or pool, so that gave birth to the hangout idea. We’ll have a Ping-Pong table, a piano, and people can have a drink, socialize, and listen to music. There will always be some artists here.”

Ms. Kirwin noted that, in addition to gallery tours, workshops, and a weekly after-school club for kids from second through fifth grade, special offerings such as performances or readings will be scheduled for specific hangouts. The center’s website will be updated throughout the course of the exhibition with the latest information about programs and special events. 

The center’s regular hours are Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6, and the suggested donation is $5.

Correction: The print article incorrectly listed Ms. Kirwin's title as director of programs and admission as free.

Kara Hoblin, who last summer created a 10-by-30-foot chalk mural at a music festival in Massachusetts, will experiment with new ideas on a large wall that will be finished with chalkboard paint.