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Art Barge Honored as it Reopens

Mon, 05/10/2021 - 16:03
The Art Barge is celebrating a new distinction as a historic property this year while it opens up for another season.
Judy D'Mello

The rebirth and renewal of spring dovetail, in 2021, with a post-Covid-19 world slowly coming into focus, in some parts of the world at least. This dawning reality is the backdrop to a feeling of renewal at the Art Barge on Napeague and the Mabel and Victor D’Amico Studio and Archive at Lazy Point, formally and collectively known as the Victor D’Amico Institute of Art.

“During the past year all of us have gone through a trial of living differently, a change of our normal way of life, and generally a feeling of the unreal,” Christopher Kohan, the institute’s president, wrote in a letter to members and friends last month.

Happily, the Art Barge and the D’Amico Studio and Archive will reopen this spring, after remainign closed for the 2020 season. The 2021 class and workshop schedule was issued on Friday, and registration is open. Classes include painting, orientation to creativity, and children’s studio programs for ages 5 to 7, 8 to 11, and 12 to 15. Workshops include collage, pastel, and watercolor painting.

Friendship is required to enroll for classes, with an individual friendship costing $100 and a family friendship at $150. Each grants an annual, auto-renewing membership and access to class registration and special events and tours. Signup is at

The studio and archive will be open for one-hour guided tours on Thursdays at 2 p.m., Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sundays at 11 a.m.

The institute will continue to follow federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines regarding Covid-19. Visitors will be required to clean their hands prior to entering buildings and before leaving. Students, visitors, and staff must wear masks at all times, and students will undergo daily temperature checks and answer and pass a weekly Covid-19 questionnaire in order to attend.

The institute is also manifesting renewal with a redesigned website, which went live on April 19, Mabel D’Amico’s birthday. It has put out a call for volunteer docents along with friends.

The announcements coincide with another: The National Trust for Historic Preservation has added the institute to its Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program. The institute joins the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs and the Mary Nimmo and Thomas Moran Studio in East Hampton Village as other local sites in the program. The institute’s inclusion, Mr. Kohan said in a statement, “reinforces an enduring mission pioneered by Mabel and Victor D’Amico to advance art and creative education as a human necessity. The preservation of diverse historic structures and artistic legacies is an invaluable gift to this country and confirms Mabel and Victor’s belief that the arts are a humanizing force and their major function is to vitalize living.”

The designation follows the East Hampton Town Board’s 2019 designation of the Art Barge and the D’Amico Studio and Archive as local historical landmarks.

Victor D’Amico, the founding director of education at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, established the institute in 1960, after initiating MoMA-sponsored art classes in the mid-1950s at Ashawagh Hall in Springs. With help from fishermen, he brought a retired Navy barge from New Jersey and beached it on the Napeague Harbor shore. He and Mabel D’Amico built a house, now the D’Amico Studio and Archive, at 136 Shore Road in the 1940s.

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