On Friday, August 2, the New York Foundation for the Arts will host its annual East End Studio Tour. This year’s event invites guests to tour the creative studios of Eric Freeman, John Torreano, who received a New York State Council on the Arts/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Painting in 1991, and Steve Miller, a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Painting in 2004. Founded in 1971, NYFA is a nonprofit organization that awards $650,000 annually in cash grants to individual artists across New York State in the visual, performing, and literary disciplines. The NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship program additionally aids national artists and organizations, raising around $4 million each year.
The event is hosted by leadership council members Carol Ross and Marjorie Silverman and board member J. Whitney Stevens, and is led by the director of the Parrish Art Museum, Terrie Sultan. Once the tours have concluded there will be an intimate, seated lunch at a private residence in Bridgehampton. Indy spoke with Miller and Torreano.
How do you envision the discussion over lunch?
John Torreano: I don’t envision a particular direction for the discussion. I enjoy seeing how a discussion goes, not planning it. I find people interesting and so am open to what emerges in a conversation.
Why have you chosen to open up your studio to the public?
Steve Miller: I rarely allow people into my studio but at the encouragement of Joel Perlman (a fellow professor at the School of the Visual Arts), it felt like a good time to do so. This is a period of experimentation, and the opportunity to be in front of an informed audience feels right.
What has been an integral message in your artwork?
SM: Art that I admire has a visual language tied to the time in which that art was made. Perspective and mathematics informed the Renaissance, photography freed painting to explore abstraction and, today, we live in a world that can be viewed through the lens of technology.
Using these tools of science and technology codes my practice to the times in which we live and allows for investigations that were, previously, impossible. We can see inside the body and use these same tools to investigate the health of the planet. For 10 years, I used technology to X-ray the flora and fauna of the Amazon to give the world a metaphorical checkup, the purpose of which is to keep a focus on our environmental crisis while showing the beauty of nature. This investigation resulted in two books, “Radiographic,” and my recently published “Surf/Skate.”
Does living in the Hamptons influence your creative process?
SM: It’s a cliché but true, the light on the East End has an extraordinary dimension and richness. There is a strong art community, two museums and many galleries, plus collectors. It’s a perfect storm.
Have you ever collaborated with the other chosen artists before?
SM: Mostly, I collaborate with scientists and everyone involved in the process of my making art. That list includes printers, studio assistants, Photoshop experts, the person who shapes my surfboards, the sculpture fabricators, and the two companies that make my clothing line.
Tickets for the East End Studio Tour are $375 and transportation is provided between studios. All ticket proceeds benefit NYFA programs for artists across Long Island and New York State. Tickets are available online at www.nyfa.org.